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Morgan steps into Pietersen's shoes

Posted in ICC Cricket World Cup 2011

Losing Kevin Pietersen is undoubtedly a huge blow for England’s World Cup aspirations, but Eoin Morgan has more than enough ability to replace him and to go on and prosper.

Pietersen is suffering from a hernia and complained of soreness during England’s last-gasp victory over South Africa in Chennai.

He was subsequently ruled out of the rest of the tournament, opening the door for Morgan to step up after initially being ruled out with a broken finger.

Despite making 50 only once in his last eight one-day internationals and sometimes flattering to deceive, Pietersen is undoubtedly one of the world’s top batsmen and had started to rediscover impressive form in his new opening role alongside captain Andrew Strauss.

His replacement, however, is a wonderfully talented player who boasts a solid average of 40 in 38 one-day internationals for England.

Morgan’s collected approach could well be exactly what is needed as England seek to bring a calm consistency to what has been a manic few games for them, salvaging a dramatic tie versus India, suffering a shock defeat to Ireland and taking a tense victory over the Proteas on Sunday.

He has garnered a strong reputation for seeing out run-chases and hit centuries against Bangladesh, Australia and Pakistan in 2010.

Kevin Pietersen & Eoin Morgan

Eoin Morgan, right, is a more than able replacement for Kevin Pietersen, left, although England will have to find a new opening partner for Andrew Strauss

Morgan’s ability to slot in and play a role for England is not under question, as he has proved he is more than capable of performing at the top level. However, it remains to be seen how Pietersen’s withdrawal will affect England’s batting order.

Ravi Bopara, Ian Bell and Matt Prior may come under consideration to play alongside Andrew Strauss, although team director Andy Flower is keeping his cards close to his chest.

“We’ve got a number of potential openers,” said Flower, “We’re not going to let you or the opposition know who it’s going to be, but we’ve got a clear idea of who we want for the game against Bangladesh.”

Flower was also clear about the disappointment of losing Pietersen, adding: “Of course we’re disappointed to lose him, he’s a world-class player and he was forming quite an interesting opening partnership with Strauss. But we’ve got a good replacement coming in, with Morgan, and he’ll strengthen the middle order.”

Whoever moves up the order to fill Pietersen’s void has some pretty big shoes to fill, but will be boosted by the assured presence of Morgan lower down, which could prove vital if England’s roller-coaster World Cup continues.

England’s cause has been damaged further by the withdrawal of Stuart Broad with a side injury sustained during the game against South Africa, in which he took 4-15. His absence will undoubtedly hurt England as he has grown into one of England’s most potent one-day bowlers, claiming 130 wickets in 76 ODIs.

“I felt a little bit tight during the South Africa game. It started to throb a little bit throughout my second spell,” said Broad. “Then after the game it stiffened up when the adrenaline was out of my body."