Comment: Is It Time To Turn To Morgan?
English Test cricket is at its lowest ebb for at least seven years and many believe the time for wholesale change has arrived.
Suddenly, previously untouchable players are coming under intense scrutiny to justify their place in the Test side. While this can be seen as the ending of a great era for English cricket, it is also a big opportunity for some of the younger players to take more responsibility and compete for places within the side.
The departure of many senior figures has already led to test opportunities for Ben Stokes, Gary Ballance and Scott Borthwick. With doubts hanging over the England middle order, the time may have come to give One-Day International vice-captain Eoin Morgan another shot at Test cricket.
In the past I have not been his biggest advocate, especially in the longer form of the game, believing his technique to be too loose to contribute substantial innings in the toughest conditions. Morgan currently has a Test average of just over 30 from 14 matches; the last of which was in 2012 in Dubai, where his exaggerated crouch at the crease had almost become a laughing stock.
Despite these underwhelming figures, Morgan is undoubtedly a batsman of the highest calibre. The way in which he has batted in the recent ODI series in Australia has confirmed his ability and showed he is still the wicket the opposition prize the most in the 50-over format.
England's embarrassment in the Ashes can be partially attributed to their slow scoring rate and almost wholly attributed to the defensive nature of their cricket. By bringing Morgan into the middle order, it would give England a more attacking approach in both their batting and their attitude in the field.
We all know that Morgan is capable of scoring at a strike rate of over 70 and turning games with the bat, but his presence in the field can also be vital. Not only is he an electric fielder but he also has a sophisticated cricket brain and would be an able deputy to Alastair Cook during the summer.
It is easy to point towards Morgan’s technical faults and argue that he is not up to Test standard, but these faults have mostly been ironed out and he is now standing much taller and more stationary at the crease as the ball is delivered.
It is also worth mentioning that Steve Smith had been dogged by similar doubts about his technique in the longer form of the game, but 327 runs in the Ashes and a match-defining century at Perth soon silenced the doubters. However, as George Bailey’s poor start to his Test career demonstrates that one-day form is no guarantee of test success.
England need to be more daring, adventurous and aggressive in their cricket this summer if they want to start the re-building phase as soon as possible.
Selecting Morgan would send out the right signals and give England positive momentum going into a hugely important summer containing seven Tests. And let’s be honest…things can’t get much worse.
© Cricket World 2014