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Has Morgan Passed The Test ?

Eoin_Morgan_batting_vs_Bangladesh_2010-06-04
Eoin Morgan batting against Bangladesh, April 2010

Outstanding performances in the limited overs game can act as a springboard to earning the right to have a crack at the sport?s most demanding format – Test cricket. Despite not possessing particularly flattering first-class statistics, Eoin Morgan is seen as a Test cricketer in the making.

His Test match debut against Bangladesh in May of this year came by virtue of his eye-catching ODI and Twenty20 performances that saw him shunted above a number of candidates and into the Test squad. It is not so much due to the fact he has made runs in limited-overs cricket, it is more how he has done so.

A brief overview of Morgan?s career will show he handles the tense situations in one-day cricket exceptionally well, he has played in 50 ODI?s and has an average of just under 40, with a strike rate of around 80. His standing in the ODI game has improved at a dramatic rate.

Comparisons, in terms of First-Class statistics at the time of being handed a Test debut, can be made with Marcus Trescothick and Michael Vaughan, two of England?s finest from the last decade. Vaughan was averaging in the mid 30?s when he was first selected for the Test side during that infamous Test in South Africa (Vaughan came to the crease for the first time with England stumbling on 2 for 4), while Trescothick was averaging a tick over 30 when he debuted. Morgan surpasses both with a First-Class average of 36.65 (prior to his inclusion in the Pakistan series).

The point is, Vaughan and Trescothick were identified as potential Test players, they had the requisite qualities to thrive on the biggest stage of all, and Duncan Fletcher?s hunch was indeed proven to be correct, whether Andy Flower?s intuition has the same success, we shall see in due course.

A steely look about the Irishman, and a calm assuredness at the crease in high pressure situations suggest he is made ?of the right stuff?, this is of course true in the shorter formats, Test match cricket brings with it a whole host of new pressures in which Morgan must tick the appropriate boxes, it must be said, the early indications are promising.

His 130 at Trent Bridge came at a time when his side needed him. England had slumped to 118-4, with Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir enjoying the favourable bowling conditions, but it was his partnership of 219 with England?s regular man for a crisis, Paul Collingwood, that turned their innings around.

Much is made of Morgan?s innovative strokeplay, and rightly so. His ability to mess with bowler?s plans by not allowing the bowler to build any pressure with an ability to find the gaps, rotate the strike, and hit the ball into areas captains would not dream of placing a fielder.

His reverse sweep is struck with authority and power, yet this is not, to Morgan, a high risk stroke due to the length of time he spends working on such unorthodoxy. He has forearms like Popeye, the wrist work in some of his shots demonstrate the huge amount of power he possesses. These skills were transferred from the limited-overs arena and onto the Test stage in the aforementioned knock at Nottingham.

Yet along with the innovation, comes a solid ability in nailing the basics as well. His century in the ODI series against Australia saw him combining inventive strokeplay with well timed orthodox cover drives, on the up. Kevin Pietersen captured the imagination of the country with his extravagance, but the foundation of his play was based around a sound conventional skill base.

The injury to Ian Bell in the recent Bangladesh ODI series, gave Flower the opportunity to have an extended look at Morgan, if indeed he was to be the unfortunate one that would have missed out on the starting XI. His performance in the first Test should guarantee he features in all four matches of the series.

My personal concern for Morgan in the longer format is the pace he looks to play his innings. Naturally in one-day cricket he can regularly tick the board over, innovation comes as second nature, the gaps present are comfortably exploited during the middle overs of a 50 over game, the added pressures and scrutiny that come with Test cricket may have Morgan second guessing himself.

He will inevitably be reluctant to take too high a risk with his strokeplay, yet it this that has brought his success in the other forms of the sport. Five day cricket generally influences a more circumspect approach, but should Morgan remain true to his own unique style ?

Andrew Symonds and Yuvraj Singh, two exhilarating ODI performers, are recent examples of players that initially struggled to come to terms with the way to construct Test innings. Unsure in whether they should exhibit their natural positivity, or attempt to remain more patient in true Test style.

Just when Symonds had seemingly mastered the conundrum, his off-field indiscretions brought his Test career to a premature end. With Yuvraj, I suppose the battle continues. He has played 34 Tests but is yet to cement himself in the Indian middle order, and with the impending retirements of Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman, India will hope he reaches a higher degree of consistency and a deeper understanding of his role and his own game.

It is down to Morgan to strike the right balance. His game will come under much scrutiny during the remaining two Tests of this Pakistan series, how will he cope if Pakistan can keep him quiet during his stay at the crease? Are they able to stop him manipulating the ball into gaps? Is there a weakness in the channel outside his off stump ? We?ll have a clearer idea to the answers of these questions when the selectors convene to discuss the options for Australia.

I anticipate Morgan will become a permenent fixture in this England Test side, but with the competition around for places in the middle order, he may have to continue developing his game and remain patient for a lengthy run in the side. Ian Bell will return to the line-up for the Ashes, and Jonathan Trott is now proving his worth at number three following a winter that raised one or two questions about his form in Test cricket. There will be a scramble for places, and you cannot discount the players currently outside of this squad, like Ravi Bopara for example.

Whatever England’s top six will be in Brisbane for the opening Ashes Test, you know Morgan will get his chance at some stage to show his capabilities on the highest possible stage, and you certainly would not bet against him taking it.

Comments

No I don’t think he’s passed the Test yet. I keep on thinking about that edge to Akmal in the first Test very early on in his innings which fell just short, I think most keepers in the world would have caught it and he would be under a heap of pressure to retain his spot in the XI if he failed.

Do the Australian bowlers have enough to Test him though, will be the big question? If we aren’t bowling great, I think he has the potential to punish us more than most English batsman.

Comment by NUFAN | 12:00am GMT 17 August 2010

The next test will test his stability…

Comment by slowfinger | 12:00am GMT 17 August 2010

Yes, I am very very impressed with the ability of this lad.

He is not just stylist but he can play under pressure, he did show that in ODIs, T20s and now even in test matches….

Player to watch!

Comment by kingkallis | 12:00am GMT 17 August 2010

When I see KP and Morgan @ the crease, Morgan looks more confident than KP…he looks unbelievably calm and composed.

Comment by kingkallis | 12:00am GMT 17 August 2010

Not yet,promising start that all.Same as Finn and numerous other players worldwide.Come back after 20+ games and see then.

Comment by flibbertyjibber | 12:00am GMT 17 August 2010

Nice piece, Paul – Wahab Riaz certainly rates him highly, judging by his comments today!

Comment by Dave Wilson | 12:00am GMT 18 August 2010

[QUOTE=NUFAN;2295657][B]No I don’t think he’s passed the Test yet. I keep on thinking about that edge to Akmal in the first Test very early on in his innings which fell just short, I think most keepers in the world would have caught it and he would be under a heap of pressure to retain his spot in the XI if he failed.[/B]

Do the Australian bowlers have enough to Test him though, will be the big question? If we aren’t bowling great, I think he has the potential to punish us more than most English batsman.[/QUOTE]

Thats an odd way to look @ it. Drop catches are just part of cricket.

– If Courtney Brown had caught Steve Waugh on 42 @ Bridgetown 1995, Windies probably would won that series

– If Warne had caught KP @ Oval 05. AUS may have not last the Ashes that year

– If Healy had caught Lara @ Bridgetown 99, AUS would have won

etc etc etc

All we can do is judge those innings like Morgans hundred after he was dropped & he played that top PAK attack in testing conditions superbly.

Overall though to answer the thread question. He hasn’t passed the test totally as, he will run into a trott like KPs current one. But he is the real deal, i would be stunned if he doesn’t have a very good test career.

Comment by aussie | 12:00am GMT 19 August 2010

He has passed the determination test imo….however, still believe his technique will be further tested against Australia in a much higher pressure series of Ashes.

Comment by Faisal1985 | 12:00am GMT 19 August 2010

[QUOTE=Faisal1985;2297400]He has passed the determination test imo….however, still believe his technique will be further tested against Australia in a much higher pressure series of Ashes.[/QUOTE]
Don’t think he’s done enough to hold Bell out of the Ashes tbh; don’t even expect him to be there unless he manages another score by the time Bell is back and Cook continues to fail.

Comment by Prince EWS | 12:00am GMT 20 August 2010

[QUOTE=aussie;2297211]Thats an odd way to look @ it. Drop catches are just part of cricket.

– If Courtney Brown had caught Steve Waugh on 42 @ Bridgetown 1995, Windies probably would won that series

– If Warne had caught KP @ Oval 05. AUS may have not last the Ashes that year

– If Healy had caught Lara @ Bridgetown 99, AUS would have won

etc etc etc

All we can do is judge those innings like Morgans hundred after he was dropped & he played that top PAK attack in testing conditions superbly.

Overall though to answer the thread question. He hasn’t passed the test totally as, he will run into a trott like KPs current one. But he is the real deal, i would be stunned if he doesn’t have a very good test career.[/QUOTE]

How are your 3 examples of teams winning the same as my Morgan/Akmal example?

I completely stand by my previous comment as England has batting depth at the moment and a Test Cricketer who’s never reached 45 in a single innings without offering a life is still very, very new to game and under pressure to hold onto his spot.

Comment by NUFAN | 12:00am GMT 20 August 2010

You suggested that you dont think Morgan has passed the test yet, because of the chance he gave away during his hundred. Which is unfair way to look @ it, since many top/great innings in test history, have had batsmen giving away chances.

I dont doubt ENG has batting depth. Now that Cook has saved his skin again with the hundred. When Bell returns i would certainly bring him right back in to replace Morgan for the 1st test @ Brisbane. Only if Morgan scores a hundred in the final test of ENG summer will/could that change.

Comment by aussie | 12:00am GMT 20 August 2010

By far…would say Bell deserves it more then him…..atm. But he is not a bad prospect at all..

Comment by Faisal1985 | 12:00am GMT 20 August 2010

I wonder why you would say that? Perhaps because Morgan has not passed the Test yet and is only a stop gap measure at this time in his career..

He’s a big candidate for an edge to the slips at this stage in his career.

Comment by NUFAN | 12:00am GMT 21 August 2010

Not yet. Looks interesting.

Comment by Sir Alex | 12:00am GMT 22 August 2010

Despite his century, Morgan still averages under 40 in a home Test series against Pakistan, so I’d say, no, MOrgan has not passed the test….

Comment by shivfan | 12:00am GMT 24 August 2010

[QUOTE=shivfan;2301640]Despite his century, Morgan still averages under 40 in a home Test series against Pakistan, so I’d say, no, MOrgan has not passed the test….[/QUOTE]

Without checking I’d imagine that so do the rest of the top six too, tbf.

Don’t think he’s done quite enough to oust Ding Dong tho and, with Cook stumbling towards form, our top six seems set in stone short of injury come Brisbane.

Comment by BoyBrumby | 12:00am GMT 24 August 2010

Yeah no doubt, you can say what you want about county cricket and its merits for judging a player but there is a reason why Morgan only averages in the mid 30s and that has become increasingly evident as this series has developed.

He has undoutedly showed massive potential and I think most of us would now rekon that he will make it as a test player but there is still a lot of work to be done.

Comment by Pothas | 12:00am GMT 27 August 2010

No, but should be the next batsman called up for an extended run. Will be established soon enough.

Comment by Number 11 | 12:00am GMT 30 August 2010

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