Tuesday 26 September 2017

Cricket: Morgan's first Test century steadies ship for England

Derek Pringle

EOIN MORGAN can be assured of a place in England's Ashes party this winter after scoring his maiden Test hundred at Trent Bridge yesterday.

The Dubliner's ability to cope with the short ball and a persistent off-stump attack were not tested by Pakistan's bowlers but there can be no doubting his capacity to play a telling innings after he hauled England from a wobbly 118-4 into a commanding 331-4 by the close of play.

It was a beautifully controlled century (125 not out) and only the second to have been made by an Irish-born player for England, Fred Fane making the other against South Africa in 1906. Indeed, Morgan's only extravagance was to bring up his hundred with a six off Shoaib Malik's off-spin.

Like a wise patriarch, Paul Collingwood kept him company throughout, his grit and toil a perfect counterfoil to Morgan's silken strokes. Collingwood finished unbeaten on 81 as the pair compiled a 213-run partnership.

Morgan's one-day batting has been superlative and England's management have been eager to see if it would transfer as effectively to the longer format.

Batting in one-day cricket tends to reward opportunism and Morgan attacked Pakistan's weak link, which on a sluggish pitch was their spinners Danish Kaneria and Malik. They found it impossible to contain him and his innings was given crucial momentum when he struck them for six fours in 12 balls.

Pakistan did come close to dismissing him twice, with umpire Asoka de Silva giving him out lbw to Kaneria. But the umpire review system has been reinstated for this series and Hawkeye showed that the ball would have missed leg stump. The other close call was an edge off Mohammad Aamer that replays showed did not quite carry to wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal.

Collingwood was reprieved, on 48, when Akmal fluffed an easy stumping, compounding a stinker of a day for the 'keeper, who earlier dropped a sitter off Andrew Strauss before making amends by catching the England skipper off Aamer.

In a scrappy 29-ball innings, Kevin Pietersen made nine before Mohammad Asif struck and Jonathan Trott followed soon after for 38 to leave England tottering before Morgan and Collingwood rescued them in style. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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