England captain Morgan braced for 'banter' on home soil
two Irishmen have captained England in international cricket. The feeling is that Eoin Morgan may well prove more durable than either Sir Timothy Carew O'Brien or Frederick Fane.
Morgan will lead England for the first time in a one-day international today, against the country of his birth and for whom he played in 23 internationals. He talked about it in his typical manner yesterday: sensible, pragmatic, utterly confident.
"I take risks as a batsman," he said, "so I suppose I'm bound to take some as a captain. I'm not surprised by this because I'm a leader in the group but I am greatly honoured."
Morgan sees his background as irrelevant. From the age of 14, such was his talent and such the dearth then of cricketing opportunity in Ireland, he knew his future lay with England. Everything was a stepping stone across the Irish Sea.
O'Brien and Fane were both stand-in captains on England tours of South Africa, respectively in 1896 and 1909. In some ways, this is more testing for Morgan. Ireland will certainly let him know where he comes from, so to speak.
"I should think there will be some banter, as there has been in the past. I'm not bothered so much by it now," Morgan said.
Morgan missed Irish cricket's greatest hour. Injury forced him to sit out the astonishing World Cup match between the sides in Bangalore last February when Ireland, from a desperate position of 111-5, chased down a target of 327. That was almost entirely due to a unique innings from Kevin O'Brien, who smashed 113 from 63 balls.
O'Brien does not expect to repeat the feat. "If I play half as well, I'll be happy," he said.
What Ireland are not wholly happy about is England's insistence on starting the match at 10.15 because of their need, or desire, to make a quick getaway after the match, or their decision to field a second-string team in which four debutants could appear. But they understand they are being shoe-horned in.
"If I was them, I'd do the same," said Ireland's coach Phil Simmons.
Publicly at least, the Ireland camp are happy to play whoever England select but privately captain William Porterfield and his team aren't pleased that so many of the visitors' top guns have been 'rested' for the biennial fixture.
"There's undoubted quality in their line-up, and indeed a hunger and intensity that mightn't have been the case if their more established players had been selected," said Porterfield.
"I know from playing county cricket the quality the new faces will bring, and they'll be keen to make a massive impression. That could be more dangerous for Ireland." (© Independent News Service)
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