Cricket: Morgan's magic earns Ashes call
EOIN Morgan has been included in England's 16-man Ashes squad for the five-Test tour of Australia that begins next month.
There was never any real doubt that the Dubliner, who played for Ireland before switching allegiance last year, would make the cut.
He has played in his adopted nation's last six Tests since making his debut against Bangladesh in May and has become a mainstay of England's one-day side, with Wednesday's series-winning century against Pakistan the latest example of his stunning limited overs prowess.
However, Morgan (24) looks set to travel Down Under as the 'spare' seventh batsman, playing the unwanted role of back-up in England's settled Test battling line-up.
He was given an opportunity against Bangladesh when Paul Collingwood was rested and, after making inconclusive scores of 44 and 37 in the two games, kept his place because injury ruled Ian Bell out of the four-Test series against Pakistan.
Morgan announced himself on the Test scene with a magnificent 130 in tricky conditions in the first match against Pakistan, but with a highest score of 17 in his next five innings, he was not able to make an unanswerable case for inclusion in the Ashes XI.
It is widely expected that, barring injury or an acute loss of form, Bell will return in Morgan's place for the first Test in Brisbane on November 25.
Morgan's Test average is a modest 32.00; the other six specialist batsmen in the Ashes party all average well above 40.
However, it appears only a matter of time before Morgan nails down a regular spot; few doubt that he has a bright international future in all forms of the game.
The only mild surprise in the squad was the selection of Tim Bresnan ahead of Ajmal Shahzad as on of two back-up seamers, along with Chris Tremlett. Terrace favourite Monty Panesar returns as the second spinner, and one-day opener Steven Davies is the deputy wicket-keeper.
Kevin Pietersen is recalled after being dropped for the Twenty20 and one-day series against Pakistan, having partially rediscovered his form during a stint in county cricket.
Meanwhile, three-time champions Ireland will finish no better than fourth in the 2009/10 edition of the Intercontinental Cup after grinding to a boring draw with Zimbabwe in Harare yesterday.
The host side batted on to reach 590 all out on the final day -- the highest total conceded by any Ireland team.
Trailing by 135 runs, Ireland lost Paul Stirling early on but captain William Porterfield steered them to a draw with his second half-century of the match, and the sides shook hands with Ireland on 151-4.
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