Thursday 24 May 2018

Morgan: Pietersen exit made me turn down IPL bonanza in bid for Test recall

England Twenty20 captain Eoin Morgan will be in action today as his side play their final World Cup warm-up game against India
England Twenty20 captain Eoin Morgan will be in action today as his side play their final World Cup warm-up game against India

Jon Culley

Eoin Morgan does not have a bad word to say about Kevin Pietersen, a team-mate he says has been "always supportive and a pleasure to play with."

Yet the 27-year-old Dubliner admits that the moment he heard that Pietersen's England days were over, he began plotting the revival of his own stalled Test career.

Morgan had committed himself to a fifth season in the lucrative Indian Premier League. Pulling out would have legal implications. He faced a dilemma. But he knew, two years after the last of his 16 Tests, that he had an opportunity too good to pass up.

"I was at the interim stage between applying to go into the IPL auction and the auction itself," he said. "You are legally bound at that point to go into any contract offered. But with what happened to Kev and other positions being in question, I think everybody sees it as a huge opportunity.

"I spent a bit of time thinking about it. Then I had a meeting with Paul Downton (the England and Wales Cricket Board's managing director) to discuss the possibility of withdrawing from the IPL auction. The ECB worked with the Indian board in getting me withdrawn.

"That was the purpose of the meeting, not for them to encourage me that there was a place. But we talked about the Test team and that for anyone who scored a lot of runs in county cricket there was a possibility they might be picked and I certainly wanted to throw my hat in the ring."

Those who have followed Morgan's career will not have been surprised at his pragmatic approach. He lost his Test place after a poor series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates in 2012, and admits there have been times that he has wondered if there might not be another chance.

Yet he remains steadfastly sure that playing in the IPL each year has not undermined his prospects.

Even now, eight years after his Middlesex debut, he has played only 46 Championship matches, compared with 161 one-day and Twenty20 internationals, for Ireland and England. The last of his nine first-class hundreds was his second in Tests, against India at Edgbaston in 2011. The one he missed when he was dismissed for 86 against Nottinghamshire last week would have been his first for Middlesex since 2009.

"No, I don't regret not playing more county cricket," Morgan said. "Playing in front of 80,000 people under pressure helps you more than worrying about your technique on early-season English pitches.

"In that series in the UAE, I struggled in a part of the side where we all struggled to score runs. At some stages, yes, I have wondered if I might not play another Test.

"Now the appetite for county cricket is there. The opportunity is there for everybody." (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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