Eoin Morgan will play no part in this year’s Indian Premier League as he attempts to stake his claim to replace Kevin Pietersen in England’s Test team.
The batsman has decided to focus on playing for Middlesex in the County Championship and announced on Twitter that, having played for Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore in previous IPL seasons, he has decided not to enter this week’s player auction.
While Pietersen is free to go to the highest bidder on Thursday, Morgan – one of 11 England-qualified players initially listed for the auction – is no longer in the mix. Morgan tweeted: “I would like to thank @IPL for accepting my request to withdraw from this year’s auction. Good luck with the tournament.”
Morgan has played 16 Tests for England, scoring 700 runs at an average of 30.43, including two centuries, but last played in early 2012, when he appeared to be the fall guy for England’s 3-0 defeat against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates. But the 27-year-old was England’s most reliable batsman in their recent limited-overs series defeats by Australia.
England’s management made it clear, after their Ashes whitewash, that all prospective Test players will be expected to demonstrate their credentials in County Championship cricket before the first of this summer’s two Test series – against Sri Lanka in June. Any involvement in the seven-and-a-half-week IPL season in April and May would obviously have impacted on his availability for the relevant county fixtures.
Ian Bell, who is a certainty to be in the Test team, and Ravi Bopara, who could make a claim, are among the England-qualified players still in this week’s IPL auction.
Morgan’s apparent readiness to play as much county cricket as he can follows a troubled week for the England and Wales Cricket Board, which on Sunday issued a statement citing an issue of “trust” as the main reason for parting with Pietersen.
Captain Alastair Cook played a key role in the decision to drop Pietersen, although new ECB managing director, Paul Downton, had the final say.
On Monday, England’s rugby union World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward described the ECB’s selection process as being “fundamentally wrong”.
Woodward told the BBC: “I don’t think Pietersen should be left out of the side when it’s been decided by the captain or the coach that has just been removed, and the chief executive of the cricket team. To have those people deciding his future is fundamentally wrong.
“Cricket is living in a bygone era. I’m not sure the role of the England cricket captain... picking the team is the correct one.
“There’s no way I would coach a national team if I thought there was going to be interference from the chief executive – even the captain of the team.”