Eoin Morgan's decision to opt out of IPL auction gives ECB a much-needed cause for a sigh of relief in post-Kevin Pietersen era
Morgan decided against heading into the IPL this year in a move that appears to have boosted his chances of replacing Pietersen in the England set-up
Tuesday 11 February 2014
England will be relieved to be able to take only a passing interest in the impending Indian Premier League auction.
The end of Kevin Pietersen's international career already meant that the potentially divisive date of February 12 had lost its resonance for English cricket.
After Eoin Morgan's decision to opt out of this year's IPL - announced by the Irishman via Twitter two days before the set-piece auction - staff at the England and Wales Cricket Board have no particular reason to lose any more sleep over events in Bangalore on Wednesday.
There, Pietersen will still be able to sign for the highest bidder - having also already agreed a new summer contract with Surrey on Monday - but his IPL ambitions no longer carry implications for England.
Their winter of discontent had continued 24 hours earlier when the ECB's explanation for its controversial severing of ties with Pietersen met with a decidedly mixed public and expert reaction on social media.
Morgan, however, perhaps helped to start forging the future of "trust" so high on his employers' agenda - by saying 'no thank you' on this occasion to the riches available at the IPL.
Competition will hot up at the start of this summer, to replace Pietersen in England's Test team, and 27-year-old Irishman Morgan has made his intentions clear to put himself in the frame for a recall.
Having played for Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore in previous IPL seasons, he will not be involved in 2014.
That leaves only Ian Bell and Ravi Bopara as credible England Test match players who will still be in with any chance, when the franchises roll out their big-bucks bids, of securing IPL stints this spring.
Morgan tweeted: "I would like to thank IPL for accepting my request to withdraw from this years auction. Good luck with the tournament."
The Middlesex left-hander played the last of his 16 Tests in early 2012, when he appeared to be the fall guy of England's 3-0 defeat against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.
But he has continued to impress in the shorter formats, most recently as England's most reliable batsman in their limited-overs series defeats against Australia this winter.
England's management stressed, after their 5-0 Ashes drubbing in Australia, that all prospective Test players will be expected to augment their credentials in county championship cricket before the first of this summer's two series - against Sri Lanka in June.
The resignation last month of team director Andy Flower is not thought to have altered those ground rules.
The sudden and apparently terminal elimination of Pietersen as an inked-in number four will surely also focus the minds of all his potential successors.
Any involvement in the seven-and-a-half-week IPL in April and May would obviously have impacted on availability for the relevant county fixtures.
But for Morgan, recently named Middlesex's new limited-overs captain as well as Stuart Broad's official deputy in England's Twenty20 team, that is no longer an issue.
Pietersen, meanwhile, can look forward to a more regular place in Surrey's plans.
He told his club's website, kiaoval.com: "I've had some of my best moments in cricket at the Kia Oval and I'm really excited at the prospect of getting back out there playing in what, I hope, will be a brilliant summer for us all at Surrey."
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