Morgan seizes rare chance to shine but is still in the shade of those above him

Eoin Morgan is dealing in much more than scraps. But batsmen of his class – and especially those itching to seal their place in a successful Test side – dream of making big hundreds, not pretty half-centuries.



The good news for Morgan is that England clearly believe in him. They picked the Dubliner last summer when Ian Bell was nursing a broken foot, took him to Australia in the winter as cover for their established top six and then, a month ago, decided that he – rather than closest rival Ravi Bopara – should be given first shot at replacing the newly retired Paul Collingwood.

Morgan could not ask for much more than being invited to join a team rippling with confidence after winning the Ashes – it sure as anything beats walking into an outfit that cannot guess where the next victory is coming from. But, if anything, the players above him in the order are doing their jobs a little too well for England's No 6 to shine as brightly as he might like.

The pattern was set in Australia, where England's top order combined superbly in every Test bar the one lost at Perth. Even with Collingwood unable to contribute so much as a fifty, Morgan never looked like playing anything other than the 12th-man role.

As for this summer, well at least he is on the inside looking out, rather than the other way around. But thanks to Alastair Cook and Bell continuing to bat like princes, Jonathan Trott making a double hundred in Cardiff and Kevin Pietersen rediscovering his silver, if not quite golden, touch, Morgan has spent many an hour admiring his team-mates from the dressing-room balcony.

This final match of the series against Sri Lanka could have been different. Although England made a stuttering start to their innings, they were back in control by the time Morgan walked to the middle yesterday to join Bell. But because of the numerous interruptions for bad weather over the first three days, the need to press on was far more important than reaching personal milestones.

Few batsmen are better equipped than the 24-year-old Middlesex batsman to thrive in those circumstances. It was at the Rose Bowl, almost exactly 12 months ago, that Morgan scored a quite brilliant unbeaten 103 against Australia in a one-day international, thereby adding significantly to his already enviable reputation as a limited-overs player of rare ability.

It was to no one's surprise, then, that Morgan did exactly the job England wanted yesterday. Without any fuss, and by playing orthodox (rather than inventive) cricket shots most of the time, he outscored the purring Bell in a stand of 137 that took England to the point of declaration.

Bell's century was richly deserved – and Sri Lanka coach, Stuart Law, paid him a typically colourful compliment and said: "He's becoming a pain in the backside." Morgan could have had a hundred just as good, though, but for the pressure of time. In the end, he fell to a catch behind while advancing up the pitch to meet seamer Suranga Lakmal and departed for 71, made from 110 balls.

Morgan has now played nine Tests and his average of 38 is decent enough to be getting along with. But it is this summer's second series, against No 1 ranked India, that may give him a real chance to show exactly what he is made of.

It is a challenge Morgan will want to rise to, as he did when playing his best Test innings to date. England were in some difficulty at 118 for 4 against Pakistan last July when Morgan arrived in the middle at Trent Bridge to face the Mohammads, Amir and Asif. The response? A match-turning knock of 130.

There is no chance of Morgan moving up the batting order in the foreseeable future so he must accept whatever situation presents itself – be it scoring quick runs, as was the case yesterday, or digging the team out of trouble should they start to flounder.

"Morgs is going to become a very good Test cricketer and he is a perfect man for these different situations," Bell said. "Hopefully, he will grow all the time."

Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Sport
Alexis Sanchez missed a penalty before scoring the opening goal with a header at the back post
footballArsenal vs QPR match report
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
News
i100
Sport
Rooney celebrates with striker-partner Radamel Falcao after the pair combine to put United ahead
footballManchester United vs Newcastle match report
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all