Morgan's juices flowing again as big bash begins

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The Independent Online

All roads to the West Country were clogged last night. The Twenty20 international in Bristol on Saturday was presumably the focus of most travellers' attention, although some were diverting to Glastonbury.

After the rain-ruined Test series between England and Sri Lanka, some limited-overs merry making may come as a merciful relief. There is only one T20 match, which at least meets the requirements of leaving the public wanting more, so far the only form of the game to which this ethos is applied by the England and Wales Cricket Board.

"I'm looking forward to playing some one-day cricket," said England's new Twenty20 vice-captain, Eoin Morgan, who may do much of the merry making. "After the couple of weeks we've had, with the grounds not being sold out, a lot of delays, it will get the juices flowing again. T20, one-day cricket, is brilliant. My family can come, spend a day, watch a game, enjoy themselves, don't have to understand it, watch the ball being walloped everywhere."

Morgan is one of the world's leading practitioners in one-day cricket. His elevation to the vice-captaincy in the shortest form of the game, confirmed yesterday because of the slight doubts about the fitness of the new captain, Stuart Broad, with a bruised heel, confirms his status within the side.

He has come to enjoy Test cricket more since that was his objective as a kid in Ireland and his taste has grown for it since his debut last year. "I like it more because it's harder, that's why it's called Test cricket," he said.

But it is one-day cricket that has made him, first with Ireland, the country of his birth, for whom he appeared at 19, and in the past two years for England. His limited-overs batting (and increasingly his Test batting) are a combination of steely nerve and wonderful imagination.

He is unsure what number he will bat in the order. Five is his preferred position but a glance at England's selection suggests six batsmen with Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell and Morgan vying for ascendancy. "Five would suit me," he said. "It is where I have been most successful. I batted six for a while and found it different." He averages 50 at five, 26 at six, so it is clear what the sensible option would be.

Morgan's pacing of an innings is impeccable, as he will doubtless demonstrate in the series with Sri Lanka, which comprises five 50-over matches in addition to the Twenty20. It is noticeable that he has adapted the method for the longer game, taking his time, surveying the scene, and backing himself to up the tempo when it matters. "I have a lot of belief in my own ability," he said. "It comes from having these experiences and meeting legends like Jacques Kallis and playing with them in the Indian Premier League. So I have kept things really simple and it's been watch ball, see ball, hit it."

There has been a contradiction in England's short-form cricket. They are T20 world champions, a triumph in which Morgan played a full part in the West Indies last year, but they were eliminated in the quarter finals of the World Cup, played over 50 overs.

Vanquished in short order by Sri Lanka, who galloped home by 10 wickets, England, under the new stewardship of Alastair Cook, will be keen to make a point this time. There is also the 5-0 drubbing administered by Sri Lanka on their tour here five years ago.

"We have got quite a young team coming through," said Morgan. "There's going to be quite a positive nature about the way we're trying to play. When we have played positively in the past we have won games, it's a matter of that travelling throughout the team."

Eoin Morgan is an ASICS ambassador and wears the GEL-ADVANCE 3, arguably the lightest and most responsive batting shoe on the market

England's one-day games

Saturday Twenty20 v Sri Lanka (Bristol)

Tuesday ODI v Sri Lanka (The Oval)

1 July ODI v Sri Lanka (Headingley)

3 July ODI v Sri Lanka (Lord's)

6 July ODI v Sri Lanka (Trent Bridge)

9 July ODI v Sri Lanka (Old Trafford)