Friday, 3 June 2011

Eoin Morgan - Test Batsman

Today, Eoin Morgan played a test innings. It wasn't a gritty, nurdly, innings. He took chances, punished bad balls, and attacked good ones. He didn't leave many, and he scored quickly. It was not a conventional test innings, but it was an Eoin Morgan innings.

It would be foolish to expect all of the batsmen in a line up to play in the same way. Some batsmen just want to bat for as long as they can, and any run they pick up is a handy bonus to the time spent out in the middle. Some batsmen want to show off by playing loose, expansive shots, in order to entertain and look good. There are others who will leave anything outside off-stump, and punish anything that isn't. Eoin Morgan isn't a conventional batsman, and while there are certain expectations for a test batsman, he doesn't appear to heed them.

Morgan's strength is that he is an exceptional shot maker - he has the full range of strokes and is in complete control of everything he does. The innings he played today was his natural game - he hit two sixes, yet there was nothing reckless about either. He scored quickly, but didn't compromise his wicket. He scored runs, lots of them, and at a good lick, which is what he's in the team to do.

There have been some questions about Morgan's inclusion in the test team, mainly about the flaws that open up in his technique when playing defensively. Yes, there are flaws, and Morgan will have to mend them if he is to become truly one of the best in the world, but much of those flaws occur when he is trying to do something he is not comfortable with - when he is playing outside of his natural game. Today, he played how he wanted to play, and reaped the rewards of a well-played fifty in an important partnership in the context of the match.

When Eoin Morgan plays an Eoin Morgan innings, there is no question that he is test material. Down the line he may go through a bad patch and be under public pressure, but the worst thing he can do is to try and become a player that he is not. Eoin Morgan plays as only Eoin Morgan can, and judging by today's performance, if he continues to play as well as he did today, we could be seeing the makings of a proper test cricketer.

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