Morgan defends IPL commitments


Published: Wednesday 18th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Out-of-form captain Eoin Morgan has been left to field yet more tricky questions in the build-up to England’s important World Cup clash with New Zealand in Wellington.

The left-hander’s lack of runs was again high on the agenda, but Morgan was also forced to justify the decision to allow him to put his Indian Premier League commitments before England duty.

Morgan will be unavailable to lead England in the one-day international against Ireland on May 8 after he was picked up by Sunrisers Hyderabad in Monday’s IPL auction.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has relaxed rules to allow their contracted players to be available for the whole tournament, which runs from April 8 to May 24.

“Yeah, that means I won’t go to Ireland,” Morgan said.

“The chairman of selectors and the director of cricket have allowed the guys who have got picked up in the IPL, or went into the auction, to miss that Ireland game in order to expose themselves to opportunities in the IPL in order to learn more about their game and excel their game.”

Morgan denied that it might appear a strange decision for the captain to skip the Dublin match, adding: “No I don’t think it is. Probably if you’re being a little short-sighted it might do, but I think in the longer run it will serve me well.”

Morgan missed the IPL last year in a bid to push his claims for a return to England’s Test team only to see Gary Ballance, Moeen Ali and Sam Robson preferred by the selectors.

That has prompted the 28-year-old’s return to the IPL – a decision he confirmed in Perth last month – and described the chance given to him by Hyderabad as a “huge privilege”.

“I think it’s really important where I’m at in my career to refocus on my basics of what I’ve learnt over the last six years I’ve played for England,” he said.

“One of those processes was playing in the IPL. It does give you great confidence, you learn a lot along the way and it gives you great energy.

“Going back to that is a huge privilege.”

Morgan will be joined in Hyderabad by World Cup team-mate Ravi Bopara and England outcast Kevin Pietersen after they were both also bought in the auction.

While Pietersen’s England future is almost certainly over following his controversial 2014, Morgan retains hopes he still has a chance of adding to his 16 Test caps.

“My Test ambitions still lie very strongly,” he said. “I think opportunities in the Test team at the moment aren’t there.”

In addition to clarifying his Dublin absence, Morgan was asked to discuss the decision to promote Jos Buttler to the vice-captaincy.

Buttler was handed the position when Morgan took over as one-day skipper from Alastair Cook two months ago but the move has largely gone under the radar.

“In making Jos the vice-captain I thought it was quite an easy decision given that when I’ve captained in the past he’s been someone that I’ve gone to get immediate input on the game,” said Morgan, who denied he had needed to explain the decision to Twenty20 captain Stuart Broad or Joe Root, who has been touted as a future skipper.

“No, I think guys were quite happy about it. They were fine.”

Morgan inevitably had to brush off questions over his own form too, admitting that he was perplexed by the size of the gap between his best and worst since arriving Down Under.

His tour-opening century against Australia was made with the same sort of defiance with which he has since had to repeatedly bat away questions over his form slump, which has seen Morgan manage just two runs in five innings.

“I’d love you to explain it to me because I don’t understand it,” he said.

“Personally I try and keep it as simple as possible. You don’t look any further than what’s in front of you and I’ve done that and it hasn’t worked.

“But I believe it will work and when it does hopefully I can cash in on it and hopefully make it either a match-winning performance or build on somebody else’s performance.”

A Morgan return to form would go a long way towards England pulling of an upset against the in-form Black Caps at the Westpac Stadium on Friday night.

England have only ever won one ODI in the New Zealand capital – way back in 1984 – and Morgan suggested he and the other senior players would need to lead the way.

“Our senior players will need to stand up,” he said.

“We didn’t do it at the MCG which was disappointing. Guys like myself, Jimmy, Broady, Belly need to make contributions in order to make the young guys feel quite comfortable within themselves.”

He added: “Playing together as a unit is huge for us. It’s an area where we’ve struggled in recent times. We’ve had guys who have put in good individual performances but guys haven’t built on that and that has been disappointing.

“It’s a focus of our’s. Everyone is aware of it and we’re trying to improve on it.

Morgan was, at least, able to enjoy one light-hearted moment in his press conference after the Wellington mayor, Celia Wade-Brown, referred to him as “Eoin Rogers” during an official Maori welcome at Wellington harbour on Tuesday night.

“I’ve been called a lot worse,” he said. “She got the hardest part right as well.”

Published: Wednesday 18th February 2015 by The News Editor

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