Eoin Morgan’s dropping from the English Test side today is probably deserved, but what does it mean for Test aspirant Ireland?
You can’t really argue with the decision to sack Morgan. In six Test innings in the United Arab Emirates Morgan has made a grand total of 82 runs at 13.67.
They’d be useful runs from a No. 10, but they aren’t so good from your No. 6.
His poor form then continued into the ODIs and Twenty20 internationals, meaning that his time in the whites and England’s three-lions cap is over for now.
It’s all bad news for Morgan: he is a major part of England’s limited overs teams, and was expected to play a major part in the Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka later this year. Before then he will play in the Indian Premier League for Kolkatta.
This is undoubtedly in the best interests of both Morgan and the England cricket team. But is it in the best interests of cricket as a whole?
You see, Morgan isn’t English. A born-and-bred Dubliner, Morgan made his first-class debut for Ireland back in 2004, and his ODI debut for Ireland in 2006 (both matches against Scotland).
After rising up through the ranks of English county side Middlesex, Morgan eventually made his England debut in a ODI match against the West Indies in 2009. Oddly enough this was a mere month-and-a-half after he played his last one for Ireland (where he scored a match-winning 84* against Canada).
His Twenty20 debut came for England against the Netherlands, also in 2009 but after his English ODI debut.
Ireland play ODI and Twenty20 international cricket. They’re very good and getting better, currently ranked 11th in ODI cricket and ninth in Twenty20 cricket, ahead of Test nations Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.
That’s not bad for a country that only made its ODI debut in 2006 and is looking to gain Test status by 2020.
What will help Ireland and other minnow teams succeed is playing their best XI all the time.
That shouldn’t be to the detriment of those who want to play Test cricket, but rather working with them. What needs to happen is a system whereby once a player declares his limited-overs allegiance to a team, he stays playing for them for his career.
If a player then finds himself good enough to be picked for a Test team, that’s fantastic. They can go on and play cricket at the highest level, but still play for their Associate or Affiliate side, sharing their experiences with local players.
Perhaps the best example of this is Australian fast bowler Dirk Nannes. Having given up hope of Australian selection he decided to make use of a Dutch passport, playing in The Netherlands’ shock win over England in 2009.
This seemingly spurred the Australian selectors into action, picking him for a grand total of one ODI and 15 Twenty20s.
Given the depth at Australia’s disposal, wouldn’t that skill have been better used with the lower-ranked team he began with?
For now, though, Morgan will still play all his international cricket for England. As Ed Smith wrote, this is the first time he’s really had to come back from adversity. If nothing else, this should be interesting to watch.
But wouldn’t the story be that much richer if the comeback came dressed in green?