Tag Archives: Eoin Morgan

Why understated risk taker Eoin Morgan deserves more credit

Before you think about criticising Eoin Morgan for all of his apparent misgivings, have some perspective for what he’s done to make his career happen.

In Morgan, England have an understated risk taker, driven by his convictions, but of late, disliked for three main things.

These things are a lack of form, what appeared to be a lack of commitment to playing Tests, and an impression he demands special treatment.

Firstly, he’d scored just 328 runs at an average of under 30 in 2016. For many, he was first in line for the chopping block if the team didn’t do so well.

Secondly, before the West Indies, he said he has given up on ever playing Tests again, and he would be available for the IPL again.

This is despite having played his last First Class game in July 2015 for Middlesex (nearly two years ago).

For many this appears as if he’s picking and chosing when he wants to play for England, and it’s not fair It’s certainly not OK for him ti complain about non-selection in a format he isn’t playing.

Thirdly,  and most significantly, when England toured Bangladesh, he didn’t go. Out of the three elements to the undermining of his authority, this is probably the fairest criticism; that said – he did it without platitude-filled press conferences or sob stories. He made his position clear, and many didn’t like it, but at least he gave the side a chance to prepare.

These things slowly eroded some of Morgan’s authority, and it’s a bit unfair.  He isn’t perfect, but don’t he’s risked a lot to get where he is.

Firstly, appreciate how hard he has worked not only on his form, but also to build this team up.

In 2016, Morgan had a torrid time, but he’s made up for it in 2017, with 300 runs in six innings, including two centuries.

Secondly, realise that Morgan  has time and time again sacrificed his career for England.

He quit playing for his native Ireland to try and play for England. A tough thing to do, with no guarantees. He succeeded, but was then dropped.  Undeterred, he quit the IPL to re-stake a claim in the Test side, and when it was apparent he wouldn’t play in whites again, he refocused his career once more.

He didn’t sulk – he focussed on playing ODI cricket, and has succeeded.  As England’s ODI captain, he’s now fifth on the list of most matches as skipper, with a better win percentage than three of the four men ahead of him). Only Michael Vaughan is better, which is impressive company.

And, aside from the poor world cup performance, Morgan’s side is formidable. This England team has power hitting, genuine allrounders, spinners, quick bowlers, and dynamic fielding.

You can’t complain he won’t play Tests, and he wants to play in the IPL, but revel in his successes for England in ODI. It’s precisely because Morgan has specialised, that this young side has become so strong.

Eoin Morgan may not have fulfilled his potential in some areas of the game, but nobody should doubt his commitment to England.

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FLT20 gives Middlesex a strategic time out from the Championship

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photo credit: Carlton Browne via photopin cc

It seems like a very long time ago that I watched Middlesex win the Twenty 20 cup back in 2008. It’s about time Middlesex pulled our socks up a little in this format, because last year was abysmal.

The FLT20 this year is a little bit like a strategic time out, which of course is one of the newest fads in cricket, brought in by the IPL. It was introduced to allow some sponsoring and advertising air time, of course, but on field it also allows the fielding side to regroup, break the concentration of the batsmen, and to bring a wicket or a change in attitude.

The next Championship game is on the 8th July, which is nearly three whole weeks away. It’s some time to reflect upon a slight dip in form, so I’d like to think that Middlesex are using a strategic time out, in the form of limited overs cricket. That isn’t to say that the FlT20 is less important and is a breather for the championship, but that it is going allows the side to take our mind off it, and have a different mind-set, against different teams, a different set up, and perhaps importantly, it is a fresh start. It is a chance to set down the standard, and then have another pop at the LVCC a bit later.

The YB40 is not going as swimmingly as Middlesex may have hoped. After being beaten in a rain affected game versus Yorkshire, Middlesex are now precariously at five out seven in the group, although they have a game in hand. In terms of points, it is still do-able, with the top two on 11, and Glamorgan and Leicestershire on nine and eight points. Then again one would assume that at this point, the focus turned back to the County championship, and of course the T20. The YB40 is slowly falling through our hands a bit.

The season not fallen in to disrepute by any stretch of the imagination, yet it is unbelievably frustrating to be a fan of Middlesex sometimes. It all looked set to be a really great season, winning the first three games. But, after having stumbled in recent weeks, falling from the top two to fourth as a result of not registering a win in the last three LVCC matches, doubts are seeping in as Middlesex are languishing mid table.

The 10 wicket loss to Yorkshire and the draw versus Sussex, a game in which Sussex were made to follow on no less, were particularly exasperating. It was a chance to bridge the gap at the top, and instead Middlesex fell down the table. Having said this, there has been an encouraging resurgence in our limited overs form, and one can only hope that more limited overs cricket will help the consolidation of this form, and this can be carried forward.

Dawid Malan in particular, has been in abysmal form in the Championship (114 runs in eight innings with no fifties or hundreds)  but has returned to form in the YB40. He has struck four impressive scores of 99, 80 not out, 96 and 49, before his 14 against Yorkshire. He is perhaps the middle order in a nutshell. Clearly in good YB40 form, of sorts, but needs to carry this over.

There is really no speakable problems with the bowling attack. The wickets are regularly shared across the attack, although perhaps the greater number of fixtures from YB40, has affected selection. This is perhaps most importantly where the FLT20 is acting as a strategic time out. It is definitely a format in which the team sheet is not just photocopied, but there are specific picks for the format. This could give players a rest, and potentially even allow others a chance to break through.

The fact of the matter is that Middlesex have shown that the batting is consistently the problem. The top two have been in strong form but the middle has not. Both Eoin Morgan and Adam Voges will be in the middle order, and Paul Stirling is likely to also play who was the leading run scorer in the competition last year for Middlesex and is coming  fresh from impressive form versus Australia A and Pakistan.

This FLT20 is certainly going to allow an injection of aggressive batting with Voges, Morgan, Stirling, and an in form Malan, hopefully. If the North London club can harness potential good form in the FLT20 and bring that form into the championship, it could be a rejuvenated and salvaged season.

Most prolific T20 players – Batsmen

The  current World rankings are very preliminary  for T20 and i don’t think are reliable. They only take into account the international fixtures and not enough T20 Internationals are played to accurately reflect who the best in the world really is for T20. For the batting i have looked at a few sources including statistics and records, The IPL, Domestic tornaments and of course international T20 competitions. The current top 10 for international batting is as follows: Guptill, Morgan, Mccullum, Raina, Jayawardene, Dilshan, Sangakarra, Warner, Duminy.  ( http://www.google.co.uk/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=2020+batting+rankings)

I want to quickly look at why they are there and if they deserve it before saying what i think it should really be.

1. MJ Guptill – Does not get picked for the IPL due to existing contracting commitments with Derbyshire.  I do not doubt Martin Guptill’sability in the format and he deserves his place in the rankings for sure, but he is just not the most prolific batsmen in the world. I would argue he isn’t the most prolific even in New Zealand with Ross Taylor and Brendan McCullum both ahead of him. That just shows how strong NZ are with 3 in the top 10 in my books.
2. E. Morgan -Plays limited amounts in the IPL. Not as effective as when he first burst onto the side. His unorthodox technique means crouching at the crease he has been consistently found out against the short ball. Morgan only averages 27 in T20, Only has seven fifties and no tons. Totally out of his depth in a statistical sense.
3. B McCullum – Fair enough but if he is there so too should Ross Taylor
4. SK Raina – Fair. Both Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli have been brilliant in the T20 format. What about Dhoni though ? Surely Dhoni is a renowned hitter ?
5. DPMD Jayawardene –  Arguably more a longer format specialist. Averages under 30 with only 70 odd sixes. A bit out of his depth one thinks. Then again he brings the innings some stability amongst all the chaos.
6. TM Dilshan – A little overrated averaging 27 with only 50 odd sixes. He did however invent the ‘Dilscoop..’ and help to transform inovation in the game.
7. SR Watson – Under achiever. Doesn’t get enough runs or tons. Good average and SR but no tons.
8. KC Sangakkara – fair enough but averages under 30 with no tons. He brings experience of Test and ODI cricket and for that reason is ever reliable. He does have the ability to hit out, but like Jayawardene he is more a settled steady middle order player that the likes of Pollard or Gayle would anchor around.
9. DA Warner – Should be higher one feels. More to follow..
10. JP Duminy – Not always a permanent fixture of the side. Good average, stady strike rate, no tons.
When compiling what i think are the most prolific, the records and stats show a few names that keep popping up and it is largely not the names above. Guptill is certainly no where to be seen, having not put himself up for auction in the IPL. He has a decent record but one feels he dosn’t play enough t20 to have had an impact oon T20 as a whole and not just the International format.
The name that appears a lot is D.Hussey . Hussey has an astonishing record with 187 matches but 4666 runs. He has only ever got 1 hundred but is a solid middle order batsmen. He has 27 fifties and just under 200 sixes. He has been playing from the start and outscores even the mighty Chris Gayle.  Not just statistically but Hussey is a prolific batsmen technically. Not able to play tests, he regularly plays international too in the T20 format and is one of the best in the world. He hasn’t been as prolific as Gayle and co in the IPL so perhaps he isn’t as dominant as he once was.
Chris Gayle has  the most unbelievable records. He was the top scorer for the last two IPL’s and the first scorer of an international T20 hundred.  Having only played 107 games he has taken T20 by storm and bulldozed records down to size: Gayle has accumilated 3970 T20 runs, including 8 hundreds which is the most. He has-281 Sixes, also the most. This year in the IPL he averaged around 60 which is incomparable to the next best run scorer, Gambir with 39  . He is utterly prolific. Utterly dominant and utterly incomparable and done it all at an astonishing rate. He is my Number 1 batsmen

Another huge Gayle hit

Warner is too low down on the International rankings in my view. Despite being a little on the side he is a big hitter. He has adopted the sweep and reverse sweep as trademark shots and boy does he know how to hit it.  In 127 games he has produced 3682 runs with 5 tons. He is a prolific batsmen from down under where the grounds are absolutely enormous.  Like Gayle he has a high strike rate, Gayle’s being over 150, Warner being 143. This is not to shabby. Having only played 8 games in this IPL in 2012 one could see why he wasn’t the top run scorer, but even in that time he hit a scintillating ton.
Ross Taylor records are up there with the best arguably . He has 3200 runs at an average of 31 and  has a 145 strike rate. Very solid.  He is 4th on the list of 6’s behind Gayle, Pollard and D. Hussey with 186. He is ahead of Brendan Mccullum, his fellow countryman who has a few less with 177. He is even ahead of Warner.  Taylor however had a shockingly bad IPL scoring 1 fifty in 12 matches.  A record could be ruined if he carries on like that
Kieron Pollard is a player on my list in spite of his slighlty shaky stats. He can literally destroy a bowling side. He is an even more prolific hitter than Gayle arguably as he is a right hander so can really smash the off spinners with the Spin. He has 199 sixes which is unbelievable baring in mind he only has 2817 runs (near;y 1200 in sixes alone ). He has an extremely high strike rate of 160 however. He is obviously a player that to an extent under achieves with few tons and not enough runs, but his raw ability to hit gets him on the list.
AB De villiers and  Kevin Pietersen most notably are arguably up there with Gayle and Warner. Pietersen made a name for himself early on in his career as a hitter, smashing Warne all across England, Reverse sweeping Murali with distain and most brilliantly hitting McGrath over his head on to the Pavillion. KP and De villiers of course should be on the list but not only due to hitting. They are both seen as class players not just smashers.

De villiers launches it

 Pietersen has some what toned himself down and now uses his brilliant technical ability and fast hands to score big runs. De Villiers arguably the most improved player on the planet also one that can use deft touches and paddles whilst also possesing an ability to smash the ball out the ground. I personally think as good as Morgan is, for Pietersen to not be in the top ten yet be Englands player of the tornament in the world cup for T20 is a crime. He is awsome.

Pietersen hits out in whites

 There are a few others that are simply raw talent and are consistent performers. Sehwag has a decent record. Not incredible but steady, yet we all know from other forms how utterly unrelentingly destructive he can be. Then there is Dhoni, Yuvraj, Afridi and Tamim Iqbal. These four players deserve a mention due to reputation not records and stats. We all know that Dhoni can really hurt a bowling side with his trademark unorthodox yet effective style. Yuvraj famously hitting 6 sixes, Afridi nicknamed ‘Boom Boom’ yet a professional under achiever in an under achieving side, and surprisingly both Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Ul-Hasan have really good techniques and reputations. Tamim in particular was really ruthless and powerful against England a number of years ago.  One last name that simply must have a mention is Dwayne bravo. regularly picked in the IPL and a big big hitter. Not sure he is the best but he is up there.
It is unfortunate Pakistani players are not allowed in the IPL because he likes of Umar Akmal and Afridi would be on the list if they had better records i think. Its too unsubstantial to include them and they are also often very inconsisten despite being champions of the last world cup.
To finish this, i will pick my top 10.  I cannot include every big hitter or international batsmen, so just bare with it 🙂
1. Chris Gayle WI
2. Dave Warner AUS
3. Kevin Pietersen ENG
4. AB De villiers SA
5. Ross Taylor NZ
6. David Hussey AUS
7. Martin Guptill NZ
8.  Brendan Mccullum NZ
9. Suresh Raina IND
10. Kieron Pollard WI
(few that missed out are DuminySA , Yuvraj IND , Dhoni IN)