Cow Corner

Morgan comparisons aint Fair-brother

Cow Corner

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Eoin Morgan will become a one-day great. There, it's been said. The squatty England batsman's stunning century against Australia shows he is ready to establish himself as such.

Not since a young Ricky Ponting was described as the 'next Michael Slater' has a player been so underwhelmed, and Morgan will not be blushing at the constant and, frankly tedious, comparisons with the nuggety left-hander Neil Fairbrother.

The Lancastrian was a fine player who averaged 15.64 in Tests and 39.47 in one-day cricket, but his penchant for a run-like-hell single and favourite shot being a nurdle behind square for one, do not put him in the same league as Morgan.

The cool head, the composure in the middle overs and the almost autistic ability to mentally track a run-chase are characteristics the two players share, but beyond that the comparison is somewhat fanciful. The Irishman has not learned his game like anyone who has preceded him, and he is the product of unique nurturing.

Morgan has the game to rip bowling attacks apart, even those not containing the disgracefully-mulleted Shane Watson, and the unorthodoxy to redefine the way batsmen approach a one-day knock.

The Middlesex man pummelled Australia all round the Rose Bowl with an impish grin and not a flicker of self-doubt, as he took the attack to the Old Enemy in a way in which only Kevin Pietersen and Mark Butcher (remember that?) have managed in the last 20 years.

Let's move on to the other man reckoned to have been reincarnated in the form of Morgan - Michael 'Bevo' Bevan, who was to run-chases what umpire Dickie Bird was to rain delays.

'Bevo' played the short ball about as well as Danny 'walking duck' Morrison, but managed to shepherd the tail and scythe the ball through gaps in the outfield with staggering precision to steer Australia to many improbable one-day wins.

Having finished up with an ODI average of 53.58, Bevan is an apt comparison for Morgan but, while his stats may be worth attempting to emulate, the England batsman's flair and exuberance at the crease sets him apart.

'Morgs' may finish up with an inferior average to Bevan, but anyone who has spent time in the company of Kevin Pietersen will have been convinced that stats do not mean everything in the game.

Anyone who has spent an afternoon watching Derek 'Arkle' Randall in the field at Trent Bridge, a Michael Vaughan 'hold the pose' cover drive or a Michael 'whispering death' Holding over, will know that the aesthetics of cricketing excellence count for a lot.

Morgan is not only hugely effective and professional in executing his role within the side, but his audacious and outrageous batting empties bars and inspires the next generation of stars to play with freedom and creativity.

Whether or not England's middle-order magician fulfils his potential and makes his mark in the pages of Wisden Almanacks to come is down to him, but all the attributes are there.

Forget the comparisons: Morgan is a new breed of batsman. A fearless character with a hurling background cannot be compared to anyone who has ever played the game before.

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