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Morgan ready for Test re-sit

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Eoin Morgan in action during England's fourth ODI against South Africa

In an interview with the Cricket Paper this week, Eoin Morgan talks about his younger days at Middlesex.

Often when he tried to hit a six at Lord's, even when the ball came off the middle of the bat, he would get caught two yards from the fence. He found it impossible to clear the ropes.

So he went away and worked in the gym, and in the meantime came up with the innovative reverse sweeps and switch hits that have made him today such a supreme limited-overs cricketer.

That vignette sums up Morgan's career. He sees a problem, he addresses it, and gets on with things.

After being dropped from the Test team after his multiple failures in the UAE against Pakistan this winter, he has worked on his stance and his body position when he receives the ball.

He is desperate to play Test cricket again, and openly stated on Friday that he is using the ODIs against South Africa as a stepping stone to win back his Test place.

His 36 from 36 balls at Lord's follows a sublime, man-of-the-match winning 73 at the Oval on Friday. In both matches, he came in when England were slightly struggling.

At the Oval, England needed 148 from 32 overs with seven wickets in hand. At Lord's, it was 65 off 14.2. In both games, he settled in immediately and brought a sense of calm to the run-chase.

That, in a sense, is his real quality. Morgan thinks any target is gettable. He goes to the middle, works out what is needed to chase a total, and calmly gets on with it.

At The Oval, off only the third ball he faced from Robin Peterson, he gave him the charge and hit him for four. It did not come off the middle of the bat, but Proteas captain AB de Villiers immediately put in a long-on. Morgan then contented himself with milking the singles with the field back.

England needed five an over, so Morgan created the field where they could take five an over by the calculated risk of coming down the pitch to the spinner.

Contrast Morgan with Ian Bell at Lord's. On 88, with just 35 needed from 40 balls, he charged Dale Steyn, got a top-edge and was dismissed.

There was simply no need to play the shot at that point in the innings, but Bell had got a little bogged down by Wayne Parnell an over or two before and frustration got to him.

It was a shot that Morgan never would have played. He is a superb analyser of the risk/reward ratio in shot selection. He has huge mental toughness out in the middle, which makes his failure at Test level so baffling.

Test cricket is the form of the game where mental toughness is a prerequisite, yet Morgan never looks comfortable when batting in the five-day game.

With the retirement of Andrew Strauss and with Kevin Pietersen in the naughty corner, England's batting line-up suddenly looks a lot weaker than it did at the start of the summer.

You do get the feeling that if Morgan gets a second chance in Test cricket, he will not need a third.


Tweet of the day: "[cuts and pastes] Poor old Ravi..." - The Daily Mail's Lawrence Booth after another failure with the bat for Ravi Bopara.

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