County Championship Division 1

Morgan bucks trend of his teammates

England's white-ball captain hopeful of returning to first-class cricket with Middlesex this season

Dave Middleton

21 February 2018, 04:26 PM

As key figures in England's limited overs set-up turn their back on red-ball cricket, captain Eoin Morgan has gone the other way.

Alex Hales this week joined England limited overs teammate Adil Rashid in knocking back the first-class game to sign up to play white-ball cricket only with his county side, the duo - on the outer of the Test side - opting to focus on limited-overs cricket.

However Morgan, England's captain for ODI and T20 cricket, is bucking the trend having been one of the original pioneers.

Morgan last played first-class cricket in July 2015 before prioritising the white-ball game, but the 31-year-old is set to return to the red-ball arena with Middlesex this year.

"Hopefully, if I'm selected," Morgan said of the County Championship that starts in April.

"I tried to play some last year and the year before. The reason I've always worked trying to play red-ball cricket is my technique isn't very good and I always struggle my first 20 balls and I'm a slow starter.

"Striving to play red-ball cricket always made me work on my technique a little bit more. My technique's normally okay and I tend to hit it further and play it later.

"That's why I've been hesitant to make a decision (like Rashid and Hales)."

Reports in England suggest there are no shortage of players in the England system looking to focus on limited-overs cricket only.

Yorkshire pair David Willey and Liam Plunkett, teammates in the England limited overs set-up, could face a career crossroads after the current season when their contracts come up for renewal.

Willey, who has spent the last three Australian summers with the Perth Scorchers in the KFC BBL around his international commitments, said he was coming to accept Test cricket was not part of his plans.

"I think over the past couple of years, the way the scheduling is now, it's difficult to play enough four-day cricket to put your name in the frame for Test cricket," Willey told before BBL|07.

"So, I'm at a real crossroads at the minute actually of whether I decide to pursue a career in Twenty20 cricket and one-day cricket and leave my dreams of Test cricket behind.

"Certainly, two years ago I still had ambitions to play Test cricket. But right now, I'm at a real crossroads and I'll have some sleepless nights thinking about that.

"For me now it's thinking about my body, my family, how long I want to be away from home. And not only that but what sort of a condition I want to leave myself in come the end of my career and how long I can play for.

"They're all things I need to weigh up and yes it would be great to play Test cricket but I'm 27 now (he turns 28 next week) and how long would I play Test cricket for? Probably not that long. So, am I better off pursuing a career in the shorter formats?"