disadvantage for cricket writers of England having a settled and successful
Test side is that there is not too much room for debating selections.
the first Test of the summer fast approaching there is one decision that needs
to be made and debated - picking the retired Paul Collingwood's replacement.
If the question
stands out like a sore (probably fractured) Nasser Hussain thumb, then the answer
is less clear at first.
little to choose between the two outstanding candidates, Ravi Bopara and Eoin
They are of
a similar age - Ravi turned 26 last week, Morgan is nearing 25. They also have
a similar mentality at the crease, and are players who both prefer to attack
their Test records to date - Bopara averages 33 from 10 Tests, Morgan 32 from 6
- they've shown flashes of the talent and temperament required to flourish, as
well as frailties at the highest level in the five-day game which they have yet
How to play
the short ball effectively is still an issue that confronts Morgan like a
figurative and literal bouncer to the throat. In the shorter forms he is
largely protected from the short stuff, but in Tests he might easily be worked
over by the likes of Zaheer Khan all summer long.
Bopara, his transformation from peacock to chicken during the 2009 Ashes was
desperately sad to see. The loss of confidence did not just affect Bopara - it
put him some way out of the selectors' minds until lately.
where little separates two players, selectors tend to plump for 'the next cab
on the rank'. Morgan, England's spare batsman in the Ashes, fits that brief.
more Cowers thinks about it, the more he hopes that Bopara will get the nod.
after all, one big difference between the two. Bopara is plying his trade in
county cricket as we speak, while Morgan is trading on his limited-overs
reputation with a stint for Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL.
could be out there too - but he turned down a lucrative six-figure offer to play
for Rajasthan Royals, and then reportedly a second offer to open the batting
with boyhood idol Sachin Tendulkar for Mumbai Indians just last week.
impressive show of commitment, and though it should not count against Morgan
that he has headed to India, it should certainly be to Bopara's credit that he
And if the
Essex man, who has admittedly failed to blaze a trail through county cricket this
season (a century and two fifties from 11 innings at an average of 37.7),
is overlooked, what message does it send out to the county game and aspiring
England cricketers? The domestic game is struggling enough as it is.
stress again that this is no attack on Morgan, who is one of the most exciting
players to represent the country in recent times, and could well go on to have
a hugely successful Test career.
is the selection that Collingwood's legacy deserves.
one last time, return to the cliches of the Sunderland blocker wringing every
last drop from his talent when England's middle order desperately needed his application
man who is scrapping tooth and nail in county cricket to fill Colly's boots is
the one who should get the first chance to replace him?
Who would you like to see take the vacant space
in England's middle order? Ravi Bopara? Eoin Morgan? Someone else altogether?
Get involved in the debate by leaving a comment below!
Over of the week
Parameswaran of Kochi Tuskers Kerala comes in to bowl to Royal Challengers
Bangalore's Chris Gayle. What follows is brutal: six, (no-ball) six, four,
four, six, six, four. Let Cowers spare you the arithmetic - it amounts to 36
runs from seven scoring shots, and with the no-ball a cherry on top it saw the run-rate of Bangalore's chase reduced from 5.38 to 3.52 in the space of an over - just three overs in.
he was reintroduced into the attack nine overs later (once Gayle had gone, unsurprisingly) and his
next over cost just three runs.
suggestions for last week's picture of Harbhajan Singh (and a couple bordering
hands this week's award to the very first entry - charlesmc80 - for managing to turn the caption into the Turbanator
telling off Kevin Pietersen:
"Now listen KP - if you reverse sweep me again with that shot
that's not in the coaching manual, I'm gonna throw this stump at you. I'm not
kidding this time, like I was those other three times you did."
challenge this week - should you choose to accept it - is to work out what's
going on in England ODI captain Alastair Cook's brain as he watches Test
skipper Andrew Strauss...