LONDON: The unexpected delight of seeing England’s limited-overs captain, Eoin Morgan, in a Championship match will be delayed after Morgan broke his thumb in the nets.
According to Cricinfo, Morgan, who was not picked up by an IPL team this year, has not played a Championship match since he made a pair against Somerset at Merchant Taylor’s School three years ago, an outcome that seemed to encapsulate his gradual isolation from the longer form of the game.
But while some were surprised that he declared his availability for Middlesex’s Specsavers Championship campaign – especially after England team-mates, Alex Hales and Adil Rashid, both committed to white-ball only deals – Morgan insists the experience will help with his limited-overs cricket and retains hopes of representing the county later in the season.
“I still want to play county cricket and red ball cricket,” Morgan told ESPNcricinfo. “Technically I’m not very good. I’m vulnerable for the first 22-23 balls of my innings and if I still strive to play red-ball it forces me to work on my technique. Until I don’t think it can help my game in any way, I’ll keep playing it. I’ll probably revisit that decision after the 2019 World Cup.
“Originally I was going to be available for 12 Championship matches this season. There’s very little ODI and T20 cricket this year. Now I’m missing three games definitely and, depending on how it heals, it could be four.
“I have actually been available to play for Middlesex for the two years. I’ve not been selected. But I was due to play this year. I was told I was playing a couple of months ago. I had a box of Duke’s balls sent out to New Zealand and practised with Mark Ramprakash before every training session.”
Morgan, who was speaking at the 2018 launch of All Stars, the ECB initiative to get more children playing the game, retains an outside hope that the injury may heal quicker than originally expected. He is due to have another scan within the next 24 hours and, if it is concluded that he does not require surgery, he could return for the Championship match at Hove on May 4.
Morgan suffered the injury during a net session at Merchant Taylor’s ground last week. Facing Tom Barber, the left-arm fast bowler who was armed with a red ball at the time, he was hit on the left thumb. “He’s got a yard,” Morgan said in praise of Barber’s pace.
Middlesex have been less optimistic, speaking of a “4-6 week absence”. If pessimistic forecasts prove correct then he would be relying on the Royal London Cup to give him regular cricket ahead of England’s opening ODI of the season against Scotland in Edinburgh on June 10, which is quickly followed by a five-match series against Australia.
If Morgan then opted for a spell in the Caribbean Premier League, which runs from August 8 to September 16, it would then be quite possible that his Championship absence would extend a further year.
Middlesex’s confidence in their untold batting riches as they attempt to regain their Division One status at the first attempt has now dissipated. Their England Lions opener Nick Gubbins has hamstring trouble and England have withdrawn Dawid Malan from the first two rounds of the Championship after his heavy schedule in Australia and New Zealand.
The hurried signing of Australian all-rounder Hilton Cartwright will only partially answer their needs, though Morgan’s bad luck may open the door to a return for Nick Compton, who had previously been told he was unlikely to feature in the first team this season.