x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Morgan a better choice for Ashes series

Eoin Morgan has been backed by county and country bosses to seal his place in the England Test side ahead of this winter's Ashes series.

Eoin Morgan has been backed by county and country bosses to seal his place in the England Test side ahead of this winter's Ashes series. The Irish-born Middlesex batsman retained his place ahead of Essex's Ravi Bopara for Thursday's first Test against Pakistan at Trent Bridge, having made scores of 44 and 37 in his first two five-day games against Bangladesh earlier this summer.

Geoff Miller, the national selector, told BBC Radio Five Live: "Bopara has been playing really well but we want to see a bit more from Eoin, he played well for Middlesex in his last game. "Yes, we want to win this match and win this series but we have an eye on the winter as well and we have got to make sure that the equation is sorted, so Eoin keeps his place." That decision was backed by Angus Fraser, the Middlesex director of cricket, who saw Morgan make 58 not out as he and Steven Finn, his England teammate, dug in to stave off defeat against Sussex in their last English County Championship match.

On the limited-overs specialist's suitability for the longer form, Fraser told Sky Sports News: "We saw that when he made 50 or 60 to save the game for Middlesex. "Yes, he's got all the shots to play Twenty20 and to star in one-day cricket but the great thing about Eoin is that he plays the situation and he's got the game to do that, so I think he will make a real success of Test cricket, too." Marcus Trescothick, the former England opener, was another to support Morgan's inclusion but had sympathy for Bopara and Tim Bresnan, his fellow absentee.

"Ravi's been playing well but you've just got to earn your way back in," he said. "There's no doubt about it, he's a great player and he's going to come back soon but I think it's a good move to stick with the players they've got at present." Bresnan was omitted as Ajmal Shahzad, his Yorkshire teammate, took the last seam bowling place in the 12-man squad and Trescothick added: "Bres, I feel, is a little bit unlucky - he's done pretty well but the guy that's come in is a great bowler. The team is looking in great shape and I'm sure they're going to get a good victory."

Miller is upbeat about his side's prospects for the four-match series and encouraged by the competition for places evident in the selection process. He said: "We have picked a very strong squad for the first Test against a Pakistan side that will be high on confidence following their recent win against Australia. "There are a lot of people knocking on the door, we wanted strength in depth and gradually we are getting that."

* PA