Eoin Morgan says Middlesex can challenge for County Championship title

08:30 07 June 2012

Middlesex

Middlesex's Eoin Morgan hits out

EMPICS Sport

Eoin Morgan wants to be part of a trophy-winning side at Middlesex – and even believes they can push for the County Championship title.

Morgan is back in the fold at Lord’s for the first time in almost two years, having lost his England Test place last winter and spent a disappointing spell with Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League.

And the 25-year-old Irishman, a key member of the Middlesex side that claimed the Twenty20 Cup four years ago, has seen enough to convince him that further success is around the corner for his county.

“The Twenty20 Cup’s the only trophy I’ve ever won, but players like Dawid Malan, Steven Finn and myself are still 25 or under and we’ve probably got the most experience of playing for Middlesex,” Morgan told london24.com.

“By the look of things we’re going to see a lot of Finny and he’s a proven matchwinner. Then you have experienced bowlers like Corey Collymore and Tim Murtagh, and Toby Roland-Jones looks a good prospect.

“I think the sky’s the limit and with the strength in depth we’ve got we can be challenging to win the Division One championship. Last year we had a really successful season and we’re trying to build on that.

“There have been a lot of changes at Middlesex since the last time I was involved regularly. [Director of cricket] Gus Fraser has taken a more hands-on approach and it’s worked wonders.

“We’ve managed to spend more time together and bonded as a unit. In London that isn’t always easy, getting everyone together in one place at the same time – it’s something I think Surrey struggle with as well.

“But Gus has made a real effort to change that and it means that when the chips are down the guys really dig in. You can only put certain things in place and create a culture that ensures you perform in the right way.”

The left-hander hit 71 last week to help secure a 10-wicket victory over Sussex - but Morgan knows he needs an extended run of form with the bat in county cricket if he is to regain the Test spot he lost after England’s 3-0 whitewash by Pakistan earlier in the year.

“It’s good to be back playing after two months when I didn’t have a competitive game,” Morgan added. “Short-term, it’s about getting runs under my belt and showing what I can bring to the table.

“Obviously I want to be involved in the one-day international series coming up and long-term get back into the Test side. But I know I’ve got to perform and the only way I’ll get back in with England is by weight of runs.

“A few years ago, I was playing for Middlesex and within six months I was involved in all forms of international cricket, so that shows how quickly things can turn around.”

To underline the truth of that statement Morgan, who has represented England in 16 Tests, can take heart from the example of his Middlesex colleague and international captain Andrew Strauss.

Strauss was dropped from the Test team after a poor run of form in 2007, but fought his way back in against New Zealand the following year and was then appointed skipper in 2009.

Despite leading his country to back-to-back Ashes victories, Strauss came in for criticism after another dip in form – but is now poised to equal the record number of Test centuries by an England batsman.

Successive tons against the West Indies have put Strauss on 21 hundreds, one behind the joint record holders – Wally Hammond, Geoff Boycott and Colin Cowdrey.

He could draw level with that illustrious trio when the third Test begins at Edgbaston on Thursday, and Morgan said: “It was great to see Straussy get those centuries – it couldn’t happen to a nicer fellow.

“When he got dropped from the England side, he came back stronger. He always works really hard and he’s the kind of player that, once he gets in form, there are more runs to come.”

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