The Indianpost

Andy Flower rests Alastair Cook as Eoin Morgan

The England team director, Andy Flower, has revealed that he gave Alastair Cook no option but to miss the one-day international against Ireland in Clontarf on Thursday.

The match will allow Eoin Morgan to show his credentials as a leader in the limited-overs game.

Immediately after their status as the No1 Test side in the world was recognised with the award of the International Cricket Council mace, England’s thoughts turned to remedying a mediocre record in one-day cricket. Morgan will have the first opportunity to make an impact.

Cook was a contentious choice as 50-over captain when the Test captain, Andrew Strauss, retired from one-day cricket after the World Cup, causing England to choose a different captain for each of the three formats, Stuart Broad taking over the Twenty20 side. Even though Cook responded with a century against Sri Lanka at Lord’s and 95 at Trent Bridge earlier this summer, Flower has opted to create a little creative tension.

“It is a good opportunity for Eoin to lead the side,” Flower said. “He has not captained much as an adult cricketer apart from the odd occasion for Middlesex. He’s a confident young man, he is confident in his ideas about the game, he chooses his words carefully and he doesn’t waste words. I think the way he plays and approaches the game is important in a leader. People will follow a man like that.”

It might have been deemed beneficial for Cook to take charge of a young and experimental squad but he was not given the choice. The opener has joined all England’s leading Test players, with the exception of Jonathan Trott, who missed the last two Tests against India with a shoulder injury, in missing the trip.

“He has played four Tests in a row and he needed a break, it is as simple as that,” Flower said. “Going into the one-day series with India it is important for him to recharge his batteries.” Asked if he had simply told Cook that he should rest, Flower agreed that he had.

Morgan, unlike Cook, was wanted by Indian Premier League teams and his gamble to play for Royal Challengers Bangalore rather than Middlesex in county cricket paid off financially and professionally, as he was given a place in the first Test of the summer, against Sri Lanka, ahead of Ravi Bopara.

With the next World Cup, in Australia, more than three years away, England have identified Cook’s understudy. Morgan, an Irishman, might be facing his old team on Dublin’s outskirts but the decision has nothing to do with sentiment.

Morgan will have the first opportunity to exert command over such promising players as Jonathan Bairstow, Yorkshire’s batsman-wicketkeeper, the belligerent Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes and James Taylor, the diminutive Leicestershire batsman who is pressing Bopara as the batsman-in-waiting for the Test squad.

“Things do move on very quickly in sport and that is something we all recognise,” Flower said. “The Ireland trip presents a really good opportunity for some fresh faces to perform in international cricket. The Irish side is a very good one and a lot of their cricketers have a lot of experience now so we are going to have to be at the top of our game to beat them at home.

“Our Test cricketers need a break and that is why we’ve picked the side we have and then it is into the T20 and one-day series with India which is very important in its own right. It is important because they are the world champions and because we are a one-day side that are determined to improve. We want to improve our skills and knowledge in the one-day game.

“It is also important in our development towards the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka, just over a year away, and it is important in our development towards the 2015 World Cup.”

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