Cardiff: England Twenty20 captain Eoin Morgan believes he is “twice the man” after taking several weeks off ahead of Monday’s match against Australia in Cardiff.
The lone Twenty20 international at Sophia Gardens will be the Middlesex batsman’s first competitive fixture since August 1.
Morgan was struggling for runs at domestic level, averaging 26 in Twenty20, 10.16 in first-class cricket and just 6.66 in the 50-over cup. (Also read: How Australia got ready for England by beating Ireland)
He came into the county season having had a busy period where he lead England in their woeful 50-over World Cup campaign in Australia and New Zealand before heading off to the Twenty20 Indian Premier League.
Middlesex then decided to stand him down, believing this would ensure Morgan — not a member of England’s Ashes-winning side — was fit for white-ball duty against Australia.
What could have been a potentially awkward situation was eased by the fact that Middlesex director of cricket Angus Fraser is also an England selector.
“I was the one who brought it up. I sat down with Gus and discussed the pros and cons of it,” Morgan said Sunday.
“To start with, Gus was very understanding and brilliant in the way he managed it, because he said the priority was English cricket.
“That is a tough decision to deal with as a director of a county team. I can’t imagine there are many county directors that would have taken English cricket as a priority over possibly Championship or one-day games,” the 28-year-old former Ireland international added.
“But we talked about the benefits of it and, sitting here now, I’m probably twice the man I was a month ago because of the schedule, the hectic nature of it, the amount of cricket we play and the very little time off.
“I feel really fresh now. My attitude, my mind, my body is a lot better than it was a month ago. I’m raring to go.”
England have just seven Twenty20 matches ahead of the World Twenty20 in India in March.
The previous edition of the global tournament ended with England suffering a humiliating defeat by the Netherlands in a first-round exit, although the 2010 World Twenty20 in the Caribbean did see England win their only major limited overs international tournament.
Monday’s fixture precedes a five-match one-day international series against Australia, the 50-over world champions, and Morgan said: “Our priority now turns to the T20 World Cup and driving our one-day cricket forward.”
Meanwhile Australia are set to give an international debut to Victoria all-rounder Marcus Stoinis on Monday, in a side where only five players who featured in the 3-2 Ashes series defeat by England are likely to be included.
“I played in the Under-19 World Cup with Marcus Stoinis in Malaysia in 2008 and he’s certainly come a long way,” said Australia captain Steven Smith.
Leg-spinner Cameron Boyce, not included for the one-day series, has made a 20,000-mile (32,000km) round trip in the hope of bowling just a maximum four-over spell in Cardiff.
“Cameron performed really well for us in the one-off T20 we played in the UAE (against Pakistan),” added Smith, who led Australia to victory in a one-day international against Ireland in Belfast last week.
“He’s got a lot of skill, got a lot of variation.
“It’s going to be a good test for him bowling out here, with the short, straight boundaries and the short boundary on one side.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing how he goes.”