Morgan appointed Twenty20 vice-captain
Eoin Morgan has been named as vice-captain of England's Twenty20 side, and could be in line to lead the team in Saturday's one-off international against Sri Lanka at Bristol, if Stuart Broad fails to recover from the bruised heel he sustained on the final day of the drawn Test at the Rose Bowl.
An ECB spokesman confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that the appointment had been made, but added that Broad's injury was not expected to prevent him from captaining England for the first time in his international career. Broad is also Alastair Cook's official deputy in 50-overs cricket, with his first match as full-time captain taking place at The Oval on Tuesday.
Morgan's promotion underlines the esteem in which he is held in limited-overs cricket, and also reinforces the sense that Paul Collingwood, England's victorious captain in last year's World Twenty20, has reached the end of the line after playing in an England record 197 ODIs, and all but one of the team's previous 36 T20Is.
At the age of 24, Morgan represents the future of England's limited-overs team, and as England embark on a new four-year cycle, culminating with the 2015 World Cup, the management have demonstrated a desire to tap into his knowhow. According to the Daily Express he was interviewed for the job via Skype last month, while on duty with the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL.
Since coming into the England set-up after transferring his allegiance from his native Ireland, Morgan's influence in the team has been immense. His innovative strokeplay in 50-over cricket helped secure series wins over South Africa, Australia and Pakistan last year, while he was one of the main contributors to England's World Twenty20 triumph in the Caribbean last May, where he scored 183 runs in seven innings at a strike-rate of more than 128.
Nevertheless, naming an official vice-captain in Twenty20 cricket is a new departure for England, which raises the possibility that Broad's fitness is not entirely clear-cut. The Test captain, Andrew Strauss, had been coy on the subject after the Rose Bowl Test, when asked if a deputy for Broad was being considered.
"There are a number of contenders, and we will deal with that if and when it happens," he said. "His injury is a niggle rather than anything serious. He will have to rest up over the next few days, but I don't think there's any real reason to doubt that he won't be fit."
Morgan risked the displeasure of the England selectors last month by announcing he would return to fulfil his contract with Kolkata Knight Riders if he wasn't chosen for the first Test squad at Cardiff. In the event, his 193 in his solitary first-class outing for England A against the Sri Lankans at Derby ensured he was chosen ahead of Ravi Bopara.
As far as England's defence of their World Twenty20 crown is concerned, Morgan's appointment could yet prove significant. The next event takes place in Sri Lanka in September 2012, and as one of England's few representatives at the IPL, his input could prove invaluable in planning the team's strategy. Last time around, Collingwood's recognition of the threat posed by left-arm seamers led to Ryan Sidebottom's key inclusion ahead of James Anderson.