Eoin Morgan habitually lowers his sights at the crease, but his ambition for England is undiminished by a tough tour of duty in the desert this winter.
The Irishman, possessor of the most pronounced crouch in world cricket as part of his trigger movement when batting, acknowledges it is a quirk he needs to keep an eye on.
Morgan’s involuntary squat is so exaggerated that he is within inches of actually sitting down in front of the stumps a split-second before the bowler delivers the ball. But he makes no connection between his unusual habit and a run of low scores in England’s 3-0 Test defeat, which he believes had more to do with his injury-enforced five-month absence from competitive cricket and some fine Pakistan spin bowling on awkward surfaces.
“It’s something I’m definitely aware of and trying to counter,” he said. “It was the most extreme during last summer, but it’s something I’m working on so that my balance stays the same.”
Morgan is satisfied that at the moment the ball leaves the bowler’s hand, his eyes are level.
“At the point of release it [my head] is very still. It’s come from my power-hitting, my Twenty20 and one-day cricket. It’s escalated from that – clearing the ropes. You have to counter it with what you think is right and what works. If it continues not to work then I’ll have to change it.”
He does not anticipate that eventuality, though. “It started about a year ago and progressed that much in a year that you always have to monitor it and realise it’s there, but be aware of what you’re doing. But it doesn’t really bother me – as long as I’m getting runs, it doesn’t matter how I get them.”
Morgan’s Test average has dropped to just a shade over 30 after just 82 runs in six attempts here. “It’s been hard work,” he said. “The first part, the Test series, was very tricky. Certainly the skills levels on our behalf – and mine as well – weren’t up to scratch. We struggled.”
England’s worst tormentor was off-spinner Saeed Ajmal. “He’s been in a fantastic run of form and, again, having not played in four or five months caught up with us, me in particular,” added Morgan.
England can nonetheless finish the tour on a high by making it 4-0 today and then taking the three-match Twenty20 series as well. They are No 1s and world champions in the latter and Morgan has his eye on the same sort of progress in the 50-over format. “Where we are is six in the world. Where we want to be is number one in the world by the World Cup in 2015. We want to be in a position where we have a strong enough side to go out there and say ‘we want to win this World Cup’.”
Meanwhile, Pakistan have been affected by illness. Younus Khan was first to start coughing and sneezing. While he appears to be over the worst, others are suffering, and opener Imran Farhat may be unavailable too, because of a groin strain.