Cricket ODI: England V South Africa

Performance of the Day: Morgan rediscovers his genius

The little man staked his claim to the big man's place in England's batting unit

Performance of the Day: Morgan rediscovers his genius

England (as you may have noticed) are currently without the services of Kevin Pietersen. KP, as everyone knows, brings a lot of baggage to the dressing room, but he also brings a magic in his bat that few can match.

It's a magic that brought him the Player of the Tournament when England won the World Twenty20 in 2010, a title England defend three weeks hence in Sri Lanka, without the mercurial KP.

Approaching the end of a soggy and disappointing summer for English cricket, on and off the field, the time was ripe for a player to seize the moment and lift the gloom that, Jonny Bairstow aside, has hung around for too long.

After Jade Dernbach and Ravi Bopara had led an England bowling unit that had got on top and stayed on top of South Africa's batting for the first time this summer, restricting Graeme Smith's men to 211, England found themselves in some difficulty at 64-3 after 18 overs.

The hapless (with the bat) Ravi Bopara had lost England's single review and his wicket for a duck and the South Africans were smelling English blood yet again.

Enter Eoin Morgan, rebuilding his international career having lost his place in the winter as his technique collapsed into a collection of idiosyncratic ticks, most obviously an ugly squat as the ball was delivered, guaranteeing that his head was not still, his eyes not level and his scores not good.

After playing himself in the Australian way (by taking singles and the odd two or three to be going at a run a ball without much risk), Morgan took a fancy to Lonwabo Tsotsobe and took him for three fours from nine balls bowled, advancing to 31 off 25 balls as England posted their 100, got half way to their target and were suddenly ahead on Duckworth-Lewis.

Those statistical markers were not as important as the psychological impact of his knock. After five hours of cricket during which only the imperious Amla had felt comfortable enough to play with any fluency on a slow wicket, Morgan was timing the ball all round the ground, using his remarkable bat speed and rubber wrists to hit the ball hard into the gaps and over the top.

He was playing a different game to the 15 batsmen who had come before him. The England players knew it, the South Africans knew it and the crowd knew it - the match had tilted England's way, never to tilt back.

While Jonathan Trott played well exactly where he likes to play – in his own bubble – Morgan's genius had changed the game in a matter of half a dozen overs.

He was out for 73, but that was enough to win the game for England and the Man of the Match Award for Morgan. While the Irishman will be pleased with that, what he really wants to win is his Test place.

As England enter a new era without Andrew Strauss and with KP in the wilderness, a middle-order game-changer like Morgan is a very attractive proposition – to the fans and, more importantly, to the selectors. He's on the way back. .