Morgan - No Pietersen talk
Eoin Morgan insists Kevin Pietersen's absence from the World T20 is not a talking point within the England squad for the tournament in Sri Lanka.
Last Updated: 16/09/12 3:42pm
England's ICC World Twenty20 hopefuls are free to discuss Kevin Pietersen, and his controversial absence from their campaign, whenever they want - but rarely feel like doing so.
Unlike on the outside looking in, where Pietersen never seems to be far from the central topic, his name hardly ever comes up for debate between the England cricketers who have left him behind.
Eoin Morgan dismissed the suggestion that he, for example, might be tempted to mull over the whys and wherefors of Pietersen's non-selection for England's defence of their only International Cricket Council trophy to date.
The Irishman made it clear too, though, that there is no ban on mentioning the prodigal South Africa-born batsman - whose prospects of continuing his international career after his summer of contract wrangles may become clearer on Tuesday when England are expected to name their Test squad to tour India.
Pietersen is not, Morgan points out, "like Voldemort" - the menacing, unseen character in the hugely popular Harry Potter books who is so feared even his own advocates dare only refer to him as 'You-Know-Who', 'He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named' or 'the Dark Lord'.
Pietersen goes by none of those epithets in the England dressing room - and his ears will not be burning either.
Asked if the aforementioned is covered much in conversation by his erstwhile colleagues, Morgan said: "Not at all really. It's probably out of sight, out of mind."
Pietersen may not stay that way for much longer, given his agreement to work as a television pundit during the three-week tournament set to get under way on Tuesday.
Should he become uppermost in anyone's mind at that point, however, he will not be a banned subject. "No. It's not like Voldemort. It's all right," said Morgan, who understandably prefers to talk about people who are actually part of England's Sri Lankan venture.
Specifically, Jos Buttler and his 10-ball 32 not out in Wednesday's win over South Africa just before England flew east, brings a smile to his team-mate's face. "It was absolutely brilliant," he said. "It gives everyone else belief that he can perform at any given time.
"I've been watching Jos train for nearly a year now, and he's phenomenal.
"The guy is brilliant - and we've all been waiting for this to evolve.
"The fact it has now is awesome, great for the team."
Within hours, Buttler appeared to be struggling to come to terms with Colombo conditions in a spinners' net during England's first practice of the tour.
But to the wider world, the Somerset batsman has already produced a statement of intent to supersede a previously lean start to his international career. "There were a lot of contributing factors to why he didn't have a chance to go out and play the way he could - it is very timely he has now," added Morgan.
"Like anything, until you go out there and prove to yourself and you know inside you can perform, (reassuring) words run off your shoulders really."
Morgan himself took that first step long ago, but his challenge now is to re-emphasise his value to England and standing in world Twenty20 cricket after a year of relatively low productivity.
"I find the hardest thing is keeping things simple. When you go wrong, you can move away from those simple things," he said.
"My stance was something that worked for me.
"But I went through a stage at the start of the year where I struggled with it, so I had to change it.
"I was fortunate enough to learn that pretty quickly - because something that went so extreme could have taken a hell of a lot of time to rectify."
In the immediate future, Morgan and England must prepare for the first examination of their credentials in Monday's warm-up match against Australia - who have the advantage of several days' extra acclimatisation under their belts, not to mention a victory over New Zealand too.
After one more practice match, against Pakistan, England will face Afghanistan in an important opening group fixture on Friday.
Morgan knows from experience those minnows must not be under-estimated.
"I've played Afghanistan before, when I played for Ireland, and have been on a losing side against them. So I won't be taking them for granted at all," he said.
"They have a lot of up-and-coming players, and it's a potential banana skin for us.
"If we don't perform, there's a chance they could sneak over the line.
"We'll need to be on our toes."