There is a fine line between being a revolutionary and a maverick and Eoin Morgan is more than happy to walk the tight-rope. While being England’s captain in limited-overs cricket, Morgan was more than happy to push the boundaries, signing up to lead the Kerala Kings in cricket’s first 10-over international event, the T10 Cricket League, scheduled to be played in Sharjah from December 14. While the articulate Morgan — years of playing for Middlesex and England have thankfully not taken the delightful Irish lilt out of his accent — is not an evangelist, he is certainly more than open to embracing new ideas in cricket. On the sidelines of the player draft on a yacht in Dubai, where Morgan picked his squad, with help from Robin Singh, coach of the Kerala Kings, the England skipper took time out to chat with Sportstar.
When 50-over cricket was first introduced it was called pyjama cricket. When Twenty20 came about, few took it seriously. Now that T10 is here, there is going to be some resistance…
Absolutely. I think anyone who is first through the door to do something different or revolutionise the game is going to cop a lot of flak. But, if I look back, probably the earliest reflection of the biggest change in cricket for me or on my career is the evolution of Twenty20 cricket. The effect it has had on the development of the game, and how aspects of the game are looked at in a completely different context now, even towards Test cricket people talk about gaining different run rates or being more aggressive or pushing themselves to do what they can do is a reflection of the effect of T20 cricket on the game.
What makes T10 cricket significantly different?
I think T10 cricket really takes aspects of T20 cricket to a microscopic level in that every ball will be dissected in that there is no room for either taking time or making mistakes. Everything will be scrutinised. It’s evolutionary, really, and to be a part of something like this is really special. I was not old enough to be a part of the first year of T20 cricket, I wish I was, but to be a part of the first T10 tournament, with the potential to change the game, is awesome.
One-Day Internationals, especially as most games are played on flat tracks, are thought to be a batsman’s game. Twenty20 has shown that bowlers are vital. Is it possible that there will be something new to be learnt from T10?
I think so. It will be interesting to see how it pans out. Everybody is going into the tournament with different ideas, but once again the team that adapts quickest is going to have the best chance of succeeding. It’s only when you play games that you understand what works for you as a formula, and what trends make a difference in the format. The team that is the smartest and can adapt quickest is going to have the biggest edge.
The role the inaugural T10 Cricket League plays in giving exposure to the UAE players could be significant, given that each squad must include two local players and one has to figure in the playing XI…
It opens huge doors, particularly for the UAE guys. It is a very important phase in their development in terms of the exposure it gives them to not only rub shoulders with some of the best players in the world but also to test themselves against these players. To see how the best players in the world go about raising their game in different stages of a tournament or how they close out games is going to be invaluable for players who don’t always get the kind of playing experience as some of the top teams. It’s a priceless opportunity for the UAE players and it is great to see that the authorities here have recognised that and are hosting the tournament as well.
Back home in England, where innovation is not always readily embraced, and especially the old-timers at Lord’s who you must be only too familiar with, playing for Middlesex, you might be considered a bit of a maverick, no?
It will be viewed in completely different ways. Everybody is entitled to his opinion. This game has been around for a couple of hundred years and will continue to do so. Whether the format is right and will continue to stay the same is questionable. We live in a very modern world in which every sport has to adapt in its own way. Cricket is no different. This is particularly true in countries in the world that don’t get the exposure to Test-match cricket that you get in England or Australia or India. Other countries that are struggling to get young kids attracted to cricket need a different format and possibly that could be T10.
In England, the most popular sport, by some distance, is played over 90 minutes. T10 is exactly the same duration. Is that crucial?
I think it’s ideal, 90 minutes. You can bring your family, take in 90 minutes of pure entertainment, go home and go about the rest of your day as you normally would. It’s not as big a commitment as five days of a Test or all day at ODI, I think adapting to the flexibility that people need in their lives, is a good idea.
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