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Morgan calls for English T20 revamp

Andrew McGlashan

June 26, 2012

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Eoin Morgan made a superb 49 to guide England, England v India, Twenty20, Old Trafford, August 31, 2011
Eoin Morgan is convinced that England's Twenty20 competition needs a total overhaul © Getty Images
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Eoin Morgan has said that English domestic Twenty20 cricket has fallen "so far behind" rival leagues such as the IPL and Big Bash that the time has come for a major revamp of the competition to ensure England can stay at the top of the world rankings.

This season marks the 10th anniversary of the introduction of Twenty20 cricket, which began in England in 2003, but Morgan, who is the country's highest-ranked Twenty20 batsman at No. 2 in the ICC lists, does not believe the current Friends Life competition prepares players for the challenges of the international game even though England are ranked No. 1.

Although Morgan did not play a match for Kolkata Knight Riders in the 2012 edition of the IPL, he drew on his experiences of the event over the last three years as well as drawing lessons from what Australia have done with the introduction of a franchise system.

"I certainly think it's got to the stage where it's so far behind now that something needs to happen," he said. "I've been in Australia when the Big Bash has happened and played the IPL and have seen the impact they have had. It's on a different scale."

Morgan said that England now lead the way in preparing Test cricketers - with countries such as Australia now implementing many of the methods used by the ECB - but does not think the same strides have been made in the shorter format by the nation that first unveiled the 20-over format at professional level.

"A lot of the time I was growing up, everything about English cricket was chasing Australia because they were No. 1 for a long time, had great cricketers and they had the infrastructure," he said while promoting the Cricket Foundation's StreetChance programme at his home club in England, Finchley CC in North London.

"We've now overtaken that in longer format in producing Test cricketers which is fantastic but I don't know what happened with the Twenty20. The IPL is in its fifth year and the Big Bash will be in its second so it won't take much to catch up and I certainly think it's needed, especially as we are Twenty20 champions."

Morgan conceded that English cricket does not have to carbon-copy what has happened in India and Australia, but he gave a strong indication that he thinks franchise-style cricket is the way forward for Twenty20 in this country.

"It doesn't need to be exactly the same to either the IPL or Big Bash, it has to work for English cricket," he said. "With our young Twenty20 team at the moment I see young players coming through and if we had an infrastructure in place with, say, eight or nine teams and huge international stars playing you would already have had the likes of Alex Hales and Jonny Bairstow rubbing shoulders with great players like Muralitharan or Kallis and not being thrown into a World Cup game and being unfamiliar with the pressure."

Muttiah Muralitharan is actually one of the big-name overseas players who is currently appearing in the Friends Life t20, but it is true to say that the tournament has struggled to pull in a huge quantity of the game's major drawcards.

This is down to a combination of the international schedule - for example Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard are playing for West Indies and Saeed Ajmal, who was set to play for Worcestershire, is in Sri Lanka - but there is also feeling that the tournament is just not as enticing. Morgan, though, is confident that a new-look tournament would encourage many more overseas players to sign.

"The benefits would be massive and I would like to see change," he said. "It's the way forward to improve standards. Other Test nations love coming to England to tour, that's a massive attraction and there would be other financial benefits, too, because the superstars at the tournament."

Despite Morgan's concerns England are producing cricketers who are making a mark on Twenty20 game at a young age: Bairstow has made a promising start to his career, Steven Finn has slotted in with impressive results with the new ball and Hales scored 99 in the international against West Indies on Sunday.

"Alex played superbly and chasing 170-odd is a hell of a feat against such a skill West Indian team who will probably be one of the favourites for World Cup," he said. "It gives huge confidence to a young side but there's a heck of a lot of work to do to compare the side now to one that will face very different conditions in Sri Lanka. We've a long way to go but it's a good platform."

Sport England is investing £1million Lottery funding in the 'Cricket Foundation's 'StreetChance supported by Barclays Spaces for Sports' urban cricket initiative to help young adults stay in sport and stay away from crime and anti-social behaviour www.streetchance.org'

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by JG2704 on (June 28, 2012, 8:53 GMT)

@Juiceoftheapple on (June 27 2012, 22:52 PM GMT) tbh I'm not sure Hildreth would have got a chance had Levi and Morkel not both been away. That knock really surprised me. I thought once Jos went that was it

Posted by Juiceoftheapple on (June 27, 2012, 22:52 GMT)

yes like the english prmeier league in football - more foreign stars = better national team. Nonsense. I'd rather see Hildreth hit 100 than Gayle, but the former wouldnt have got the chance if Gayle had been playing. England needs 2 leagues. End of.

Posted by JG2704 on (June 27, 2012, 18:46 GMT)

@Muhtasim13 on (June 27 2012, 11:08 AM GMT) The other thing is the quality of the overseas players. I think it has already gone downhill. Probably no point in bringing in overseas players who are not going to be much better than our homegrown talent

Posted by JG2704 on (June 27, 2012, 18:46 GMT)

@Munkeymomo on (June 27 2012, 08:55 AM GMT) - I know I'm just an armchair fan but I do get pretty tense when I watch (on Sky) or follow Somerset's scores on ESPN . The other thing is could you get AS passionate about a Somerset/Gloucs combined 11 ? BTW what's happened to Kirby and Alf - they seem to be swapping bowling economies?

Posted by JG2704 on (June 27, 2012, 18:46 GMT)

@Dashgar on (June 27 2012, 10:33 AM GMT) What is wrong is that Morgan probably gets paid significantly more for warming the bench in IPL than he does for playing for Middx. Maybe Morgan himself could help subsidise all this - pay for some of his IPL mates to come over. Even football clubs are not a sure thing these days and look what's happened to Rangers in Scotland

Posted by JG2704 on (June 27, 2012, 18:45 GMT)

@AKS286 on (June 27 2012, 07:16 AM GMT) Why not attach the blame at the individual player rather than the tournament ?The Oz test players played IPL after the WI test series so players can do both if they chose.

Posted by Mike_in_Exile on (June 27, 2012, 16:10 GMT)

Does it matter if England fall behind? T20's main strength is as a club or franchise-based game, not at international level. I'd rather England focus on maintaining their position in test cricket. I am not convinced that English fans would get behind franchises that are not based on traditional county loyalties.

Posted by agbarron2 on (June 27, 2012, 15:30 GMT)

If a "franchise" is to be the indulgence of a mega-rich individual then go ahead and let them indulge themselves but don't bust clubs/counties/provinces trying to chase the dragon... Other sports have over spent and gotten into the soup - football being a prime example. Step back and remember that First Class cricket in England only survives based on the income from international cricket as regular FC attendances are akin to two unemployed men and a dog.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (June 27, 2012, 14:51 GMT)

@Muhtasim13, two overseas players is more than enough per squad, dont forget there are 'work' rounds for anyone whose grandparent/parent had a British passport, as well as the Kolpac rulling in the EU. Not sure 3-4 Overseas is the key to this, unless its squad depth and only 2 can be on the field at anyone time.

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (June 27, 2012, 14:02 GMT)

Alas poor Morgan. He has fallen so far in my esteem of late that I merely regard him as an idiot with few fancy batting tricks. He lost his place after UAE. Was this not enought to get him thinking that maybe he should regard this as a loss rather than an a god sent opportunity to play all of IPL without having to play 1st class games before theEnglish t20. He was never in competition for WI tests, but somehow greased into the ODI's where he did nothing apart from a catch. He did nothing either in IPL apart from ponce around looking pretty for KOlkatha. What a waste. And now he is advocating that the same sad rubbish is played here to glorify the English season. Then no doubt he will be off to play SLPL or some such rubbish. His sort would rather see wall to wall t20 tournaments throughout the year. Does he merit a MIddx contract even, far less an England one? get real Morgan and get help!!!

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Andrew McGlashanClose
Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
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