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'Change to English cricket is overdue' - Morgan

Eoin Morgan, England's one-day captain, has reiterated his enthusiasm for the ECB's new city-based T20 tournament

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller
Eoin Morgan, England's one-day captain, has reiterated his enthusiasm for the ECB's new city-based T20 tournament, saying that the sport has to do whatever is necessary to persuade a new generation of fans to fall in love with the game.
Morgan, who will link up with his Kings XI Punjab team-mates next week ahead of his seventh season of IPL cricket, knows at first hand the benefits of being involved in franchise-style tournaments, and has long been an outspoken advocate of change within English cricket for that reason.
And right at this moment - amid an unprecedented focus on white-ball cricket that will culminate in the Champions Trophy on home soil in June, and with Joe Root, the new Test captain, yet to lead his team on the field - Morgan's views carry extra weight as the ranking officer among England's players.
Last week, he was invited by Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive, to address the chairmen and chief executives of the 18 counties during a meeting in London, ahead of next month's vote at which the new tournament is expected to be given the final go-ahead.
And, despite the deep-seated reservations that exist among many traditional fans and administrators, as far as Morgan is concerned, the new-look T20 set-up cannot come soon enough.
"Change is always difficult but I don't think this is change," Morgan said during a Chance to Shine event in Uxbridge. "It probably should have happened a while ago. We're always going to have the same cricket fans unless we do something differently.
"It's a huge responsibility in growing the game. People are falling out of love with the game because it's not engaging enough with the public.
'Guys are paid a lot of money because they're worth it. It becomes a shock for everyone at home because we haven't been exposed enough to it'
"There's an intention to have a lot of games on free-to-air, which is a huge part of it," he added. "One of the biggest turning points in my generation has been the 2005 Ashes. To have a lot of people, especially in and around London, who aren't necessarily into cricket talking about cricket is awesome, and to get that back it's going to have be as big a change as taking cricket to free-to-air."
Morgan admitted that, as a one-day specialist in a previously Test-orientated set-up, he had at times felt somewhat unwatched as an England cricketer during some of the less high-profile bilateral engagements. "You cannot wait four years for an Ashes series or two years for a Champions Trophy to engage with the public," he said. "It's got to be continuous. So creating that opportunity is what Tom [Harrison] was talking about."
In the past two years, however, the success of England's white-ball cricket has, in part, been attributed to a more liberal attitude towards overseas T20 leagues. This year's IPL will feature an unprecedented eight England players, and with the exception of Tymal Mills - who only plays T20 cricket - all are expected to feature prominently in England's Champions Trophy plans.
England are currently favourites for that tournament, having been losing finalists on home soil four years ago. And Morgan believes that the intensity of the IPL will help no end in preparing those players in particular to deal with the pressure to perform on the biggest stage - not least Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes, two of the players who attracted the biggest bucks at the auction.
"It's only pressure for the first two weeks, while you're there," he said. "Then, that's it. You get over it. No big deal. You're still trying to get the same result out of what you've been doing as a kid.
"The price tag is there because that's your market value. Guys are paid a lot of money because they're worth it. It becomes a shock for everyone at home because we haven't been exposed enough to it. I think if the exposure to the IPL at home had been the same from the start until now, as opposed to being just over the last two years, people wouldn't be as shocked about it.
"The examples are round the world," Morgan added. "And I think there will be more - as time goes on, we'll see other countries produce franchise leagues. The CPL's a good example - they took it to America. That was a huge hit, and they are going to take more games again next year.
"But I don't think it will damage county cricket at all. It's not a gamble. It's proved in other countries that it's been done. I'm a massive cricket fan regardless of whether T20 goes through the roof. The majority of cricket fans are like that. To people who say it's a gamble - which it is not - you can always go back to what you had before that."
Eoin Morgan and Charlotte Edwards were attending a Chance to Shine and Yorkshire Tea event to promote the Junior Journalist competition. To find out more and to enter go to

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket