Eoin Morgan exclusive interview: I’ve loved preparing for the Hundred, it’s good for my cricket brain

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 (The Hundred)
(The Hundred)

Eoin Morgan has never needed ­persuading about the value of the ­Hundred.

The World Cup-winning ­England captain has been a paid-up — or, indeed, paid — proponent for years, and believes it gives a glimpse of the future.

“I think it will be a huge success,” he tells Standard Sport. “The impact it will have on younger generations and the women’s game is going to be huge. For a condensed period of the summer, fans get to see high-quality cricket that should be unbelievable.”

Cricket’s future — but Morgan’s own, too.

On Friday, London Spirit take on Birmingham Phoenix at Edgbaston in the second match of the men’s tournament. Captain Morgan has spent “a lot of time” thinking about this game over the past two years — who to select in the draft, how to build his team, what new tactics and trends come into play with 20 balls fewer per innings.

“A lot of time, effort, and thought have gone into a tournament where we haven’t bowled a ball yet,” he says.

“I just want to see if the ideas and the strategy you can implement actually work. The side that goes on to win it will be the one that adapts the quickest to any trends that occur early, I think.”

Building a squad with London Spirit’s men’s coach Shane Warne (a kindred Spirit, in their views on the game) has given Morgan an appetite for more and a look at life beyond his playing days.

“It’s been a great experience for me in being part of the recruitment, the draft, all those conversations that go around building a backroom staff and a team,” he says.

“I’ve loved it. It’s been good for my cricket brain to see how dynamics might work without having the safety of watching it play out.

“I would love to do something like that [be a coach or director of cricket]. The thought that goes behind it, the planning, the strategy is something that I really enjoy. I’ve come out of this and, before it’s even started, thought that it’s something that I’d really like to do again.

“I’m not quite sure the avenue of getting into it. I’ve done coaching courses and I’m trying to do my [ECB] Level 3 and 4, hopefully in the next few years. It’s not a massive coaching role, it’s more management and mentorship. You deal with player relations, and a bit of psychology in there, trying to access the best version of people, taking pressure away from them.”

Morgan is happy with the Spirit squad, although thinks they were a little “unlucky” at the draft.

With Mark Wood appearing out of the tournament (due to Covid protocols, then a Test call-up which will also deny them Zak Crawley and Dan Lawrence) they have been depleted. He is looking forward to playing with Afghan Mohammad Nabi, because “he always gets me out”, and tips Middlesex team-mate Blake Cullen — his wildcard pick — as a breakout star.

Morgan believes captains will have more impact on this format than any other. He has been thinking a lot about his experience of rain-affected T20 games of 15 to 17 overs, and the T10 tournament in the UAE to inform his planning. The shorter the game, he says, the more match-ups matter.

A trend he predicts is that, with a favourable match-up, batters will turn down singles more than we see in T20, and earlier in the game. With the ball, he thinks early wickets will be more important than ever, because teams will come so hard with the bat.

He does not think this format will fix the pace of play — but that does not bother a captain who likes to take his time. “Some of them [T20s] can go on and on. I don’t think it’s a big worry,” he says. “When you look at the pace of play, and where it needs to be addressed, it’s in Test cricket, not white-ball cricket.”

That view is a reminder that while Morgan is one of the Hundred’s great evangelists, he does not always follow the script, and is fiercely his own man.

Eoin Morgan will be captaining London Spirit for The Hundred. Buy your tickets at thehundred.com

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