Dubai: Eoin Morgan, England’s 2019 World Cup-winning captain, is not averse to playing behind closed doors if it’s a pre-requisite for the T20 World Cup cricket to be held on schedule from October 18 in Australia. The cloud of uncertainty over the marquee ICC event is very much alive with all cricket fixtures, not to speak of the sporting world, has come to a standstill since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
‘‘We have to get used to it...whatever is possible to resume cricket with the safety of the players in mind should be one. We are used to often playing without spectators in County cricket which do not have huge following,’’ Morgan said at a media round table session conducted in Zoom to announce the launch of the fourth Abu Dhabi T10 League later this year.
The Aldar Properties Abu Dhabi T10 is scheduled from November 19-28 and will take place only upon the ‘‘approval of the concerned government authorities.’’ Morgan, captain and icon player of Delhi Bulls, had been a major backer of this latest format of franchise league and has played in all the three previous editions so far.
It’s been trying times for the England Cricket Board (ECB), which had initially put off all their cricket activities till July 1 and were supposed the ‘The Hundred’ - the new city-based tournament which would have featured eight men and women’s teams in a carnival-like atmosphere. However, the ECB postponed the event altogether to 2021 on April 30, a decision which Morgan is completely in sync with.
‘‘It’s a good and smart decision. We are passing through extremely uncertain times and hence it’s been a smart decision to push it to next year. We can’t really plan for something new in this environment,’’ Morgan felt.
Looking at the bigger picture as when can sport actually resume in England, Morgan said: ‘‘We have been struggling to find out what’s feasible though last week, I have heard some positive news about the resumption of sport. Our body of cricketers will be catching up with the ECB this afternoon - something that we do every week - to take stock of the situation.
‘‘We would want football to finish as a major part of their season is already over,’’ he said.
The Ireland-born Morgan, who was one of the first England professionals to warm up to playing in franchise leagues with Indian Premier League (IPL), had been a huge backer of the concept of T10 as well. ‘‘The best thing about T10 is that you can play a whole tournament in a space of 10 days, making it the ideal format for inclusion in Olympics or Commonwealth Games.
‘‘There are now eight teams and the move from Sharjah to Abu Dhabi made it extremely entertaining. If you flick the TV set to watch a 50-overs or a T20 game, chances are you may be able to watch one of your favourite cricketers batting. However in T10, which usually hosts upto three games in a day, you can see a range of the icon players from each team,’’ observed Morgan.
Any particular teammate from England whom Morgan would like to see playing the T10 format? ‘‘It’s got to be Jos Buttler. I would love to see him play in this feel-good, freestyle event. Someone of the calibre of Moen Ali played in Sharjah in the first year and enjoyed it as well,’’ Morgan said.
The 2020 edition, which promises to bring together a galaxy of big games, will have Aldar Properties as title sponsors and will be hosted by Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Abu Dhabi Cricket.