Eoin Morgan will captain London Spirit

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Eoin Morgan has called on sceptical cricket supporters to give the Hundred a chance and firmly believes it can help England win another World Cup.

Morgan is England’s most successful white ball cricketer, a player who when he retires will be credited with changing English attitudes towards the one-day game.

Persuading county followers to buy into the Hundred may be a bigger challenge than turning England from World Cup no-hopers to champions but Morgan thinks the quality of cricket will win over the doubters.

He captains the London Spirit at Lord’s in the Hundred, his 12th franchise in a long career that has passport stamps from the IPL, Big Bash, Abu Dhabi T10 league, Caribbean Super League, Pakistan Super League and South Africa’s Mzansi Super League.

The T20 globetrotting has long made Morgan a fan of the franchise system with standalone tournaments played in a block and he was used by the ECB to talk county chairmen to buy into a new competition. 

Morgan has played in front of a full house for Middlesex and has a Blast winners medal to his name but says playing in a competition tournament that is shorter and sharper (there are 32 games in the Hundred, 133 in the Blast) and not ‘muddled’ up with other formats such as the championship will help players develop and continue England’s dominance in white ball cricket.

“Regardless of the format, we need a competition that isn’t a thousand teams playing against each other over a long period of time with muddled formats in between," he explained. "We need one clear competition, as transparent as possible for the fans to say ‘right this is a period of time when this is happening.’ 

“Accessing a newer audience and broadening our game beyond county cricket is very important. It is something that I have witnessed in different countries around the world. People who are not interested in cricket, get into it when cricket becomes a great spectacle that a country gets behind for the period a competition runs. There is also the opportunity for our women’s game to grow exponentially too. The ECB are serious about that and giving the curtain raiser to the women is absolutely huge. I also think it is a huge platform for all our domestic cricketers to not have performances questioned about who they are playing against and when that fixture fell in the summer such as ‘did they only do well on the back of a four day game when everyone was tired?’ 

“We have also just seen a one day series when our second string played unbelievably well, were fun to watch and played with a smile on their face. There could not be a better preview for what the Hundred will offer.”

Critics will say Mandy Rice Davies (well, he would say that wouldn’t he?) when reading Morgan’s comments given he will be well paid by the London Spirit and is a centrally contracted employee of the ECB.

However, many players with his experience of global leagues have long said the English game needs a condensed tournament and Morgan says the Hundred is a hot topic in the England dressing room with fringe players seeing it as one final chance to push for a Twenty20 World Cup slot. Given the lack of overseas talent, it will be England white ball stars such as Liam Livingstone and Jason Roy who will be the drawcards and Morgan says Moeen Ali is "eyeing up the first Hundred hundred."

Liam Livingstone will be one of the main attractions in the Hundred

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“The cricket will be deadly serious. The product will be brilliant,” he says. “The engagement is there from the players. In the white ball England changing room the banter has started because we don’t get to play against each other that much so there is plenty of ‘I’m going to belt you everywhere.’ Guys are champing at the bit to win bragging rights. On the back of that put in a full house and a new competition with the energy that brings, I think it will be awesome. 

“Absolutely it can help win a World Cup. One of the things I have spoken about a lot is to be contenders for as long as we can. This is another example of opportunities for guys to come in and stake their claim. If your product is that good and the strength of the competition is good then it is only going to improve the strength of the cricket that sits below.”

And he thinks it will spread. “One of the guys in the England team was speaking to a couple of the Aussies in the West Indies at the moment. They played a game of the Hundred in warm up the other day and loved it.”

Morgan will work with Shane Warne, London Spirit coach with their first game at Lord’s against Oval Invincibles on Sunday, and says he has put more planning into this than any other competition, although that is because he was involved in the draft in 2019, scouting and picking players, which is not something an England captain has to do. 

When to use the tactical time out and choosing when a bowler can bowl two five ball overs in a row will be the big challenge in the middle for a captain who will also have to stay calm in the mayhem of a boundary hitting carnival.

“Chasing is going to be common and it will be difficult to set totals which is similar to a T20 model. Normally rules are there to make sure the game is played in a certain spirit but with these new rules how you take advantage of them could be key.

“It is all going to be about mentality. If you as a team or group just access the mindset that there is not  a lot of risk, this is what you do as opposed to a big leap of faith that will go a long way to overcoming challenges.”

Tickets are still available to see Eoin Morgan and the London Spirit in action. Buy your tickets at thehundred.com