The Hundred could save England’s international teams, says Eoin Morgan

The Hundred could save England’s international teams, says Eoin Morgan

Eoin Morgan has said that the often controversial novelty tournament the Hundred has the potential to save the England team from the exodus of talent away from national squads and domestic tournaments and towards lucrative international franchise events that is already starting to impact on other sides.

Having retired from international cricket after England’s white-ball tour of the Netherlands in June and moved into the commentary box, Morgan has played only two innings in England this summer, both in the Twenty20 Blast. But in the Hundred, whose second season gets under way next Wednesday, the 35-year-old will combine continued duties with Sky with captaining London Spirit, and he believes the competition could come to be vitally important in retaining the cream of domestic talent.

“There are already some tournaments in the world that are bigger than a lot of countries’ fixtures, bilateral series and anything else they play in between [ICC events],” Morgan said. “Ultimately it’s already happening and we’re probably behind the eight ball. We’re very, very lucky the Hundred has been the success it has, so we can develop the product and have the players involved.”

Though the Blast has been running since 2003, Morgan said it has taken the Hundred to insulate English cricket against the prospect of its biggest talents being tempted elsewhere. “For the majority of my career I’ve been a huge advocate for players going abroad and playing in big tournaments and taking on different roles, either as one of the senior players within the group, or one of a number of overseas players within a team,” he said. “There’s a different level of expectation around that. But when we have such a good tournament at home now, there’s no reason for that to happen in the same way.”

Though the Indian Premier League, the biggest and most lucrative of the global franchise tournaments, recently agreed broadcast deals worth more than £5bn, Morgan said that “we are still very early in the commercialisation of franchise cricket and T20 cricket”, and that their growth is likely to come at the cost of the international game.

“For me, international cricket has always been the thing I strived to play in, and I’ve loved the opportunity of playing for Ireland and England. It allowed me to play against the best in the world. If that changes and the scale tips, I think it tips in only one direction.

“The one thing the franchise model takes away from international cricket is a little bit of control, and ideally a franchise would want control of the biggest asset any country has – which is the players. Once you have that, what does international cricket offer? How much viability does it bring? The one thing it brings at the moment is [the chance to] have the best playing against the best the majority of the time. But once you take that away …”

One undoubted impact of last year’s Hundred was a push to the career of Liam Livingstone, who had made just two international appearances before 2021 but whose success in various T20 leagues over the preceding winter was capped by a series of astonishing performances for the beaten finalists, Birmingham Phoenix, and who has since become a key member of England’s white-ball teams. Morgan believes there is a chance another player can use this year’s Hundred as a springboard into the T20 World Cup team – but only if they are a bowler.

“I’d struggle to see the majority of batters involved in the setup being replaced,” Morgan said. “But Jos Buttler identifies the death bowling as somewhere we need to improve and in the spin department, there’s clearly question marks over Adil Rashid’s replacement. So through the Hundred that’s probably the biggest opportunity for guys coming in to try to make a point of difference.”