Eoin Morgan chuckles as he reflects upon the fact that Shane Warne won the inaugural Indian Premier League: ‘I hope that’s a good omen.’
Morgan, of course, secured some significant silverware of his own, orchestrating England’s 2019 World Cup glory alongside Warne’s fellow Australian Trevor Bayliss and now forms the most intriguing captain-coach combination during the first season of the Hundred.
‘I’ve had loads of interaction with him,’ Morgan tells Sportsmail. ‘I was in Australia last winter and we spoke a lot.
Eoin Morgan is hopeful the fact that Shane Warne (centre) won the inaugural Indian Premier League is a good omen for London Spirits
Morgan has secured some significant silverware of his own, orchestrating England’s 2019 World Cup glory
‘Given the first ball has been such a long time coming in this competition, we’ve been talking tactics for so long, flipping ideas and seeing what we’ll roll with.
‘It’s my first time working with him and I was blown away by how engaged and on the edge of things he is. Having not spent a lot of time with him before – but knowing he has so many things going on in his life, I thought he might not be up to date but he is fanatical about cricket to a different degree.
‘He knows pretty much every player, has a view on everyone, where they can get better and what they need to do. And it’s all done with the level of enthusiasm that is just infectious.’
The most recent decision for two of cricket’s most innovative thinkers was to select the Lord’s-based London Spirit’s wildcard: Middlesex’s Blake Cullen, who is one of the most promising fast bowlers in the country.
The duo now form the most intriguing captain-coach combination during the first season of the Hundred
The Hundred has been met by English cricket’s established fanbases with the kind of defensive resistance of which Giorgio Chiellini would be proud but Morgan insists the concentration of top talent across eight teams — 13 years after Rajasthan Royals became the IPL’s first champions — can help launch the careers of players like Cullen, 19.
‘From a playing point of view, to have your own competition like this — a filtered version of what has existed since limited-overs cricket started, with fewer teams, more talent and more emphasis on an ever-evolving game — is unbelievably exciting,’ Morgan says.
‘We have sat and watched since the start of the IPL and along has come the Big Bash, the Caribbean Premier League, tournaments that have given domestic players the opportunity to headline big events.
‘One of the big things that the Hundred can deliver is to give a chance to domestic cricketers who are unknown names to become recognisable.
Middlesex’s Blake Cullen is one of the most promising fast bowlers in the country
‘It certainly happened in the Big Bash. Guys who haven’t played a lot for Australia — but who have been very good BBL players — are household names up and down the country. To be able to provide a platform like that for our own players is probably the most exciting thing about it.
‘The timing is perfect. I don’t think we could have had a better example than the three 50-over games against Pakistan last week to preview the talent that sits outside of our white-ball squads. Some of the names people wouldn’t have heard of — Brydon Carse being an obvious example. To a lesser extent, guys like Matt Parkinson and Saqib Mahmood.
‘Guys who have come through strong counties were given an opportunity to play against a world-class team and produced as close to their best as possible.
‘There is a genuine chance in this competition for young cricketers to break through. To me, you can trust a competition that will have big-pressure moments, in front of big crowds, against high-quality opposition, when you are judging players.
Brydon Carse was an obvious example the talent that sat outside of England’s white-ball squads prior to the Pakistan series
‘If a player does well, there is no question of who he was playing against, where the game was, whether players have just come off the back of a Championship game and are in red-ball mode, whether opponents were therefore tired, or someone was rested or rotated.
‘We know who we are playing against, what we are doing — in full-house stadiums, in similar conditions. And even allowing for Covid restrictions, the fact it has attracted really strong overseas players provides an opportunity for guys to play against some of the best.’
Tactically, other than the middle period of batting consolidation being removed, Hundred innings at just 20 deliveries shorter will be like Twenty20 equivalents.
However, one new aspect fascinates Morgan — the chance for a bowler to send down 10 consecutive deliveries, either from the same end or opposite ones.
‘Match-ups are increasingly important in the shorter formats and allowing bowlers to bowl two overs on the bounce does allow you to explore a few things,’ said the 34-year-old.
Morgan is also fascinated by the chance for a bowler to send down 10 consecutive deliveries
‘With England, our best bowlers are a good match up for anybody. Jofra Archer and Adil Rashid are good examples of that. But, during the Hundred, we will see someone who is weak against left-arm spin potentially targeted.’
One fear is that a further crunching of a match’s allotted deliveries will finally see off spinners, after they stood up so successfully to T20, but Morgan does not share it.
‘I always feel as though there is a place for spinners, even for a part-timer, just to change the pace, get a batsman out of his swing or rhythm, or create a different eye-line or angle for delivery.
‘You might see spin introduced earlier, though, because the closer you get to the end of an innings, batsmen don’t really care about fielders and try to take on the boundary anyway. So the later you bowl the spinner, the higher chance they go for a lot of runs.’