England’s ODI and T20I captain Eoin Morgan believes it “would be a huge step forward for the game” if cricket was to return behind closed doors.
Professional cricket in England and Wales has been suspended until at least May 28 due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the ECB modelling plans to start the season in June, July or August.
The ECB has been exploring the possibility of holding matches behind closed doors, with chief operating officer David Mahoney working with the UK government on understanding matters of safety – approval will be required from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport for any behind-closed-doors cricket.
Speaking on a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, Morgan – who led England to World Cup glory last summer – expressed no discomfort to the prospect of playing without the presence of crowds, highlighting that sport could provide an “uplifting” boost of morale for those watching from afar.
“I’ve played county cricket for a long time and Test-match cricket in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and that’s the exact same I would say,” Morgan said.
“From a very serious point of view, if medical experts came and advised us to play behind closed doors, and it was on TV, then I think that would be a huge step forward for the game.
“Sport, I think, could play a huge role in uplifting the world and people’s perspective on things. I think isolation encourages idle minds. I think sport can create that theatre and that level of expectation around what it’s like to be outside again and be active. If it came to that [playing behind closed doors], I think it’d be a huge step forward.”
Morgan was also pressed on the issue of pay cuts as the ECB looks to manage the financial difficulties faced by the domestic game. On Sunday, ECB chief executive Tom Harrison wrote to PCA chief executive Tony Irish, with an ESPNcricinfo report revealing Harrison’s invitation for professional players to take a temporary pay cut as a “gesture”. However, on Tuesday, Harrison told reporters that the ECB will not be “seeking” a pay cut from England players.
When asked whether he would take a pay cut if a direct offer to do so was made to him, Morgan said: “I think I’m extremely willing to help where I know it’s going to make a difference. In the extremely uncertain times at the moment where nobody seems to have any answers to the actual impact it will have on international cricket, English cricket, county cricket, I’m open to absolutely everything. I’m very aware how serious the situation is, that everybody will be affected within the game and in every sport. I’m open to helping where and when I can.”