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Eoin Morgan warns England not to get left behind

Updated: Tuesday, 26 Jun 2012 18:02

Eoin Morgan made his Test debut for England in 2010
Eoin Morgan made his Test debut for England in 2010

Dubliner Eoin Morgan has warned world champions England risk being left behind in Twenty20 cricket unless there is a radical overhaul of the domestic Friends Life competition.

Although England introduced Twenty20 cricket to the world, Morgan believes the county tournament has now fallen a long way behind the Indian Premier League and Australia's Big Bash.

The highly regarded limited overs batsman has reignited the debate over city-based franchises by calling for a new streamlined elite competition.

The original franchise proposal, first tabled in 2008, featured nine teams based in nine cities, featuring marquee English players and the best from around the world.

The counties rejected that idea - but Morgan insists the time has come for English cricket to be bold and think outside the box again.

"I certainly think (the Friends Life) is so far behind now that it has got to a stage where something needs to happen," Morgan said.

"I have been in Australia when the Big Bash has happened and seen the impact it has had. The IPL is a different scale. Every time I have gone to the IPL I have always come back a better player.

"I certainly believe something needs to happen. It doesn't have to be the exact same or similar but it has to work for what is best for English cricket.

"I see great young players coming through but if we had an infrastructure in place with eight or nine teams and some huge international stars then the likes of Alex Hales and Jonny Bairstow would have already rubbed shoulders and played against players like Muttiah Muralitharan or Jacques Kallis.

"They would not be thrown into a World Cup situation where they have to win a game for England and are unfamiliar with it. The benefits for the younger guys coming through would be huge.

"It is a great time to do something. IPL is in its fifth year now, Big Bash is going into its second year so it won't take much to catch up.

"I think it is needed, especially as we are Twenty20 champions. It is a great time to do something."

It was an enterprising move from the England and Wales Cricket Board to introduce Twenty20 to the county game in the first place but their attempts to keep the format moving have been less successful.

The ECB's venture with Allen Stanford, now serving 110 years in an American prison after being convicted of fraud, turned very sour very quickly.

The franchise proposal written by David Stewart and Keith Bradshaw, who were then on the ECB management board, failed to win the backing of the county game.

Morgan accepts that position is unlikely to have changed but he points to the success of England's Test team as an example of what can be achieved if the structure is right.

"I can only encourage them (county officials)," said Morgan, who is also backing the Cricket Foundation's StreetChance programme to help keen young adults in sport and away from crime.

"I have no idea about the administrative side of things. I would like to see it happen.

"When I grew up training hard and working towards professional cricket, English cricket was always chasing Australia, who were number one for a long time.

"They had great skilled cricketers but number one they had the infrastructure. We have now overtaken that in the longer form of the game in producing Test match cricketers, which is great."

Hales' innings of 99 inspired England to a seven-wicket Twenty20 victory over the West Indies at Trent Bridge on Sunday, a confidence-boosting result ahead of the World Cup in Sri Lanka this September.

But Morgan admitted England, who are already without Kevin Pietersen following his limited overs retirement, still have a long way to go before they are ready for the World Cup.

"Alex played superbly well and chasing 175 is a hell of a feat against such a skilled West Indies team who probably will be one of the favourites for the World Cup," Morgan said.

"That will give nothing else but confidence through the young side.

"There is a lot of work to be done to compare the side now to the one that will be faced with difficult conditions in Sri Lanka in September.

"We have a long way to go but a great platform to move forward."