Eoin Morgan believes the new Euro T20 Slam competition will boost cricket in Ireland, the Netherlands and Scotland by giving local players a chance to compete against the best players in the world.
England’s World Cup-winning captain will lead the Dublin franchise in the latest addition to the global Twenty20 circuit: a six-team format, based in three countries, bankrolled by Indian money, with 33 games between August 30 and September 22.
The 32-year-old Dubliner was the star attraction at the tournament’s first draft in London on Friday, when more than 100 international and domestic players were selected for the Amsterdam Knights, Belfast Titans, Dublin Chiefs, Edinburgh Rocks, Glasgow Giants and Rotterdam Rhinos.
Speaking to Press Association, the former Ireland age-group star who moved to England to further his cricketing ambitions said: “I never thought I’d play cricket for Dublin. I grew up watching the Dublin (Gaelic) football team do special things but to play cricket for Dublin is brilliant.
“It feels weird now but when you think about everything that is going on with Irish and Scottish cricket – Scotland turned (England) over last year, which was great for the game – it’s important to lay a platform to give people opportunities to play on a more consistent basis against some of the best players in the world. It’s brilliant and I think there’s a market for it as well.”
The Chiefs and Titans will play their home games at Dublin’s Malahide Cricket Club, the Knights and Rhinos will be based in Amsterdam and the Rocks and Giants will play at The Grange Club in Edinburgh.
Each team was allocated one icon player and one marquee player – at a cost of £108,000 and £92,000, respectively – and then given the chance to draft five more international players and nine local players.
With Dublin’s marquee player being the world’s top-ranked T20 batsman Babar Azam, the Chiefs looked like the early favourites before the draft even started and that impression was reinforced when they picked Pakistan’s star bowler Mohammad Amir and English T20 specialist Harry Gurney in the first two rounds of the draft.
Amsterdam’s marquee duo is Australian Shane Watson and South Africa’s Imran Tahir, while Rotterdam have Afghanistan captain Rashid Khan and Luke Ronchi, who has played for Australia and New Zealand.
Belfast’s star players are big-hitting Pakistani Shahid Afridi and South Africa’s JP Duminy, Edinburgh have New Zealand’s Martin Guptill and Australian Chris Lynn, and Glasgow will be led by former New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum and South African bowler Dale Steyn.
The first player actually picked in the draft, which was compered by Darren Gough, was Ben Cutting. The Australian all-rounder has starred in T20 competitions around the world and will receive £64,000 for three weeks’ work for Amsterdam.
Zimbabwe’s participation in qualifiers for the World T20 is in doubt after the International Cricket Council suspended their membership.
At an ICC board meeting in London, the sport’s governing body ruled that Zimbabwe Cricket had failed to ensure its board was not free from governmental interference.
As a consequence, ICC funding has been suspended and representative teams are banned from participating in ICC events.
“The ICC has directed that the elected Zimbabwe Cricket Board be reinstated to office within three months, and progress in this respect will be considered again at the October Board meeting,” a statement from the ICC read.
“The ICC board heard from both the Sports and Recreation Committee representatives of the Zimbabwe Government and Zimbabwe Cricket before making their decision.”
Zimbabwe were due to compete in the men’s World T20 qualifiers in the autumn and the women’s in August but their participation is now unclear.
ICC chairman Shashank Manohar said: “We do not take the decision to suspend a Member lightly, but we must keep our sport free from political interference.
“What has happened in Zimbabwe is a serious breach of the ICC Constitution and we cannot allow it to continue unchecked.
“The ICC wants cricket to continue in Zimbabwe in accordance with the ICC Constitution.”
At the same meeting, the ICC also approved the introduction of concussion replacements, effective from the first Ashes Test, and a new way of fining players for slow over-rates, with captains no longer at the mercy of suspensions and fines instead being spread across a team.
England’s chief selector Ed Smith insists the recent World Cup triumph has provided the ideal launchpad for Jason Roy to make his Test debut.
Roy will open the batting against Ireland in next week’s four-day match at Lord’s intent on proving he can serve as more than a limited-overs specialist before Ashes hostilities commence on August 1.
The 28-year-old’s recovery from a hamstring injury lifted Eoin Morgan’s men out of their mid-World Cup slump in time to reach the semi-finals, his average of 63.28 securing a place in the team of the tournament.
“It’s no great secret that we have long been admirers of Jason. He’s growing as a batsman all the time and is a more complete player than he’s ever been.” Smith said.
“The big question with Jason Roy was when was the ideal time to make the move into Test cricket?
“(England captain) Joe Root and I spoke at length months ago about the scenario in which Jason finished the World Cup confident, full of runs and went straight into the Ashes and that’s what we’ve done.
“It feels like a really good time for Jason to join the Test team as an opener. He’s in and has our full backing.
“Our confidence in him is based on a mixture of him as a player, person, and performer in all formats.
“When he did play at the very back of end of last summer in red-ball cricket he did well for Surrey and again for the Lions he carried on his good form in red-ball cricket.
“There’s never been any doubt about his talent, audacity or his presence at the crease – it’s fantastic. All those things are very clear. But he’s also gained improved mastery and adaptability.”
While Roy’s swaggering stroke play will be present at Lord’s next week, England’s two most potent bowlers of the World Cup will be absent.
Mark Wood has been ruled out for four to six weeks by the side strain sustained in the dramatic victory over New Zealand in Sunday’s final, while Jofra Archer has headed to Barbados for a holiday.
Smith refuses to guarantee that Archer will face Australia this summer with the beneficiary of a newly-awarded 12-month ECB increment contract also struggling with an ailment that could delay his Test debut.
“We don’t know when Jofra will be available at the moment. He has a side injury,” Smith said.
“He’s having a bit of a break now because he’s played a lot of cricket and has been a central protagonist in one of the great stories in sport.
“He will get every medical attention so that he will be fit as soon as possible. Then we’ll make an informed decision for the good of England cricket.
“He’s a very good cricketer and we’re very excited about him and what he can do in all formats.”
Smith described Wood’s contribution to the World Cup as “terrific”, but his loss is offset by the imminent return of Jimmy Anderson from a calf injury.
“Jimmy is making very good progress. If he is good to go, he will play in the Ireland Test. If he is deemed too big a risk, he will not play against Ireland,” Smith said.
“The third scenario is that he sends down a certain amount of overs to make sure he gets just the right amount of work before the Ashes.”
England’s limited-overs vice-captain Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes – the hero of Sunday’s win – are rested ahead of the Ashes.
Provided by Press Association Sports