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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

T10 League: Eoin Morgan says crowd sizes confirm format should be included in Olympics

Kerala Kings captain again urges ICC to consider 10-over game as means to appeal to organisers of Olympics

Sharjah Cricket Stadium drew in a fair number of spectators for the T10 League. Pawan Singh / The National
Sharjah Cricket Stadium drew in a fair number of spectators for the T10 League. Pawan Singh / The National

Eoin Morgan said the success of the first T10 League confirmed his belief that it is the format cricket should propose to be considered for Olympic inclusion.

The England limited-overs captain led Kerala Kings to the first title in the new competition, starring with the bat himself in the eight-wicket win in the final against Punjabi Legends at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

Finals night on Sunday was watched by a sell-out crowd of 15,000 spectators, a significant number given that matches on work-nights in the UAE are notoriously difficult to sell tickets for. It was the second full-house of the four-day competition, with all tickets also sold on Friday.

Eoin Morgan, centre, enjoyed considerable success in the just-concluded T10 League. Francois Nel / Getty Images
Eoin Morgan, centre, enjoyed considerable success in the just-concluded T10 League. Francois Nel / Getty Images

Morgan suggested before the tournament that the ICC should consider the 10-over game as a means to appeal to the organisers of the Olympics, and he said after the final that the size of the crowds at the event endorsed his view.

“I think it needs to be looked into,” Morgan said. “If you have come to the ground at any stage over the past four days, you will have seen a stadium that is not necessarily always full, and you will see people that don’t necessarily enjoy cricket that much, coming and watching, because it is so short and sharp.

“I think the beauty of this format is that you can start and finish a competition potentially with 10 teams, maybe within the space of 10 days.

“That makes it so appealing to somebody like the Olympic committee. Olympic sports come and go. They have to be short and sharp, entertain the public, and capture the imagination.

“Coming here to this tournament, I thought it would work. Certainly, in the first year, for it to come off like this, I thought it was a huge hit.”

Robin Singh, the coach of the winning Kerala team, said the success of players from cricket’s mainstream was also a boon for the T10 tournament.

Players from Associate teams, such as Afghanistan's Mujeeb Zadran, did well in the T10 format. Francois Nel / Getty Images
Players from Associate teams, such as Afghanistan's Mujeeb Zadran, did well in the T10 format. Francois Nel / Getty Images

Mujeeb Zadran, a 16-year-old spinner from Afghanistan, took the wicket of Morgan in a pool match. Paul Stirling, the Ireland opener, was perhaps the standout player in the whole event, while Mohammed Naveed and Saqlain Haider from UAE also enjoyed some moments in the limelight.

“There is room for a lot of players from the smaller Associate countries,” Robin said.

“Ireland [who along with Afghanistan were recently granted Test status by the ICC] has been on the way up for the past 10 years.

"They have done exceptionally well, and it is nice to see some of the other countries like Afghanistan being well represented here, too.

“I am sure a few Associate countries would take to this format pretty well.”

It is little surprise Stirling is enamoured by the new event. The Northern Irishman was the toast of Sharjah, as well as the sizeable Keralite supporter base, because of his stunning batting.

He scored 181 runs in five matches, at an average of 90.5 and a strike rate of 197. That was off the back of a century in a one-day international against Afghanistan for Ireland at the same ground five days before the T10 League started.

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“It has been a good three or four weeks in the desert, I am happy enough to score runs, and it is great to get a victory and win a tournament,” Stirling said.

“I had a decent enough feeling that in 10-over cricket, it can’t go too wrong. I just like to watch the ball and hit it, and I think that is what this tournament asks for.

“It was new. When you have played the game for a little while now and something new like this comes up, it really gets you excited.

“You don’t know what to expect. I think it has been a fairly successful tournament and hopefully it continues.”

Misbah-ul-Haq captained Punjabi Legends to the final. The former Pakistan captain believes the playing conditions require a few tweaks, but he thinks the 10-over game is the perfect way to attract new supporters to cricket.

“It is quite exciting, especially for the new audience, people who are new to the game of cricket,” Misbah said.

“It is definitely going to attract them because it is more exciting, and there are thrills throughout 90 minutes. To attract new people to this game, this is the way to go.”