Coronavirus: England cricketers want to ‘make an impact’ in crisis, says Eoin Morgan

Eoin Morgan says he and the rest of the England players are open to helping English cricket recover from the Covid-19 pandemic by any means necessary as the sport braces itself for financial hardship.

On Tuesday the England & Wales Cricket Board announced a £61m stimulus package of which £40m will be put towards the immediate well-being of the 18 first-class counties, MCC and the respective county boards. Chief executive Tom Harrison also revealed he would be taking a pay-cut with the ECB also looking into furloughing staff, too, with the start of the domestic season put off until May 28.

Morgan, the limited-overs captain, was noncommittal on the specifics of just how England players could help out, specifically when asked about the prospect of taking a pay cut, due to the ongoing uncertainty of the coronavirus situation.

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In an email sent on Tuesday, centrally contracted players were told by the ECB that their 12-month contracts, which go as high as £600,000 for Test cricketers, will be honoured in full. They were also informed the ECB would not be making any demands for salary reductions on retainers “despite some inaccurate speculation in the media”.

On Sunday, Harrison wrote to the chief executive of the Professional Cricketers’ Association Tony Irish calling on cricket to “share the burden” of these precarious times for players and counties. The letter, as revealed by ESPNcricinfo on Wednesday, called on the PCA and all professional players to support a recommendation from their counties of 20% reduction in salaries for April and May.

In a media conference on Wednesday morning, Morgan said he had not been made aware of such a letter, but stated a willingness from him and his peers to be part of any solution. A number of players have tried to help where they can, including Jos Buttler who put his the shirt he wore during last year’s World Cup Final up for auction on eBay. With six days still to go the highest bid is currently £65,900, with all proceeds going to the Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals charity.

“As players we are open to helping in whatever way possible,” said Morgan. “We want to hopefully make an impact. The difficult thing at the moment we find when we talk as players or even the ECB is we can’t answer that: what is the best way to help out as players. Is it by social media, is it to engage in other streams, sit back and let this pass and hopefully we will play. They are answers we don’t have and can’t have at the moment.

“Given the drastic nature of what is happening, everybody up and down the country, regardless of industry, is affected by what is going on. The information that everyone is waiting on in cricketing circles is to see when we can implement a plan, on a month on month basis to give us an indication of how cricket we can fit in. That will determine if there will be financial impacts for everybody.”

“I’m extremely willing to help where I know it will make a difference. So in the extremely uncertain times where no one seems to have any answers on the actual impact it will have on international cricket, English cricket, county cricket … I’m open to absolutely everything. I’m aware how serious the situation is and aware how everyone will be affected from top to toe within the game and every sport. I’m open to helping when and where I can.”

Morgan, too, is also game for auctioning off his memorabilia: “If I could help in any way by auctioning off or donating to charity I do what I can. Other people are different. We’ve seen people donate during the Australian bush fires, we saw Shane Warne auction his Baggy Green cap for million dollars or something absolutely ridiculous.”

The 33-year old was hoping to have some more memorabilia by the end of the year in the form of a T20 World Cup winners medal. Alas, as the days go by, the prospect of the 2020 men’s competition, scheduled for a start in October, may be delayed until 2021. As 50-over World Cup champions, the prospect of doing the limited overs double was an enticing one.

Morgan is not too concerned and has a greater appreciation of the bigger picture not just because of what is going on in the world but also with the birth of his first child three weeks ago – a son, Leo. That, along with the Covid-19 pandemic, has put much, including the game of cricket, into perspective.

“This time has allowed us to sit back and take stock and one of the things that we were certainly going to benefit from was the amount of T20 cricket that was being played between the time we left South Africa and the start of the T20 World Cup in Australia.

“Guys were going to Pakistan League, the IPL, the Blast the Hundred and you might have had some guys go to the Caribbean League if they didn’t tour India in September. All of that is up in the air at the moment but every country is in the same boat. I think managing how you look and proceed in this period in your life is extremely important. It is about bunkering down and adhering to government regulations looking after your family.

“Cricket is not at the forefront of everybody’s thinking at the moment. There are more serious issues to think about so obviously it upsets everybody’s planning but in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter.”

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