Coronavirus: Morgan happy for England to play behind closed doors

England captain Eoin Morgan

England captain Eoin Morgan - Credit: PA

Eoin Morgan can see the advantages in holding England matches behind closed doors, believing such a scenario would demonstrate the uplifting role sport can play in modern society.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to the postponement of the domestic season until at least May 28 and the England and Wales Cricket Board is already preparing for a situation where internationals can take place this summer without crowds.

Coronavirus checkpoints and the installation of isolation units at venues have been mooted in the event the crisis eases sufficiently to allow the ECB to squeeze some games in – albeit without fans in attendance.

While English grounds are used to bumper attendances for international fixtures, Morgan pointed out that is not the case everywhere, so playing at empty stadiums would therefore not be too much of an adjustment for him.

But he thinks that possible outcome, with matches screened on television, would provide a welcome morale boost to a nation currently on lockdown, even if he was reluctant to countenance such a framework at the moment.

“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’d say,” the World Cup-winning captain said.

“From a very serious point of view, if medical experts advised us it was OK to play behind closed doors and it was on TV, I think that would be a huge step forward for the game.

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“Very rarely, certainly in my life, are there opportunities where people and industries are actually missed a huge amount but I think we are going through one of those at the moment.

“Sport can play a huge role in uplifting the world and people’s perspective on things.

“Isolation encourages idle minds and I think sport can create that theatre and that level of expectation around what it’s like to be outside again and to be active. If it came it would be a huge step forward.

“But cricket is not at the forefront of everybody’s thinking at the moment. There are more serious issues to think about. In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter.”

The ECB announced an emergency £61million stimulus package to keep counties and clubs afloat during the pandemic due to a fall in revenue during what should be cricket’s peak commercial months.

Centrally contracted England players will not be approached to take a pay cut but may discuss the option on a voluntary basis.

When asked if he would consider such a prospect if a request was specifically made to him, Morgan replied: “I’m extremely willing to help where I know it will make a difference.

“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.”

Jos Buttler, Morgan’s deputy as England’s limited-overs captain, is auctioning the shirt he wore during last summer’s triumphant World Cup final to raise funds for two London hospitals.

The profits raised from the sale of the jersey, which is currently up for sale on eBay, will be given to the Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals Charity, heart and lung centres on the frontline of the coronavirus response.

Morgan added: “It’s an incredibly kind gesture. Ultimately when we find ourselves in such a crisis, things like that have absolutely no relevance to what is going on in the outside world.

“His shirt will go for a lot of money and it should do, but the gesture within itself to aid new equipment that can be bought is absolutely outstanding.”