Joe Root, the new England Test captain, and Eoin Morgan, his One-Day International counterpart, must provide crowd-pleasing cricket and bear a sunny disposition so as to attract new players to the game, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said on Monday (March 21).
The ECB is taking steps to significantly boost the number of players at the grass roots — which has stagnated over the past five years — and the England cricket team is seen as a useful weapon in addressing that.
Tom Harrison, chief executive of the ECB, said the England cricketers and Andrew Strauss, their director of cricket, knew what was expected of them.
“Andrew Strauss and the England team are very clear that part of their responsibility is playing brave cricket — this commitment to playing an exciting formula of cricket every time they go on the park is linked to [the participation strategy],” said Harrison. “Joe Root and Eoin Morgan understand their responsibility to play exciting cricket for future generations to connect with and for fans to get behind.”
Harrison, who has been in the post since January 2015 and installed Strauss at the expense of Paul Downton, said even if England were to lose, the reaction would be kinder if they went down fighting.
“It’s a very deliberate strategy,” added Harrison. “It doesn’t work every time but we understand you’re more likely to be forgiven for having a bad day if you’ve tried everything to win a game as opposed to trying not to lose it, which is a key difference.
“Ever since Andrew took the job as director of cricket he saw the link between successful England teams — and I mean successful by approach as much as results — was key.”
Harrison, who played cricket for Derbyshire and Northamptonshire, said the days of England trying to grind out a one-off Test victory are over. “People like the fact the team is taking calculated risks, at very competitive limits, but also with a smile on their faces,” he said.