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Make or break

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Englishman Eoin Morgan says that an overseas player coming into any team in the Mzansi Super League finds that there is that extra expectations on his shoulders, but he says that when it's make or break it makes it that much more exciting

Eoin Morgan. Picture: BackpagePix

For Eoin Morgan’s first training session as a Tshwane Spartan, he wanted balance – at the crease that is. Balance said Morgan was key, after a long journey and a quick turnaround from one competition to another, one country to another and in his case, one format to another.

Morgan along with a handful of other overseas stars in the Mzansi Super League – including Chris Gayle and Jason Roy – have been off in Dubai playing a T10 tournament recently.

“The T10 format exposes a different aspect to cricket, it attracts a different fan as well. It’s so easy to understand. I suppose it’s as close to baseball as we’ll ever get,” the England One-Day and T20 captain said after finishing training with the Tshwane Spartans yesterday.

In five T10 innings with the Kerala Knights, Morgan scored 46*, 0, 7, 17 and 0; so how is he able to judge if he’s in form?

“It can be very difficult,” he smiled. “But I’m a player who has a reputation, for either not being in form and scoring runs or being in form and failing, so I’m not a traditional batsman as you would normally come across and T20 gives you a bit more time than T10 cricket. It will be nice to face a few balls.”

The Spartans could certainly do with a bit of Morgan facing a few balls and scoring a few runs to lessen the load on AB de Villiers. The Tshwane skipper has yet to set the tournament alight – something fans as well as the marketers would have hoped for by now – and Morgan’s dynamism and experience are crucial additions to a team currently languishing fourth on the MSL log and in need of a win today against the Paarl Rocks to remain in contention for a play-off spot.

“As an overseas player coming into any team there is that extra expectations on your shoulders, but when it’s make or break it makes it that much more exciting,” said Morgan, who has played 260 T20 matches (including 77 Internationals), in leagues in the Caribbean, Pakistan, Australia, India and England.

Morgan, as many players have done, emphasised the importance of simply having the league take place and how beneficial it would be to South African cricket in the long run.

“When we go to different tournaments around the world we see all these young players coming through, who would not have had the exposure or the opportunity to play against the best players in the country or the world and show what they can do.”

Already the likes of Janneman Malan, Ryan Rickelton, Lutho Sipamla and Anrich Nortjé have made an impression on the competition. “ It’s great to see it happening in the first year. It’s benefitted teams like India having the IPL; you see guys coming out of the woodwork, dominating a tournament,” Morgan added.

“I’ve caught the highlights; the feedback particularly from the players who were here the first weekend, and then came to the T10, has been positive. The real bonus is that cricket is getting the exposure on free to air television, I’ve heard the (viewership) numbers were really good. That’s a huge positive.”

Today’s match between the Paarl Rocks and the Tshwane Spartans starts at 2pm.

Meanwhile, Theunis de Bruyn will miss the remainder of the MSL after tearing a portion of a disc in his lower back. De Bruyn hopes to play in the round of four-day matches scheduled for December 19 to test his readiness ahead of the opening Test against Pakistan at SuperSport Park that starts a week later. His place in the Spartans squad has been taken by Andrea Agathangelou.