James Franklin on white-ball contracts, Eoin Morgan’s captaincy and Middlesex pre-season plans

Middlesex all-rounder James Franklin gives his take on white-ball only contracts, Eoin Morgan’s captaincy, Dawid Malan’s form and ballet in the latest edition of Hit for Six…

Australia won the T20 Tri-Series with a side shorn of some of their bigger-name talents but filled with Big Bash stars. Do you think T20 is becoming a game for specialists?

We’ve seen with the Australian team that they’ve picked a few guys off the back of the Big Bash and the form that they’ve shown in that, and they’ve brought that into the Tri-Series.

The best of the action from the T20 Tri-Series final between New Zealand and Australia at Eden Park

I think we’re going to see more and more of these specialists, if you want to call them that, come in and get their start in T20 internationals. Then perhaps they can grow into the 50-over format and Test cricket but we are definitely seeing more guys introduced international cricket through T20s now.

Alex Hales has joined Adil Rashid in signing a white-ball only contract. What do you make of their decisions and do you think we will see people players following suit?

I just think that is the way that cricket is moving now. The players are certainly looking to get white-ball contracts but who is to say that counties, states and provinces around the world won’t start looking to employ cricketers just on white-ball contracts? I think it can actually work both ways, not only in the players’ favour but also for the counties, or states.

Eoin Morgan has gone the other way and said he’d like to play red-ball cricket again this season. It is just an individual choice. In Eoin’s case, I’ve worked closely with him and been a team-mate of his at Middlesex, and I know that he still values the red-ball game highly – for his technique, form and being able to get the volume of cricket in between playing for England and other white-ball games.

He’s still very keen to play red-ball cricket which is great but the likes of Hales and Rashid want to concentrate fully on white-ball cricket and that’s fine too.

Speaking of Eoin Morgan, Rob Key described him as the best captain in world cricket after the T20I between England and New Zealand on Sunday. Would you agree with that?

I think it’s a very fair statement. The revolution for England started back at the 2015 World Cup in New Zealand, against New Zealand. He looked at a good mate of his in Brendon McCullum and the way he was doing things with New Zealand and has just taken a leaf out of his book and taken it a step further.

The thing with Morgs is that he is an incredibly proactive leader, he’s a proactive cricketer, and he never lets the game just play out. He always wants to make that move and be ahead of the curve.

That has obviously been shown in the way England have played over the last couple of years in the one-day format, they’ve been playing very well with an aggressive style of cricket and I think he is leading on the world stage in terms of leadership and captaincy.

There are a few other captains who have done it now, we’ve just seen David Warner do it with the Australian T20 side. I think Kane Williamson has got a little bit of it, he’s probably a little bit more conservative and is still trying to figure out exactly what his style is but there is no doubt that Eoin is one of the leading captains in world cricket.

England have proven themselves to be a formidable ODI side in the last couple of years but New Zealand have been impressive themselves. Do you think the Black Caps can match England in this series?

Absolutely. I think New Zealand’s form at home over the last few years would suggest that they’re a very difficult team to beat on their own backyard. They’ve just come off a series whitewash over Pakistan, the series before that they whitewashed a very poor West Indies team as well.

New Zealand vs England

February 25, 2018, 12:30am

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They’re going to have their work cut out for them against an in-form England team, not just over the last few weeks in Australia but over the last 18 months. England are very down pat with the style and the way they go about their tactics and the way they play. It’s going to be a really intriguing couple of weeks of cricket that we’ve got coming up.

Dawid Malan has been rested for the ODIs but will be back for the Test series. He’s another player you know well for Middlesex, so did you expect him to have the impact he has had this winter?

He’s been fantastic. It’s no secret that people who have played with Dawid at Middlesex or played against him know that he is a fine player. He’s shown over the last couple of years what he can do, doing very well playing for England Lions.

He’s made the progress through to international cricket, probably a little bit slower than he’d have wanted. He would probably have hoped that his opportunity would have come a little bit earlier but now that he’s been given his opportunity, he has taken it with both hands. After only six months in the international game he is fast becoming an indispensable player for England.

And finally, the county season is fast approaching: how are your preparations with Middlesex going ahead of the summer?

I think they’re going pretty well. We’ve been training here in London and we’re off to Cape Town in a couple of weeks for pre-season down there so hopefully they get a bit of rain soon, I know there is a big drought going on.

Then by the time we get back from Cape Town the Championship season will be upon us, we’re down in the second division this year so we’ve got a big fight on our hands to get promoted – everyone is very much looking forward to the start of the season.