New 100 ball competition leaves more questions than answers

It’s fair to say that the England Wales Cricket Board’s plans for a new 100 ball a side tournament have left plenty of people scratching their heads.

The new competition will kick off in 2020 with each side facing 15 six ball overs and one ten ball over.

On the surface it hardly seems to be the “simple approach” to cricket the ECB proudly proclaimed it to be in their press release.

dominic-sibley-surrey-natwest-t20-blast_3481694
Credit: Sky Sports

You can almost imagine the marketing executives high fiving each other with their brilliant new plan.

If they wanted to come up with a unique selling point they certainly succeeded.

The new format is designed to appeal to new audiences and get them interested in cricket.

Andrew Strauss told BBC Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek programme: “What we’re trying to do is appeal to a new audience, people that aren’t traditional cricket fans.

“We want to make the game as simple as possible for them to understand.”

So according to the ECB these new fans will not be able to get their head around 120 ball innings, but cut it to 100 balls and, hey presto, you’re onto a winner.

Spare a thought for the players who have to get their head around the new format.

You can’t imagine too many bowlers will be queing up to bowl a ten ball over with the batsmen looking to hit them out of the park every delivery.

Twenty20_game

It does beg the question of whether cricket really needs yet another format.

We already have five day test matches, four days county matches, 50 over games and Twenty20. It’s enough to make the head spin.

Another reason behind the new format is that the ECB is desperate to increase the viewership for cricket in this country and increase the visibility of the sport.

The governing body have somewhat belatedly realised that for cricket to reach a wider audience it needs to be present in live form on terrestrial television.

The glory days of the 2005 Ashes where more than 22m people watched the series on terrestrial TV are long gone.

Tom Harrison, Chief Executive of the ECB, said: “We have no ambition to be the richest, most irrelevant sport in this country.”

Final - Natwest T20 Blast
Credit: Sky Sports

The new 100 ball competition includes a deal to show ten games live on BBC.

The broadcaster want games to fit neatly into a two and a half hour time slot and finish before 9pm for those returning home after work.

At present a T20 Blast game lasts just over three hours, so the ECB needed to find a way to cut down the games.

Instead of pushing for faster over rates and reducing the gap between innings, they’ve come up with the novel 100 ball idea.

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Credit: ESPN Cricinfo

But perhaps we shouldn’t be too quick to judge the new format.

It’s just one of many examples of  cricket followers pushing back against change.

After all there were plenty who scoffed at the idea of Twenty20 when it was introduced 15 years ago and that hasn’t done too badly.

We’ll have to wait and see whether this is really the shot in the arm that cricket in this country needs or whether it ends up as a harebrained scheme consigned to history. 


Featured image credit: Sky Sports

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