So we’ve had almost a week now to process the ECB’s 100-ball format and if anyone actually understands the thinking behind it, I’d love for you to let me know. Andrew Strauss, the Director of England Cricket and one of the many brainiacs who came up with this idea, explained some of the reasons for the decision. To be honest, after hearing what he said I don’t even think HE has any idea what the point of it is! His main argument was that it would bring a new audience to cricket grounds, specifically the “mums and the kids”. Ah, nothing like a little old-fashioned sexism to keep the game moving forward. No longer will the women be forced stay at home doing housework while their husbands are at the cricket, they’ll have a new format that they can enjoy as well. She can even bring the kids too!
He also highlighted how successful T20 cricket had been in building up a strong audience, but Strauss wants “a different audience” for “The Hundred”, as it appears it has been so eloquently named. I need to ask, what is wrong with the T20 audience? Why must we introduce a new rulebook in order to get more people into the game? The ECB seem hellbent on inventing new ways to play the game and they apparently won’t stop until every single member of the British public is a cricket fanatic.
If these plans go through we’ll have The Hundred, a T20 tournament, maybe a 40/50-over tournament and then a handful of 4-day games at either end of the summer when it’s too wet and too dark to actually play any cricket. Everyone will be forgetting what the Championship table looks like after a three-month gap between two games of red ball cricket. Furthermore, with our young batsman playing First Class cricket at the bookends of the season on stodgy green-tops, we’ll never produce a decent Test top-order batsman ever again. The year will be 2050 and we’ll still be searching for Alistair Cook’s opening partner and anyone other than Joe Root to score runs in the middle order. Who cares, though? At least out SixteenPointFour16.4 side will be racking up mind-boggling scores of 150 every match.
Now I need to make one thing clear, I’m not a cricket purist who believes every match should have two innings and be played in a sexy pair of cream flannels. I will also never utter the phrases “back in my day” or “me Grandmother would’ve caught that in her pinny”. I love experimenting and as a person under the age of 40, I love T20 cricket. But why do we need a format that’s just 20 balls shorter? If we’re going to try something different it should be COMPLETELY different. A Super Over tournament (one over per side) where all 16 county teams participate in a knockout competition, at one ground, on one day, is an idea I came up with a while ago. I’ve done the maths and it’s only 30 overs in total, so it could even be done on one afternoon, with plenty of time for a mascot race in the middle. This is a ridiculous invention of mine, but I guarantee it would be better received (however slight the margin) than this latest brainchild of the ECB.
So if I haven’t made it clear, I’m not a fan of this announcement. However, I’ll happily give it a shot. Everyone said T20 was gimmicky and it would never last, but it’s still going 15 years later. Everyone said DRS would slow down the game and be inconsistent, but now even the Indians are finally using it. Everyone said pink ball Test cricket would never work, but…well, actually the jury’s still out on that one and that’s another issue for another day. What I’m trying to say is that our beloved sport has evolved so much, especially since the turn of the century, and it will continue to evolve until the end of time. Therefore, we need to give everybody’s ideas a go. Even if The Hundred goes down quicker than the Standford 20/20, oh well, at least we tried. And Andrew Strauss, if by any chance you’re reading this, and you want to hear more about my Super Over idea, DM me on Twitter and I’ll be more than happy to talk.