In Brief

ECB plans radical 100-ball cricket tournament - reaction

The new competition will feature eight city-based teams and start in summer 2020

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has revealed plans for a new ‘100-ball’ tournament to begin in the summer of 2020. 

The competitions, which have been proposed for both men’s and women’s cricket, will feature eight city-based teams who will each face 100 balls in their innings. The BBC reports that the concept would see innings of 15 six-ball overs and a new “final ten-ball over”.  

The 100-ball format is 20 balls shorter than Twenty20 and the new “revolutionary” competition will be played alongside the current T20 Blast event, The Daily Telegraph says.  

In a statement the ECB explained that the 100-ball tournament is part of its “Cricket Unleashed” strategy for the sport. The key aims are:   

  • Attracting a wider audience: its simplicity is designed to appeal to families and a younger, more diverse crowd
  • Promotion of the game: a five-week window in the middle of summer will showcase cricket at major venues, promoted across Sky and the BBC and linked to participation 
  • A different format to other competitions: distinct from the popular Vitality Blast, the new tournament will offer a fresh approach to broadcast coverage and promotion

The ECB’s chief executive officer Tom Harrison said: “This is a fresh and exciting idea which will appeal to a younger audience and attract new fans to the game. We have a duty to look for future growth for the health and sustainability of the whole game.”

100-ball cricket: how it will work

When will it start?

The new eight-team domestic competition will launch in the summer of 2020 in a five-week window during the school holidays. A total of 36 games will be played in 38 days.

How will it work?

Each team will face 100 balls in their innings – that’s 15 six-ball overs followed by one “wild card” over of ten balls, says The Daily Telegraph. The eight city-based teams will have squads of 15 players, including three from overseas. Matches will last three hours.

Where will games be played?

The BBC reports that Southampton, Birmingham, Leeds, London, Manchester, Cardiff and Nottingham will host games. Lord’s and The Oval in London will host newly-created teams.

Will it be shown on TV?

Yes, from 2020-2024, the BBC and Sky Sports will broadcast live matches from the new men’s and women’s domestic tournaments. Games will start at 2.30pm and 6.30pm with eight games live on the BBC and the rest on Sky Sports.

Pundit reactions to the 100-ball format

Dan Roan, BBC sports editor: “The move would be one of the biggest shake-ups to the game since the introduction of the Twenty20 Cup in 2003, the first professional 20-over competition.” 

Jonathan Agnew, BBC cricket correspondent: “Somehow the ECB has to make the new tournament different to the existing T20 Blast and this countdown from 100 balls is the first innovation. Whether adjustments like this will attract the new audience the ECB is seeking remains to be seen. At the moment, the interest among existing cricket fans is lukewarm at best. But the board emphasises that this eight-team city-based competition, some of which will be shown on terrestrial television, is all about fresh faces and families.”

Michael Atherton, Sky Sports Cricket pundit: “I’m somebody who has been in favour of a change. Having travelled around, seen the Big Bash [in Australia] and IPL [Indian Premier League], I felt that we needed something to emulate that in our own domestic competitions. I like the fact that there’s an attempt to give the women’s competition equal standing – a huge growth area for the game over the last few years, which must continue to be pushed.” 

Vic Marks, The Guardian: “Even the curmudgeons, a band I am in danger of joining, admit Twenty20 cricket has the capacity to be the saviour of the modern game. So what does the England and Wales Cricket Board decide to do? Abandon T20 cricket, which we all understand, for something it describes as ‘simpler’ but which is undeniably shorter – 20 balls.

“Such is the ECB’s staggering diffidence to T20 cricket as it now exists the board has opted for a gimmicky imitation. But the sad fact is however good the marketing men and women – and they will be working overtime to save the faces of those in charge at the ECB in the months leading up to the launch of this competition – I don’t think anyone is going to care.”

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