100-ball idea has its merits
LIKE most people, my reaction to the announcement of the 100-ball format was “gimmicky rubbish”.
Having now played a game, I believe this fourth format will be a valuable addition to the sport.
A match of 100 balls per side – 15 overs and one 10-ball over – is significantly shorter than a 20over game.
It was only a club game between Hinton Charterhouse and Bear Flat, and professional bowlers will obviously take longer run-ups and batsmen will hit the ball further, but each innings took only a minute or two more than one hour, and the whole game 2¼ hours.
T20 takes around 90 minutes for an innings and three hours for a game, which is fine on a sunny evening in summer.
The 100-ball format will be ideal for club cricketers on shorter and darker evenings, or when players arrive late because of rush-hour traffic – and more suitable for terrestrial television as a compact slot from 6.30 to 9pm.
Easier for families too, to get to the game, than a 6pm start.
A 100-ball game is still long enough to feel like a cricket match, to be a contest of skills, to have some fun and exercise, to make the effort of turning up worthwhile. It allows enough time to succeed or, in the case of my two expensive overs, fail.
And the 10-ball over has unprecedented dramatic potential.
The England and Wales Cricket Board has yet to decide at what stage of an innings it should be taken – and I would recommend plenty of trial games first. A 10-ball over will be one of the biggest innovations in this sport’s history.
Our captains agreed to make the 10-ball over the 16th and last of each innings.
When Hinton bowled first, our left-arm seamer Simon Butcher was brilliant in keeping the opposition down to five singles. So Bear Flat set us a target of 135, and at the start of the last over, we needed 29 to win.
The first three balls went dot, wicket, single, until our captain Chris Antrobus got back on strike – and we lost by one run.
So there will be the chance to score 40 or even 50 off the last over if the bowler bowls a couple of wides and no-balls – and he will therefore be more horribly exposed than cricketers have ever been before in what is nominally a team game.
A batsman dismissed first ball retreats to the safety of the dressing-room a minute later; a bowler who gets the yips has only six legitimate balls to get through before retiring. But there is no limit to the ridicule to which a nervous bowler could be subjected if the 10-ball over is the last.
No game will be over until the last 10-ball over has been bowled: that is the dramatic potential. So there would be less stress, and drama, if the fielding captain can take the 10-ball over at any stage he chooses. It should be one or the other: the 10-ball over at any time or the last.
The proposal that the 10-ball over should be delivered by more than one bowler is not worthy of consideration. In that case it is not an over, just a procession of different bowlers. Not cricket.
There is a lot to be said for the 100-ball format. It is astounding that a sport invented three centuries ago can carry on evolving to suit the leisure time and attention spans of those who watch and play. – The Daily Telegraph