100-ball idea has its mer­its

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - CLASSIFIEDS/SPORT - Scyld Berry

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

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