Thursday, April 26, 2018

Backyard Cricket Will Be More Relevant Than "The Hundred"

The news of the brave new initiative of the ECB to introduce a fresh approach to cricket with their “The Hundred” domestic competition in the English summer from 2020 has missed the real opportunity to bring in ‘backyard’ rules that would actually draw regular people to the game.

While Director of Cricket Andrew Strauss and current English Test Captain Joe Root have been positive in their belief that this will be a good thing for cricket, many others have suggested that as a marketing ploy it has little to offer.

With the concept still in its infancy, the fact that it has been announced this week seems to indicate that the ECB plans to move forward with the proposal as it tries to offer an eight city-based team competition that will stand apart from the other domestic T20 competitions around the world, such as the Indian Premier League, the Big Bash and the Caribbean Premier League. The announcement has brought a varied and proportional response from cricket lovers around the world.

At the heart of the concept is that both teams would face 100 deliveries, made up of 15 six ball overs, and a final over of ten deliveries. Of course there is no chance this will be a 100-balls-per-side initiative, because the number of wides and no balls that come with the one day game will ensure that number is never achieved. There are also possible rule tweaks that include abandoning LBW dismissals and allowing a change of bowlers in the middle of the final ten ball over.

The ECB chief executive Tom Harrison believes "This is a fresh and exciting idea which will appeal to a younger audience and attractnew fans to the game," while England captain Joe Root has been quoted as saying "It's going to appeal to a completely new audience, and I think that's great,” and that mums and kids would be drawn in by the ‘new’ concept.

If the ECB is serious about creating a new competition format for cricket which would bring in the mums and the kids as well as new people who have not been regular followers of the game, then instead of borrowing heavily from the T20 cricket format that already exists, why wouldn’t they design a game that revolved around the type of cricket that everybody already knows and participates in, such as backyard cricket rules?

Who wouldn’t be excited about seeing domestic cricketers playing a game under rules such as can’t get out first ball, hitting the ball over the fence is six and out, and batsmen can be caught out on the ‘one hand one bounce’ rule? What about bringing in the automatic wicket-keeper? Or put in the garbage bin at silly point, and if you hit it on the full you are out caught? If you want real excitement, let’s play under the ‘hit and run’ rule. How about bowlers who claim they have two balls to go in their over, even though they’ve been bowling for twenty minutes?

These are the kinds of changes to cricket that might draw in the Mums and the kids in a different way from the current cricket formats, not just another shortening of the overs being faced by each side and then a fancy multi-ball over to finish off the innings. Better yet, open up the discussion to the public as to what rules they actually want to see in a new cricket competition, and not just give the game a quick polish and pass it off as ‘new and exciting’.

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