YORKSHIRE are supporting a controversial new format of cricket that will feature 100 balls per team, saying it will be “awesome” for boosting the sport’s appeal.
The first-class counties have endorsed the England and Wales Cricket Board’s plan for its new eight-team city-based competition starting in 2020, which will replace the anticipated 20-over format.
However, the move has drawn a backlash from many pundits and supporters, some of whom believe it is an unnecessary gimmick and a further example of the sport dumbing down.
Emerald Headingley will be one of the host venues for the five-week tournament in which sides will bowl 15 six-ball overs and then a final over of 10 deliveries to make up the 100-ball allocation.
Steve Denison, the Yorkshire chairman, defended the idea on Twitter and urged: “Badgers suspend your skepticism, this is going to be awesome at broadening the appeal of cricket #TheHundred.”
Denison said it was “designed to strengthen the game by attracting and retaining new fans” and enthused: “Imagine being 6 or 7 (years old) and the excitement of counting down from a hundred with a mega over at the end. Cricket has always innovated and evolved.” He added that it tied in perfectly with family schedules as it is “done and dusted inside 3 hours”.
However, former England captain Michael Vaughan tweeted: “Cricket now has 5 day, 4 day, 3 day, 2 day, 50 overs, 40 overs, 20 overs, T10 league, Hong (Kong) sixes & 100 ball comp……. Good luck understanding our great game.”
The ECB believe the new format will appeal to families and a younger, more diverse audience, as well as provide a clear distinction from the T20 Blast. It will feature aligned competitions for both men’s and women’s teams sharing a common format, brands and identities.
Although the ECB piloted T20 15 years ago, they have been left behind by the likes of the Indian Premier League and the Big Bash League in Australia.
As such, the board appears to have felt it necessary to innovate to give the English competition a separate identity, having consulted with broadcasters and player representatives.
Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive, commented: “This is a fresh and exciting idea, which will appeal to a younger audience and attract new fans to the game.
“Our game has a history of innovation and we have a duty to look for future growth.”