PCA Chairman Daryl Mitchell believes progress is being made in the plans for the shape of the ECB’s new 100-ball competition and feels the format is not far away from being where it needs to be.
Mitchell was one of the players taking part in today’s pilot match at Trent Bridge – one of six such games as the details are ironed out as to how the competition will actually look when it launches in 2020.
The Worcestershire player, who was part of the Rapids side which clinched the Vitality Blast title at Edgbaston just two days ago, feels things are heading in the right direction.
“It’s not far away from where it wants to be,” Mitchell said.
“It’s definitely still cricket, which I was initially a little bit sceptical about. I felt it to be very similar skillsets to T20 cricket which is a good thing, I see this competition as a vehicle for lads to go around the world and play in other domestic T20s and T20 internationals.
“The flow of the game was better than I thought it would be too, it was a little bit odd that changing bowlers weren’t changing ends to start with, but I think after a few sets of 10 you got used to it and it came naturally by the end of the day.
The all-rounder feels that more work needs to be done on the new substitution rule that is being introduced and also believes there needs to be more clarity for spectators in the stadium.
“I think they are going to have more LED screens up explaining what’s going on.
“I think the substitution thing needs looking at closely if they are going to implement that, because it has got messy at times, but I think there is some merit in that.
“Another thing they do need to get right is a clear signal for the end of five balls.”
The idea of better information on the screens was also shared by Nottinghamshire’s Samit Patel, who skippered a North team to two victories over a team representing the South during the two-match pilot day.
But he was pleased that the game wasn’t too far removed from the normal feel of a T20 match.
“It’s only 20 balls less than a T20 so there’s still a bit of subtlety to building an innings, it’s not like T10s where you have to swing straight away and it’s pretty chaotic.”
Patel also explained how he managed his bowling options and changes throughout the game, which now includes whether to bowl one bowler for five deliveries or keep him on for ten.
“Just depending on if we are going well or not,” Patel said. “If a spinner’s on and he’s looking threatening then we’ll keep him on for 10 balls.
“If that last ball went for six I’d change it. I think you have to be like that to keep people’s minds fresh. That next five balls could change the momentum of the fixture because the batsman’s lining him up.”
On crossing while the ball is in the air before a catch is taken being irrelevant under the new rules, Patel said:
“I don’t like that because I’m a batsman, so I want to face as many balls as I can. I don’t want the new batsman getting the next ball if I’m going alright I want the strike – if you cross you cross.”
Trent Woodhill, a Twenty20 expert who has most notably worked with RCB in the IPL, was brought in by the ECB as a consultant for the new 100-ball competition. He explained the thinking behind these six days of pilot matches:
“We’ve tested timings, tested different formats, a different length powerplay, introduced a strategy break at different times during the innings.”
He was confident it had been nothing but a success:
“Both the coaches and the players have had nothing but positive feedback, it’s been really enjoyable speaking to them about how they see the game unfolding and advancing.
“The players who wanted to play made themselves available, obviously Lancashire and Nottinghamshire had no Championship games this week. Everyone playing here seems to be enjoying themselves.”