At Trent Bridge, one of six pilot days for the new format proposed by the ECB, ‘The Hundred’ has been taking place.
The proposal is that each innings will consist of 100 balls. There are three pilot days that are scheduled to take place for the men at Trent Bridge and another three taking place at Loughborough for the women’s game from the 14th – 27th September, all of which are being used as a series of experimental games in order to establish clarity about the new competition.
The pilot day itself was made up from two matches and overall was used to test different scenarios such as powerplays of varying length, different number of balls in one block, and a plethora of new rules. They have included both match play, but also a chance to test different game scenarios if they get the chance.
The new format is an ECB initiative in order to attract a ‘new’ audience, where the original desire was to bring in an increased audience including families, with particular emphasis on women and children.
Their interest was to simplify the rules and format, as well as reducing the time taken to complete a game, with the aim of more people being able to understand the game and increase engagement. However, there is speculation that the addition of the new format is defeating the object of that aim, as does adding new rules or complicating matters further actually attract more people?
Teams for the first pilot 100-ball match! North v South idea…that’s something that has been trialed before!
20 ball power play.
A strategic time out of 2 minutes can be taken between the 20th – 70th ball by fielding captain where coaches are allowed on the field. pic.twitter.com/4v45qIJCBv
— Em (@EmilyM1999) September 17, 2018
The 100 balls themselves with take the course of ten balls being bowled from one end, then switch to the opposite end, and the balls being bowled in blocks of five as ‘overs’ are now a thing of history in this format.
A bowler has the ability to bowl up to ten bowlers straight, with the option to bowl either five or ten balls, and can bowl a total of up to 20 balls in the match. It is possible for a bowler to bowl five balls from one end and then swap to the opposing end and continue to bowl five from that end.
Powerplay’s were a major theory being tested, with the number of balls in the powerplay being changed throughout the pilot matches, firstly it was 20 balls, then in the second match it was 25, with other matches trailing powerplays that are between 20 and 30 balls. Different fielding restrictions are being trialled as well.
Another new experiment is introducing a ‘strategic time out’, lasting for two and a half minutes, which can be taken by the fielding team’s captain at any point after the powerplay, for example when the powerplay consisted of 20 balls, it could be taken between the 20th and 70th ball in the first match, after a block of five balls has been bowled. Continuing into second match, when the powerplay was made from 25 balls, it could be taken between 25th and 75th ball.
A rather different form of cricket reporting for me today: the 100-Ball pilot at Trent Bridge; I have no idea what to expect to be quite frank, am trying to not be too sceptical before it even starts! pic.twitter.com/WKuW3f7U4J
— Harry Everett (@HarryEverett_14) September 17, 2018
This has been advertised as a new idea that gives advantage to the bowling side if they see a game to be getting away from them, then can regroup, with the aid of the coaches as they are able to come onto the pitch and offer their thoughts during the time out. It can also be a marketing ploy by the ECB as they can offer elusive sponsorships for this, as seen in the IPL.
As it happened, the North team made good use of their time out, sparking a collapse from the South team after it was taken.
One new scenario that has been thrown into the trial mix is the concept that the new batsmen will always face the next ball after a wicket has fell even if the two batsmen crossed. This idea could stem from giving further advantage to the bowler as they have earned the reward in terms of bowling at the new batsmen rather than the set one, so this could actually be a logical decision made, but it is one that is still being trialled before any concrete decision is made.
One of the ECB’s main selling points for the new format was the proposal of reducing the length of a game, and speeding it up in order to make it more entertaining for spectators and attractive to a new audience they are trying to appeal to. With the concept of changing ends after every ten balls, it cuts down the number of times changing ends from 19 in T20 to only 9. The first innings of the day took 65 minutes to complete, with the first match taking a total of 2 hours, 17 minutes.
In terms of the trial matches, in the first game it was the North who took victory by 9 runs, and then followed on from that with another victory, this time by six wickets after managing to bowl the South out for 106 in 92 balls.
These pilot days prove pivotal when it comes down to making amendments within the new format, and vital to show how the new 100-ball tournament will pan out when it is scheduled to start in July 2020, with its delivery to the nation sparking masses of discussion.
Overall, the day and cricket itself seemed to lack intensity, perhaps because playing to an empty stadium and a certain climax perhaps, but there is logic in some of the intentions from the format and the decision made such as time outs, plus certain ideas to aid bowlers in matches.
However does steering away from cricket actually appeal to a new audience and attract them to come watch the great game…time will tell, but for now ECB are championing this proposal to really take off.