Mixed reaction to ECB's '100-ball' format

Small doses of optimism among a largely confused and critical response to England Cricket's new concept

Cricket Network

20 April 2018, 04:46 PM AEST

The England and Wales Cricket Board's plan to introduce 100-ball cricket has received a mixed response from commentators and former players, with the concept labelled everything from "innovative" to an example of the ECB "prostituting the game".

The ECB stunned the cricket world on Thursday when it outlined its proposal for a new city-based Twenty20 competition that would, in fact, not feature 20-over cricket at all but rather a new format of the game where each team will face 100 deliveries.

The proposed format would feature 15 six-ball overs per side as well as another 10 deliveries to make up a total of 100 balls. It is not clear at what point in an innings the extra 10 deliveries will be bowled, or whether they will be bowled by one bowler or more.

It sparked a swift reaction from past and present players, with some backing the concept as a way to attract new fans to the game.

"I'm hugely optimistic," Test quick Stuart Broad told Sky Sports. "I love the fact that it's different to all the other tournaments worldwide."

Former England captain Michael Vaughan supported the idea and mused that a slightly shorter format – 200 balls in a match compared to the 240 in a T20 game – made a more appealing concept for broadcasters.

"The BBC will be much happier with a game that is played over three hours and between 6.30 and 9.30pm," he wrote in The Telegraph.

"It fits nicely into their schedules and Twenty20 matches are starting to drag on, an inevitable consequence of the money and pressure the players are under these days.

"It will be a point of difference, a novel and fun idea that could work. Why not give it a go?"

But Mike Atherton, another former England skipper, pointed out that 20-over cricket was originally intended to be a three-hour affair.

"In terms of the shortening of the game; I'm going to stay open-minded," he told Sky Sports. "I've never been someone to say, 'this is the way cricket has been and is how it should always be'.

"But, the one thing I would say, is originally T20 was fit into three hours. The game can be speeded up, not necessarily shortened."

Former England cricketer and columnist for The Guardian, Vic Marks, wrote a scathing review of the idea, accusing the ECB of putting the broadcasters first.

"Such is the ECB's staggering diffidence to T20 cricket as it now exists the board has opted for a gimmicky imitation," he wrote.

"It seems the ECB will do anything to satisfy the whims of the broadcasters and this includes introducing yet another format of the game, which is already overloaded with matches of so many different durations. And it has the gall to call this a simplification.

"The ECB now prostrates itself at the knees of the broadcasters even if this means prostituting the game."

In a poll on cricket.com.au, more than 82 per cent of respondents said they didn't like the concept.