OPINION: The 100 Is English Cricket’s Vietnam

“It became necessary to destroy the town to save it,” an American general is reported to have said in the wake of the annihilation of the city of Ben Tre during the Vietnam War in 1968.

There were really two disclosures made yesterday by the ECB, as they revealed details of The 100 – the new City “T20”.

  1. The 100-ball format
  2. The disbanding of the Kia Super League

The second of these announcements had been widely expected – the news last September that Kia’s sponsorship of the competition would be extended only until 2019 was an omen which was effectively confirmed by a job description posted on the ECB’s web site in December. The suggestion that one of the KSL coaches didn’t know anything about it is frankly bizarre, considering that players in New Zealand did.

However, on a personal level, this official confirmation is still massively disappointing. We invested in the Super League – with our time, our hearts – and now it is being torn up in our faces.

It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.

Did it?

Time will tell, but try saying that to the Western Storm fans and the Loughborough Lightning fans as you try to get them excited about teams that simply won’t exist any more in two years time.

If the KSL had been a failure – if it had gotten county-sized crowds and no wider coverage – we could understand.

But it wasn’t a failure – it was a fantastic success. The atmosphere at Hove for Finals Day last year was positively bubbling. With three-and-a-half thousand people packed into the county ground, the pressure was so great that it actually broke one of the players; and there were correspondents there from the BBC, the Telegraph, the Mail, the Times and more.

This is really something, I remember thinking – this is what top level sport is – not the sleepy village of county cricket, but the hustling and bustling of a city filled with life!

And now…?

It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.

But if we thought the the disbanding of the KSL was a kick in the guts, we were really not prepared for “The 100” – the 100-ball format, which doesn’t divide into any number of overs, and leaves 10 “mystery” balls to be distributed somehow, like baubles on a TV game-show.

The concept is so bizarre that when we first read the headline, we assumed it was about a new recreational format – some sort of Last Man Standing / Prosecco Cricket affair to try to get the grass-roots buzzing.

And then the reality sank in – this isn’t a late April Fool; they are actually serious. They want to literally break cricket – re-write the laws which require 6-ball overs; re-write the scoreboards; re-write the statistics; and re-write history… until it just isn’t cricket any more.

It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.

Really?

Call me old-fashioned – the ECB will – but there are certain elements to cricket which are sacrosanct. Yes, we’ve had 4 ball overs in the distant past, and I actually remember 8 ball overs. [So… the distant past too? Ed.] But 6 has been the more general consensus for a long time now, and never have there been different lengths in the same game.

And what did cricket need saving from, anyway? The game itself isn’t the problem – look at the IPL and the BBL/WBBL for models of success, without changing one of the most fundamental rules.

It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.

Well… the Americans did destroy the town… and then another town… and then another… to “save” them.

But they failed.

And this will too… possibly taking the whole game with it.

See also: 100-Ball Cricket A Nuclear Disaster For The Women’s Game

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6 thoughts on “OPINION: The 100 Is English Cricket’s Vietnam

  1. Maybe the ECB is hoping that this 100 ball format will catch on and replace T20 at international level for both men and women? There may be some good news in this for fans of women’s county cricket, as mentioned in the earlier posts. The skills required to play 100 ball cricket will surely be very similar to T20 though? Also can’t see the world’s top women players turning down the chance to play in this just because the length of an innings has been reduced by one sixth? It may also introduce an interesting new dimension to the game, as teams will need to decide when to use the 10 ball over, and who bowls it. I’m already thinking about how we might introduce this into local recreational cricket round my way. It may be re-writing the laws of cricket, but the same applies to: free hits, powerplays, restrictions on bowlers’ overs …. My main concern about this franchise tournament is the one I’ve had for some time, and which this announcement does nothing to alter. That is, if the teams are not to carry the names of a city, county or region, is there any incentive to support them, whether they are playing men’s or women’s cricket. I live 10 miles from Old Trafford, which will host one of the franchise teams, but can I wholeheatedly give them my support if they have a generic name like ‘Hurricanes’ or ‘Aardvarks’ and aren’t called ‘Manchester’, ‘Lancashire’ etc?

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  2. Pingback: OPINION: 100-Ball Cricket A Nuclear Disaster For The Women’s Game | CRICKETher

  3. Can someone with access to all the Women’s T20 statistics calculate how many of the 100s that have been scored would have been scored in a Cricket 100 match – or put another way, how many of them was achieved before the 101st ball of the innings. I’d wager not many. I’d have thought introducing a format that more or less wipes out centuries is odd to say the least.

    This latest idea from the ECB makes one wonder just how far they could take this whilst still calling it cricket.

    Perhaps this more a case of Barbarossa rather than Vietnam (ie going into the unknown, over stretching oneself due to greed and it all ending up in tears)..

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    • As a start, here’s the list for T20Is, WBBL & KSL. Ball by ball data for other matches is harder to come by.

      Among the seven women’s T20 international hundreds to date, only Wyatt, against India last month, had reached her century by 16.4 overs.

      4 of the 5 WBBL centurions had reached their landmark, while neither Bates or Priest had made their KSL hundreds by that point.

      T20I, WBBL or KSL centuries at 16.4 overs:

      Wyatt (ENG) 122* (62) T20I v India, 2018
      Gardner (SIX) 114 (52) WBBL v Stars, 2017
      Healy (SIX) 106* (65) WBBL v Strikers, 2018
      Devine (STR) 103* (48) WBBL v Hurricanes, 2016
      Harris (HEA) 102* (53) WBBL v Sixers, 2015
      Bates (VIP) 99* (62) KSL v Lightning, 2017
      Fritz (SA) 98* (61) T20I v Netherlands, 2010
      Priest (STO) 98* (63) KSL v Diamonds, 2017
      Wyatt (ENG) 95* (53) T20I v Australia, 2017
      Bates (STR) 93* (60) WBBL v Hurricanes, 2017
      Lanning (AUS) 89* (50) T20I v Ireland, 2014
      Dottin (WI) 84* (52) T20I v Sri Lanka, 2017
      Mooney (AUS) 84* (57) T20I v England, 2017
      Dottin (WI) 74* (30) T20I v South Africa, 2010

      Gardner’s was the earliest century on the list, at 12.5 overs.

      Putting together this list was a reminder of just how extraordinary Dottin’s knock at the 2010 World T20 was. She came in at #6 after 9.2 overs. No other woman has made a T20I century batting outside the top 3. It remains the fastest recorded century (38 balls) in an official women’s T20I match, at domestic or international level.

      BTW this, as far as I’m aware, is the complete list of officially recognised domestic & international women’s T20 centuries (41 in total, of which Wyatt has made 5):

      https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/e/2PACX-1vQ6-zyP41VrY-sSidFD0vSaZK8CdnPd55nvfb1UmJrLyCWgzRkPCnC2JhThGH3OuT6I11ainp4fHQco/pubhtml?gid=1478563617&single=true

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      • Very interesting stats.

        Tends to suggest we’ll have very few centuries (ironic given the name of format) and anyone not opening will find it extremely difficult to reach 100.

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  4. It’s all so amusing. The same people who would talk breathlessly about how we need franchise cricket and evolution in order to save the game are now coming out with wheezing and groaning at this arch piece of revolution.

    The 100 is simply a slightly mutated abomination of an abomination.

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