Are ‘outs’ really the in thing?

Today Mark Cohen discusses the ECB’s latest madcap idea for The Hundred. Apparently wickets will be called ‘outs’ to make the game easier to understand. Sigh.

First things first, the ECB gets a lot of things right. It rightly embraced T20 before anyone else. Ditto the use of DRS . The radio deals it has struck are bearing fruit across the airwaves, most recently with the BBC’s excellent County Championship coverage.

The ECB has also fostered the national game’s gradual modernisation, until now. The delayed start of The Hundred this summer is a reminder of the old adage to quit when you’re ahead. As many of us reunite at pubs and beer gardens this weekend, the ECB’s rejuvenated inception of this crazy new tournament draws comparisons with that one mate who will end up being prematurely put in an Uber home.

I was actually willing to give the tournament a chance when it was first announced back in 2018. A modern relative of the Vitality Blast, just with 20 less balls and a new selection of strangely named regional teams; it all seemed harmless enough. But then the curtain was lifted on the excess baggage it was going to come with: 5 or 10 balls per bowler, changing of ends after 10 balls and one ‘time-out’ for each fielding team.

This past year aside, it is a sad fact of modern life that time is at a premium. Our powers of concentration seem to have also diminished, with more distractions vying for our attention. The Hundred was born out of the ECB believing that we didn’t have either the time or concentration to pick up such alien concepts as the rules of cricket.

Ironically, the postponement of The Hundred last summer left everyone with ample time to read the entire MCC Laws of Cricket (if they were that way inclined)! Now the rescheduled tournament again looms ominously on the horizon, the latest revelation from Nick Hoult at The Telegraph – with wickets instead to be called “outs” – merely confirms that this tournament is being prematurely thrust onto the national cricketing landscape.

© David Morton

Many of us will remember the hit and giggle of the first domestic ‘Twenty20’ all of 18 years ago, accompanied by helmet cams, player microphones and revelations such as which batsmen listened to the Spice Girls. It was new, fun, but most importantly something that existing fans could relate to up and down the country, with only one obvious change to familiar rules.

Most importantly, the players themselves seemed to buy into it and, whilst the current Vitality Blast is now a serious business, the biggest annual success story of the original 2003 tournament has just started again over in India with the IPL. No matter what country you are in, T20 tournaments continue to draw sell-out crowds.

In a misguided plea for more fans in double quick time, the ECB have cobbled together some focus groups with white boards to come up with a concept that has not been thoroughly thought through or tested on a smaller scale. The Hundred is not only going to confuse those of us who already follow and love the game, but also the new fans whose attentions it so desperately seeks. Why the ECB thinks that calling wickets ‘outs’ will make things easier to digest is anyone’s guess. The problem is The Hundred’s overall concept.

Not even a slick marketing campaign will be able to mask the inevitable confusion of the players themselves when they take to the pitch. I am already looking forward to the sight of Jofra Archer going to take his cap from the umpire, before being told there are 4 more balls to bowl! Don’t let the wide smiles of Archer, Jason Roy and co fool you either; they must surely be wondering what they’ve let themselves in for. Virat Kholi’s public rejection of the tournament has also poured cold water on The Hundred’s ambitions to attract international calibre players.

The grassroots cricketing landscape is surely a more suitable arena to test-drive new ideas before taking them to the professional game. Kwik cricket has been a mainstay of school P.E. lessons for years, but new formats are now making their way into competitive adult competition.

After a decade-long hiatus from a proper cricket playing summer, some friends and I are taking the plunge into a ‘Last Man Stands’ Sunday league team. This is where the last batsman can continue the innings alone, scoring with twos and boundaries. The rules also allow the fielding side to dismiss both batsmen with a ‘double-play’ through a catch and run-out in a single ball.

The terminology bears a cringe-worthy resemblance to baseball. Regardless of this, surely likes of me should be trying out these new rules in Regent’s Park, rather than Eoin Morgan just down the road at Lords?

Returning to the pub analogy, the ECB should have eased into things with a few pints and bolstered the existing Vitality Blast competition to freshen up what is a tried, tested and successful product. Instead, it is clearing out on a bar tab in one fell swoop and will surely pay the price with an awful hangover.

Mark Cohen


  • T20, like it or not, after 18 years is part of the cricket calendar. But if course in these we haven’t got time days of “more crap is better” comes the 3 day old McDonalds, the 100. I not have anything more negative to add that I or others here have not said before, except like the 3 day old McDonalds I hope it gets flushed down the toilet, and I’d be happy to pull the chain. Or maybe the dreaded virus will have the final say.

    • Doug is spot on. I hope it is the huge flop it deserves to be. I hope the county game can survive and outlive it – then prosper in the future. I hope Harrison’s career ends in miserable failure but he lives to be exactly 100 so he has to have it on his gravestone in eternity.
      ‘outs’!!!! I’m sure they do it to wind me up. Grrrrrr…..

  • The love of language in cricket is partly to do with history, that cricket is a game played for many centuries and that its quaint phraseology is really the past, our past, speaking to us. The name of cricketing shots for example have a military ring to them as if cricketers were going through the manual of swordsmanship. Even the flamboyance of batsmen has a history of posturing beloved by gallants of the day. The word “wicket” comes from the wicket gate of the sheep pen when it was two bars with a locking top bar called a bail. Cricketers defend the wicket, much as shepherd boys did when they invented the game. By rewriting the game The Hundred destroys its romance. T20 is a game of 20 overs but the basic cricket language is still the same with added extras. There are no excuses for the ECB. Love has been replaced by greed. It’s a pity that they are so word blind they can’t see the beauty of the phrase ‘the batsman has lost his wicket’. Stripped of language we only have Out. The ECB seems be unaware that it is confirming the fears of Orwell in 1984. One of the Newspeak engineers says, “[we’re] cutting the language down to the bone . . . Newspeak is the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year”
    The Hundred needs to be boycotted for its crude assault on cricket and on our culture.

  • Does this mean that when a batsman (sorry…batter) is out, he has been “outed” by a fielder….oh dear.

  • I guess you could call it the ins and outs of the game.
    The more we can divorce the ‘Hundred’ from the real game the better.
    You could call it ‘Hokey Cokey’ ‘
    ‘You put your right foot in it, you put your left foot in it,
    You put in anything you like and you jig it all about,
    You play the Hokey Cokey and you scream and shout,
    That’s what it’s all about.
    Oh Hokey Cokey Cokey,
    Oh Hokey Cokey Cokey,
    Oh Hokey Cokey Cokey,
    Let’s all play all the out out outs.’
    They want innovation, here’s something the kids and drunks can join in with together.

  • It’s 13 days late to reveal this idiocy! It would have made a good April Fool’s joke! Ben Brown under his article, Final Whistle, in today’s DT came up with 11 other suggestions, my favourite of which was “tip and run” on the basis that as only 100 balls per innings are allowed, you cannot waste a ball! If anyone sees Ben today, you will not fail to see his tongue protruding from his cheek!

  • The only case for The Hundred which I am now hearing is that cricket cannot it afford to fail because the ECB have thrown so much of the game’s reserve funds at it. That is a desperate, unprincipled argument which is easily countered: cricket cannot afford it to succeed because it could only do at the expense of anything that we love and recognise about the game. If it succeeded, then it would permanently take a month out of the already overcrowded English calendar, and take the best one-day players away from their counties. How would we develop the next crop of 50-over cricketers to take over from the current golden generation? What would be the impact on T20 blast audiences and player availability? For example, Aaron Finch – probably the best T20 bactsmen since Chris Gayle was in his pomp – will not be available for Surrey for the first time in many years. What will be the impact on the county championship, shunted even further to the extremes of the season to create room for yet another format, and what eventually will be the impact of that on the England team?

    The only hope we have is that this thing is a complete and utter flop, and so it is strangled at birth. Yes, there will have been a dreadful waste of money, but at least we will have something worth salvaging from the wreckage.

  • The ECB, like the proverbial stopped watch, have occasionally been right – but no impression that they’ve done okay until unaccountably going off track with the 16.66 can stand.

    The decision to take Test cricket off terrestrial TV at peak popularity was the biggest disaster. We’ve also had the failure to copyright T20 and the Stanford debacle. They terminally alienated a considerable section of their fanbase when the most successful player was scapegoated in the KP debacle. They want to introduce Orwellian vaccince passports (only a complete dupe can think these will be temporary).

    The ECB is a serial disfunctional and toxic organisation. A calamity like the 16.66 doesn’t come out of a healthy body, it’s a symptom of system failure..

    • …and, in the time honoured tradition, the architect of all this has been promoted and will be able to repeat his success on the international stage. I just can’t work it wicket !

  • Why not just go the whole hog and rename bowling “pitching”, get rid of stumps and make batters run around a diamond??

  • Outs instead of wickets?

    This wankery wouldn’t even be floated in Australia, let alone advocated or introduced.

    I hope you’re all suitably embarrassed. More than usual.

  • If that is correct that Harrison is going to the ICC is the reason because his old mucker Graves didn’t get the top job there?
    It will also enable him to spread the gospel of the Hundred internationally which could make red ball cricket disappear in a few years time.


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