Back To Earth in Barbados. Hundred Playing Regs Revealed.

Well you can’t win ’em all. Even when you’re No.1.

Our record breaking ODI team, which registered England’s highest ever chase in the 1st game of the series, returned to earth with a bump last night. It’s just one loss, so there’s no need to panic, but it shows there’s still work to do ahead of the World Cup. Those who expect us to lift the trophy on home soil shouldn’t count their chickens just yet.

In fact, just looking at England’s recent ODI results, I’m probably wrong to classify yesterday’s disappointing defeat as a ‘one-off’. Eoin Morgan’s team actually lose quite a few games. We win series, which is obviously important, but we tend to lose 1 game in every 3. And it’s hard to win tournaments with a knock-out stage if you’re prone to doing that.

Let’s just look at England’s recent record. It’s good but it’s hardly spectacular if one puts the headline-grabbing records to one side and looks at the bigger picture:

If we ignore the 5-0 win over Australia last summer – yes I know this is tampering with the sample size but its pretty apparently the Aussies were in complete disarray after the Smith and Warner suspensions – England’s record in the last 16 ODIs is as follows: won 9, lost 6, no result 1. And that includes a somewhat embarrassing loss to Scotland.

Yesterday’s defeat in Barbados was also concerning because it involved a pretty shocking batting collapse. It was as if our lads suddenly thought they were wearing whites and playing a test match. We were cruising at 222-4 and needed just another 68 runs to win at a run a ball. It should’ve been easy from there.

But we screwed it up big time. Stokes edged one behind, and unnecessarily burned our review in the process; Buttler was deceived by a slower ball and skied one to extra cover; Tom Curran got a terrible LBW decision; and the rest collapsed like the proverbial pack of cards. It was a shocking effort for a team many claim to be the world’s best.

Yes it was a bad day at the office, and all teams have occasion bad days at the office, but when this England team loses it tends to lose in a fashion that’s almost as spectacular as its record-breaking wins. It’s weird. And we can’t really put it down to inconsistency either. This pattern of performances has been very consistent.

I find it hard to fathom our ODI team sometimes. And I can’t decide if we should be favourites for the World Cup or not. The bowling worries me because we don’t have a single world class operator. We have lots of good bowlers – I thought Mark Wood did well yesterday – but there’s no Warne or McGrath who can conjure up a wicket at any time. If you were playing England which bowler would you fear? There’s nobody really.

Our batting, on the the other hand, contains plenty of match-winners. Root and Buttler are undoubtedly world class, and the likes of Roy, Morgan, and Stokes are also well respected and experienced players in this format. However, although we’re obviously a very strong batting side I also sense a streak of hubris. And that can be a dangerous thing.

In other news – and apologies for not having time to write a full article about this – the ECB have announced that The Hundred is definitely on! As if there was any doubt. They’ve also finally confirmed the playing conditions.

The big revelation, if one can call it that, is that The Hundred is basically T20 cricket but with five balls an over rather than 6. They’ve even copied other T20 franchise circuses by including a random 2 minute time-out – which seems a little odd when they’re ostensibly trying to speed up the action.

Why the ECB think that 5 balls an over is better than 6 is anyone’s guess. It’s almost as if they reckon Mums and kids are better at dividing things by slightly smaller numbers. Duh.

What’s more, their attempts to simplify the game are a complete farce. T20 involves bowling 6 balls (i.e. a traditional over) at one end followed by 6 balls at the other. Simple. In The Hundred they will bowl ten balls before changing ends. Five of these will be bowled by one bowler, and the next five by another. Unless, of course, the captain decides that the first bowler did so well that he’s going to carry on and bowl all ten. If these regulations are simpler than the current rules then my name is Andre Van Troost.

The other thing that would be funny if it wasn’t so inept is Tom Harrison’s recent revelation that India players probably won’t play in the tournament. That’s right folks, the shiny new Hundred which apparently wants to attract the world’s biggest starts, and tap into the UK’s minority communities, will not feature the most marketable cricketers on the planet! You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Of course in reality India were never likely to release their stars. They’re fiercely protective of the IPL and their players are probably over-worked as it is. If the ECB thought the BCCI’s stance would be any different then they’re more clueless than we thought. Especially after Virat Kohli, who unlike many other cricketers doesn’t need another big pay cheque, basically called The Hundred a load of old bollocks.

What this news does, however, is reaffirm that there simply isn’t space in the international or domestic calendar for Harrison’s Harebrained Have a Hit. Nor is it needed. The ECB could easily have reformed or sexed up The Blast. And if they’d done so they would’ve had the goodwill of all existing cricket fans. Plus they wouldn’t have needed to take such an irresponsible gamble on a completely untested form of the game.

T20 is a proven money-spinner. The Hundred is currently a laughing stock. It’s a vanity project. It’s a nonsensical concept that has flummoxed observers and ruffled feathers in equal measure.

If England do win the World Cup this summer then the players will deserve it. The long suffering and high paying supporters will also deserve it. But the bungling and disingenuous ECB will not. Absolutely nothing they do makes sense.

Never forget that once the World Cup is in the books, 50 over domestic cricket will immediately be undermined by The Hundred. This is because HHHH will take away its best players. What’s more, the ECB won’t allow overseas players to take part in 50 over cricket because they want all the marketable stars available for the 100 ball thing. That’s the price of scheduling the tournaments to run concurrently.

Only the ECB could sacrifice everything to win a 50-over World Cup but then immediately turn its back on the format. The Hundred will immediately handicap our ODI side by watering down the standard of domestic cricket and hindering the development of the next generation of 50 over stars.

But don’t worry folks. Our ODI team might be weaker (and our test team will certainly be weaker once all championship cricket is consigned to April, May and September) but English cricketers will excel in 100-ball cricket – a format that isn’t played anywhere else in the world. Sigh.

James Morgan 


    • Did you see that Michael Vaughan argued on Twitter that Surrey shouldn’t have the opportunity to host any games because they voted against the Hundred? Well done to Surrey I say. And there’s no way they should be punished for it. As Daniel Norcross subsequently pointed out to me, punishing Surrey would also undermine the tournament as The Oval is one of the best venues in the country.

  • It’s because of the ECB that I won’t allow myself to get overly upset if England end up choking in the World Cup. After all they have set so much stall out in trying to win this after they compromised the team so much in the lead up to the last one with their pig headed retention of Cook up until the last minute prior to that tournament.

    Won’t be so happy at an Ashes defeat mind.

    • I know what you mean. I would be gutted for the players if we choke in the semis (for example) but I would have no sympathy for the board looking at how things have unfolded.

  • If I were a really unpleasant sort I’d force Harrison to eat the contents of his own bowels. Does he even believe half the things he says? Are the ECB trying to change their tune a bit? I have heard Gordon Hollins say twice, in person, that the new competition rally was not for established cricket fans. And yet now Harrison says that cricket fans will love it. Could that be what he desperately hopes, as the millions of mums and kids ‘out there’ may turn out to be nothing more than reports about the existence of WMDs, which led to – well you know. The whole thing may turn out to be less of a mess than Brexit but I wouldn’t bet on it.
    As for yesterday’s defeat, I’m not getting hung up about it.

  • Roy can’t play a moving ball.. who knew

    Bairstow cant play a moving ball…
    Who knew

    Root batted well
    Morgan did too
    Stokes did well
    Buttler ok

    Rest dire

    This side is a one trick pony and IF it wins the WC it’ll be down to luck .. aka having that bad game early on or not having one.

    They have them so regularly it’s not ‘a one off’ at all but it is the way white ball is played now sadly

    I want England to win but I also want them to lose. I hate having to play win lose crixket myself as it’s just boring and becoming more of a slog fest each season

  • 5 instead of 6? Metrication. Strange when 100 is dividing opinion like Brexit. My view: it’s happening so embrace it……or ‘remain’ in an apocryphal past where the thwack of willow on leather is heard on every village green and maiden aunts cycle to church.

    • You joker.. why should people just get behind it because that’s what the ECB and those PAID to play/commentate say so??

      Such a dark ages thing to say

      • “The youngsters who will be even more indoctrinated in win lose smash bang wallop cricket ?”

        Rather that than lost to x-box, football or, god-forbid, NFL. At least then there’s some chance of developing appreciation of other formats. Skill, strategy and intellectual appreciation has ALWAYS been a minority sport.

        • 2020 hasn’t captured the youth like people keep saying so why will the 100. It’s consistently spouted that people want shorter more hitting games and yet.. all I see is falling participation in these shorter formats and alienation of he ones who actually play the game and run things ..

          Seems bizarre really

          As you say, cricket has never really been that popular and kids have always left in droves so why anyone thinks it’ll suddenly change I don’t know

    • When “embrace it” means you have to pay £40 for a ticket for 36 matches in 38 days, I’ll find something else to do with my time. I don’t have to save the face of the ECB at all over this by forcing myself to sit through it

  • “they want all the marketable stars available for the 100 ball thing”.

    Every major country has an international commitment during the first 16.66 slot so there won’t even be much in the way of overseas’ stars playing in it. It’s going to be more like the Shane Warne All-stars than a World XI.

  • Had the misfortune to see the Harrison interview. He kept saying, it’s what cricket fans want, the fans really like the idea, the fans are behind it. I’ve not met anyone at the county grounds, or the test matches that’s the slightest bit interested in it.
    Where are all the fans who support it? Unless you’re Vaughan, who will be PAID, to commentate on it?
    Most of us will be watching the domestic 50 over cup, if each county lose 3or4 players, good chance to see the next in line youngsters get a chance.

    • The youngsters who will be even more indoctrinated in win lose smash bang wallop cricket ?

      Oh joy

      • The youngsters who will play in the 50 over competition, then push for a place in the Championship team, if good enough. We have a few promising ones at Essex. It’s not that hard to understand is it?

        • Well said a couple of promising young batsman. Given the chance to play alongside Cook. Might work out might not. But give them a go. It is quiet easy to understand for some of us.

        • So.. said young batsmen know their only way to get game time is white ball cricket. So focus on white ball cricket … then, they can’t play red ball… it’s really quite simple for some of us….

          Yes some youth might get s white ball gig but.. the problem is white ball orientated payers can’t (barring about one or two per generation) aren’t very good at red ball…

          Really is quite simple..

          And sadly, compared to previous years the game is so very different between modern whit W all and red ball that there is little to no skill set cross over

    • Harrison’s reasoning is that it will pull in new fans, who you certainly won’t have met at county games or test matches. I dont think it’s the hundred per se that is the problem it’s the effect an ever increasing concentration on white ball competitions has on the traditional red ball game and the decline in skill set required to play ‘proper cricket’ at the top level. We are already seeing the county game pushed to one side at the times of year when it can be played to best effect in order to accommodate 1 dayers. This ironically reduces the overall game time when the weather is at its best, as grounds are vacant on more days. In order to correct this anaomoly how many extra 1 dayers can you shoe in before it becomes overkill as one competition blends into another. To me this is the disturbing trend the Vaughans of this world seem oblivious to. We already have enough competitions to satisfy all tastes, tinker with them rather than add new.

  • England should have won easily, 60 needed, run a ball,5 wickets. Looks like the Test malaise might be creeping into the one day side: i.e. inability to adapt to the situation. WC? To be honest on the day could be any of about 4/5. England certainly are not firm favourites in my view.

    As for the 100 rubbish – well Harirson is sure mums and kids are going to “flock” to it and that it is “simple” to understand. That’s only not true but is extremely condescending to people. The ECB’s job is to promote cricket not this bastardisation form of the game. If they spent half the money they’ve thrown at the 100 we might have a decent Test side, a properly fixtured County Championship and a beefed up Blast. Not sure how they intend to fit it in the schedule or actually whose going to play in it, but it’s probably ultimately doomed to drop down the toilet. Hope so.

  • With the “simplification” thing, the ECB does have a point that cricket has several arbitrary rules and limits that can make it harder for newcomers to understand.

    It’s just that, as James points out above, they haven’t actually simplified it at all, and have added some new complexity of their own.

    If they actually wanted to simplify it, they could’ve got rid of all fielding restrictions, and powerplays: let any fielder stand anywhere at any time. And let bowlers bowl as many overs as the captain wishes; if somebody’s bowled 4 decent overs, let them bowl another — no need even to count how many they each bowl.

    Or, get rid of overs entirely. Just have 100 balls, and the fielding team can swap their bowlers at any point, not just after a set of 6 (or 5) deliveries.

    Or allow all LBW appeals if the ball hits the batter’s leg; don’t bother with checking where it pitched, where it was going, and so on: if a batter touches a ball with their leg, they’re out.

    I’m not saying any of those would definitely make the game better. But they would succeed in actually making it simpler. And if you did all of them, the 100-ball format would be sufficiently different from 20:20 to make it more seem like it’s worth having both variants.

    • Everything is geared up for the batsman by good wickets, wide down the leg side or 2 feet outside off stump and fielding restrictions so Harrison has missed a trick by not allowing the fielding side 2 extra players, he could introduce 6 and out if caught in the crowd by one of the many mums!

  • On this match (rather than the contentious 100), be careful how you use your review. The Curran decision was the worst I have seen for ages….

  • As a suggestion, Mr Harrison to make it more “exciting” let’s have two giant screens with Dictators raving and ranting, and Sumi Wrestlers spraying the “crowd” with hot chocolate sauce! In the interval or “time out” an ECB employee could be hung, drawn and quartered. At the end the losing “team” is put in the stocks and pelted with rotten fruit and decaying meat. Fabulous entertainment when the crowds “flock in”.

  • Harrison picks and chooses those who interview him, so he wont be asked searching questions to justify his sweeping comments. However I do have some sympathy with the Vaughan, ‘it’s going to happen anyway’, argument. I know this blog is dedicated to ‘protecting’ what it sees as the integrity of the game, which has qualities at its best which are sadly lacking in today’s ‘fast and furious’ generation and clearly Harrison is about embracing this in order to persue his cult status as the ‘saviour’ of a dying game. However before we write the whole thing off we need to se it in operation and how it affects the future of the longer format.
    On a personal level though I do have reservations about short term ‘fixes’ in any sport. We have recently seen something similar happen in snooker, with the 1 frame ‘Shoot Out’. I love watching snooker and have played it to an indifferent standard for years, but I find this new marketing tool impossible to watch, as players run round the table looking to get their shots off in time, with a particularly annoying ticking alarm sounding off when the limit is a few seconds do off. However the most interesting aspect is that players have worked out that as you only have to be 1 point in the lead when the time runs out to win, that once you have the lead you just play safety shots rather than going for the pots. These delaying tactics are not entertaining and directly go against the claims of the marketeers that this is a more enthralling spectacle. The other really off putting side is the crowd, who whoop and holler whilst the players are making shots. Needless to say the wearing of the corporate sports shirt is compulsory. It makes the hundred look positively restrained.

    • We already know white ball has massively degraded the quality of red ball cricket. How is an even shorter more hitting orientated going to help things

    • We shouldn’t be surprised or appalled, as he’s a marketing man. It’s just their corporate way, however depressing. They hide their half baked theories behind a wall of psychobabble. It’s ways been thus.

  • This may not be a popular opinion among England fans but I like what Virat Kohli says. He might be a bit arrogant but he backs that up on the pitch. But he has cricket’s best interests at heart (see his comments about the Hundred) and isn’t afraid to call out scheduling which is not in the team’s interest. Latest was to tell the BCCI that more ODI’S would have been “logical” ahead of the world cup.

    • Kohli is a very impressive individual. HIs interviews are always worth listening to as he is one of the few cricketers who gives intelligent answers no matter how dumb the question is (ie no corporate speak, no PR bullshit, no cliches, and I’ve never heard him mention “playing with a smile on our faces”)

      • Glad you didn’t report me! I agree with all you say about Kohli. Jason Holder also appears to be a very impressive individual, at least as a captain. No mean feat to get the disparate nations of the West Indies playing as one.

  • Am I only the one who keeps clicking on “report comment” instead of “reply”? With my eyesight I probably shouldn’t be driving a mouse.


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