It Just Gets Worse: The ECB’s New 100-Ball Concept

I don’t particularly like swearing on the blog. I’ll do it now and again, especially if something gets right up my nose and ends up somewhere near my brain, but normally I keep my potty mouth zipped. However, the latest proposals for the ECB’s new Shitty T20 leave me absolutely no choice. In fact, I’m sure you’ll utter obscenity followed by obscenity too once you hear what those a*******s are thinking now.

According the the BBC, Harrison’s Harebrained Have A Hit isn’t going to be a T20 competition after all. It’s going to be a T15 tournament. Why? Because apparently making cricket matches shorter makes them even better. Who’d have thunk it?

I’m really trying to get my head around this news. Why on earth do Harrison and Co think that a T15 competition, or a ‘100-ball concept’ as they’re calling it, is a good idea? It smacks of innovation for innovation’s sake, and a cynic would suggest it’s just Harrison trying to look like a great revolutionary thinker.

As a marketing man I appreciate the value of differentiating yourself from the competition (in this case the IPL and The Big Bash) but you shouldn’t just differentiate yourself for the sheer hell of it. It’s a completely hollow proposition.

Obviously this 100-ball proposal comes with the same nauseating crap we’ve heard from the ECB before. I’ll treat you to a few tasty morsels:

An 100-ball ‘countdown’ would attract new audiences and be popular with broadcasters. The ECB’s chief executive officer Tom Harrison said: “This is a fresh and exciting idea which will appeal to a younger audience and attract new fans to the game.”

This is exactly what they said when they announced the original City T20 idea. What made them change their mind and think that the existing plans weren’t quite appealing enough after all? Why the need to suddenly make it even more super dooper cool for the kids …. by … erm … shaving off five overs?

Now I appreciate that I’m not exactly the target audience here. I have no idea what appeals to young people. However, I’m pretty sure that a ‘100 ball concept’ is no sexier than a ’20 over’ concept. Why on earth do Harrison and Co think that kids will enjoy counting down from 100 more than they currently enjoy counting down from 20? Perhaps initial feedback from young people has been “another T20 tournament? Meh” and so they think they need to raise the bar.

As always I’m left utter flabbergasted by the ECB’s thinking. They seem so desperate to be seen as modern that they’ll try anything. In fact, why don’t they just invent a format that’s just one super-over per team and be done with it?

What’s more, it comes as no surprise to anyone that the ECB have consulted sponsors and player representatives (hey, who wouldn’t like to be paid loads of cash for doing less work?) but don’t seem to have consulted the people that matter i.e. cricket fans. Instead they simply assume that young people will buy into their horrifically contrived b*****d of a competition.

Right. That’s me done for now. I’m off for a well deserved lie down in a darkened room. I might also phone NHS 111 while I’m there as I’m sure my spleen has ruptured through all this venting.

But can you really blame me? The people running English cricket seem to be destroying the sport before our very eyes. And it’s all in a desperate attempt to get down with the kids. Talking of which, here’s a revolutionary idea for you …

Why not try to sell young people cricket’s heritage, tradition, and all the many things that make the sport unique rather than force feeding them a stunted Americanised version? We all fell in love with cricket before the age of dancing girls and T20 and I’m sure the kids of today would too (given half a chance).

Personally I think young people like things that feel real rather than contrived. And I doubt they’re idiots. Sometimes the more you say to young people ‘hey like this’, the more they say ‘p**s off grandad’.

James Morgan

2018-04-19T15:56:25+00:00April 19th, 2018|Talking Points|53 Comments


  1. Kropotkin April 19, 2018 at 3:50 pm - Reply

    What the actual f*** are they smoking at the ECB.

  2. Andy Cheese April 19, 2018 at 3:54 pm - Reply

    Just garbage. The ECB seem to be worse than Cricket Australia. Is this just about money?. Everybody knows that if you want cricket to prosper then you need people to watch it. Just put more resources into the T20 Blast and get it free on TV. We already have a T20 competition; just promote it. This works for India. This works for Australia. This works for West Indies. Are the ECB stupid ?. I know the answer but I don’t want the ECB to sue me if I write something they don’t like !. How does this benefit red ball test cricket I would like to know. I support Worcestershire. Could somebody explain to me how I am going to build up any loyalty with one of these new fabricated teams. It is time for the current ECB staff to go I think while cricket in England and Wales still exists.

  3. Paul April 19, 2018 at 3:58 pm - Reply

    I thought the BCCI was bad, but the ECB are way worse. Harrison and the other imbeciles are going to ruin cricket in the UK.

  4. Robert Drummond April 19, 2018 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    And to make it even worse they are changing the KSL to the same format and making that an 8 team tournament with 8 new teams also. Unbelievable.

  5. Hungerpang April 19, 2018 at 4:07 pm - Reply

    It’s a T16.66 recurring. Got a great ring to it!

  6. Andy April 19, 2018 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    I always reply with same comment when ECB and Harrison come up with same old crap about attracting a younger audience.

    About 4 years ago I helped the school my daughter was attending take 30 15 year olds to the Ageas Bowl for a blast match against Middlesex. After 5 overs it started to rain, players came off for an hour, went back on, rained again, came off for another hour before the game was abandoned. The kids were wet and board and most vowed never to go again.

    The reason the BB works in Oz is a/ good weather, b/ school holidays c/ free to air coverage. Changing the format to 100 balls won’t mean a jot to the younger generation if it’s pissing down with rain, they have school in the morning or they can’t watch because it’s on Sky/BT etc.

    • david deakin April 19, 2018 at 8:44 pm - Reply

      Board? Andy, you should have spent the rain break learning how to spell. It is Bored.

  7. AB April 19, 2018 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    I love it so much my chest hurts. The ECB are literally beyond parody. I suggested a T10 tournament would be good as a piss-take, but even I hadn’t considered the possibility of the ecb inventing a new format game with different numbers of balls in the over. That’s proper blue sky thinking.

    If you’re going to mess with the basics, it opens up so many new options. How many players? How many stumps? How many bases? How many balls in play at one time? The options are endless.

    • Pete Cresswell April 20, 2018 at 8:19 am - Reply

      Martin Crowe’s initial version of Cricket Max had 4 stumps for half of each teams’ innings. Along with the “Max Zone” (runs scored in the “V” counted double)

  8. Doug M April 19, 2018 at 4:10 pm - Reply

    Maybe we need to send in a hit squad, as there does not seem any other way of getting rid of these stupid people. And stupid is putting it mildly. They really have lost the plot on this one and don’t know what to do. Want to get more people in? Well let’s have dictators raving and ranting on big screns, have samauri wrestlers spraying hot chocolate on the crowd (of 10), pelt the EC B in the stocks during time out with rotten fruit and yes! play two games at once one diagnolly and one horizontally. Ha Ha Ha! the lunatics are truly out of the asylum!
    Sorry folks but like James I need a lay down. At least we have some good weather for tomorrow for the proper stuff. Enjoy while you can if your going.

  9. BobW April 19, 2018 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    As someone on the BBC website said. Why don’t they just bowl 20 five ball overs then? They really aren’t that bright are they.

  10. Fred Boycott April 19, 2018 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    I don’t think that they have even considered the small matter that the Laws of the Game do not allow 10 ball overs.

    • Pete Cresswell April 20, 2018 at 8:22 am - Reply

      They have and are talking to the MCC about a dispensation.

      Granted, cricket in NZ and Australia used 8-ball over through the 1920s-1960s.

  11. Ian Roake April 19, 2018 at 4:25 pm - Reply

    I have already made up mind I will not be bothering with the City linked competition but this latest idea is just crazy thought was Fake news at first or the date wasApril 1.

  12. dangermash April 19, 2018 at 4:40 pm - Reply

    One thing that’s not been mentioned yet. Having overs of different lengths will #uck up runs per over economy rates.

    I’m starting to think it’s good that first class county cricket will be going on at the same time. I have the summer off and can go to some proper matches. Nobody should go to 100 ball matches when there’s first class cricket on.

  13. Mojo Wellington April 19, 2018 at 5:03 pm - Reply

    I told you the Ed Smith announcement was the good news story!

  14. growltiger April 19, 2018 at 5:14 pm - Reply

    It is obvious that what they have been aching to do is introduce the 5-ball over. Then it will still be a T20 and 100 ball countdown. The combination of these two concepts must be the hit of all time, with the junior number cruncher.

  15. SimonH April 19, 2018 at 5:33 pm - Reply

    Several of the hacks on Twitter know who’s to blame – it’s the BBC! It’s their desire that matches not go on too long that’s responsible!!

    T20 started as a brisk 165 minute experience. Matches have become more and more dragged out because of the persistent failure to tackle over rates (largely because more ads can be fitted in in my view). So, they end up cutting the size of the product and it still leaves potential problems (like rain or what if there’s a super over?).

    They probably didn’t worry about it too much because another long-running trend is that the administrators don’t have any real belief in the cricket itself as the main attraction. Why don’t they just go the whole hog and do away with the cricket altogether and offer a package consisting of sunsets, beer, dancing girls and people famous for being famous?

    • James April 20, 2018 at 7:11 am - Reply

      Absolutely right on the ad breaks. The IPL has 2 “strategic time outs” per innings. These are essentially ad breaks (how long does it take a coach to say “try and stop Gayle hitting sixes”?), and it wastes a load of time.

  16. Kevin April 19, 2018 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    Complete & utter rubbish. Thought up by a group of out of touch people, sitting in a dark room, getting pissed on Gin.
    Why not consult your customers (the fans).
    I still want to know where all the ‘new fans’ are coming from. And why they would suddenly turn up for a 16.4/16.4 game,
    but not a revamped, properly promoted, with free to air TV coverage domestic T20 game?

    • Mojo Wellington April 19, 2018 at 5:44 pm - Reply

      They should have announced it three days ago!

  17. Kenaz April 19, 2018 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    The counties surrendered their rights over English cricket on the proviso that the new competition would be a twenty20 competition somewhat reminiscent of the Big Bash. We are now told this will be an entirely new format, 15/15 or 16/16 or 100-ball or however one cares to describe it. The big controversy over cricket is the multi-formats – first-class v twenty20, white-ball contracts, tests being curtailed, etc – yet now the ECB wishes to throw an entirely new format into that already convoluted and jam-packed mix!!

    Insanity. Absolute insanity.

  18. Kenaz April 19, 2018 at 6:27 pm - Reply

    Further, the Kia Super League will be abandoned for this.

    ECB director of women’s cricket Clare Connor said: “Kia Super League has had a huge impact on participation, player development and the profile of our game. It was a big investment and a bold decision by the board and paved the way for this next stage of growth”.

    That ”next stage” being, scrapping the entire thing that ”has had a huge impact on participation, player development and the profile of our game”. What lunatics run this great game of ours?

  19. SaxophoneAlex April 19, 2018 at 7:50 pm - Reply

    Ludicrous as ever from the ECB. They keep making the mistake of assuming that all young people have the attention span of a goldfish. If I could love watching test cricket on TV as a child in the 1970s, then I am sure today’s youngsters could be capable of appreciating longer formats of the game. The current T20 Blast seems to work well for those who like crash-bang-wallop cricket, so why tinker with things again ? I also disagree with the idea of pushing CC games to the v early and later parts of the season, will just lead to more and more rained-off draws and alienation of existing fans. Clearly these blazered farts feel they have to justify their big salaries by tinkering with things. It’s a bit like Nero fiddling while Rome burned…undermine and ignore CC cricket and we will see more and more inadequate players playing for England and the national side will keep getting worse.

  20. SimonH April 19, 2018 at 8:18 pm - Reply
  21. Marc Evans April 19, 2018 at 9:28 pm - Reply

    We live in a ‘new broom sweeps clean’ age where if an idea is new it has to be better than the old, especially of you’re trying to attract young people. If I had a quid for every ‘energised knob’ I’ve come accross I could retire now. They just react to circumstances, with the accountant as their guide, thinking things through might mean they have to think again, not the ‘energised knob’ philosophy.
    The problem with modern day management is that authority is no longer earned through experience, where you serve under a variety of people and make your own style from observing them. Just look at ‘The Apprentice’, a show many look up to as an example of how ‘success’ is rated by making quick bucks. It bypasses any form of judgement in the pursuit of this. Get to the top and milk it while you can is the mantra.

  22. SimonH April 19, 2018 at 9:59 pm - Reply

    An, er, interesting difference in the accounts of Harrison and players’ representative Daryl Mitchell about how the proposals were received, according to Dobell.

  23. Mick James April 19, 2018 at 10:30 pm - Reply

    I’d like to propose my new format of Snicket, or Crooker. A fascinating combination of cricket and snooker.

    21 overs. 15 with the red ball and 6 with coloured balls each with a multiplier according to its point value in snooker.

    This will offer fascinating tactical options. When to bowl the black, and risk the 42 run six? When to play the tricky to spot green?

    • James Morgan April 20, 2018 at 8:19 am - Reply


      • Jeremy April 20, 2018 at 8:59 am - Reply

        Mick has obviously seen the follow up announcement.

        The 10 ball 16th over will be a “joker” over, as per “It’s a Knockout”.

        So 120 could be scored.

        Oddly this could work quite well.

        It prevents the result being known when the side batting first lose 3 quick wickets, which almost always destroys the “show”.

        It would mean teams had to preserve wickets for the “Joke” over, and increase the incentive to take wickets.

        Baseball has a potentially high value “4” Home Run which sustains interest long after the probable outcome is clear.

        Just “taking the positives”, you understand!

    • Marc Evans April 20, 2018 at 11:09 am - Reply

      Why not bring darts into it and call it ‘Carts’ an appropriate name for a slog fest. This would have to involve boundaries to start and finish, so it could conceivably go on forever, with the ground, including the stands, split into dart board signents to hit into. Playing areas score singles, fours doubles and sixes trebles. Breaking windows in the pavilion or press box a bullseye. This would encourage straight hitting on most grounds. 3 successive hits into the pavilion and you could max out ‘one hundred and eighty!!!’ This would improve averages no end.
      Looking at it again it would probably be best to take the form of a double wicket competition. Once a wicket falls the pair are replaced by another pair, Opening the way for numerous forms of the game.

  24. SteveO April 19, 2018 at 11:21 pm - Reply

    Fans that attend a game need to get value for money. Anything less that twenty overs a side, the game will be over so quickly, why bother going to watch. Maybe make the extra five overs a prize if a particular runs/wickets/run rate etc is achieved in 15 overs…..How about Tzero and the ,match is won/lost on the toss ?

  25. James April 20, 2018 at 7:25 am - Reply

    There are innumerable reasons why this is utterly stupid, many mentioned above. The central problems with cricket in the UK are: 1) the weather; and 2) it’s not shown free to air. This solves neither (to be fair to the ECB, they can’t do anything about the weather). The international standard for short format cricket is T20, so messing with the number of overs simply throws a player out of rhythm (remember when England used to play 40, 45 and 60 over cricket when the international standard was 50 overs?), so will worsen the England T20 team. It smacks of gimmicks for gimmicks’ sake.

    Whatever format cricket you’re playing, what matters is an ability to watch the game (because you’re certain of the weather, the quality of the players (I can remember watching Greg Chappell playing for Somerset, B Richards and CG Greenidge as Hampshire’s opening pair, Richards, Botham and Garner at Somerset, to name but a few, when the County Championship was the main competition), and an awareness of how the game works from having watched it on TV (I first got hooked watching the 1968 Oval test).

  26. Comte April 20, 2018 at 7:37 am - Reply

    Is it acceptable to use ‘bollocks’ on here? Because that single word sums up this crazy idea.
    Soon To Be Ex-Cricket Fan

  27. SimonH April 20, 2018 at 8:20 am - Reply

    Harrison and Strauss reflect on how yesterday went:

  28. James April 20, 2018 at 8:56 am - Reply

    For a more balanced and knowledgeable view (sorry Mr Graves) have a read of George Dobell on this.

    The plan seems to be to have HHHAH on free to air TV, which would be a step forward for cricket. While this makes you wonder why they spent so long chasing the Sky £ that is another matter.

  29. Ian Roake April 20, 2018 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    Why not 6 a side?

  30. Silk April 20, 2018 at 7:54 pm - Reply

    Forget about a stupid contest no one will watch.

    The REAL disgrace is the state of the First Class game, in England, today. Graves should be hung, purely on the basis of today’s corecards from around the CC.

    I’m furious. They don’t give a fuck. They really don’t.

  31. Benny April 20, 2018 at 8:27 pm - Reply

    Anyone who’s worked in a corporate business company will have seen all this before. Once a year, managers of all levels have to attend a Performance Review when they are required to demonstrate what difference they have made over the year. Responding with “I’ve changed nothing but we’ve made more money” will not get you the much sought after bonus.

  32. SimonH April 21, 2018 at 8:19 am - Reply

    Some good insights here:

    “As few as three current players were aware of the plans”

    “The rest were kept in the dark in fear of leaks, with even PCA county reps unaware until moments before the ECB released the news”

    “The idea of a 10-ball over was met with universal bemusement, and players queried the ECB’s claim that it will “add a fresh tactical dimension”. The early player feedback to ECB is understood to have noted how few bowlers would want to bowl such an over”

    “some internationals said they wanted to speak out but feared censure if they did”

    “County bosses, who were presented with the idea on Thursday in a meeting described by one as being “like something out of W1A” [the farcical mockumentary about the BBC], were rather more enthusiastic than the players, even if many were sceptical about the concept itself”.

    “County officials spoke of allowing the T20 Blast, which remains alongside the new competition, “space” and “a relief” that the two tournaments would not step on each others’ toes. Some even liked the idea itself”

  33. SimonH April 21, 2018 at 8:27 am - Reply

    Let’s preserve the result of the Cricinfo poll for posterity:

    I’m well aware of all its limitations as a methodology – but where’s the ECB’s contradictory and better evidence?

    It’s revealing that the first reply says that these are existing fans who are irrelevant or even “part of the problem”. Yes, folks, that’s how they see us.

  34. James Morgan April 21, 2018 at 10:22 am - Reply

    I did a quick poll on Twitter (140 votes).

  35. SimonH April 21, 2018 at 12:15 pm - Reply

    “It has been apparent to him for some time that cricket’s problem was cricket, and he was determined to get it out of the way”.

    Good stuff from Greg Baum:

  36. oreston April 21, 2018 at 12:50 pm - Reply
  37. Hanish Patyal April 21, 2018 at 7:25 pm - Reply

    Well it’s all about cricket ups and downs

    • Steve April 22, 2018 at 11:04 pm - Reply

      I’m waiting for the 1 over competition (call it Super Over Cricket). You could run the entire tournament in one day. I’m sure it would be a real winner.

  38. Steve April 22, 2018 at 11:07 pm - Reply

    The amazing thing is though if they wanted to sell cricket to young people the key thing would to ensure a large portion of it is on Free to air TV at a time where someone might watch it.

  39. SimonH April 23, 2018 at 11:49 am - Reply

    According to the DT, to make their plan to simplify and speed up the game work, the ECB are considering allowing three bowlers to bowl in this ten-ball over….

  40. SimonH April 23, 2018 at 11:58 am - Reply

    Unnamed attendee at the grand unveiling reported by Lawrence Booth:

    “‘There was a moment of silence when the idea was given a grand reveal, then Yorkshire and Notts filled the gap with gushing comments…. There was no vote and the press release was issued post haste. Many were simply relieved the T20 Blast would remain unchallenged, but reality began to dawn when the public reaction started to flood through on social media… There is no future for this format unless IPL and Big Bash adopt it and they won’t. BBC2 are perhaps hoping this will become Celebrity Big Batting. When did the ECB decide that T20 is broken and needed fixing? It has never been discussed outside the ECB marketing cabal.”

  41. SimonH April 23, 2018 at 2:20 pm - Reply

    In all the comenting on the format, let’s remember probably the biggest issue:

    How much are they going to charge for tickets?

    I still think the fundamental flaw in whatever the ECB attempt will be the mixed motives of trying to appeal to new fans as a loss-leader and trying to make as much cash as possible. The former is the one thing above all others CA got right about BBL. From everything I’ve seen about the ECB in living memory, that whole mindset is beyond them and they’ll plump for the latter (mostly out of greed, partly out of their London-centric attitude and that they’ll use London prices as their only benchmark).

  42. SimonH April 25, 2018 at 4:22 pm - Reply

    Conclusive proof it’s an absolutely terrible idea – Matthew Syed likes it!

    Syed lays into “traditionalists” (he dos not mean that as a compliment) who reject things because they personally don’t like them then bases his case on his statement that he’ll take his kids to it without apparently seeing any irony.

    Still, he mentions Rachmaninov a lot so he must be clever. Perhaps he’ll get the gig as Ed Smith’s deputy?

  43. Cricket-Now April 26, 2018 at 1:33 pm - Reply

    Why is it that the ECB is always behind such shitty ideas popping up after time to time in world cricket?

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