2020. What a fantastic year to launch a new Twenty20 cricket competition. It’s a marketing dream but wait, here in England, where we’re led to believe that cricket was invented, they’re not launching a new Twenty20 competition. Eh?! They, the cricket hierarchy geniuses and marketing supremos that’ve been drafted in are launching an unofficial (*), overly-complicated, snack food sponsored tournament.
* By unofficial I mean that the matches won’t have T20, List A or First Class status. Are Cricinfo going to create a new row in the Player Statistics section? I doubt it!
THEY told us that they wanted to simplify cricket and just count down from one hundred balls. I can handle that, it’s not actually a terrible concept but how is having varying lengths of overs and different opportunities to bowl from one end or the other, sometimes halfway through an ‘over’ simpler than allocations of six alternating from each end every six deliveries?
AND THE KITS! If you thought that it was bad in Australia with KFC sprawled on the front well look out for Joe Root (Will he actually play?) wearing a Skips packet. They may as well have put gambling companies on the front!
People can spout unoriginal opinions such as “You’re just scared of change” but what I’m scared of is inconsistency and our sport embarrassing itself. The fact that it’ll be on terrestrial television could be great but not if the product is compromised and therefore of poor quality. Of course it’ll be the same players hitting, picking and throwing the ball so at its core, it will still be cricket. The fact that Jonathan Agnew could be presenting it certainly won’t help attract the untapped market the ECB head honchos would like. Hopefully they and the BBC will have the foresight to get Ebony Rainford-Brent or heck, even Graeme Swann at the forefront.
Franchise sport and drafts bring an end to the already dying concept of player loyalty in sport but they do, in theory, help keep teams even and prevent the sort of Barcelona and Real Madrid dominance that you’ll find in La Liga as just one example. The financial aspect if relegation is involved in a draft selected team sport is probably for a whole other post.
Let’s be clear, this tournament is not about creating history and legacy like our game has leant itself too so magnificently. It’s about forgetful entertainment to compete with X-Factor and Dancing on Ice etc that you’ve forgotten about by the following afternoon at the latest.
The Hundred is nearly here folks and I don’t like it. Give me Test Cricket, ODI Cricket, T20 Cricket even T10, Beach, Indoor and Cage but the inconsistency of this format bites away at me. Can you tell?!
Will I be watching? Of course. It’s an opportunity to see some cricket. Will I purchase a Northern Superchargers shirt? Maybe. The shirts are kind of cool in a tragic way and may be a collector’s item in a few years.
This is a muddled article. Even as I write I’m coming around to part of it. The draft and kit launch etc should and are exciting but the adjustment to the rules irk me. Roll on 2020 for our new Twenty20 comp… er, I mean The Hundred!