India cricket team captain, Virat Kohli, has raised concerns over the new 100-ball format proposed by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). The 100-ball cricket concept was proposed in April this year with two eight-team tournaments – for men’s and women’s teams.
The 29-year-old Kohli feels that this format, which is being introduced only for commercial reasons, will affect the real quality of the game.
Kohli, who backed the global T20 leagues, isn’t open about the idea of a new format. And given the manner in which the game is moving forward, commercialisation has become a pivotal part of cricket boards and the ICC.
The question then arises what are the major think tank doing in terms of growth of the sport? Are the boards serious about developing the whole aspect or just money making is their main agenda? Clearly now we feel that it is the latter that bears the maximum impact on these boards. The concept of commercialisation over everything else is indeed a sad picture.
Yes, T20 leagues and its concept got in crowds and the quality of cricket across nations in the format improved drastically. It’s a fun format with some world class names playing everywhere and the aura has been maintained. But then why introduce shorter leagues and newer formats? Can’t the focus lie on developing the existing three formats and keeping a balancing act going?
Kohli on the concept of the 100-ball format
Kohli backed T20 leagues but said he wasn’t open to the concept of experimenting with a new format. “Obviously for the people involved in the whole process [of the 100-ball competition] and the set-up it will be really exciting, but I cannot think of one more format, to be honest,” Kohli told Wisden Cricket Monthly.
The star cricketer then stated that it hurts him to see that commercial aspect is taking over the real quality of cricket. “I feel somewhere the commercial aspect is taking over the real quality of cricket and that hurts me. Honestly, I don’t want to be a testing sort of a cricketer for any new format. I don’t want to be someone who’s going to be part of that World XI who comes and launches the 100-ball format.”
Kohli isn’t in favour of experimentation
The Indian batsman feels leagues such as the IPL and BBL is something that has brought a lot of competition with high-quality sides making one’s competitive juices flowing. He was right to opine that this is what every cricketer expects. “I’m all for the leagues, but not to experiment.”
Kohli has been to the point here and it makes a sense. The more the experimentation, the more the existing cricket suffers. Why can’t the ECB not have a normal T20 global league like the IPL, BBL and the CPL? Global leagues in these nations (Australia, India, West Indies and Pakistan) are doing well with quality players tracing the league. Plus the tension and best cricketing moments exist too.
The idea of bringing in a T20 league in Canada was a smart decision as well. The basic need of popularising the sport in that nation is a necessity. Boards should come with more such initiatives rather than tweaking formats.
Kohli in line with Sourav here
Earlier, former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly had stated that a format of 100-ball will make the difference between a very good player and an ordinary one much lesser. He stated that one should not get to the stage where the spectator comes and blinks and the game ends.
Dada is not in favor of changing the T20 format and making it more shorter. When stalwarts like these come out and make such points, there is definitely something to ponder upon for the ECB and the other big guns in the administration.
What is the 100-ball format?
The ECB wants to introduce a 100-ball game rather than the usual T20. The match will have the normal 6-ball over until the 15th, before the last over which will see 10 balls being bowled. It is being termed as ‘The Hundred’. But as of now, nothing has been finalized.
The eight-team league might start from 2020. Places such as Southampton, Birmingham, Leeds, London, Manchester, Cardiff and Nottingham will be the host cities for the five-week competition, with Lord’s and The Oval each playing host to a London-based team.
The ECB’s reasoning is pretty bewildering. The board stated that the format will appeal to a younger audience and attract new fans to the game. Moreover, it is just a stunt to have something different in line. It is an attempt to differentiate the ECB’s tournament from the T20 franchise competitions globally.
Where does Test cricket fit?
T20 cricket has already taken away a lot of shine from Test matches in recent years. And now with the advent of more experimentation and innovative ideas, the game could be affected more. Recently we had seen Kohli and Joe Root batting for Test cricket. Post the first Test between England and India at Edgbaston, the two skippers had opined that Test cricket is the best and most challenging format.
The ICC will be starting with the Test Championship from next year and that’s a positive direction. One should also lay focus on first-class cricket to build the base for Tests. Currently when we look at England. their Test team is in a crisis and not much quality is there in domestic cricket.
But the same nation has an enormous number of talent in T20s. This is where the change needs to come. For many its an easy way out to play a less challenging format which promises more money. Therefore a greater responsibility on all the cricket boards across the world is a must to treat first-class cricket really well.