As I watched the start of the Kings XI v Sunrisers match yesterday, I was thinking how much I had come to adore the Indian Premier League.
I’ll admit to being dubious about T20 when it was introduced as a “bit of fun” in 2003. Four years later, of course, Bob Key brought home the trophy and we had made our mark on the new format, which by then was growing and developing players’ skills and techniques.
And then as I watched the IPL coverage something astonishing flashed up on the screen: the ECB had announced that it wants to introduce 100-ball cricket competition.
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Eh, come again? It wants to create yet another form of the game. One 40 balls shorter than the shortest version?
For why, Keats, for why? Well, to encourage families to watch the sport in the evening, apparently, and therefore broaden its appeal.
Stuart Broad and Dawid Malan were woefully on-message in the Sky Sports studio talking about how exciting the 100-ball format would be, nodding dutifully towards their ECB masters. Eoin Morgan has done the same.
Sky sports commentator David Lloyd, who also backs the idea, has, meanwhile, spent this morning bickering with critics on social media.
A bloke called Tim accused him of being in a “tiny minority”.
He went on: “It is a stupid idea that I predict will quietly be forgotten about before starting.
“Enough is enough. People want their cricket back, not a newfangled game to attract these mythical families currently put off by the length of T20. Nonsense.”
I have to agree with Tim. I cannot see how families will suddenly be persuaded to drop all their other activities and suddenly divert their attention to cricket.
“Why, Trevor, have heard of this thing called cricket? They say it’s for the family.” Nah.
The reality is that cricket has been part of the sporting life of these isles for hundreds of years and has been exported to all corners of the globe where it is often played better.
Shaving 20 balls off an inning and making some other modifications isn’t suddenly going to raise its appeal.
I have come to conclusion that Test and first class cricket sit well alongside the shorter versions of the game these days.
But what really annoys me about this is the restless, fidgety tinkering with cricket. Why is it whenever you put people in control of things that are generally well liked, they have this uncontrollable urge to meddle with them.
No sport sits still, not today anyway – and I understand that. But this is showy, silly newness for its own sake.
One can only hope the authorities come to their senses before the proposed start date of the 100-ball tournament in 2020.