ECB unveils shock plans for 100-ball domestic competition that leave players baffled

Will Macpherson
The ECB hope their proposed changes will appeal to a younger audience: Getty Images

In an utterly extraordinary move the ECB have finally revealed proposals for its new domestic competition to the counties – and it will not be T20 cricket after all.

The competition, as part of an ECB strategy entitled Cricket Unleashed, will have eight teams each with a men’s and women’s side, as expected, but matches will last 100 balls, not 120.

There will be 15 regular overs, and another 10 balls which will, according to Sanjay Patel, the ECB’s Chief Commercial Officer and MD for the new competition, “add a fresh tactical dimension”.

“Featuring aligned competitions for both men’s and women’s teams - sharing a common format, brands and identities in their own leagues - it received overwhelming support at today’s meeting at Lord’s following unanimous support by the board of the new competition,” said an ECB statement.

The meeting at Lord’s was the first the counties had heard of this, and players – who do not appear to have been consulted – have been left baffled by the move. It seems to be to please free to air television, with 40 fewer balls per match meaning a match can be condensed inside three hours. The ECB also wanted to have the benefit of differentiation from the county T20 competition, which will run alongside it.

“Crucially, this will also help differentiate this competition from Vitality Blast and other T20 competitions worldwide, maintaining our game’s history of successful innovation,” said Patel.

The competition starts in 2020 and will be held in Southampton, Birmingham, Leeds, London (Lord’s and Oval), Manchester, Cardiff and Nottingham in high summer.

(Getty Images)

"This is a fresh and exciting idea which will appeal to a younger audience and attract new fans to the game,” said Tom Harrison, chief executive of the ECB.

"Our game has a history of innovation and we have a duty to look for future growth for the health and sustainability of the whole game.”

The Surrey chief executive, Richard Gould, was shocked by the proposal.

“It is a novel proposal which has come as a complete surprise,” he told Standard Sport. "The new format will clearly be very different from the sport played at county and international level. We look forward to understanding more in the lead in to the start of the event in 2020.”