Because T20 cricket is too long and boring the marketing geniuses who run modern cricket have been exhausting themselves looking for ways to make the sport more attractive to new fans.

The latest attempt comes courtesy of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and it's really something. Instead of using the venerable 18 counties that have served the game in championship format since 1890, they will modernise cricket by using city-based sides with hip new nicknames, like the Cardiff Craftbrewers, for example, and the Birmingham Brexiteers.

This is not particularly new or daring.

What is a little more brazen is the move to shorten T20 to a 100-ball contest. The quick among you would have immediately noticed that six doesn't go into 100. To get around this awkward problem two face-saving options were mooted: they could go with 20 five-ball overs, or have a right old laugh.


Given that the whole idea was to shorten T20 cricket the ECB have decided to go with the second option, changing to a 16-over-a-side bonanza, with the unique wrinkle being that the final over would be a 10-ball affair.

"What we're trying to do is appeal to a new audience, people that aren't traditional cricket fans," deadpanned the ECB's CEO Andrew Strauss, a dogged former England opener singularly unqualified to discuss what constitutes exciting cricket.

"We want to make the game as simple as possible for them to understand."

At this point you'd be forgiven for assuming this column is a lame attempt at satire, but what is written so far is mainly true.

The feeling in England, where people still queue to watch test cricket, is that Twenty20 just isn't whizz-bangy enough to pull in casual fans. Under the heading "casual fans", Strauss mentioned mums and children because, if you didn't know, women don't have attention spans capable of handling 20 overs per side.

(This last bit is a dangerous attempt at satire.)

Before anybody thinks this idea deserves nothing but the mockery it is about to receive, bear in mind that where England goes New Zealand tends to follow, even if the consequences are disastrous. Case in point, this story was written on April 25.

In all fairness, T20 has become a bit long but this is the fault of the players. With such a contracted format, every ball has become a micro-drama and the problem with drama is that everybody wants a speaking part. As a result, every ball is preceded by a conference involving the bowler, the captain, the physio, the consigliere and the man in the East Stand making last-minute bets on his iPad.

Cricket bosses need to work harder to avoid boring scenes like this at T20 matches. Photo / Getty
Cricket bosses need to work harder to avoid boring scenes like this at T20 matches. Photo / Getty

With this in mind, instead of blindly following the ECB's brave lead, New Zealand Cricket should revive its pallid T20 domestic scene by taking England's idea and running even further with it. After consultation with a few time-poor mothers, here are some suggestions.

Abandon the first innings altogether: Talk about boring. All anybody wants to see these days, especially women and children, are run chases. A simple algorithm created by Francis Payne and Elon Musk should be all that's needed to determine a par score for the home side to chase. Instantly, a three-hour game becomes a 90-minute one. Boom.

Bowl from one end: That silly nonsense of fielders running from one side of the field to the other between overs… niggly. Bowling from one end only will save time and cost, with groundstaff required to look after just half a pitch for any given match.

Wides and no-balls: These are not replayed (yawn). Instead, they cost five runs. Any bowler who bowls more than three is sent from the field and cannot be replaced.

Punish dot balls: As bowlers are allowed just two wides or no-balls, batsmen are allowed to face two dot balls. The third results in instant dismissal. It will be marked in the scorecard as M Guptill c Mucking Around 11.

This should do for starters but in time it should be easy to chart a path towards further, more radical, modifications.

For example, teams should be reduced to nine and fielders should be given large gloves on their non-throwing hands (there is nothing as unsightly as misfields and dropped catches).

Bowlers should abandon time-devouring run-ups. As it is difficult to bowl legally from a standing position, they should be allowed to just throw from a slightly elevated position. There should be no limit to how many throws each bowler can deliver, though once removed the captain cannot bring him or her back on again.

Because it's confusing having two batsmen at once, I see a golden future where we have just one, but instead of having a partner to swap ends with, he could have maybe four areas, or bases, he could run to depending on how far he hits it. It could be up to the batters who follow to bring him "home" if he can't hit it far enough himself. Imagine a scenario when you had three batsmen all standing on a base and your favourite batsman, someone like Tim Southee, was coming to the crease with a chance to bring them all "home".

Oh, the things we could see.

This is just a bit of blue-sky thinking here, but perhaps this way we could see our favourite batters come to the crease more than just once a game. Under this innovative system you might see them four or five times a night.

This has to happen soon. Cricket as we know and love it is dying. It seems only stupidity can save it.


It pains me to say it, but an American reporter writing for an American site has produced the best football piece of the week. It's essentially a match report, with a twist.

This excerpt from a book on cult classic golf film Caddyshack, reproduced in Sports Illustrated, is wildly entertaining.