Joe Root, the England Test captain, has welcomed the ECB’s new 100-ball format proposals, as good for the sport - and believes it could even help safeguard the future of five-day cricket.
The ECB unveiled the plans to a mixed reaction last week and wants to implement 100-ball cricket into its new eight-team, city-based tournament, which will start in 2020 and feature Southampton, Birmingham, Leeds, London, Manchester, Cardiff and Nottingham. Each side will bowl 15 traditional six-ball overs and one ten-ball over, making innings 20 balls shorter than in Twenty20 games.
England director of cricket Andrew Strauss says the change in format is aimed primarily at kids and mums during the school holidays in the summer and Root told The Star: “It’s going to appeal to a completely new audience, and I think that’s great. The more people and kids we can get into sport, the better.
“We’ve got to be very careful that we don’t measure it against the other formats... it’s something to gather a new audience and gain interest, not a threat to the other formats. As players, working with the ICC, we’ve got to make sure the other formats don’t suffer but it has a place in the game, and hopefully we’ll see that over time.”
Root, speaking at the launch of his coaching academy at his first club Sheffield Collegiate, added: “There will be people that compare it to Twenty20 and worry that it might take away interest from Test cricket, but it’s important to remember that it will bring new people to the game.
“It might be someone who didn’t know much about the game before, comes to a game and then goes on to watch a Test match and get immersed in that. That’s the way I’d like to look at it. But, as I say, the most important thing is that we find ways to look after the longer versions of the game, whether that’s T20 - although it’s hard to see that as a ‘longer format’ - one-day internationals or Test cricket.”
In the short term, at least, Root’s attention will turn back towards the game after what he calls a “brilliant” period of time at home in Sheffield with his fiance Carrie and baby son Alfie, who was less than a month old when his 27-year-old dad was named England captain. After a gruelling winter schedule in Australia and New Zealand, Root was excused from Yorkshire’s first two games of the County Championship season although he will return to the White Rose side to face Essex and Surrey next month, ahead of a seven-Test summer against Pakistan and India on English soil.
“Especially over the Ashes series, a number of things were thrown at the team and at me as captain, and I have to say I’m quite proud with the way we dealt with it,” Root added.
“As a side we didn’t perform as well as we’d have liked, but it would have been very easy for us to ‘go under’ as a team. Instead, we’re in a good position and I think we can really start putting our stamp on Test cricket, beginning in our own conditions this summer.
“It was a tough winter, there were some difficult days, but you dust yourself off and go again. The attitude from the whole squad was very commendable, exactly what you need when the chips are down, which is why I think there’ll be some really good cricket this summer. This is now our chance to turn our recent form around, and start winning again.”
Meanwhile, seamer Ben Coad finished with ten wickets in the match as Yorkshire beat Nottinghamshire by 164 runs at Headingley yesterday. Notts started the chase of 403 at tea on day three and lost eight wickets before close, including one in the extra half hour.
Tom Moores and Jake Ball, however, forced a final day before playing nicely during the opening hour of the day to post a ninth-wicket stand of 66 inside 16 overs.
They both played some eye-catching strokes, particularly down the ground, before Coad switched ends to the Kirkstall Lane End and immediately uprooted Ball’s off-stump for 30 and had Harry Gurney caught at slip.
Moores finished with 40 not out in 238 all out.
“Ben’s confident at the minute,” said Yorkshire coach Andrew Gale.
“He picked up from where he left off last season. He hasn’t the most fluid pre-season given he was injured (hip flexor) out in South Africa. He’s had little game time. He just goes about his business, he’s very level-headed and works hard. He’s very particular in preparation.
“We’ve spoken a lot about when the game’s in the balance, someone’s got to put their hand up with the bat, and that’s what we have done in this game. I thought we were ruthless at times.
“There were certain partnerships, Ballance and Leaning in the second innings and ones at the back end of the first innings and second, that took the game away from Notts.”