2 x T20 or a 40 Over Game

I have played twice now for Save Village Cricket, a cause I am very happy to support as unlike the majority of the players involved, I actually played village cricket when the white shirt was my school shirt, the trousers were made from flannel, the canvas boots (and pads) needed whitening and the gloves had green spikes. I was also capable of eating my body weight during the tea interval and still run around for 3 hours ….. I can do neither now!

I remember these games as long, fun days. On a Bank Holiday we may well start at 11.30 and play an extended game, but generally they started early afternoon, and played win/draw/lose declaration games, with no restriction on the number of overs bowled, which meant teams with a good spinner (they all had one) would bowl him from one end all innings and have a series of fast farmers and school teachers run in from the other end.

They were hard games, long days and even longer nights!

The 2023 game brought back a lot of memories: a small, friendly club with a lovely ground and functional old wooden clubhouse. A great tea, and a declaration win/lose/draw game. I expected to play in whites, but the modern era had an input so coloured kit it was. No issue at all, but it did take away a little from the fond memories of this old timer.

The 2024 game was a little different: another small friendly club and functional clubhouse (with a lovely thatch roof) and a great local pub, but no tea. The coloured kit made another appearance but this time we played two 100 games back to back with the aggregate score counting, and 50 balls being bowled from one end before swapping ends.

Not sure am capable of saving anything dressed like this!

Must confess I was a tad confused by this format as it wasn’t the village cricket I played that we were saving, but the theory that Ben wanted to try out was that in order to ‘save’ village cricket it needed to appeal to a younger age group, and not take too long.

I couldn’t agree more with this, but ….. am not convinced that everything has to morph into the ‘same old new style’ at the cost/risk of dismissing tradition and those that created it.

I really liked the two innings nature of the game. I did something similar last year playing a 35 over game and then a T10, as it gives people a second chance if they don’t get a chance (or do very well) in the first innings, and that is crucial for keeping new players engaged with the game: having fun and contributing.

But at the same time, don’t we have to try and educate players to take more time, enjoy a blend of old and new, be able to play in different modes and socialise together? If cricket really does want to be diverse and inclusive it has to do so off the field as well as on the field, and that means finding the time to talk with each other.

My one big criticism of all the cricket I have played since my return in 2021 is that teams are like individual silos now: very little interaction before the game, stay in their own bubbles during the game, rush home afterwards. I think the concept of tea has gone from the game, and whilst that is a shame I get it, but I do think clubs could put some food on after the game to encourage players to stay longer and socialise.

Back to the main theme of this musing ….

Personally I find pretty much everything to do with the 100 confusing and pointless, in that it could all be achieved by adapting the T20, hence the question 1 x T20 or a 40 Over game. I found the 50 balls from one end rather boring as players and umpires were very static and many players didn’t get involved in the game. I am not sure it saved much time, and it took away from the natural ebb and flow of the game.

I think there is merit in playing a two innings, two 20 over games, but note I have dropped the T. For most of us club cricketers we can only play in one way, and trying to emulate the T20 pros play hardly ever works, and more often than not ends up with players not having contributed much and pretty low scores.

Personally I would play 20 overs each innings, with a 20 minute break, with players playing their normal game, so the first innings could set up a faster paced second innings, but teams have the flexibility to ensure some players get a second opportunity to contribute. I would play in Whites partly to maintain tradition (see our approach here for Woman and Girls’ Whites), but also because I am a firm believer in what you wear having a large impact in how you approach and play the game, and I would have some food for both teams after the game.

If you wanted to speed the game up I would put incentives into the games for runs, wickets, wides and no balls (no free hits, no extra balls) but say 3 runs for a no ball and 2 runs for a wide.

In all honesty the thing that takes up the most time in cricket these days is just how slowly everyone moves around: and this is down to the captains to keep a good momentum going, and the players to stop being influenced by the time wasting done by the professionals.

40 (or 45) over games, in whites, for league games should remain, but I think friendly/social/charity games could look at this two 20 over innings approach.