T20 and the need for change

Boards love T20, but like helicopter parents they hover above it at all times.

Big proper sporting leagues have trades. And over time they become almost like an off-field sport, as people like me head over to trade simulators to work out how our team can get better.

I love the mechanics.  You have a wide receiver too many, and I can't fit all my expensive contracts on an offensive line.  We can fix these problems.

So when trades came into cricket, I was pretty excited, I had all this knowledge on how they work, and couldn't wait to see what they would do to cricket.

But so far, few leagues have got involved in them, and for several reasons, they haven't really been done well.  Anyway, there is plenty on that in my latest video on trades in the IPL.

But the reason that trades in T20 are so poor at times is because teams and leagues aren't that mature.  We are still working out what all this is, and with no adults in the room to take charge . That is why players and coaches don't get paid, a league being sanctioned means nothing, and T20 isn't being harnessed into the golden cash cow we were once promised.

And so the Big Bash have brought in their new changes for the upcoming season.

The most concerning thing is that leagues like the BBL and the 100 are already concerned about the product so much they keep changing it.

So we are frequently told cricket is too confusing by boards, and yet every single change makes it more so.

A lot of the complaints have been hot air, as Harry Gurney has pointed out.

And he isn't wrong. It's been funny seeing T20 traditionalists complain, but that doesn't mean these changes are good.


The powerplay, which is a good and fine descriptor we are all used to, has been tinkered with to make it a power surge. It still means six overs of PP, but with four of them upfront, and then two after the 11th over.


It could mean that teams slow down even more for the 5th over than they already do for the seventh. And could lead to teams making a longer slow middle period.

We know that this kind of thinking has usually brought two things. Either sides trying to keep wickets in hand, or a clatter of wickets when you take it as you change how you bat. Both of these could actually slow the game down. That would appear to be the opposite effect they are hoping for. Perhaps those odd two over hammerings will mean overall it balances out.

It has been tried in ODIS before, it didn't really work, they got rid of it. Will be interesting to see if it works better in T20, but my guess is it won't


The surge should allow for two things, occasional huge two over blocks, and quite a bit of collapsing. In truth, both of those are exciting.  But is it worth being a bit more tedious to get there?

And it is more confusing for new fans. So if it's aimed it bringing back people who perhaps have tuned out over the years, but know a bit about cricket (I think this is a long shot) it might work. But it will confuse newer and more casual fans, and I can't see how the excitement will overcome that.


The idea here is that in the second innings, there is a point on offer for a batting team if they're above the equivalent 10 over score.  The fielding team get it if not.


??!!?1??? is my first thought.  Why on earth does it matter if the team is lagging in the chase? It matters if they win or lose.

If I was working for a cricket team I think I'd tell my side to chase the same way I always do; go after the total like you have to get it in 18 overs, not 20.

I see no reason why you'd want to destabilise your chance at three points for one extra point.

The first team to lose a game going for a point is going to look like idiots.  So unless teams have loads of wickets in hand and are close to the 10 over score, why risk losing for it?


Is this one for the hardcore fans and fantasy guys? Or is it to generate some mid innings excitement at a time when people turn off the TV in games that aren't close.

Hoenstly, this one has me stumped on how it would work to make people more excited about watching the Big Bash, and again for casuals it is way more confusing.

Worth noting here that at BBL games they explain the basic concept of cricket at the beginning of matches to the crowd.


I think Jimmy Neesham makes a fair point here.

The idea here is you get to substitute two players into your XI at the ten over mark in the first innings. As long as they haven't bowled multiple overs or already batted.

Love that Ferguson looks so confused here.


Let's say you start the game and the ball is seaming everywhere. You have two spinners, you could at the ten over mark bring in one extra seamer if you spinner has only bowled an over or less.

But if the ball is spinning everywhere, and your seamer has opened up and already bowled two overs, you can't replace them. Either way, the team bowling first seems to have what they can do limited here.

For batting if the team had collapsed in the first ten overs, they could make a change. But how bad would you had to have collapsed in those ten overs to dump a bowler and bring in another batsman.

If you are 100/0 after ten, you could dump two batsmen and bring in two bowlers.  Hoping that your top five make enough and your extra bowlers help.

This is essentially the super sub rule - one of the worst playing conditions ever - slightly updated. I think this works better, but it's still not really fixing much.

There are obviously other ways this could be worked, but I wonder if in general, it helps the team on top more than the one already behind. And if it does that, then it's a terrible idea.  If it doesn't, then it's just another step towards T20 being baseball. Which is weird, as baseball is not seen as a young or hip sport bringing in the casual fans and kiddies these days. Out of the two, I'd argue cricket is growing quicker and already has more fans.


Is there a part of the audience out there who wants players subbed on to make it more exciting? Football and Rugby get a rush from subs, but partly because they bring extra speed and energy on the field. That will not happen here.

It will give the hardcore fans something to think about at the ten over mark, and it might make for some interesting calls from coaches. But I can't see how it does much for fans, other than again, confusing things.


I don’t see anything here that improves the product on the field or for fans.


I have spent decades in a room with smart players, coaches and analysts talking about ways to change cricket and make it more fun, or just better. I could be wrong, but I don't think those kinds of conversations were had before these changes. And if they had them, I think they cherry-picked random ideas, rather than trying to make the game better.

There is no reason T20 can't be made better. Overs 7-12 are often dull. Teams are still being more conservative than they need to with the bat. And I hate fifth bowlers and bits and pieces players so damn much. Why keep this bad legacy from ODIs alive in your T20 world?

There are ways to make T20 cricket more exciting.  Forget substitutions, allow 15 players, 11 can bat, minimum five must bowl, only 11 can be on the field at a time. This would mean the best batsmen going up against the best bowlers—the biggest hitters versus the toughest deliveries.

Bowl all the overs from one end, and swap once in the middle of the innings. Ensuring that the fielders aren't wasting all their energy swapping between overs. The only time they are running is to save runs and take a catch.

Take away overs altogether, or allow bowlers to deliver back to back overs. Imagine facing Rashid Khan for four straight overs, or Trent Boult getting four to open a game. Bowlers are becoming specialists in certain parts of the game already, let them do that.

On that, do you know what is better than four overs of Rashid Khan? Ten overs of him. No one gives a shit about the fifth bowler, kill it.

Why do we need five men out, why isn't it four? This will bring more wickets and boundaries, and that is really what everyone wants to see—enough of the agreed-upon singles already.


Or leave it all as it is, as cricket has never had as marketable a product as T20. T20 works, it is bringing new fans to the game. Those who truly love the cricket side of it will eventually come to the other formats as well, and at worst it turns casuals into cricket fans on a Wednesday night.

If T20 isn't bringing as much success to these leagues as they thought, it's how they are run and managed; not the need for a bonus point in the second innings. Big sporting leagues know why their fans watch, when I see changes like this, I wonder if cricket boards even know why people like their sport.

Latest podcasts are up at Red Inker on Duncan Spencer and Double Century season two has finished, so you can listen to all that now.