Thursday, 4 September 2014

Improving Women's T20

Over on Women's Cricket Blog, Martin Davies has some proposals for improving the spectacle of Women's T20 cricket - an issue Izzy Westbury also raised recently in her All Out Cricket column. Here's my tuppence:

Cricket is a complicated game - that's one of the reasons why we love it; but sometimes it's a bit too complicated. Powerplays and fielding restrictions are a case in point - if you don't believe me, ask Raf Nicholson who recently attempted to explain them to an intelligent, cricket-loving eleven-year-old boy (my son) and got precisely nowhere!

So let's ditch the poweplays and apply the same rules for the entire game.

But note that I didn't say "ditch the fielding restrictions" - they are there for a reason, to stop teams just posting 9 men on the boundary at all times. But we can simplify them, and I would propose a radical simplification - require all men to be inside the circle at the moment of delivery.

This means that there will always be the option of hitting "over the top" and the fact that the girls find the boundary less often is actually an advantage here - it makes running between the wickets all the more exciting, as the race between the batsmen and the fielders trying to run them out really comes to the fore. This gives women's cricket the distinctive character that Izzy describes thus:

"... not a boundary-hitting fest, but a game that relies on quick-thinking, innovative shot-selection and graceful strokes."

So there's no need to shorten the boundary (in this scenario, the long boundary becomes a feature not a bug) or shoot one of the players - vis-a-vis Martin's (I suspect slightly tongue-in-cheek) suggestion to reduce the teams to 10 men!

Neither of these suggestions changes the fundamental nature of women's cricket - it's still cricket, with all its traditions; and I don't think either idea requires a change in the Laws either, only in the Playing Conditions. But by ditching the powerplays and requiring all fielders to be inside the circle, we've made women's T20 cricket more exciting and more accessible. (And the fact that it plays to England's strengths more than Australia's? Pure coincidence!)

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