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The Hundred trials: Orange balls, free-hits for wides, rolling subs

by Wisden Staff 5 minute read

“It feels like cricket” said Worcestershire opening batsman and PCA chairman Daryl Mitchell of the ECB’s ‘The Hundred’ trials between The North and The South, which took place at the beginning of this week. So what’s new?

Forget the number six (apart from for sixes) fives and 10s are the key now

One innovation was to have balls bowled in blocks of five or 10, with changes of ends every 10 balls, and bowlers able to bowl a set of 10 balls across both ends.

The Powerplay still exists

It just wouldn’t be cricket without the fielding restrictions arbitrarily changing partway through an innings, and it looks like the first 20 balls will see only two fielders allowed outside the 30-yard circle. Good thing too – you wouldn’t want batsman playing boringly, keeping wickets in hand for the final 10. Balls that is.

There are strategic timeouts

Time-outs – because we wouldn’t want it too short

A gimmick borrowed from the IPL, the fielding captain could be allowed to pause the game for up to two and a half minutes at any point between the 20th and 70th balls, with coaches allowed to enter the field at this point. In the Indian tournament, these are largely seen as a ruse to allow for extended mid-innings ad-breaks, but with ‘The Hundred’ set to be shown on the ad-free BBC, it seems the ECB see it as a worthwhile addition from a cricket perspective. The trials supported this, with The North inducing a collapse from 75-0 to 128 all out after one such interval.

It won’t matter if the batsmen cross

Normally, if the batsmen cross between hitting the ball and the completion of a catch, the incoming batsman will start at the non-strikers end. But in the trials, the incoming batsman faced the next ball no matter what.

Rolling subs – rejoice Gary Pratt!

This is where it got complicated and confusing during the trials, with two sub fielders allowed to replace bowlers at any time, with those bowlers allowed to bowl as soon as they return to the field, hopefully meaning that you won’t have to hide a liability at fine leg – all fielders should be capable of the spectacular.

Could Gary Pratt make a comeback?

None of this could happen

Yep, sorry to disappoint if you’ve read this far, but nothing is set in stone, and everything could change by the time the competition starts. Reports on CricBuzz  even suggest orange Dukes balls could be used, and that free-hits might be awarded for wides as well as no-balls.

There has however been cautious optimism on behalf of some of the players. “”These trial games are just to see where we’re at,” said The North captain Samit Patel. “I’m sure there will be different rules and regulations that may come into it but, for this bit, I think it’s been pretty good.”

Maybe we should all just hold off on judging until we truly know what we’re dealing with.

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