Joe Root, the England Test captain, has come out in support of the proposed domestic 100-ball competition, saying it might help in bringing new audience to Test cricket.
The England and Wales Cricket Board’s proposed format, tentatively titled ‘The Hundred’, would see each team face 15 six-ball overs followed by an additional 10 deliveries. The plan is to start the eight-team tournament from 2020, with 36 games to be played across eight venues.
“It’s going to appeal to a completely new audience and I think that’s great,” Root told the i newspaper. “The more people and kids we can get into sport, the better. We’ve got to be very careful we don’t measure it against the other formats… it’s something to gather a new audience and gain interest, not a threat to other formats. As players, working with the ICC (International Cricket Council), 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.
“There will be people that compare it to Twenty20 and worry it might take away interest from Test cricket, but it’s important to remember it will bring new people to the game. It might be someone who didn’t know much about the game before and then goes on to watch a Test match and gets immersed in that. That’s the way I’d like to look at it.”
Meanwhile, after having failed to attract any bids in the 2018 Indian Premier League auction, Root said he has no grudges against the English players who are in India for the tournament, and believes that the experience of playing in the world’s most high-profile domestic tournament will hugely benefit the entire side.
While Chris Woakes, Jason Roy, Sam Billings and Liam Plunkett have already managed to create a buzz in the IPL so far, the likes of Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, David Willey, Alex Hales, Mark Wood and Moeen Ali are honing their T20 skills.
“It’s not frustration watching the other guys,” Root told Sky Sports. “There have been a number of times I’ve been sat on the sofa and ended up not being able to go out all afternoon because Jason is playing an unbelievable knock or Sam Billings is doing the same, Jos and Stokesy playing in the same side. I want to see them do well.
“Obviously, on a personal note, I went into the IPL auction to get a bit more exposure to T20 cricket, it didn’t materialise, it would have been nice to be involved in that but I’ve got no bitter feelings towards the other guys, I think it’s great.
“They’ll benefit hugely from it and we, as a side, will benefit hugely from it. Look at the way Jos and Ben and a few guys came back from it last year and what it has brought to their games, it’s been fabulous. Hopefully, that can happen on a wider scale with more and more players going out there from English cricket, playing under scrutiny and in the high-pressure situations that that tournament brings, it can only be a good thing for us in the long term.”
Root’s first year at the helm has been an eventful one. After beating South Africa and Windies at home, England have gone winless in last their last seven Tests – which include Ashes defeat, and a 1-0 loss in New Zealand.
Root, 27, said he is ready to take tough calls as there will be changes going forward. “Looking forward, there will be changes, especially long-term and then it is up to guys to come in and take the opportunities,” he said. “If we have to try different formulas in different conditions then so be it but again, from doing that, come great opportunities for someone and a chance to take that and make it difficult to leave them out again.
“There have been a few ups and downs along the way but we’ve become a lot tighter as a group and I think we’ll be a better team for that. I think it can be a great launch pad for us now to really move forward and make big strides in Test cricket.”