London (AFP) – England captain Joe Root says controversial plans for a domestic 100-ball competition could attract a new audience to Test cricket.
The England and Wales Cricket Board’s proposal to introduce a new format, tentatively titled “the Hundred”, with 15 regular six-ball overs and one 10-ball over, has proved divisive since an announcement last week but the England skipper is on board with the idea.
One of the fundamental aims of the ECB is to simplify the game for a fresh audience, specifically women and children, and Root thinks if the format takes off it could lead to interest in the longer forms of the game.
“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.”
Root’s predecessor as England captain, Alastair Cook, described the format as “another interesting step for cricket”.
“If you went back to 2003 when the ECB first launched T20 cricket, if social media had been around then I’m sure quite a few people would probably have kicked up the same amount of fuss as they have here,” he told Sky Sports.
“It’s different, it’s exciting. How it all works with the County Championship and Test matches and when it’s played, a lot of that (planning) is still to be done. But I think it’s another interesting step for cricket.
“Cricket has made huge changes over the years and since I’ve started in 2003 — T20 being one of them. Let’s see how it all pans out. Whether I’ll be there to play I don’t know but I’ll certainly be watching it.”