New umpiring signals and change to toss regulations among tweaks for new competition
White cards to signal the completion of a set of five deliveries, and mandatory 50-second breaks at the change of ends every ten balls are among the playing conditions confirmed by the ECB ahead of the launch of the Hundred on July 21.
One of the key features of the new competition, which gets underway with a women’s fixture between Oval Invincibles and Manchester Originals in nine days’ time, is the move from “overs” to “balls” as the fundamental unit by which the contest is measured.
However, an ECB official confirmed that – while the TV commentators and ground announcers are expected to veer away from the use of “overs” in the live broadcasting of a match – the concept is so firmly entrenched in the sport’s lexicon that it will continue to be used as a descriptor for scorecards and in written reports.
Similarly, while batters will be referred to as “in” or “out” during the commentary of a match, the concept of “wickets” per se will not be changed to “outs”.
As previously confirmed, the number of balls in an “over” has been reduced from six to five for the Hundred – and the umpire will henceforth call “five” instead of “over” at the completion of a bowler’s set of deliveries.
However, with the new regulations stipulating that two sets of five balls will be bowled from the same end – and by the same bowler if desired – the umpire will also hold up a white card at the end of the first set of five to confirm this fact to the players, scorers, broadcasters and crowds.
Other changes include a tweak to the toss regulations, which will not require the captains to perform that duty out in the middle – it is likely to take place on the stage set aside for the DJs and other live entertainment at each venue. Also, a new tactical “time-out” has been introduced for each team. These will be signalled by the umpire pointing to his watch, and may not be taken before the first 25 balls of an innings have been completed – a period that will also constitute the powerplay.
One set of playing conditions will be published to cover both the men’s and women’s events – with “batsmen” to be referred to as “batters”, an amendment that ESPNcricinfo recently adopted in its style-guide, and all pronouns referencing “his, her, he and she”.
Decision Review System is to be introduced for English domestic cricket for the first time, with a smart replay system giving the third umpire – who will be based in a production truck at each venue – full control over the required replays, which ought to help speed up the process.
With broadcasting time constraints a significant factor in the shortening of matches from 120 balls to 100, each contest in the daily men’s and women’s double-headers will be allocated its own pocket of airtime, into which the day’s other match cannot over-run.
To further incentivise speedy play, teams will be penalised for slow “over-rates” by the loss of one fielder outside the fielding circle from the point of the transgression. To avoid the introduction of too many confusing umpiring signals, in the event of such a penalty, the decision will be relayed to the spectators by the PA announcer.
In the event of a rain-shortened contest, the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method will be used, as per T20 fixtures, but with a rejigged algorithm to reflect balls faced rather than overs bowled. All statistics from the Hundred will be logged under the existing T20 data.
In the event of a tied match, one point will be awarded to each team in the group stage, but for the knock-out phase, the contest will be decided by a super over – or “super five” as per the new terminology. Provision has been made for a second super five in the event that the first is also tied – as was famously the case in England’s World Cup final win in 2019.
However, with TV scheduling a consideration, if during the knock-out phase of the competition, that construct also ends with scores level, victory will be awarded to the team that finished higher in the group stage. Had that rule been in place in the World Cup final, rather than the heavily criticised “boundary countback”, England would still have been crowned champions, after finishing third to New Zealand’s fourth in the opening round.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket