Nixon column: The T10 format can help expand the game

By Paul Nixon

Nine of our domestic players are off to the UAE for the new innovation in cricket with the inaugural T10 tournament beginning this week.

With the tournament taking place over just four days, it’s going to be brilliant for the game. There will be plenty of games on each day with each match scheduled to last 90 minutes – it’s perfect to entice new supporters.

People want to be able to go to games after work, or for it not to take the whole day. It’s the same length as a football match, and we all know how many people attend football up and down the country, week-in week-out.

With there being multiple games per day, it reminds me of the T20 Finals Day we have. That’s one of the best days of the domestic calendar and the atmosphere is brilliant. I’d expect it to be the same out in the Middle East across the tournament.

Eoin Morgan, with the Kerala Kings, has said this format would be ideal for the Olympics, and it’s hard to disagree with the England one-day captain. We’ve all seen what T20 cricket has done for the growth of the game, with the likes of Hong Kong, Netherlands and Afghanistan all using the format to come through the ranks.

If T10 got into the Olympics, we’d see more nations get into the game and ultimately succeed and help the sport grow. And it’ll be interesting to see how sides fare in the tournament.

It’s a difficult one to know where the differences in coaching would lie. You want your hitters in early, but that’s the same in T20 really. There will only be 60 balls to face, so you want guys who can tee off from the very start.

Tom Kohler-Cadmore, another heading over there with Bengal Tigers, said in these pages last week that he’ll need to only take one or two balls to get going, but that’s all he needs in T20, so the mindset is much the same as in that format.

There may be a difference in bowling attacks, however. With fewer deliveries to face it’s less likely that numbers seven and down will need to bat, so therefore we might get more specialised limited-overs bowlers.

You look at England’s current limited-overs batting line-up and all the bowlers are also more than handy with the bat. But why would you need someone at No.10 or 11 who is handy with the bat? These guys need to be fully specialist bowlers.

The way to win will be to take wickets. With each bowler only set to have two overs, you need to make the most of every ball. There are some big names in the squads and if you let the likes of Kieron Pollard, Shahid Afridi or David Miller get going then you’re going to be chasing a big score.

But that’s going to be another interesting question for the first few games – what is a good score? We’ve seen sides chase down 200-plus in T20, so 100 has to be a minimum. But then you would think that two-a-ball will be the aim which takes it to 120.

Pitches will need to be judged quickly and a score needs to be worked out, but these teams will have the data and enough analysts to work it out. It’s a tournament that I’ll be keeping my eye on. I want it to succeed, and want more people to fall in love with the game.

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