An improvement for T20s

This is not a rant about T20; as I believe I have said before I do not mind the format per se but rather some (indeed many) of its applications. So my suggestion for improving it does not involve scrapping it entirely or anything radical such as that. It instead deals with the problem of rain shortened matches such as the one we saw today between Nottinghamshire and Lancashire. Lancs batted for twenty overs as set Notts 179 to win. The rains came with Notts 7-0 after one over and left them a D/L target of 49 off five overs which they chased comfortably. The obvious problem was that the D/L revised target was quite low. Notts had all of their wickets in hand and could go for it. One big over against Arafat was enough to all but end the match as a contest. However, I think to blame D/L misses a deeper and more important point.

The D/L discrepancy was a problem, but I actually think it is a very minor one. Theoretically the system can be tweaked (and I believe that it is tweaked as new data comes in), but I do not think there is any adjustment that could have helped in this situation. No matter what total is set over five overs it will not have the same dynamic of a full chase and more importantly I don’t think there is any ‘fair’ way to do it. Only playing five overs means two things: that wickets are entirely irrelevant, run rate is all that matters, and that the required rate will almost always jump to either unobtainable heights or drop so low that it becomes easy. In effect then it is a one over contest. Today, Notts got 18 off a single over to render the required rate miniscule. The low target and wickets in hand made it easier for them to do that then the corollary of Lancs bowling a very tight over, but if Lancs had done so it would have come close to ending the match in their favour as well. And that would apply even if the D/L target had been higher; it would have just made it easier for Lancs to have a good over than Notts. Either way though it isn’t a proper contest. Five overs is simply too few.

The best way to improve T20s then is not to tweak D/L (though I still think that should happen, it just isn’t the most important thing to do) but to increase the minimum number of overs for matches interrupted halfway by rain and more flexibility in shortening matches before the rain starts. Most people suspected ahead of time that today’s match would be rain-affected and if they had decided ahead of time to play ten, or even five, overs a side instead of Lancs getting a full twenty and Notts getting five it would have been a perfectly fair contest. In situations where that is not feasible, however, the minimum number of overs has to be increased. If start times are brought forward and cutoff times moved back (as well as being made more flexible) I believe this can be done without a considerable increase in the number of matches without a result. Even if there is some increase, however, I think the majority of fans will understand the logic though I concede that is speculation. Certainly there should be some sort of effort to get the most overs in as possible. The current system does not produce a proper contest.

2 thoughts on “An improvement for T20s

  1. I’ll make the case here for split innings T20 games. First team would play 10, second their 10. Extend the cut-offs, if there is too much rain in the second half of the game that, just call the result based on the first 10 overs. Rain in the first half would reduce the second half commensurate (so 14 overs lost would reduce the second half to 3 overs per side).

    The other advantage is that it gets around the problem that teams batting first generally take the most risk after the 10th over, so the variation in scores is huge. A very poor or very good last ten overs means the game is pretty much decided before the second innings. With a split innings, unless it was a total blow-out, there’d generally be only 5 overs remaining when it became apparent that the game was up.


    1. That’s an interesting idea and certainly not one with which I would disagree. It would, I think, also add to the captain’s job in that he would have to decide how to save bowlers for the last ten. It might also be interesting to see if sides would shuffle the lineup to get an opener of sorts batting at the start of the second ten overs.


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