Friday night saw the birth of the revamped domestic Twenty20 competition - the NatWest T20 Blast. As the name suggests, the competition was certainly a blast-off with seven ties up and down the country getting the summer off to an explosive start
The ECB have been constantly tinkering with the set up of the T20 since its inception in 2003. Changes have come almost annually with the never ending fiddling with the size of groups and number of matches amongst other details. The latest modification to the event, which sees 70% percent of games being held on Friday nights, may just be the best one yet.
The county schedule seems to have a endless combinations of games that do not work, yet there does not seem to be a format that pleases everyone. This year's schedule is not perfect either, but then an immaculate timetable that can juggle all three formats will probably seldom be found.
Some of the changes to this season's proceedings have come as a refreshment to many. The Friday night games mean that families can attend without the worry of their children staying up late on a school night. The parents seems to like the prospect of not having to get up early the next morning for work either. It is evident that this has resulted in the ground feeling more relaxed at games and getting more engrossed in the contest than they would at a midweek fixture.
It certainly does appear that the ECB have remembered the reason they invented the newest of formats all of eleven years ago. T20 cricket is meant to be fast, instant and exciting, drawing large crowds to support their counties financially and get into cricket at the same time. The Friday day/night matches tick several of the boxes for a successful T20 competition. The enjoyment factor has returned, something that had previously been lacking amidst far too many group games and matches per week in seasons gone by.
Whilst the ECB should rightfully be applauded for having the majority of ties on Friday evenings there is still a place for criticism directed towards them. When looking at the start times for yesterday's games, one will find the start time for games ranging from 17:30 to 19:30. Is it too much of an ask to have all games starting at the same time?
In terms of the matches themselves, many of them were a great success. All the games were relatively close, especially at Headingley and Hove where the games went to the second last and last balls of the innings respectively. The early start of the competition meant that many England players were available for their counties. In the televised game between Nottinghamshire and Lancashire at Trent Bridge there were many first team players and hopefuls on show. for the home side they could boast players such as Lumb, Hales, Taylor, Patel, Read and Gurney. The visitors fielded Buttler, Parry and Anderson.
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