Super Over cricket could reign supreme

Super Over
boy playing cricket at sunset on tropical beach in Sri Lanka

Emerging Cricket has obtained a confidential report which suggests that the trend in international cricket towards ever-shorter formats may be about to reach its logical end-point: a World Cup consisting entirely of Super Overs.

The proposal, which follows the increasing pre-eminence of T20 and the emergence of its little brother T10, is presented as the best way of expanding global interest in the game and maximising its commercial potential.

‘Cricket’s administrators have for some time worked on the principle of The Less Cricket the Better,’ the report states, ‘and it is increasingly realised that T20 lasts too long for the concentration span of our target audience.

‘Even T10, with each game lasting a minimum of 90 minutes, is as long as a football game, and is therefore unable to hold the interest of fans.’

The report also notes that T20 matches are lasting longer than ever, as fielding sides vie with each other in bowling their overs as slowly as possible.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one of the report’s authors explained the unique appeal of a match consisting of one Super Over per side.

‘We marketeers employ a measure called STAR,’ he said this week, ‘which stands for Sport to Advertising Ratio.

‘It is unfortunately a fact that cricket’s STAR rating is extremely low, with most TV coverage able to run no more than a single commercial between overs.’

With pace bowlers operating, he pointed out, this means one commercial per five or six minutes, reducing to one per three or four minutes when spinners are bowling. But with Super Over matches it would be possible to slip a commercial in between each delivery, resulting in more advertising than cricket.

‘This,’ the anonymous spokesman pointed out, ‘is the true aim of the commercial interests which now run the game.’

The report further considers the benefits of the proposal for tournament structures.
‘With each game lasting no more than half an hour,’ it suggests, ‘it would be possible to fit as many as eighteen matches into a single day. This would allow organisers to market tickets separately for three different sessions, greatly increasing the scope for gate takings.

‘Allowing for rest or rain days, a ten-team World Cup could involve teams playing each other as many as six times over a three-week period, each playing two or three Super Over games per day.‘

But it would also permit the organisers of franchise tournaments like the IPL to sell many more franchises, enormously increasing the profitability of such events.’

There would, it is acknowledged, be inevitable consequences for the composition of teams: only one bowler per match would be needed, along with three batters and a wicketkeeper.

This would mean that each team would have at least six specialist fielders, and more if either the bowler or keeper doubled as a batter.

‘We have seen how much more important fielding has become with the advent of T20,’ the report’s anonymous co-author points out, ‘and in Super Over cricket fielders will truly come into their own.’

Since the Super Over was originally devised as a tie-breaker, the question naturally arises what should happen if scores are level after the Super Over match has been completed.

The report considers the possibility of playing a second Super Over, as at present, but rejects this because of its disruption of television schedules.

Instead, the authors propose a countback system based on the all-important ‘maximums’, the sixes whose length has become a staple part of cricket’s shorter formats: ‘in the event of a tie,’ the report proposes, ‘the winner shall be the side with the greater average distance of sixes struck in the course of their over.’

It is anticipated that the new format could be adopted as early as the 2027 World Cup, or even earlier if the BCCI decides it is in its interest to do so.

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