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Monday, 12 August, 2002, 10:44 GMT 11:44 UK
Anyone for 20 overs?
Lashings' Jimmy Adams is confused by the 20 over concept
Lashings' Adams is confused by the 20 over concept

Everything was in place to mark the start of organised 20-over cricket in England.

The hot seat was in position by the boundary, the umpires had equipped themselves with yellow cards to denote the start of the golden over, and the Richie Benaud impersonator had warmed up his vocal cords.

But there was something missing at Bristol's County Ground on Sunday.

Someone, it seems, had neglected to tell the sides that it was in fact 20 overs they were playing.

  Golden over
Designated over between the 7th and 12th in which runs count double

Then, in the excitement of christening the England and Wales Cricket Board's latest gimmicks to spruce up domestic cricket, Gloucestershire managed to get themselves bowled out inside 15 overs.

Lashings - the itinerant all-star team comprising, among others, Brian Lara, Shoaib Akhtar and Courtney Walsh - cruised to their victory target of 111, also inside 15 overs.

The few people who had bothered to turn up were left scratching their heads and wondering what all the fuss had been about.

Lara batted for Lashings
Lara batted for Lashings
In among it all, Gloucestershire had almost forgotten to play their golden over and the hot seat was boycotted by the visiting team.

True, the 20-over county competition planned for a two-week block next August, will be better organised than the friendly witnessed over the weekend.

But the fact remains that lessons need to be learned if the replacement of the Benson & Hedges Cup is not to be memorable for all the wrong reasons.

  Hot seat
Chair in which the next batsman sits ensuring that no time is lost between wickets

Gloucestershire coach John Bracewell, no stranger to innovation in one-day cricket, insists the 20-over format has a future in England but strategies must be formulated before serious mistakes are made.

"Where it will have an impact is in our management of the cricketers," he said.

"In the 50-over game we've already had to take some players out because the game was interfering with their four-day skills.

"I believe in learning your skills in a traditional environment, first becoming proficient and then evolving them in a more adventurous game. But first there must be a base."

Also, Bracewell argued, counties will need to rethink their one-day tactics to avoid the fate of Gloucestershire against Lashings.

"There will be three clear injections of energy: the first six or seven overs, a cruise period, and then a final burst of seven or eight overs where a team will be expected to score 100 runs," Bracewell said.

  Yellow card
Umpire holds it up to signal start of golden over
"But to do so will require at least six wickets in hand. With that in mind, a coach will need to decide where best to place his batters.

"The likelihood is that the Jeremy Snapes of this world will become specialists in batting those last eight overs."

Then there is the golden over. Gloucestershire could manage only three singles (or should that be doubles?) and a wide off Akhtar.

While Chris Harris hit David Terbrugge for 12 with one blow over midwicket.

It will certainly be very interesting to see how the 20-over game progresses.

Links to more Cricket stories are at the foot of the page.


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