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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 May, 2003, 14:37 GMT 15:37 UK
Cricket's Twenty20 vision
By Anna Thompson

County cricket is about to embrace a brand new concept - the Twenty20 Cup.

John Crawley
Players are going to have to adapt quickly but I think that makes it even more exciting
John Crawley

The 20-over game is being described as the "most revolutionary step since the advent of one-day cricket 40 years ago".

And it seems the counties are taking it very seriously indeed.

Cricket purists will no doubt hate the crash bang format which is aimed at speeding the game up.

But frankly, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is not too bothered.

It wants to bring a new audience to cricket, namely families and women, and believes Twenty20 cricket is the answer.

Tim Lamb, ECB chief executive, said: "Cricket is such a versatile and flexible sport.

"We know not everyone will enjoy Twenty20 cricket and we accept this but we must capitalise on cricket's wider appeal."

So what is Twenty20 cricket?

  • Each side must bowl 20 overs within 75 minutes or there will be time penalties

  • The incoming batsman must be at the crease 90 seconds after the fall of the previous wicket or will be timed out

  • Matches start at 5.30pm and should be finished by 8.15pm

  • The 18 counties have been split into zones, North, Mid/Wales/West and South - the top two from each group go through to the semis

  • The semi-finals and final will be played on one day, at Trent Bridge on 19 July
  • Players will be miked up - so fans will be able to hear their views

  • There will be barbecue zones, face painting, karaoke and live bands, including Mysteeq, Atomic Kitten and D-Side to entertain the crowds too.

    The first match will be at The Rose Bowl on 13 June, where Hampshire will take on Sussex.

    Sussex captain Chris Adams told the BBC Sport website he was not a big fan when he first tried out the short format.

    It is a journey into the unknown
    Sussex captain Chris Adams

    He said: "I was sceptical at first. I went to New Zealand with England in 1997 and tried Cricket Max, which was a 10-over game, and it just did not work.

    "But the ECB has really thought about this and the format is far superior to the one I tried in New Zealand.

    "Twenty20 cricket is going to be exciting for spectators to watch.

    "It is a journey into the unknown for the cricketers but Sussex have been practising because we are taking the cup very seriously.

    "I think it will improve one-day cricket from a fielding point of view, and from rotating bowlers as well.

    "And you never know I might even have a go at the karaoke when the matches have finished!"

    Hampshire skipper John Crawley is not renowned for his one-day cricket but he is happy to give the format a go.

    He told the BBC Sport website: "I amazed even myself when we had a practice. I was smashing the ball all over the place.

    "Players are going to have to adapt quickly but I think that makes it even more exciting."

    ECB chief executive Tim Lamb
    "Young people were not connecting with county cricket"

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