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Five cricket formats that are definitely wackier than The Hundred

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

You might think The Hundred is the quirkiest cricket format around, chopping the game into 100-balls a side and having snack names adorn kit chests.

But it definitely isn’t the most eccentric form of cricket ever played – over the years, brains have been racked, innovations have been devised and outlandish plans have been implemented, all to make the humble bat-and-ball game more appealing, and, inevitably, more confusing.

Here are five formats that are definitely quirkier than the Hundred.

Martin Crowe’s Cricket Max

Crowe was a true pioneer of the sport, unleashing pinch-hitting through Mark Greatbatch and spin bowling during field restrictions by opening with Dipak Patel during the 1992 World Cup. There was another revolution in the making when he unveiled ‘Cricket Max’, a new form of the game in 1996, a “shorter”, “more colourful” version that was devised to “highlight the best skills in the game”.

It included a comprehensively diverse set of rules: four quarters of ten overs each (two innings of 10 eight-ball overs per team), 13 players per team, no lbws, among a whole host of other details. Even the field of play was different, consisting of one oval with an inner grid and two “max zones”, straight down the ground at either end, with extra runs available for hits into these areas.

For six years starting November 1996, Cricket Max was played in seven different competitions, and even found collaboration with Australia’s Super Eight format. It couldn’t progress beyond 2002 though, with a fixture between New Zealand and India being the final one. A year later, the T20 format was officially in action, proving to be the death knell on Crowe’s venture.

Single-wicket cricket

You’ve probably played a version of it in your backyard. Essentially a one-on-one format, it involves one bowler and a set of fielders combining to face a batter. The format has been around at least since the 1770s and reached its peak in the mid-1800s, before being usurped by the now traditional 11-a-side game. Interestingly, it was during a single-wicket game in 1775 that Lumpy Stevens bowled three consecutive deliveries to John Small, all of which went through the gap between the existing set-up of two stumps. Only after Stevens’ protest was a third stump added.

In 1979, a competition called Courage International Batsman of the Year briefly revived it: eight top players clashed across two days, with Clive Lloyd beating David Gower in the final.

3TC

Another experimental format that looked to push the very basics of the sport, 3TC  – or three-team cricket – featured three teams of eight players each, and was played for the Solidarity Cup in South Africa in mid-2020. An exhibition game was held between Eagles, Kingfishers, and Kites, with the intention of raising funds to help combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

The team with the most runs was given the gold medal, each side had a maximum of 12 overs an innings (six overs bowled by each the other two teams), and if the seventh wicket fell, the last batter was expected to bat alone. There was a gold medal target and a silver medal target, with the team with the least runs finishing with the bronze medal. While it seems to have all the elements of an Olympic sport, there hasn’t been anything notable coming out in the three-team format since.

UKC

Another variant of the single-wicket format, Ultimate Kricket Challenge didn’t just tamper with the spelling of the sport, but also properly shook up the usual rules of the game. Played indoors, bowlers became Contenders, and batters were called Aces, with runs being scored across six different zones, and the area behind the bowler fetched batters 12 runs. Six global players featured in a competition in December 2020, but it remains to be seen if more iterations of it will see the light in the future.

The 6ixty

Cricket’s newest format, and arguably the wackiest of them all, The 6ixty is a collaboration between Cricket West Indies and Caribbean Premier League, bringing together a format that will see six men’s teams and three women’s teams fight it out in a 10-over competition. There are a plethora of rules to go with the existing template of the T10 format, including, wait for it, a “mystery free-hit”, whose timing is decided by a fan voting system. As bonkers as it gets.

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