When it comes to white-ball cricket, you may think you’ve heard it all. Cricket West Indies (CWI) and the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) have other ideas, however.
Introducing ‘The 6ixty’, pronounced ‘sixty’, a new 60-ball cricket format with a raft of gimmicks and gizmos to help it become the newest and most exciting tournament in cricket since, well, the last ’newest and most exciting tournament' in cricket.
Starting in August, the tournament will introduce new rules with the aim of making the game faster, more entertaining and above all more innovative. The rule changes are as follows:
This is a men’s and women’s competition with organisers indicating world class talent will be on show, though they have not said who has yet signed up.
"I am really excited about the innovation, excitement and entertainment," said CWI president Ricky Skerritt.
CPL chief executive officer Pete Russell said: "This is a hugely exciting moment for both CPL and CWI as we create a tournament that will see cricket fans brought closer to the game.
"There will be world-class men's and women's cricketers taking part in a fantastic event for the Caribbean, and this combined with cutting-edge innovations, signals a great moment for all fans of West Indian cricket."
As cricket becomes ever more commercially orientated, it is perhaps unsurprising that there is yet another new tournament entering the already saturated white-ball franchise market.
Placing yourself in the shoes of the CWI and the CPL, the benefits of introducing such a tournament are manifest, resembling to a certain extent the motivations (and eventually justifications) of the England Cricket Board (ECB) when introducing the Hundred. More accessibility, more ‘exciting cricket’, more innovation: all with the purpose of getting more bums on seats, leading to more profit. It cannot be forgotten that, at the end of the day, the likes of the ECB and CWI are businesses.
This reality has its own problems, something we have written about extensively.
But this time its different. The 6ixty must be given a chance from the old timers in a way that other 'new‘ competitions simply don’t warrant.
A dichotomy exists when it comes to innovation in cricket.
On the field, commentators and observers are the first to praise innovative players, commending their ability to push the game, and its excitement levels, to the headiest of heights.
Praise for innovation of the game itself, however, is rarefied. T20 Cricket was a revelation when it took the professional game by storm in the early 2000s; I'd wager you'd struggle to find anyone who thought the innovation of T20 has damaged cricket, at an amateur or professional level.
Since then, however, Cricket has enjoyed a period of relative stagnation. Despite opportunity after opportunity to innovate, cricket boards across the world have taken the 'safe‘ option and backed T20 cricket.
With the rules of these franchise tournament at the behest of the organising board - take the insert sponsor name here strategic time-outs during the IPL as an example - there is clearly room for innovation.
It is therefore an encouraging sign that CWI and CPL are trying to reach the limits of what cricket fans expect on the pitch - to show the franchise cricket can offer more to the game than simply a shorter version of its predecessors.
In this sense, 6ixty will no longer be ‘just another competition’. It will, at the very least, have the foundation on which to make a legitimate claim to being different, in the minds of the cricketing world, and most importantly, the fans.
Is The 6ixty an innovative new form of cricket? Certainly more so than other franchises around the world.
Will it be gimmicky and commercialised? Most certainly, and that shouldn't be overlooked.
There's every possibility it won’t take off. But at least they’re taking the opportunity to progress the game forward: adding new dimension to the game that can only happen in this franchise environment.
While other tournaments simply get shorter and shorter, they insist on missing the opportunity to reinvent the game as we know it, in so doing circumventing the historic issues cricket has faced in drawing in a wide, diverse audience.
6ixty may not be the talismanic format that propels cricket to new levels of popularity, but it is certainly one step closer than any other tournament on the circuit.
That, in the very least, must be recognised, and in turn the tournament, must be given a chance. No matter how few balls are bowled per innings.