56 years of Lord’s ODC finals came to an end last month with an occasion played out in front of a rather a lot of empty seats. While it could be fairly said that the numbers in attendance were not helped any by the same day scheduling of an England World Cup warm-up match, last year the Mound Stand was pretty much full, the impression that domestic 50-over cricket was being allowed to wither on its vine was a clear one.
Lord’s for the World Cup Final coming up and later this season host to the National Village and Club Finals, but not any longer a county ODC (or T20) final; a decision that seems to reflect a certain petulance as much as anything else. So for those who are not attracted to The 100 what sort of future is there for next year’s ODC?
Messages that it might become a development competition, played by under-25s, now being heard no more and it is a bit surprising that it was ever suggested that it would be. Last year there were around 160 county players under the age of 25 in all three formats of the game, while an 18 team ODC reasonably needs 15 man squads, 270 players (close to 300 appeared this year); the main numbers are just a long way apart.
As for whether those taking to the field will look more like second teams, by no means all 50-over players also play in the Blast to any great extent or indeed at all (from where it seems reasonable to think that most of The 100 players will be drawn). For what their worth using the 2018 numbers on those who played in both 50 and 20 over formats an average of 4 players missing per county is a reasonable guess.
County XIs then rather than first or second teams particularly, although quite how this translates into what spectating will feel like might vary a lot. Not the least of the open questions now is whether there will be a free draft of players into The 100, any player picked by any team, so that it is at at least theoretically possible that the Somerset team who would have started their defence of the ODC title next year will be Welsh Fire and at the other end of the spectrum some counties lose no players at all.
Or if not this then what and how much is going to be left to the managers of individual teams: will the Lancashire Blast players just slip into clothing with Manchester labels? Sense, rather than a sense of the absurd, may be along at some point, meantime for those thinking in terms of ambient outgrounds as well as the cricket next year A is for Arundel.