Now that the second season of the T10 League has passed, it is a good time to create a clear definition of a short innings and a long innings in that version of the game. The distinction between a short spell and a long spell for a bowler is easy to make; one over is a short spell, two overs is a short spell. It is hard-wired into the rules of the game. Until such time as captains are allowed to make mid-over changes to the bowling for tactical reasons, the only exceptions come when the batting team’s innings ends during an over or when they are physically incapacitated.
A Long Innings in T10 – and its true value
The only hard limit on a batter’s participation in an innings is 60 balls. Granted, it is highly improbable that anyone will ever hog the strike in such a way, but that is the limit. There is no rule which says a batter must retire after ten balls. There is, however, a benefit in seeing an innings that lasts that period of time or longer as a long innings, insofar as it helps in judging the T10 League as cricket, rather than as solely entertainment. This is the case whether a critic’s personal feelings towards the T10 League are positive or negative.
In 2018, there were 196 individual innings in the first innings of a match. Out of those 196 innings, 134 saw the batter face nine balls or fewer. The strike rate for these innings was 142.22 and the average balls faced was 4.51. The remaining 62 innings had a strike rate of 190.62 and the average balls faced during those stays at the crease was 16.34.
In that year, there were 162 individual innings in the second innings of a match. 105 of these innings lasted only single digits in terms of balls faced, with a strike rate of 152.73. This number jumped to 201.92 for innings in which the batter faced at least ten balls at the crease and, while the number of average balls faced in the fewer than ten balls category had dropped from 4.51 to 4.01, the number of average balls faced in the more than ten balls category had risen to 17.09.
An Example Featuring Philip Salt
There was actually an innings in which a batter scored 34 off 17 chasing a target. The batter was Philip Salt of Punjabi Legends, and the Legends were seeking 118 for victory against Rajputs. Salt came out to bat with one ball left in the third over, with the Legends on 3-30.
The probability of a neutral or positive team outcome for the Legends (a win) had already decreased because of the higher run rate at the point of Salt’s entry to the crease than what it was at the start of his team’s innings – 12.39 compared to 11.80. Therefore, Salt’s innings, if measured strictly in strike rate, had gone from slightly better than the required run rate for the innings as a whole compared to slightly lower what the required run rate was from the point he came to the wicket. However, wicket preservation, which usually should not be encouraged in any format with the letter ‘T’ in it that goes for less than a day, had become slightly more important because of the rate of wickets against a batting team that was not designed to contain eleven hitters. Salt did a better job of marrying these two attributes than his first three batting partners – Umar Akmal (34 off 19 overall, but 15 off 11 when he was batting with Salt), Tom Moores (9 off 8) and Chris Jordan (0 off 1). His fourth and last batting partner, Hassan Khan, came closest to Salt – 15 off 6 – but even in that partnership, Salt topped him with 14 off 5. The target topped them both, their partnership of 30 still leaving Rajputs with a 12-run victory.
Runs, more runs and even more runs is the way forward. The lack of restrictions on overseas players are likely to help – there are only so many players in the world capable of going at better than two runs a ball like Andre Russell and Nicholas Pooran. It also maximizes the chance of external media interest. This focus on elite participation is not without its downsides – it further squeezes UAE players out of teams, unless they can prove themselves to have value to a team like Paul Stirling, and that won’t happen without trust and game time. In a year where the UAE has been saturated with short-form cricket to the extent as to force the cancellation of UAEx T20, that is a problem which needs to be resolved. Perhaps, having abolished the Sri Lanka team from the T10 League, the organizers should give some thought to a UAE-only team.
In the meantime, it is at least becoming easier to not only define a short innings and a long innings in T10, but to find the true value of the former and the latter.