The first-ever game of 5IVES cricket was played by the MCC Universities and MCC Young Cricketers (YCs) on Monday 6 September.
Radlett CC played host to a game which is the brainchild of South African Dick Wood.
Wood wants to introduce a format of cricket which would allow comparative scores to be kept, as well as to negate the importance of the toss and remove the need for the Duckworth-Lewis method in the event of bad weather.
Instead of one side batting for 50 overs and setting a target, in 5IVES cricket, teams bats alternately in five and 10-over ‘splits’. The not out batsmen at the end of the each ‘split’ returning to the crease for the start of the next. Bonus points are awarded for the team that scores the most runs in each split.
Cardiff MCCU’s Daniel Bendon hit the new white Kookaburra ball (designed to last 50 rather than 34 overs) on to the neighbouring railway line - before clobbering a long hop straight to Paul Muchall at cover - to see the MCC Universities to a one-run lead after five overs.
But in the next 10-over splits, the MCC YCs scored 40 runs compared to the MCCU’s 17.
This was thanks, in large part, to Ned Eckersley – who particularly enjoyed the bowling of YC team-mate James Lever (who was playing for the MCCUs) on his way to 58.
The YCs raced ahead to 85-3 off 15 overs. It would take the MCCUs 20 overs to reach the same score for the loss of two more wickets.
At 20 overs, the YCs were cruising at 112-3, with Muchall – who played for Kent at the weekend and took the wicket of his brother, Durham batsman Gordon, in the process – and Eckersley well in control. They had won three bonus points to the MCCUs’ one.
However, the introduction of spin slowed their progress.
Leeds/Bradford MCCU’s Craig Williamson and Cambridge’s Jivan Lotay dismissed the danger-men in consecutive overs. Williamson also had Glenn Querl LBW to spark a mini-collapse - from 117-3 to 129-6.
It was then the YC spinner Gaurav Dhar’s turn to impress.
Although the MCCU side won the 25-30 over split by scoring 23 runs to the YCs’ 17, Dhar’s leg-breaks accounted for Peter Groves and opener Alex Welsh who had showed impressive durability at the crease.
After 30 overs the MCCUs had made 127-7, the YCs 151-6.
Amongst breaks for lunch, rain and the splits, YC wicket-keeper Daniel Blacktopp and Mubasher Hassan batted steadily.
Between 25 and 35 overs they put together a partnership of 56. When they came off with the score at 178-6, they were able to watch opening batsman and off-spinner Andrew Balbirnie pick up three cheap wickets.
Despite late hitting from John Barr – who top-scored for the MCCU side with 33 not out – they were bowled out for 169 after 38.3 overs.
The YCs had reached 178-6 off 35 overs, and so recorded a nine-run victory with four wickets left, in 3.3 fewer overs.
Reaction & feedback
After the match MCC Head of Cricket John Stephenson said: "Like anything new, it takes time to understand what’s going on and will need to bed in gradually.
"I like the fact it challenges the accepted norms of batsman batting for long periods while they build an innings and bowlers being in a rhythm - batsman in 5IVES need to adapt to shorter periods at the crease and make sure they kept their wicket intact."
MCC Universities Head Coach, Clive Radley, added: "It is a very interesting concept but it will take a handful of games to get the hang of.
"5IVES definitely evens things out in regard to the importance of winning the toss. There’s a distinct upside in that there is no stalemate in the middle overs, which can so often be dull in ODI cricket, but I see a downside where the stopping and starting can affect the rhythm of batsmen and bowlers.
"A purpose-built scoreboard is a must but that wouldn’t take long to sort out.
"For this to take off in club cricket, you’d need to implement the format with just 11 players and not use the two non-batting / bowling substitutes like we have here.
"Club players will not want to give up their time when they can’t bat or bowl and therefore the changeovers would take longer."
Former England captain Mike Gatting, now ECB Head of Cricket Partnerships added: "From first viewing, it seems perhaps too ‘bitty’ and I would worry about the flow of the game from a captain’s perspective.
"The Umpires have been very happy about it, which is good news and you can clearly see the players are kept fresh with the regular changeovers.
"I would need to see more to make a firm judgement."
Jack Clark, MCC Universities captain said: "There is a lot going on in 5IVES as a captain, especially when you’re batting.
"It is the first time we’ve played it so it has been very difficult to work out the tactics. The more you play it I think the more we’ll understand how you’re meant to play it.
"[This match] seems a bit like the start of T20 cricket, when teams went for it too quickly and were bowled out cheaply."
Dick Wood, 5IVES cricket inventor concluded: "With ten splits, you’ve got ten changeovers which you want to happen quickly and seamlessly.
"That’s been the case today – the first changeover took 45 seconds. This shows that the game can be split and it won’t disrupt the entertainment for too long.
"I’ve been reasonably happy with the scoreboard as we’ve been able to convey most of the key information such as the bonus point ‘split’ target; I agree that the scoreboard is crucial to this game.
"Today’s match has perhaps highlighted that the players haven’t focused enough on the 50 overs and have chased the ‘split’ bonus points and in doing have perhaps lost a couple of unnecessary wickets.
"When they play this again tomorrow, I think they’ll approach it differently to concentrate on the entire match.
"I’m pleased with the day - 5IVES is clearly a different product than T20 or Test cricket."
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