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Bermuda's unpopular two-day cricket league has been scrapped. Instead the season will kick off with a new Twenty20 tournament, which will culminate with a Stanford-style final under lights at the National Centre.
In a sign of the changing times that are sweeping the sport globally, Bermuda has embraced the popular no-holds barred format as the cricket board attempts to inject some excitement into the domestic season. The longer format will not disappear completely, with a two-division Open Cricket league established, following the basic format of the County Cup competitions.
The 50-over league remains unchanged and will get a low-key kick-off this weekend with two First Division matches involving Bermuda's Under-18 squad. Each team will play each other twice in the 14-game domestic league. The BELCO Cup will go ahead as normal but there will be no limited-overs knockout competitions.
Allen Richardson, who headed up a task force with the job of consulting the public and reorganizing the structure of the domestic leagues said the new Twenty20 competition was an important part of the process. "We want to bring the fans out and make it a family atmosphere and we also need to start putting together a squad that will go to Ireland for the 20-20 World Cup qualifier in August. This competition will gauge who will get into that squad."
He said the BCB was working on bringing in a big screen to show action replays and would be holding the semi-finals and final under floodlights at the national centre. He said the board had wanted to maintain a two-day competition but the enthusiasm for the longer format was just not there. "It's not the ideal situation when you have four-day international matches to prepare for. We do see a need for the longer version of the game but we didn't get any support for the two-day league. Players weren't turning up. It was a real shambles to be honest."
He said he hoped the open format, a single innings competition to a maximum 120 overs, would at least give players a taste of the longer game.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and AfricaFeeds: Martin Williamson
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Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.