Mike Rowbottom ©insidethegames

Long ago, in another millennium, there was a weekly television show called The Word. It wasn't in the beginning - it actually started at 6pm on Fridays and then moved to a late-night slot.

But anyway,The Word had a regular section called The Hopefuls, which featured people doing something either embarrassing or degrading or both before turning to the camera and saying "I'll do anything to be on TV".

For some reason, I often find myself thinking of this on hearing announcements from people - that is, men - in charge of sports.

The words are not explicitly expressed, but clearly understood: "I'd do anything to keep/get my sport in the Olympics. I'd do anything to my sport to stay in charge".

On occasions, the announcements might just as well be reduced to barked words, in the manner of Father Jack of the Father Ted comedy series. "YOUTH!!!…GIRLS!!!...SHORT!!!...TV!!!...CASH!!!...GIRLS!!!...YOUTH!!!"

Colin Graves, chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, believes the new proposed 100-ball format is essential to attract a younger generation to the game ©Getty Images
Colin Graves, chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, believes the new proposed 100-ball format is essential to attract a younger generation to the game ©Getty Images

And so we come to Colin Graves, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman who announced this week that he was pressing on with his truly, madly, deeply unpopular idea of introducing a 100-ball tournament - "The Hundred" - in 2020 because the younger generation was "just not attracted" to the sport in its current formats.

A week after the ECB had told the Professional Cricketers' Association that the idea was "not set in stone", Graves clarified their position by saying it was.

Explaining his reasoning to the BBC, he said: "The younger generation, whether you like it or not, are just not attracted to cricket. 

"In all the work, surveys and research we have done, the younger generation want something different. 

"They want more excitement, they want it shorter and simpler to understand. 

"Those are the things we have learnt for this new competition and that is what we have to make it."

This, as has been reported, came on the same day the ECB announced 50,000 children aged five to eight years old had signed up to its All Stars Cricket coaching programme - up 13,000 on the first year.

Meanwhile, other formats which have attracted the odd interested spectator over the years - the County Championship, the T20 Blast, the One-Day Cup, the Women's Super League - are spurned. He's just not into you…

Spectators enjoy the atmosphere during the NatWest T20 Blast Final between Birmingham Bears and Notts Outlaws at Edgbaston last September  - but there's still not enough excitement for the ECB it seems ©Getty Images
Spectators enjoy the atmosphere during the NatWest T20 Blast Final between Birmingham Bears and Notts Outlaws at Edgbaston last September - but there's still not enough excitement for the ECB it seems ©Getty Images

I am not going to pretend I love cricket in the same way I love football or athletics. Perhaps if I had not been bowled for a duck by my 6ft 4in mate Jumbo in front of the entire fourth form girls as they waited to set off on a cross-country run, my sporting tastes might be different. But I digress.

Even as an occasional interested party, I know enough about cricket, and I know enough people who truly love the game, to know it is a rich, detailed, complex, fascinating, shifting, exciting world that enthrals thousands, millions of spectators and - when allowed - television viewers.

Of course cricket has to change with the times, like other sports. But those with the game close to their heart argue it already has.

For sure, there is a heavy responsibility on the shoulders of Graves and his fellow ECB members. But there is also a serious question to be asked: at what point does change efface that which is being changed? Or to put it in slightly less poncey language, what represents a change too far?

All sports are pondering this question right now as traditional audiences alter and - as can happen - die. Athletics, for so long the paramount Olympic sport, is shifting its gaze to its midriff and experimenting with new formats answering to the Father Jack-style listing. 

Even football, at the top of the sporting pantheon, has thrashed about in search of the Eternal Youth.

Back in 2004, the then FIFA President Sepp Blatter suggested outlawing drawn games, telling a German news agency: "Every game should have a winner. When you play cards or any other game, there's always a winner or a loser."

So true. Other than the fact that it wasn't.

Rugby. I believe draws are allowed in that game. And there's another one nagging at me…

Ah yes. Cricket. Cricket games can be drawn. For the moment.

Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter insisted:
Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter insisted: "Every game should always have a winner." True - other than the fact that it isn't ©Getty Images

Among Blatter's other suggestions for football were making the goals bigger. Some thought he did not go far enough here - I mean, if you doubled the size of the goals, or maybe tripled them - bingo, goals flying in all over the shop!

Then again, why just one ball? Why not a load of balls?

How long can it be before someone in cricket suggests making the wicket bigger? Or did I miss that? And again - why just one ball? Imagine bowlers steaming in from both ends simultaneously! Dynamite!

For now, though, the new format is 100 balls a side, split into 15 six-ball overs and a final one of 10 balls.

Boom! But why stop there? Why not Cricket Countdown - 10 balls, crash, bang wallop. It could make T20 look like a Ruy Lopez opening…

Another thought. Could Graves, and other similarly concerned sporting leaders, be wrong about The Youth? 

Could their view that the youth understands and seeks nothing but crash bang wallop be a patronising one? Could it be that what is needed is not change, but faith?

Hazel licked sweat out of a fat man’s belly. Cricket does not have to do the same thing.