March 2017 - Ben White and Wiltshire Wallop

T20 cricket has taken the cricketing world by storm in the last decade. New formats, new audiences, record scores, huge hitting and a variety of entertainment provided alongside the game has developed at pace. The first T20 world cup was held in 2007 in South Africa, which then heralded the first franchise T20 league in India in 2008, the IPL. Recognised as the leading T20 tournament in the world, other countries quickly followed suit with the Big Bash in Australia, the Caribbean Premier League in the West Indies, the Ram Slam in South Africa and other competitions initiated in the majority of the international cricketing powers. England now seems set to fall in line with a domestic city based competition ear-marked by the ECB for 2020.

20 over cricket isn’t anything new though. It’s been played in England for as long as anyone can remember, providing that quintessentially English, mid-summer, mid-week evening friendly game of cricket. Whilst T20 has been marketed as a brand new competition and crowds have surged to enjoy evenings after work at the cricket, club cricketer’s around the country will have looked at each other in faint bemusement at the hype surrounding this ‘new’ form of the game.

In Wiltshire, friendly 20 over cricket was abundant, played by social sides, juniors, midweek XI’s and corporate groups alike and often featuring in 6 a side competitions throughout the county – some more seriously undertaken than others! The Jack Wilcox Trophy provided a 20 over competition for the top 4 clubs in the county based on Saturday cricket, league finishing positions, but nothing further was provided for all clubs to enter. With this competition drawing to a close in 2010 there followed a period of lull in terms of competitive 20 over cricket in the county.

Enter Wiltshire Wallop. The brainchild of Ben White, Marshfield CC’s fixture secretary, this new competition was inspired by the growth of international 20:20 cricket and David Lloyd’s commentary which often featured the simple ‘crash, bang, wallop’ rallying cry. Marrying Wiltshire and Wallop was an easy match.

Ben wanted Wiltshire Wallop to be simple. Simple to enter, simple to administrate, simple to organise and simple to understand. Clubs were given autonomy to arrange their own fixtures when it suited, with deadlines in place for each round of the competition. Host clubs for each game would have the opportunity to make more of a social event around the game, increasing bar takings, and social media usage was encouraged to increase interest and engagement across the county. In short this was set up as a competition for everyone. Designed to capture the imagination of clubs around the county in geographically seeded groups to reduce travel time and enable any Wiltshire club from any league to enter. It would also be the first time that clubs in different leagues would have the opportunity to play against each other thus enabling teams in the Southern Premier & Hampshire league to come up against clubs in the WEPL / Wiltshire league - albeit restricted somewhat by the geographical bias.

The first Wiltshire Wallop competition was delivered in 2013 and was won by Burbage, defeating Potterne in the final having had 8 entries in its inaugural year. Potterne went one better a year later and defended their crown in 2015 before a barely believable 103 from 30 balls by Corsham’s Dwaine Fielding brought the 2016 trophy to Station Road. 13 teams entered in 2016 which Ben freely admits was not as many as he had hoped, with the aim being to have got up to 20. However the engagement and enthusiasm from the teams that have entered, and continue to enter, shows how much this competition is valued.

What the competition has done is enable players who struggle to play on a Saturday, enjoy a competitive run out in midweek. It has brought young players into a good standard of cricket and up against quality opposition and it has provided clubs with the opportunity to create social events out of these games. It is notable that the ceiling of expectation in terms of run getting has changed alongside the professional game. 120, the traditional par score for a 20 over game has suddenly become very ordinary. Many Wallop scores have reached 180 / 190 and in a game between Burbage and Shrewton last year, 405 runs were scored; Burbage winning by a single run!

Ben was presented the Outstanding Service to Cricket Award (OSCA) for his work with the Wiltshire Wallop league at the Wiltshire Cricket awards night in September. His initial idea, and love for cricket, has transformed into a high quality competition that has developed the game in Wiltshire and provided much fun, entertainment and opportunity for players in the county. He would love to see it continue to flourish, expand and grow and is looking at new ideas for the 2017 season in response to feedback from this season. Wiltshire Cricket would like to thank Ben for his enthusiasm, commitment and impressive organisation to run this competition, keep all teams updated and informed and are very proud to have a competition like this in the county.

If your club is interested in getting involved then please do get in touch with Ben – entry dates for the 2017 competition have been released now and interested clubs are requested to contact Ben by the 3rd March via email: [email protected]. For details on this year's competition visit the website

This is a competition that offers something for everybody. Make it a competition that you’re involved in next year. Now, will someone please book the weather….