1963: The Gillette Cup is launched
Like sex (according to Philip Larkin, at least) one-day cricket, in the manner in which we now know it, began in 1963. The year before, a pilot competition - the four-team Midlands Knock-Out Cup - had attracted some attention, but now all the counties were involved. In a 65-over-a-side knockout format (just imagine: 130 overs a day) was born the great-great-grandfather of all the World Cups, Premier Leagues and Big Bashes we see today.
So too, simultaneously, came the notion that county cricket could attract sponsorship. The story has it that those from Gillette charged with negotiating a deal arrived at their meeting at Lord's with a substantial figure in mind, and departed having apparently financed the competition from the petty-cash box.
But it was a beginning. Crowds flocked to the matches, ponderous though the first format was, and the Lord's final was established as the county game's day out. Such success spawned new competitions: the Gillette (still the name many think of when speaking of county one-day cricket) was reduced to 60 overs a side; then came the 40-over John Player League, the 55-over Benson and Hedges Cup, and finally Twenty20. The genie was out of the bottle. MIKE SELVEY
From Wisden 1964: The Knock-Out Cup
The new Knock-Out competition aroused enormous interest. Very large crowds, especially in the later rounds, flocked to the matches and 25,000 spectators watched the final at Lord's, where Sussex narrowly defeated Worcestershire by 14 runs in a thoroughly exciting match. It says much for the type of cricket that tremendous feeling was stirred up among the spectators as well as the cricketers, with numerous ties being decided in the closest fashion. At Lord's, supporters wore favours, and banners were also in evidence, the whole scene resembling an Association Football Cup Final more than the game of cricket, and many thousands invaded the pitch at the finish to cheer Dexter, the Sussex captain, as he received the Gillette Trophy from the MCC President, Lord Nugent.
There were two points which invite criticism. Firstly, the majority of counties were loath to include even one slow bowler in their sides and relied mainly on pace; and secondly the placing of the entire field around the boundary to prevent rapid scoring - Dexter used this tactic in the final - became fairly common. The success of the spinners at Lord's may have exploded the first theory.
There is no doubt that, provided the competition is conducted wisely, it will attract great support in the future and benefit the game accordingly.