I’ve really enjoyed the Hundred so far. I was one of those who were very unsure whether we needed another format of the game. The people running sports are always wondering about how to attract new and preferably younger fans to the sport, that was one of many reasons why the bigwigs at the twelve Super League clubs were pursuing their own league. This new competition does have the backing of the England Cricket Board, rather than teams trying to run off and make their own competition up, which is slightly better I suppose.
A reason for this new competition was the ECB wanting to compete with the popularity of the Indian Premier League and the Australian Big Bash League. Both are highly successful domestic cricket leagues that attract the world’s best players. The ECB was hoping to do the same with a new competition. But while both the IPL and the BBL are T20 leagues, The ECB already has a T20 in place that the counties take part in. It has attracted a number of star players, usually those who have signed on with the various counties. Realising their T20 league wasn’t as attractive as its competition, the ECB hoped to kill two birds with one stone. Attract new and younger fans to the game of cricket and bring over the world’s best players to increase the reputation of English domestic cricket, kind of like how we saw the influx of foreign talent into the Premier League in the 90s and 2000s. That influx improved the league and made it far more attractive both for fans to watch and players to play in. It doesn’t hurt that Premier League clubs are usually able to pay high wages almost across the board. The ECB may well be hoping that the Hundred does something similar.
The best aspect of this tournament for me is that the men’s and women’s games are being run concurrently and the prize money is equal between the competitions. It is a wonderful step forward to achieving equal pay in sports. The issue of base pay still needs to be addressed but this is a good first step. As well as the issue of pay, this tournament has been able to shine a really positive light on the women’s game of cricket. It has really highlighted the quality of the players and has offered up matches that have been just as good and just as exciting as the men’s matches. Which is another positive for the Hundred as a concept. It is a form of cricket that can be played in just over a couple of hours, and compete with sports like football and rugby for viewers. The games have often culminated in very exciting finishes, which have been great to watch. The further limit on the length of the innings means that, as the marketing says, every ball counts.
There are a couple of things that I’m not sure about though. I don’t like the idea of franchise sports, or drafts and auctions. I don’t see why they couldn’t have linked it to the counties rather than more general, almost anonymous, teams linked to cities. I know that some counties were not keen on the idea and that may be why they didn’t link it with the counties. They may well have wanted to include an auction or draft and linking the competition to the counties would have gone against that if they could simply use the players who were already under contract with them. Not to mention that I watched the third day of the Test Match against India and I still found it more entertaining than the Hundred.