Last year I wrote about The Hundred. And I said then that while the games I had watched had been extremely entertaining to watch, I still had some reservations. Well, from a sporting and entertainment point of view I am won over. This is an exceptionally exciting form of cricket. The marketing is absolutely right. Every ball counts. The batter has to be looking to score off of every ball, the bowler has to look to at least limit the batter’s ability to score. Because of the shortened innings, the batter will more than likely look to hit a ball that they would normally leave in a longer form of the game. If you can get your fielders in the right position to capitalise on that need to attack, you can not only limit the run rate but take wickets. It is essentially the game that cricket has always been with the added pressure of time running out. I’m not sure if the toss actually matters in a Hundred game. Both sides have to attack with the bat. I suppose the only thing to consider is that if you bat second, you know what you’re chasing. And if you bowl first and have confidence in your attack, you can limit their scoring and put yourself in the best position to win the match. But on the flip side, the captain may feel that their batters are better at setting a score and the bowlers are capable of defending it. Conditions always play a part in any cricket game, but in such a short format, attack will usually win out in a captain’s mindset, whether it be attack with the bat or attack with the ball.
Test cricket is still my favourite form of the game. I love the ebbs and flows of a five-day test match, and the great moments that it has given us. But The Hundred takes all of that and condenses it into a far easier package to digest. For those who think a test match is far too long or those who are new to cricket, The Hundred is a wonderful entry point for them. Instead of going to watch a full day’s play which for a lot of the paying crowd means taking a day off work. Whereas a game in the Hundred is about the same length of time as a football or rugby match. There may be some out there who like the game of cricket at its fundamentals, but don’t like the length of the game in any of its current formats. It is rather unusual for a sport not to have a tie limit measured in hours or minutes. A game of football is over after 90 minutes, rugby is over in 80 minutes. Even a Formula One race has a time limit. A race cannot exceed two hours in length. In fact, most motorsports have time limits on them. As far as I know, cricket and golf are the only sports that can last days. So having a format of the game that can be enjoyed by a wide audience in just few hours was probably at the forefront of the minds of the team that came up with the concept of The Hundred. Most games have a start time of about 6.30 in the evening as well, which means many are able to get to the ground after their work day ends and can get home at a not ridiculous hour.
I still don’t like the franchise element of The Hundred. I just much prefer clubs have developed organically. But I suppose that isn’t possible in a new competition that the ECB are trying to raise the profile of. But if it had been possible to get the counties on side, I would have far preferred that to some amorphous teams loosely based on their geographical location. But overall, The Hundred has completely won me over. It’s exciting, full of quality and is introducing more and more people to cricket. And that is brilliant.