Ah Twitter. It’s so much fun. And by fun I mean exhausting, exasperating, and frustrating. If only I had a quid for every muppet who told me that The Hundred is absolutely necessary to get cricket back on terrestrial television. Well, I guess there’s no point arguing with the misinformed and the downright naive.
However if, like me, you’re a glutton for punishment, here’s a ‘fun’ exercise for you. The next time you engage with someone who laps up ECB spin like a parched labrador tucking into his water bowl on a sunny day, ask them why – specifically – it was necessary to invent a fourth form of the game.
One of two things will happen at this point – either (a) they’ll call you a cantankerous stick in the mud, or (b) they’ll answer a different question. The most common responses I receive involve the words ‘creating something exciting and new’ and ‘reaching a new audience’. It’s like you’re arguing with Tom Harrison himself.
Once you pin them down, and make it clear that these objectives could have been achieved via a franchise T20 competition – which was, after all, what the BBC originally signed up for – then they usually try to change the subject. They’ll say things like ‘the best players in the world all playing on our shores in a window’ or ‘the games will be higher quality than The Blast’.
However, it’s key that you don’t let them off the hook. Explain that The Blast itself used to be played in a specific window (and could be again if anyone really wanted it to be) and keep bringing discussion back to the 100-ball format. Ask them what, specifically, the 100-ball format has going for it.
At this point your opponent (for want of a better word) will probably start spouting more Harrison fallacies. They’ll say ‘it’s shorter’ – in which case point out that T10 is already a thing in some parts of the world. And then they’ll say ‘it’s easier to understand’ – which is probably my favourite (or should that be least favourite) pile of moronic drivel surrounding the whole debate.
In what way is bowling two 5-ball overs, with each over delivered by a different bowler (although occasionally one bowler will bowl both of them), before the players change ends simpler than the status quo?
In normal cricket – try using the phrase ‘proper cricket’ if you really want to wind a Hundred advocate up – the same bowler bowls 6-balls and then they change end, every time, with absolutely no frills. Only a complete imbecile could think the former is easier to follow.
I’ve had this debate many, many times on social media – I should probably get a life really – and it usually ends up the same way. Said ECB acolyte will get defensive and say “the ECB spent a fortune researching this, they say a 100-ball format is better, and they know more than us”. In which case there’s only one response an intelligent person can make:
“Why don’t they publish the bloody research then?!!!!”
Anyway, I digress. Today I want to talk about two things, the first of which is very serious but also difficult to take seriously at the same time. We heard yesterday that England’s players (who arrived in Sri Lanka yesterday) will not shake hands with either the opposition or themselves during the upcoming matches. Instead they’re going for what’s commonly known as the ‘fist-pump’.
Whilst it’s probably prudent to take precautions in light of the coronavirus, one wonders how effective this technique will be. After all, the fielding side will presumably still gob on the ball liberally, rub it on their crotch, and then pass it around amongst themselves as it gradually makes its way back to the bowler every delivery.
I can’t think of a single vocation in which licking one’s fingers (and then applying saliva to a specific object) is more prevalent than in professional cricket. I imagine there are still some people, somewhere in the world, who might be paid to lick and seal envelopes, but even they won’t be applying spit to a shared envelope and then passing it around the office.
What’s more, one wonders where the precautions will end. Should they ban the high five too – just in case?! I can picture the scene now. Stuart Broad takes a wicket, runs jubilantly towards the slips with his arms raised, and they all turn their backs and flee for their lives.
And what about the batsmen? It’s bloody hot in Sri Lanka especially under those helmets. In fact, its normal to see batters removing their helmets to give their heads a breather every other over. When they do this what looks like at least a pint of sweat runs down their faces and onto the turf. Try sorting that one out without rubbing your eyes! Our cricketers have got no chance. Poor sods.
The final thing I wanted to talk about today was the ECB’s decision to award equal prize money for the men and women’s Hundred. This is obviously a response to the criticism they got last year when the wages for the ill-conceived tournament were announced – male players are set to earn £30,000 to £125,000 whereas the women get just £3,600 to £15,000.
It’s kind of amusing watching the ECB squirm over this one. One can see their initial thought process: the men’s game will attract bigger crowds, a bigger TV audience, and bigger sponsorship and advertising revenue, so they probably thought “sod it, the men deserve to be paid more”.
The problem, of course, is that nobody lets you get away with this type of approach anymore. Consequently they’ve ended up in a situation where they look reactionary and have to make glib claims like “this is a step towards the ECB’s long-term commitment to making cricket a gender-balanced sport”.
It’s so easy pick holes in this kind of statement. After all, if the ECB were so committed to gender equality then they wouldn’t have decided less than a year ago to pay the highest paid woman half of what the lowest paid man makes!
What’s more, one can’t help but be amused when England captain Heather Knight is trotted out to say all the right things:
“This is a great announcement for women’s sport. Women’s professional cricket is on an exciting journey and whilst, there is still a way to go to realise gender parity, this move from the Hundred is a significant step in the right direction. We’re all really excited about playing in the new competition and hopefully inspiring more young girls and boys to pick up a bat and ball …
It’s just a massive shame that the new tournament isn’t a T20. We don’t play 100-ball cricket at international level so we’re not sure how this will help our England girls. I mean, the bastards even cancelled the T20 Kia Super League to make room for this bollocks. So now we won’t play any professional or semi-professional T20 cricket at domestic level going forwards. And they bloody announce all this in the middle of the T20 World Cup! I mean come on.”
Obviously I made the second paragraph up. But we know what you really think, Hev ;-)