Hundred Ticketing Farce. Well, What Did You Expect?

First we had Andrew Stauss’s tactless ‘mums and kids’ comment. Then we had Tom Harrison’s ill-advised and rather defensive claim that The Hundred wasn’t for existing cricket fans. Soon afterwards we had that laughable launch ad with a picture of an all-male audience of twenty-somethings at an American rap concert.

And then we had the completely avoidable controversy over the ECB’s decision to make KP snacks the official sponsor. Only the ECB could think it’s a good idea to make a producer of high-sugar and high-salt foods the primary sponsor of a tournament aimed at kids in the midst of an obesity crisis. The decision was so bad that the respective snack logos will no longer appear on kids replica shirts. Talk about embarrassing.

Oh, and did I mention that CA confirmed this week that Australia players will miss at least half The Hundred too? So no India or Australia players, and hardly any England players either. So much for the greatest show on turf.

However, just when we thought the ECB couldn’t make even bigger arses of themselves, the ECB have gone and made even bigger arses of themselves. Today was the day that tickets for the Hundred went on priority sale. So guess what’s happened? The ticket-buying facility on the site immediately crashed. You couldn’t make it up.

If you’re one of the people out there who don’t particularly care that The Hundred will push the county championship to the fringes of the season in perpetuity, damage the England Test team, degrade domestic 50 over cricket, and generally create a giant immovable object in the middle of an already congested calendar – presumably because you’re convinced that ECB ‘research’ (that they refuse to publish) makes a compelling case for it – then you were probably looking forward to buying your tickets today.

It’s a shame, therefore, that many supporters were greeted with the message below instead:

This message is hilarious for two reasons. Firstly, the ECB have spent £hundreds of thousands on marketing this event – money existing supporters paid for in Test tickets and / or Sky subscriptions by the way – so it takes a special blend of ineptitude to cock up the ticket processing system when your brand new audience does occasionally respond to your flaccid call to action.

Secondly, the idea that ‘too many’ people want to buy tickets for the Hundred is the biggest overstatement since the BBC declared Eldorado high quality drama. Colin Graves himself has said he’s expecting stadiums to be 60% full, so the idea that people are clamouring to attend like over-excited teenage girls scrambling for precious Justin Bieber tickets (apparently he’s some kind of pop star) is farcical.

The likeliest scenario – especially given previous cock ups – is that the ECB have not been overwhelmed by applications; they’ve simply installed an inadequate e-commerce system which doesn’t work. I feel a little sorry for the IT guys, as apparently stuff like this is hard to test in advance, but it’s still absolutely typical considering everything that’s come before.

What’s worse is that would-be purchasers were apparently exposed to an additional level of stress when they did eventually get through. As the screenshot below from Twitter shows, some ‘cricket fans’ had very little time to get their order posted.

I hope you had your credit card immediately at hand guys, because if you can’t type fast enough you’ll lose those precious Cardiff Crashers versus Southern Setbacks tickets faster than you can say ‘piss up in a brewery’.

But there is some good news to come from all this. The Hundred is indeed proving to be a mechanism whereby people of all faiths and incomes can purchase tickets in a cost-effective manner. This has got to be good for growing the game, right?

Apparently tickets were either free or just £5 when they went on sale to county members a few weeks back. And these new ‘priority’ tickets – i.e. tickets for those who make pressing ‘refresh’ on their browser every ten seconds a priority in life – can cost as little as £26 for a family of four.

It’s a shame the ECB couldn’t have subsidised tickets this way for other competitions with far less confusing rules in the past. The T20 Blast maybe? Or perhaps even England games that haven’t sold out?

But no. The truth is they only do it for competitions that are so unpopular, and so despised by existing cricket fans, that they basically have to give the things away to fill the grounds just 60%.

And then they claim it’s all part of some benevolent initiative rather than simply admitting that they’re desperate.

James Morgan


  • One other potential problem for the 16.66 is that Tony Hall, the BBC head curiously keen on the idea, has announced he’s going. I don’t know how long the BBC are committed to showing FTA cricket but it’s a reasonable surmise that any new BBC head may not be so enthusiastic.

    That’s if this is a problem. Maybe the ECB has always wanted the FTA argument to get the 16.66’s foot in the door and they’ll be perfectly happy if it disappears off on to Sky, Facebook or whoever as soon as possible.

    Anyway, Graves will be running the ICC by then so what does he care?

  • As someone heavily involved in grassroots cricket it appears that every link to any cricket related website especially play cricket, Surrey championship . I get a banner on the hundred . To date I have received 5 individual emails on priority tickets.

    I have no interest in this competition and dislike the divisive way it has tried to turn older/ existing supporters of the game with the new casual spectator.

    Winning the World Cup seems a million years ago now certainly a lost opportunity..

    We have a very good product in the blast and we are the world champions at 50 over cricket yet this miss mass of a competition has limited appeal despite the substantial marketing budget.

    • I’ve just been reading an article on the “Independent” website about the financial imbalance in football. Admittedly, it was a VERY long article, but I suddenly realised there seemed to be a lot of adverts for Harrison’s baby. So I went back to the top and counted them. 36. THIRTY-BLOODY-SIX!

      You can’t say the ECB isn’t trying!

      • That is just 64 short of an advert per ball.

        What is next? The PTV (that is a Pakistani broadcaster) model, where the adverts get interrupted by the occasional cricket ball being bowled? That will make for an exciting product …

  • Well, to be honest, did the ECB expect more than 5 applicants per 5 minutes?
    Even allowing those new ‘customers’ made up of Women and Kids a time-out to be in it…
    Hell, had they even thought of these fresh followers knowing where the grounds are?
    Or if they’re close to a Waitrose and an overpriced, with Costa, health spa.. :).

    • I had not thought that even the ECB could surpass Boris’ misunderstanding of getting in the Eton grass when offered a big ben bong ……. but it seems I was wrong.

  • Ha Ha! Well you can make it up as it’s the ECB. James, or anyone: do we know how many tickets have been sold to county members? I ask because as a Surrey member it must be a small item on the web site as I’ve not seen it. Although some Surrey membership categories are including it “free” as some sort of carrot. Reaction on Surrey threads suggests many members do not wish to be associated with it.

    • I’d have thought the counties would prefer their members to watch the remaining players (not involved in the Hundred) play in the devalued 50 over competition at the out-grounds.

  • Stuff like this is not hard to test in the slightest. I work for IT at major online retailer. We carry out major volume/performance tests against the website to mimic Black Friday and Christmas traffic. All online retailers and any organisation with an ounce of competence do this. That rules out the ECB.

  • “So, Mr Harrison, how exactly did you contrive to end up with a bullet in each foot?”

  • At my old company we used to refer to the IT department as ‘Care in the Community’ – but in this case I suspect they are the lesser offenders after the idiots in charge. And as for it not being aimed at existing cricket fans; why then was I forced to delete a spam email inviting me to get my priority tickets? I have better things to do than waste time clearing Graves Garbage from my computer.

  • Wrong, wrong, wrong. What makes the IPL and Big Bash the successes they are are 2 things; their weather and the number of teams. Having just the 8 (opposed to the Blast’s 18) means that you get to televise one game at a time. The TV stations love it so the league flourishes.

    Concocting some halfway-house to overcome the shortcomings of too many teams playing in too short a weather-window will only result in something half as good.

    The Blast’s shortcomings are no different to the County Championship’s; too many teams, chasing a near-finite amount of support.

    Reduce the number of teams = better squad strengths = improved standards of cricket = IPL/BB success (weather permitting).

    Change the maths not the format.

    • The Big Bash is currently going through a crisis with attendances well down. Meanwhile the T20 Blast is more popular than ever with record attendances. Just saying.

  • Never feel sorry for IT guys James, they are amongst the most arrogant species on the planet, all believing no society worth shit can live without them. They are a symptom of an age that worships the ground technology walks on. I am no Luddite, but new cannot be translated generically as better. The main reason for this is the new boys believe they have all the answers, though in practice their Ignorance is exposed regularly as there is no effective regulation on their training and development.
    I still say that the best approach to the dreaded Hundred is to let it shoot itself in the foot. That is the best way to rid the game of the Harrison’s and Graves of this world. Wait until their scheme is proved to be as hare-brained as most existing cricket fans believe, which will take a while, as every effort will be made to promote a positive slant to the whole idea, supported at least initially by the corporate suits at Sky. Once the public start to lose interest the media will gradually drop their prioritising of it and the ECB will be forced to reconsider their investment in it. Criticising it beforehand may give a certain sadistic pleasure but will have no effect on the organiser’s ability to bury their collective heads in the sand with impunity. The the ‘I told you so’ side of the argument can be more effectively brought to bear.

    • Agree entirely Marc. I think it’s already started shooting itself in the foot before it’s even started with one calamity after the next as James points out.The latest, which you may know, is that at least half of the International signings particularly Australia, will not be available for around half of the games. because of a number of changes to more important International commitments. This could mean grabbing more county players from the One Day Cup of course to fill the gaps.

      I hope all County members will be going to the RLODC even though it’s downgraded somewhat and largely on out grounds. In saying that Surrey have 3 home games at the Oval, 2 on a Sunday as well. But the ECB doesn’t like Surrey much of course, but do I care!


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