Some speak of the future
My love speaks softly
She knows there’s no success like failure
And that failure’s no success at all
The above lyrics come from one of my favourite songs, Love Minus Zero by Bob Dylan. A few cricket writers have quoted Dylan in recent times, including George Dobell in his excellent article With Friends Like These: A Hundred Reasons Why The ECB Have Failed The Game. The late Bob Willis was a massive Dylan fan, and I would’ve loved to hear Grumpy Bob’s thoughts on the ECB’s new crackpot competition. He’d no doubt be coming in off his long run, eyes wide and furious.
Like many Dylan lyrics it’s not entirely clear what Mr Zimmerman was on about. Maybe it was the LSD? But somehow the final two lines above have always struck a chord with me. And the dichotomy between success and failure seems apt when discussing The Hundred. After all, what the ECB will see as success – if the Hundred has any success at all – will represent failure to many traditional cricket supporters.
Although we don’t yet know if The Hundred will transform cricket, we do know certain things for sure: it means the perpetual marginalisation of the county championship and the erosion of our traditional domestic structure – a county system which, when given room to breathe and prosper, recently produced the world’s number 1 test side, the first England team to win an Ashes series down under since 1986-87, not to mention T20 and 50 over World Cups. Indeed, the considerable potential of our existing domestic structure was demonstrated just last week when what amounted to an England third XI beat Pakistan in an ODI series. Good luck replicating the latter in the future. We’re no longer playing first team 50 over cricket in this country because of The Hundred. Just let that sink in for a second.
Basically, today is a very sad day. It’s the day the music died, both metaphorically and literally. Will we hear 10cc’s Dreadlock Holiday – a song both my young kids love by the way – at The Hundred? And what about Soul Limbo, the song we all loved at school when we were nippers? I fear these classics won’t be cool enough for the middle-aged men in suits. It’s supposed to be all rap and DJs from now on.
And then we come to the actual cricket (the bit that ostensibly matters). 5 ball overs? Two overs to be delivered consecutively at the same end? Mandatory one-minute breaks every two overs? Umpires holding up a white card to signify a over, which will actually be called ‘fives’? Captains having the option to give the same bowler two ‘fives’ in a row? Don’t pretend that The Hundred is simpler. It’s palpably more complicated. It’s innovation for innovation’s sake – probably so dull as dishwater administrators can pretend they’re all imaginative and revolutionary. In the words of former Surrey chief executive Richard Gould, “we always knew the new audience thing was b******t anyway”.
What’s my take on the new regulations? I reckon Harrison and Graves simply fell in love with The Hundred concept – a great opportunity to licence a new form of the game after the ECB incompetently forgot to trademark T20 back in 2003 – and then post-rationalised the actual practicalities later. They probably didn’t realise initially that one hundred isn’t actually divisible by six. Sorry guys, but The Arab’s Ninety-90 Bash actually makes a lot more sense. At least they didn’t have to reinvent cricket to make everything fit.
But the problem, of course, is that English cricket can’t afford for The Hundred to fail either. If it fails then English cricket still loses. So it’s heads, Tom Harrison wins and everyone else loses. Tails, everyone loses. Full stop.
Of course, the ECB will pretend that it’s been a roaring success whatever happens. Even if, as reported yesterday, they’ve had to give away most of the tickets for free. The Oval will apparently be just one third full for the opening game. And most of those won’t be paying customers. Well, you can’t say that just about every impartial cricket journalist out there didn’t warn you, Tom.
But even if The Hundred does somehow miraculously succeed, it won’t be because of the tournament’s concept. It will be because it’s had far more money thrown at it than any other competition in English cricket’s history. Just imagine if they’d invested all those millions in the T20 Blast, the one day cup, a Test series or, heaven forbid, the county championship?
Did you know that there was only one county fixture played on Sunday – one of the warmest days of the year at a weekend in mid-summer? The ECB claim that county cricket is dying but it’s not really a fair contest. They’ve let other forms of the game shrivel up and die whilst supplying the weed front of centre with copious quantities of Miracle Grow.
What grinds my gears most, however, is the ECB’s dishonesty throughout the implementation process. None of the ostensible justifications for The Hundred add up. Every single one of the so called innovations – the bright colours, the time outs, the rappers, the DJs, the overseas players (who aren’t coming now), a dedicated window for one competition, naming the teams after cities – could and should have been done with the already hugely popular T20 Blast. The latter two have even been tried before. Birmingham Bears, anyone?! No wonder the ECB have consistently failed to publish the research that supposedly justified the new competition.
The biggest lie of all, however, is the ECB’s insistence that The Hundred was needed to get cricket back on terrestrial television. This is the default line they always use when pressured to justify their vanity project. But it is, of course, an almighty whopper. It’s such a whopper, in fact, that I’m amazed that Burger King aren’t sponsoring the event. They would’ve fitted right in alongside KP snacks as primary sponsors of a competition aimed at kids in the middle of an obesity epidemic.
Everyone knows – or at least should know by now – that the BBC signed up to broadcast the new franchise competition when it was scheduled to be a T20. But that didn’t stop Harrison and Graves disingenuously presenting an alternative spin in front of the Department Of Media, Culture, and Sport last year. I still don’t know how they got away with it.
I don’t want to pretend that everything in the garden is rosy, though. No country’s domestic structure is perfect. When England win The Ashes, for example, the Australians sometimes complain that there are too few teams in the Sheffield Shield. The strength of the English system, they say, is that the numerous counties give more opportunities for talented players to break through and become professionals. Yet when Australia win, critics complain that the number of counties waters down the standard of our domestic cricket. “We’ve got to get rid of a few counties”, they say.
Whatever the merits of our 18-team system, however, it’s clear that cricket in the UK needs extra visibility. What I don’t agree with, obviously, is that The Hundred is the answer. Personally, I believe it’s as obvious as the sandpaper down Cameron Bancroft’s pants that English cricket’s participation and profile problems stem from the disappearance of live cricket from free-to-air television back in 2006.
It’s amazing how the likes of Flintoff, Pietersen, Botham and Gower are still known far more widely than Alastair Cook and Jimmy Anderson, despite the huge amount of caps the latter have won. But who took cricket off Channel 4 (and the BBC before that): the ECB. The Hundred is therefore a nonsensical, not to mention unnecessarily high-risk and hugely polarising solution to a problem that the ECB themselves caused. And yet the likes of Harrison are posing as innovative white knights riding to the rescue of a vulnerable princess that they themselves enslaved.
Whilst I could go on – would it be cathartic or simply raise my blood pressure? – there’s one more thing I’ll add to my critique of the new tournament’s implementation. We should never forget that the ECB shamelessly failed to consult the supporters (as well as the players, initially) when they devised their new scheme. In doing so, they failed to ask the very people who pay their wages through ticket purchases and Sky subscriptions. Instead we were treated as an irrelevance and an inconvenience. Never before has an organisation, even one as incompetent as the ECB, angered its core supporters so much.
I’ll leave the gnashing of teeth there, for a second. Instead, I’ll continue by simply telling you a heart-warming anecdote about my boy. Who I aptly named Dylan.
My lad is ten. He’s only just started playing cricket and he absolutely loves it. He still has improvements to make but he’s got a good eye and I think he could be a useful club player one day. Shall I let you into a secret? He’s never watched a game of cricket in his life. He refuses to watch it on TV with me – sadly he’d rather play on his PlayStation – but he was instantly hooked once he got a bat in his hand. He loves batting, bowling, and fielding. He just loves playing.
What this reminds me – and I wish I could shove this down the ECB’s throat – is that cricket is quite simply a brilliant game. Kids love it. Cricket doesn’t need rap music or bright colours. It’s brilliant on its own. And it doesn’t need gimmicks. In my opinion, therefore, The Hundred is barking up completely the wrong tree. It’s the ECB that has no faith in cricket as a product – not the public. They think kids don’t love cricket (and can’t love it) unless it’s dressed up as something else or comes with something appetising on the side. A bag of KP crisps, perhaps?
Basically, therefore, I believe that The Hundred has been founded on the back of a false assumption. And that’s the biggest tragedy of this farce. The very people who are supposed to be custodians of our game have the run it into the ground. But instead of blaming their own mistakes, and their own ineptitude, they’ve questioned their amazing product instead. And now they’re tearing a brilliant game, with over a hundred years of history behind it and a loyal fan base, apart.
So will I be watching The Hundred over the next few weeks? Nope. This blog won’t be covering it. I can’t write about games that I haven’t seen. And none of our other writers – thanks to you all – have expressed any desire to cover it, either. Instead, we’ll be doing our best to support county cricket whenever we can. We’ll also be talking about what really matters most: Test cricket. But first I have to make a confession.
You may have noticed that I’ve largely disappeared from this blog in recent times. Again, this is because I can’t write about games I haven’t seen. Cricket has been a massive part of my life for three decades but I’ve only watched two overs (by Ollie Robinson, no less) this entire summer. And this includes games on TV. Sadly, my fire for the game has completely gone out. I’ve been spending my time watching other sports like rugby, golf, and football instead.
How can I possibly commit such heresy? It’s because the ECB have left me completely numb. I can’t explain why but I think it’s because I’ve subconsciously recognised that the game is up. The Hundred has been the final straw.
I’ve disagreed with practically every major decision the ECB have made over the last decade: the aloof bungling of Kevin Pietersen’s sacking, the random headhunting of Ed Smith which stunk of the old boys’ network, the predictable appointment of the uninspiring Ashley Giles, the appointment of the inexperienced Chris Silverwood over Gary Kirsten (reportedly due to the former’s exemplary PowerPoint presentation), and then the decision to give Silverwood, a man who has picked a 5-man all seam attack with no spinner on multiple occasions, full power over selection even though he doesn’t have time to watch much county cricket. Oh, and then there’s the continued emphasis on white ball cricket at the expense of the championship, which has left our cupboard of test-class batsmen almost complete bare. Basically the ECB have completely worn me out.
Supporting the England Test team has never been easy. But now it’s almost impossible. And when I see the likes of Jos Buttler grinning in his Manchester Originals shirt, sponsored by McCoys (which has more calories than a Mars bar), I see anything but the real McCoy. I see plastic. I see greed. I see hubris. And I see a whole squad of cricketers that I cannot relate to and find increasingly difficult to support. It’s much easier to have sympathy for England’s underfunded opponents, who have been repeatedly stitched up at the ICC. And let’s not forget that the ECB, alongside the BCCI and the ACB, have been culpable in that, too.
And then there’s the broadcasters. I’ve met / interviewed quite a few of them. I’ve always liked Freddie Flintoff, for example, but I squirm when I see him advertising The Hundred on Sky ad nauseam. How could you do this to us, Fred? It’s funny how all the prominent advocates of The Hundred all have financial skin in the game. Do they really believe the ECB’s propaganda? I doubt it. Or maybe they just convince themselves that it’s all a great idea so they don’t have to live with inner conflict? I don’t know.
What I do know, however, is that it really doesn’t have to be this way. Michael Holding, who is the closest thing to a people’s champion in cricket right now, has always refused to commentate on T20 because he thinks it damages Test cricket. That’s Michael Holding. A man of principle. Where have English cricket’s principles gone?
As the ECB seeks out new supporters, it’s losing supporters like me – people who have loved the game for decades. I didn’t want to turn my back on cricket. It just happened. And I’m not sure when or if the passion will ever return. I guess even cricket’s biggest supporters can only take so much.
I continue to edit this blog only because I’ve always had massive affection for the game. But I loved what cricket used to be, not where the ECB are taking it.
My love she’s like some raven.
At my window with a broken wing.
I will be avoiding The Hundred. I will not watch it on TV or heaven forbid buy a ticket. It’s a complete betrayal of cricket. If cricket fans had shown the same passion as football fans who threw out the Super League The Hundred would be dead by now. But I shall boycott it. Maybe some kinds of failure are a success in the long term. Down with The Hundred!!!
Unfair to blame cricket fans. Football supporters are mightier in numbers, the club v country dynamic is very different and the football clubs left outside the proposed Super League have much greater financial heft. The government also piled in to make political capital. Counties, meanwhile, were ‘incentivised’ to support The Hundred ®.
Anyway, almost two years on, my feelings about The Hundred ®, or “20 fives” as it may soon be called to make it more relatable, remain unchanged. Thankfully, this blog gives us cricket fans a voice.
Was that poem written by a six year old?
“I’m an adult human being who is not happy about a new cricket competition. I know, I’ll write a clumsily rhyming poem…”
I think you may have missed the point 😂. No, the ‘poem’ wasn’t written by a six year old (or James for that matter…he’d be a rich man by now if it was 🤣)
Here here Jackie
I smell a rat hear (sic). A “playwright” and “teacher” who doesn’t know the difference between here and hear…
Nothing more sinister than that!
“Teacher” and “playwright “
Time to emigrate to New Zealand, my man :)
I agree totally about the 100 and that the ECB should have put this level of marketing behind the T20. But, James, rather than give up on cricket, why not support your local county in the RLC 50 over competition? Yes it’s being scheduled at a time when there will be plenty of alternatives to catch our attention (the Lions, the Olympics etc) but I’m looking forward to supporting the county teams without so many “stars”. And, as a Kent supporter who saw our squad cut by 17 players due to Covid and injury last week, I found the enjoyment not one iota reduced. Fingers crossed for continued good weather, and the RLC games could be amongst the most enjoyable of the season.
Hi Giles. I’m a Worcs fan exiled in Kent so it’s hard to go to games. I’ll always keep an eye on Worcs though. To be honest, I think I’ll put my energies into recreational cricket. I hope to play with my lad one day.
Agree on supporting the RLC. I sent a complaint to the BBC regarding their sport websites fixture lists which were clearly suppressing the RLC fixtures – pleased to see they have been restored now. However the beeb continue to heavily market the h******d at the expense of all other cricket and there is zero coverage of the RLC. The BBC is also culpable in this farce. Even Jimmy Anderson has been corrupted by it – shame on you Jimmy!
This sums up exactly why I feel so marginalised by the actions of the ECB. The Hundred – as you say, the product of the monumental egos of Graves and Harrison – was touted as a complete product and a half hearted assumption that any problems could be ‘sorted’ out later, presumably by some cack handed and over paid PR team. Smoke and mirrors from the time of Select Committee and still the ECB hasn’t learned. We are saddled with a competition which has been divisive and destructive and I’m tired of being called a middle class dinosaur (!) simply because I explain why I fear that it will survive, whatever the cost, and whatever collateral damage ensues.
Like you, I despair at much of the policy making going on at the ECB. A recent O and O independent study showed that most under 25s rated test and 50 over the most highly and believed that these should form the basis for further development. Instead, the 50 over competition is downgraded to the point of offensiveness and the test side is hamstrung by poor decision making, poor management of individuals and muddled thinking.
I’m so grateful for the story of your lad. Good on him. I really hope his love affair goes from strength to strength. I’m still hopelessly charmed by this game and your lad’s story gives me hope. I can’t say the same about those who pretend to care about the CC and that breaks my heart.
I am also disgusted by this new, stupid idea. The ECB is a disgrace to English cricket. After we were soundly beaten by NZ and this small country became champions, the difference between English and NZ cricket management was noticeable. NZ cricket is run by former NZ international cricketers. The ECB is not run by former English internationals. This says it all. The money invested in this ridiculous parody of a cricket tournament is breath-taking. Think of the difference it could have made to the county game. We already have three competitions: the County Championship; the Royal London Cup and the Vitality Blast. Is it sensible to add another one? As Surrey supporters, we can apparently go free to the Hundred games to sit in the pavilion and the other areas reserved for us. It breaks my heart to know that it will be too much effort to go to watch. It will not be watching cricket. The Vitality Blast is just about ok but this new one….batters???or batty…
As most of the comments on this blog will be running The Hundred into the ground I won’t add my comments to what I also believe is a waste of time. What I’d like to comment on is the recent 20-20 series against Pakistan, culminating a great match yesterday. The thing that made this match a great contest was the Old Trafford pitch. Never seen so many leggies operating in such a short space of time. Enough response in the pitch to make it an interesting contest between bat and ball. No short boundaries to either, so no miss hit 6’s. The much maligned Jason Roy was star of the show with an immaculate display of cross bat power and timing. Before you start having apoplexy at the use of ‘cross bat’ as a complementary term the ball was holding in the pitch and turning, so hitting straight was far more of a risk, as 5 of the top 7, including eventually Roy found out to their cost. There was no slogging, just the cold blooded manufacturing of shots to negate the spin and field settings. The science of batting was on display for everyone to see as Roy danced, swept and stroked his way to the best 50 I’ve seen in a 20-20 in a long time, virtually error free.
I feel sorry for anyone who can’t see the beauty and sheer unadulterated skills involved in this.
Why would I, a proud Lancastrian who is not from the Manchester area want to support a team called Manchester something or other captained by a player from another Country?
Oh for the days when we had the County Championship,the Sunday League ,the Gillette Cup ,no IPL and when the players chosen to play for England still played County cricket for their County.
Presumably you resent travelling to Greater Manchester to watch Lancashire or do you boycott games there and only go to outgrounds?
Just one thing James, about Michael Holding. Comes accross to me a a self righteous type who’s views happen to coincide with the woke fashion of the moment, the latest example of which Is the lobbying for wolf whistling to become a criminal offence, however you’re supposed to enforce that.
Has it occurred to his bijou brain that there are many cricketers out there who struggle to make an impact in the more taxing red ball but can do so to greater effect in white, hence the separate squads for the different formats. Jason Roy will clearly never make it a test cricketer but is a great white ball opener. Holding’s nonsense would negate that kind of achievement for many a cricketer to represent their country. I’m not saying the more formats the better, but clearly the 3 we have at the moment can co-exist comfortably.
Strange attack on Michael Holding, though I’m sure you know a lot more about cricket than he does so you must be right…
Dont start that one, it’s pathetic. As I said if you read the blog properly it’s my opinion, which I am entitled to as much as Holding. In saying he won’t commentate on 20-20 because it damages English cricket he’s operating his personal Prejudices against those players who are able to make more of a contribution in that format. We live in a free country and banning things because you don’t agree with them is not the way we operate, until the Woke brigade arrived of course.
Ok so If we live in a free country then Holding has every right to comment on whichever format he chooses.
Spot on John. And Michael Holding’s comments on cricket are made with considerably more knowledge and grace than many of the commenters who criticise him ‘below the line’…….
What you all seem to be implying is that because Holding is an ex player, despite the fact that he hung his boots up decades ago, since which time the game has changed out of all proportion, he is beyond criticism from ordinary punters. None of you have addressed any of the points I made, which again I stress is my opinion, not fact, just defended as an ‘honourable’ man the same person who was primarily responsible for that disgraceful bowling performance at Old Trafford against Close and Edrich. I suppose that’s beyond ny remit for criticism as well. Grow up.
Where did I ever say he didn’t have the right to say what he likes! Try reading what I’ve written before you comment on it.
I’m sure–or at least I hope–that you’re not so stupid that you think that only “woke” people ban things: you’ve probably heard of Adolf Hitler I imagine….or GB News! (What’s “woke” anyway? Less conservative than you are but only if you don’t agree with it? Aren’t you being a bit “woke” criticising a man who refuses to give in to any progressive cricketing fad going?)
What I suspect the posters who replied to you were also pointing out is that you’ve grafted a childish, discourteous (and completely unnecessary and, as pointed out above, hypocritical) ad hominem onto a perfectly reasonably piece of cricketing criticism.
You can, I hope, do better than that, both in terms of intelligence and respect.
I agree with every word, James. One aspect you don’t mention is women’s cricket. It’s not a form of the game I’m personally fond of, but the ECB has cross subsidised it to the tune of millions from the men’s game now, by effectively substituting this circus for T20 (and 50over) they are pulling the rug from under it. All of this under the gaze of Claire Connor who, naturally, has backed the ECB to the hilt throughout.
I can’t really comment on women’s cricket because, again, I don’t watch it. I’ve heard good things but I just don’t have the time. I think it’s good that the women are getting equal exposure in the advertising but I’ve also heard that abandoning the KSL will have negative consequences.
I agree, no problem at all with women playing. I won’t be watching either.
Unsurprisingly I won’t be watching. I also watched none of The Open (despite playing golf every week), won’t watch any of the Olympics, watched none of Wimbledon and watched one match in the Euros. I will probably watch the Lions but otherwise I’m just about done with elite sport, I find the whole thing revolting (although the governance is still fascinating to me). I’ll probably support a RLC match or two if I can – if those cricket authorities will let the likes of me into the ground and give them some money.
I saw Ebony Rainford- Brent declared a few days ago she’s been “converted” to The Hundred. Well, there’s a surprise. Gender and skin colour don’t matter – these people are corporate/establishment lackeys, It’s why they get these jobs and why they keep them. As for a “free media”, I’m reminded of the Gandhi quote about Western civilisation, that it would be a good idea.
I don’t dislike the players for playing it although I have no intention of watching it.
I am hoping there may be a live stream of some 50 0ver games in the Royal London Cup (which I think it is called now).
They already play T10 in places like UAE. Basically the 100 is 16 overs with stupid names for overs and wickets.
Why don’t they just get rid of the bat, pads, pitch and wickets entirely and start playing beach volleyball? A few people might watch that.
Martin Crowe also tried to launch a format called Cricket Max which fell by the wayside.
Do the ECB seriously think there is a market for four formats?
While I think you’re right about not needing 4 formats, Crowe’s Cricket Max predated t20 and effectively evolved into it once some of the gimmicks were removed.
There are really three format – multi innings, one day and then all the others such as T20, T10, T16.4 etc!
Wow. Not a lot to add. James and the rest of you have summed this up perfectly.
I’d put a piece on the Surrey Members HYS the other day, and I’ll repeat one part of it here: I can’t remember seeing so much hatred and venom directed to this degradation of a wonderful game, as I am witnessing through what are true cricket supporters. Even Packer and the SA ’80’s rebel tours didn’t cause this much raging anger. The 100 isn’t cricket it’s sewer shit and it HAS to fail because English Cricket has to be rebuilt starting with destruction of the ECB. Cricket can and has to take it. It’s been around long enough to survive the cretins who are trying to destroy it!
Nobody should buy tickets to hundred games. I won’t be watching it or looking at results. I really hope it’s a huge flop.
I will watch the Hundred, so that my opinions about it are based on whatever the opposite of prejudice is.
But it is hard not to escape the impression that the ECB truly, madly, deeply hate cricket, everything it stands for and everyone who watches it.
It seems the ECB have currently completely ignored everything else to do with cricket in this country.
My club have had to stop any more juniors joining from this week as we had too many compared to the amount of coaches. We have enough volunteers wanting to become coaches but there are no coaching courses being run and we can’t even get any answers as to when some might take place. Ironically we would be in violation of ECB policy by not having qualified coaches yet they won’t give us the facility to train them
As a person who was brought up watching 3 day county cricket during the school holidays I just can’t get my head around the lack of cricket that there will be during the day whilst the schools are off. Cricket at outgrounds during the school holidays used to be very popular. Now the ECB have targetted kids off school with the 100yet all the games are being held either in the evenings or the weekends – it just makes no sense
And like yourself it winds me up when people use the argument that its on free to air as it was the ECB who decided to take Sky’s money and take it off free to air. Similar to today’s announcement that England players will be available for the 1st couple of rounds. Of course they will be – its ECB’s baby
I’ ve had a look at the first game on BBC2. I can’t actually see the game or see what the score is as they have a load of giant unreadable graphics all over the screen – including the sides – that look like something off a Klingon spaceship.
For a game that was designed for TV the presentation was appalling. Two gigantic neon chevroned sidebars to display just two numbers, balls left and runs required. And everytime something happened the producers started cutting away from the action to show us endless close-ups of the players milling about. Have they not worked out that cricket spectators like to get an idea of the field placings and the flow of the game?
And the pairs of fives with the umpire waving his white card around? More confusion, so you had to keep checking the balls left to work out who was going to be on strike.
Otherwise there was no real difference between this and a T20 match, which I;ve actually quite enjoyed when strippped of all the razzamatazz.
The ECB need to get to grips with the idea that if cricket is going to survive people are going to have to want to watch…cricket.
Imagine Wimbledon with DJs and dancers and fireworks going off every time someone served an ace.
Don’t hold your horses, Mick. Watched a clip of Laver v. Ashe from ’69 and it was so simple. No endless ball bouncing, towelling, Hawkeye, time-clocks, endless TV cutting to players ‘boxes’. Give it 20 years, and they’ll have coaches on court and crowds making noise non-stop.
On the 100, spot on, James.
I watched it so I could have an informed opinion about the actual event.
On reflection, I thought the game was actually like lots of white ball / T20 stuff where two evenly matched teams gradually come down to facing a tight equation of runs needed in a certain number of balls.
In a way, other than the nuance of 5’s as opposed to 6’s and the fact that they didn’t rotate in the same way, it wasn’t that much different – a bit like a T20 match tampered with, which is what it is.
Other than Kaur, Kate Cross and the outstanding Manchester W/K, it did seem to be dominated by South African players who clearly, are outstanding cricketers. But there’s one of the issues: you call in overseas quality players but what about our local talent? If I had the choice, I’d rather no overseas players not loads of them.
Also, overall, that the cricket was okay (other than a few too many embarrassing long hops) should not be a surprise. All the players are professionals. That many in the crowd seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves, especially at the end, when the runs/ balls pressure creates almost a natural tension was real and okay but again, hardly a surprise.
We all know that cricket like this IS exciting and fun. Amongst other reasons, that is one that makes us love it. That was white ball cricket, not the format, as such.
But for me, the issue is still the hand grenade that the format has represented to the structures and schedules of the existing formats and a growing irritation as I was watching it, that all that money could have been spent marketing (advertising and promoting) both the T20 format and the KSL.
Also, I found myself getting increasingly pissed off with the BBC commentary team and the presenters spieling out the PR hype as if they were following the axiom, if you say something often enough, it must be true. Paint a picture by all means but stop ramming down our throats supposed proof that what the ECB have said were the aims have been delivered perfectly on the first night, especially where we know that many freebies were used.
It was all a bit Wimbledon-ish (especially 5-Live) where presenters feel the need not to be too serious and branch off into rambling nonsense about stuff other than the actual details of the sport they are covering. At one point, seeing as the graphics didn’t fit my TV screen and I had no idea if The Oval People were doing okay or not, I was wondering if Isa, etc would ever tell us what the equation was. Thankfully, they did it for the last 20 balls.
Quite simply a brilliant article, I’m 23 years-old and I also feel a deep sadness at The Hundred knowing that its success would probably destroy the club I love which is Somerset CCC.
Thank you for writing this.
Dude, this is such an embarrassing piece of writing. There’s not some big ECB conspiracy to take Worcestershire away from you. The fact is that there are huge numbers of cricket fans in this country for whom the county game means very little. The Hundred isn’t taking anything away from a county member. But it’s giving something new to the tons of people who need something different in order to go to a domestic game in this country.
You’re not losing out. You still have everything you always had. The Hundred is still cricket. Relax!
Cricket it’s not.
You’ve completely missed my point.
As soon as I read
“The Hundred isn’t taking anything away from a county member”
I knew there was no point in reading further !
There needs to be engagement with community initiatives, investment in spaces to play and school initiatives, and removal of the paywall.
Without these, you’ll never grow the game regardless of how much money you waste on this circus.
Common sense really.
Difficult to put into perspective last night’s “game”. Women’s cricket doesn’t really inpinge match on the mens. 7500 mostly giveaways. Watched 5 minutes to access the “crowd”. BBC and Sky pundits calling it thrilling, well they would. As yet no HYS on the Beeb for comment and it was impossible to vote up or down on the live thread last night. They are trying to block any criticism.
Oh what a shock – the Guardian’s post-match report tells its readers that there’s “nothing to fear” from The Hundred. There is the odd interesting admission – like commentary having obviously orchestrated ctach phrases – but mostly it’s the kind of ghastly faux whimsy that cricket seems particularly prone to.
Nothing to fear apart from a weakened Test and ODI side, the cannibalising of existing formats, and the disappearance of the ECB reserves unnecessarily.
One of the sad things for me is the number of players and ex-players, both male and female, for whom I had respect as individuals as well as cricketers, simply churning out the ECB’s narrative unaltered, often in complete contradiction of what they have previously said. It is so phoney.
I took my daughter and son last night as they are young and i want them to get into cricket. It was a lovely introduction to a live cricket match for them but i don’t understand how this couldnt be done via the T20 blast comp. In all honestly a plus point was for the pair of them it was a total of a fiver to get in and only £12 each for me and my wife. Being able to take 4 of us to a match for less than £30 is great. Although that is where the good value ended as it would have cost £160 for them to get a top and cap each. Crazy. It was certainly a different environment off the pitch though with more being done in the stands to almost distract from the action on the pitch. Whether this is sustainable long term i have serious doubts about. It just all felt it could become rather tiresome after a few games. We shall see i guess. Just wish the money could have gone to the existing counties to create even more of a spectacle than they normally do.
I’ve been quite sad reading many of the anti-Hundred comments. Simon Hefter in today’s Telegraph made a comment about folk who will enjoy having a ‘low mental age’ – a quite unnecessary and frankly disgraceful comment. I missed last night’s game so don’t know yet if I will enjoy it or not. But, hey, I will give it a chance. If we had had social media back in the 70s I suspect many of the same comments would have been made when the John Player League was launched – which is how many of us of a certain age got hooked on cricket (Sunday afternoons at Old Trafford for me). All I am saying is…..give The Hundred a chance!
If it was simply a new competition with good intentions that was trying to attract a new audience then I would certainly give it a chance. But one can’t ignore the serious collateral damage it will do. There were so many other cheaper, less risky, less polarising, and less damaging options. But ego, greed, and politics got in the way. That’s why so many cricket supporters are angry and disillusioned. We are not against change or evolution at all. It’s the way it’s being done.
I quite agree, James. And I find it sad that even the likes of Nasser is now prepared to take the shilling whilst, no doubt, bemoaning in future the fact that we can’t produce Test cricketers. This is not just about whether or not you like a new cricketing format. It’s about the damage you’re doing to the game. Your phrase ‘collatéral damage’ is most apposite.
…or what Lizzie Ammon referred to as the “bullying and lies”.
Summing up Harrison is the Beeching of cricket. For Grocer Graves it made sense to restack the shelves.
Some points about TV: the ECB only have a short-term deal so the crucial moment is going to come when it’s the selling of the rights over the next four year cycle; the BBC has had a change of chief executive and that Hall bloke who seemed oddly keen on The Hundred has gone; only about 20% of the games have FTA coverage; Simon Wilde has apparently written that TV commentators were being coached not to mention players from the past.
At last the Beeb have opened an HYS, and it’s getting slaughtered. You know something’s badly wrong when T20 fans slam it. Indeed it actually makes T20 look appealing again!
Didn’t see hardly any of the mystery “new” audience. Plenty of boozers who have missed going to the Blast and haven’t a clue whose even playing.
Now if only the ECB had patented the T20 again, they could milk this glorious abject failure of a format – by not playing it.
I hope for victory margins of 99 balls in this Hundred, then the ECB will come up with “The One”. That is how much I loathe the concept. .
I have no interest in it, and other than the occasional up-and comer (who then can’t get a work permit, see Lamichhane), it is mostly international has beens who are the supposed “creme de la creme”. In short not anything / anyone more exciting than what the PSL / CPL offer.
By the way, how was the five rate (since it is not overs anymore)?
Another MSM journo declares his love – “even the most cynical among us would surely have to conclude that, for all The Hundred’s ills, it is certainly not boring.”
No, Liew, the first two games of a new format are not going to be boring. The first two games of a new format are not going to be boring. It’s shallow – and it will become boring very quickly. That’s a subtly different thing but your pay check depends on you not seeing it.
The first articles on the genius of the ECB can’t be far off.
The Hundred is the latest iteration of the game, which is getting shorter and shorter and more like baseball with every year that passes. We took in a baseball match when we were in the States a year or so back. My youngest lad said to me that he hated it because there is no defensive phase. It is literally all out attack from minute one. As such it is utterly boring. Baseball has never prospered over here. The Hundred will die on its backside for the same reason.
Teacher, playwright, tutor
The Hundred = baseball.
Baseball = rubbish
End of argument
Its not cricket as we know it…
To be honest with you The Hundred is the most hideous cricket format at present, the cricket kits are atrocious the scoreboard is too bright and distracting the sooner The Hundred goes the better, give me test cricket any day of the week its a far better format.
Couldn’t agree with you more Selim!