I really, really wanted to give The Hundred draft a chance. I really did. Oh who am I kidding? I hated the idea from the start. It’s almost impossible to like the idea. It’s like forcing yourself to be objective about genital herpes. Not. Gonna. Happen.
However, my initial doubts concerning this tawdry and quite ridiculous competition seem increasingly prophetic every day. My stomach turns every time additional details reach the public domain. The latest concerns the player draft they’re holding on October 3rd. No wonder so many people oppose the concept.
Now I’m not against drafts per se. I love the NFL draft. It’s the process by which the best up and coming players from college football are allocated to professional franchises. The team with the worst record from the previous season gets to pick first, and the reigning Super Bowl champions pick last. It’s a simple concept.
The Hundred Draft, on the other hand, is completely different. And it doesn’t half seem complicated (a bit like the playing regulations themselves). So much for making cricket simpler.
So how’s it going to work? I’d like to tell you in detail but I got half way through reading this Cricinfo summary and suddenly lost the will to live. However, I did manage to glean that England players will be allocated first.
Each terribly named franchise – I still think “Trent Rockets’ is possibly the lamest name in the history of sports – can pick one England player from their ‘catchment area’ i.e. the counties who make up that region; so the Leeds Super Dooper Chargers (or whatever they’re called) could choose any player from Yorkshire or Durham i.e. Stokes, Root or Bairstow.
If there isn’t an England player in a particular area – for example I’m struggling to think of one that the Southampton Softies (or whatever they’re called) could pick – then they can choose an England player ignored earlier in the process. For example, if Leeds chose Root then Stokes or Bairstow would be available to the Softies. Lucky them!
Now if you thought the above involved a lot of fuss over players who’ll only play a couple of games anyway (because they’ll mainly be playing test cricket during the window), then wait until you cop a load of this. The ECB may also allocate ‘non-playing players’ to certain franchises to serve marketing roles.
That’s right folks. Players who don’t normally play much short form cricket (like Jimmy Anderson) will be rolled out to smile politely, wave to the crowds, sign a few autographs, kiss a few babies, and then make a sharp exit. How lovely for everyone concerned.
The next stage in this joyous and not at all convoluted process involves franchises reserving up to two ‘local icons’. A local icon could be any player who currently plays for a county in a particular catchment area. One assumes this might be a folk hero who isn’t quite good enough to play for England e.g. Peter Trego.
Although this seems like a good idea on the surface – after all, it might help fan engagement if there’s a known quantity on a franchise’s books – the ECB seem to have forgotten that this competition isn’t for existing cricket fans. It’s for people who don’t currently like cricket. Therefore the uninitiated will have no idea who the hell Peter Trego is anyway. So what exactly is the point of this aspect of The Hundred draft?
Finally, the ECB have decided that each team will be permitted three overseas players. Personally I’m surprised by this. I thought they might allow unlimited overseas players based on who they’ve selected as coaches for the tournament. That’s right folks, all eight tasteless teams have appointed foreign coaches:
Leeds: Darren Lehmann
Cardiff: Gary Kirsten
Birmingham: Andrew Ronald McDonald
London A: Shane Warne
London B: Tom Moody
Manchester: Simon Katich
Nottingham: Stephen Fleming
Softies: Mahela Jayawardene
I’m afraid that each and every one of these coaches has gone down in my estimation since signing on the dotted line. I don’t begrudge them earning a buck but some of them have acted particularly shamelessly. Take Warney, for example.
When The Hundred was announced Warne seemed quick to criticise the new format. And yet suddenly, after a big bag of banknotes was waved under his eyes, he’s now all in favour.
August 2018: “I’m not sure I’m a fan of ‘The 100’ … we’ve got three formats that work really well and you don’t need to confuse spectators with any more.”
August 2019: “I love the concept of The Hundred and it has grabbed my attention in the same way the IPL did”.
I’m also somewhat riled by the inclusion of Darren Lehmann. This is the coach who was in charge of Australia during the sandpaper ball tampering affair. He was also the man who hoped Australian crowds would make Stuart Broad cry in 2015. And of course, let’s not forget Lehmann’s racial slur against Sri Lankan players back in 2003.
It’s one thing for the ECB to hand out lucrative contracts to overseas coaches whilst ignoring every single English coach; it’s quite another to hand them out to a pantomime (or actual) villain like Lehmann.
And don’t forget folks, it’s us – the supporters who buy match tickets, pay our licence fees, and fork out for our Sky Sports subscriptions – who are essentially paying for this car crash.
Right. I’m off to lie down in a darkened room. If you’d like to read more about The Hundred draft just Google “stupidest competitions in cricket”. You won’t be surprised what comes top of the search results.
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