Those Hundred Uniforms: Say Hula To Horror

Poor Chris Woakes and Jason Roy. You’ve got to jump through all kinds of ‘hoops’ to earn your £125,000 from The Hundred these days. And then there’s the poorest sod of them all, Jofra Archer. Have you got any idea how embarrassing it is for an England cricketer to wear a ‘Pom Bears’ uniform? Well, I suppose the Aussies would argue he’s not a proper Pom anyway.

In case you’ve been living under a rock – not a bad idea come to think of it – the ECB had a draft event for The Hundred yesterday and we got to see the players’ shiny new uniforms for the first time. Although to call them ‘shiny’ is a bit like calling Mount Everest ‘tall’. They’re so bright they could light up a whole city for a week.

Jason Roy looked particularly daft in his puke green shirt. He looked like a mini Kevin Pietersen from his Melbourne Stars days. Even his shirt seemed to get the joke. Oval Invincibles are sponsored by KP.

It was quite funny seeing these ‘pros’ (which might be short for a couple of things) adorned in their fancy dress costumes. It was even funnier hearing them try to promote the new tournament when it was blatantly clear they had no idea how the Hundred actually works.

Here’s what Jason Roy had to say: “I think you go out there with the same intent, especially as an opening batsman … but, if I’m honest with you, I don’t particularly know the exact format of how it works, bowlers from one end and so on, I need to learn a bit more about that, and then just find a way of adapting to it.”

And here are Sam Curran’s pearls of wisdom: “I’ve heard a few rules about 10-ball overs, or something like that, so I think that will be interesting in terms of tactics. Do you keep bowling the same bowler?”

Maybe if the players actually stopped to look at the rules, and perhaps looked past the enormous pay packets they’ll receive for 5 weeks of the easiest work imaginable, then they’d realise why Harrison’s Harebrained Have A Hit is so controversial and loathed by 99% of cricket supporters – you know, the people who ultimately pay their wages in the form of Sky Sports subscriptions and BBC licence fees.

Now I don’t blame the players for taking the money – I admitted I’d do the same earlier this week – but it would be nice if they had the decency to understand the nitty gritty before promoting the damn thing. Although, to be fair, I think it’s pretty obvious that they only turned up because the ECB (as their employers) told them to.

Talking of nitty gritty, I suppose I ought to tell you (sorry for interrupting your rock-induced nirvana again) which England players were drafted by which franchise. After all, you can check out the latest cricket odds with confidence once you’re in the know.

The Leeds Super Doopers chose Ben Stokes as their England player (preferring the all-rounder over Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow). The Southern Softies unsurprisingly selected Jofra Pom Bear. Chris Woakes went to the Birmingham Barn Owls. The London Liquor chose Rory Burns. The Oval Orifices opted for Sam ‘what’s The Hundred again?’ Curran. And Jos Buttler obviously landed at the Manchester Let’s Think Of An Original name … What about Originals? … Job Done, Can We Go To The Pub Nows?

All this meant that poor Jonny Bairstow ended up at the Welsh Willies. I imagine some marketing prat thought his hair fits the Welsh ‘fire’ brand. Meanwhile Joe Root ended up at the Trent Rockets. I don’t need to make a joke about the Rockets name because it’s completely laughable as it is.

The franchises were also allowed to choose two ‘local icon’ players, which in the case of the Welsh Fire meant raiding Somerset’s Tom Banton – presumably because he once went to Cardiff for a stag do and / or ordered a pint of Brains.

The other local icons are as follows:

Barn Owls: Moeen Ali and Pat Brown

Liquors: Eoin Morgan, Dan Lawrence

Can We Go To The Pubs Nows: Saqib Mahmood, Matt Parkinson

Doopers: Adil Rashid, David Willey

Orifices: Tom Curran, Jason Roy

Softies: James Vince, Chris Jordan

Rockets: Harry Gurney, Alex Hales

Willies: Tom Banton, Colin Ingram

The other controversial item we need to discuss – and congratulations if you haven’t already nodded off at this point – is why all the teams are sponsored by unhealthy snacks? It does seem like a curious choice in this age of obesity crises and zealous health campaigners.

The obvious conclusion is that the ECB thinks fattening snacks appeal to kids, KP offered a lot of money, and they really couldn’t give a flying whatsit about the ethical dimensions.

And that just about sums The Hundred up. It’s money, money, money folks. And the ECB don’t care whose toes they tread on, or how much salt they feed to future generations, in order to make this tournament a success.

If you’ve got already artificial franchises and artificial rules, what difference are a few artificial flavours going to make?

James Morgan

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  • It’s okay. Calm down. Very soon someone’s going to exclaim – “Ha! Fooled you!”


  • So the uniforms are seriously bad (not just naff, but because of their extreme brightness difficult for those with certain sensory issues – and given that I am both autistic myself and branch secretary of NAS West Norfolk this is something I would notice), no one appears to actually know how the competition will work and the ECB’s “planning” people look a little more foolish than they already did. The PR for The Hundred remains true to type then – at least these folk are consistent! What odds that 2020 season sees both “hello” and “goodbye” to The Hundred?!

  • It is truly awful. Words cannot describe how seemingly every aspect of the 100 is utter awfulness.

  • I think we must all be in a minority (which sounds like a contradiction in itself) but Kate Cross said this morning on national radio that “this is what the public are calling for”

    So there you have it

    • Well I haven’t a clue who Kate Cross is so I’m certain the “new” supporters don’t either, if there are any of course.
      Not only are the uniforms unbelievably tacky but they have a junk food companies logo spluttered all over them. Well I don’t know who the ECBs PR people are, but the absolute last thing you want in this day and age is to be promoting obesity through sport, if indeed the !00 can be called sport. Shockingly amauterish. I’m beginning to wonder if the whole thing is just a sick joke?

    • Toe-curling… an early sign of diabetes resulting from excess salt and sugar intake…

  • Other nuances from this announcement:

    • Less than a week ago, Eoin Morgan was being promoted by the ECB as among the list of star players (many from abroad) who would be available for picking in the draft later this month.

    This surprised me at the time, because I thought centrally contracted England men were being allocated to teams in advance. The explanation was that only _Test_ players were being so allocated, not England players with only limited-overs contracts. Yet we now find out he won’t be in the draft after all.

    • The previously announced team composition protocol indicated there would be 16 or 17 players in each men’s squad of 15, depending on whether 1 or 2 England players (who don’t count in the numbers) were allocated to each team: areas with multiple local players would be allowed to keep any who aren’t taken up as first choice by teams that didn’t have any.

    Yet it turns out that there were exactly the same number of players as teams: 10 England Test players, but Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad not playing, leaving 8 of them for 8 teams, and the procedure about extras being entirely unnecessary. It’s almost as though the ECB are making it up as they go along.

    • Talking of which, it was only checking the maths for the previous point that I realized England have only centrally contracted 10 Test players! Trevor Bayliss’s legacy is that we no longer have enough Test-standard players to make up a full XI.

    And one of those 10 has already been dropped from the next tour. Every Test match the England men play this year will have to feature at least one player whom the ECB aren’t sure are good enough for Test cricket — and not even good enough to be contracted and then immediately dropped, at that!

    • When I saw the photo of the 8 players in a row showing off the new kits, the only one I could be certain of identifying was captain Heather Knight. On reading the accompanying article and learning that Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer were in the line-up, I worked out which ones they were, but without that I would’ve been guessing.

    This is what a decade and a half of not having cricket on ‘proper’ telly has done. I follow matches by TMS and ‘Guardian’ OBO coverage. I’m interested in cricket. I know what the biggest stars (or the ones that make the news for non-cricketing reasons) look like, and obviously I could go and look up the rest of them — but the point is, I’m not seeing them sufficiently regularly to casually acquire that knowledge.

    None of the articles, press releases, or Tweets I saw yesterday featuring the line-up photo bothered to caption it with who the players are. Either the writers presume we all know (obviously they do, and they all have Sky, so have forgotten that many readers don’t), or that we don’t care (look at the bright colours and the crisp logos — never mind who is inside them).

    (Note, this isn’t a dig at James’s inclusion of the Tweet above. Nor is it a request to be told who t’other 5 players in that pic are. Just an observation on where things are.)

    • I included that Tweet so I could use the official picture without getting sued by the ECB or whoever owns the rights to it :-)

      I’m afraid to admit that even I didn’t initially recognise Saqib Mahmood. At least I think it’s Mahmood third from the right.

      • Cunning!

        Though it would be an interesting move by the ECB to create publicity photos for an event then complain when people use them …

      • I also didn’t recognise Saqib Mahmood and I’m a Lancs member – to add insult to injury I was actually talking to him a couple of months ago when he played at our club !
        The only one I recognised on 1st viewing was Jason Roy
        Chris Woakes actually looks in pain or highly embarassed

      • I thought it was David Wiese and I was stood next to Saq 2 weeks ago at Lancs members meeting .Does anybody know if the players are propping up set behind them or are they are snackered and need support?

  • Well written James.

    Apart from your post which brought a smile, the whole affair is dreadful beyond imagination.

    There can be a price to be paid for following money. Looking like a complete twat in the promotional photo is one of them. There are bound to be more to follow.

    • I think the players are getting a bit of a free pass here. Your original title for the previous article about mercenaries is pretty spot on.

      This is a competition which could very easily destroy county cricket–that is, the structure that will keep around two-thirds of English cricketers in gainful employment even if the Hundred is a success. Even if it doesn’t, looking at next year’s draft schedule it will effectively sideline–in different ways–both the longer formats of the international game, at a time when England have just become world champions in one and been shown to be nowhere near good enough in the other.

      Most of the players in the draft don’t need the money. Unless you’re a good enough T20 player at county level to have a chance of a Hundred contract but you can’t get in the county red-ball team regularly (Pat Brown, say), then you won’t need the money even if you’re not a centrally contracted player. I have limited sympathy for someone’s “need” for money who’s earning two or three times the median wage–and with the current salary structure, even the average wage for a county player is around 50-70K.

      One of the big elephants in English cricket’s room is its unwillingness to cut its coat according to its cloth. Obviously this is partly about the obscene salaries paid to some greedy administrators and the equally obscene amounts frittered away on promoting a competition whose chances of success are completely unknown. And Kate Cross’s comment–she’s an England player, by the way–is completely idiotic: anyone with some sense of analysis, even if they support the Hundred, should be able to see that no-one knows whether this much-vaunted new audience will turn up or not, while existing county fans (who seem to be royally pissed off by the whole thing) may well just go on watching the Blast instead.

      But it’s also about paying players, at international and also county level, salaries which are not justified by the money that is coming into the game. Several people have suggested this week that the Hundred needs to be accepted because it’s inwevitable. It’s only inevitable (and I still maintain that it isn’t–after all, both South Africa and Sri Lanka have called off new T20 leagues in the last few years a matter of weeks before they were due to start because the finances had ceased to make sense) because people are putting money before the inclination to protect the wider game. That goes for the county chairs who voted for it, the ECB employees who churn out this publicity bilge, and the players who put themselves up for it. Even someone like David Willey, who probably won’t play for England again, doesn’t need the money; someone like Sam Cook or David Payne, who may very well lose their jobs in a few years as a result of this, does.

  • It’s worth remembering that the ECB’s original plan didn’t allow for any local players to be reserved at all. They were forced into it by the counties.

    • The counties were obviously thinking, “if we’re to be executed, at least let it be by our own bullets!”

  • I reiterate to all the easy target critics, all the crap marketing matters not a jot if it takes off with the public, who will not care what strip their team wears, what they’re called, or who plays for them, if the cricket is exciting. Look at footie, where the likely audience will come from. They don’t care how many mercenaries play for their teams, or whether they wear pink. It’s all about value for money which means what goes on on the field. If the public reject it this will be the deciding factor. The public have always been succours for gimmicks if they make things more interesting. Hence the preoccupation with innovation from the marketeers.
    We cannot make any worthwhile judgements till we see the tournament in action. It’s all speculation till then.

    • We can make whatever judgement and comment we like, when we like.That’s what the Great British Electorate did with Brexit (grrrr).”We” i.e. confirmed cricket supporters are not the target audience or at least we weren’t until it started to dawn on the marketeers that the ‘millions of potential fans out there’ might not actually exist.
      There is an old saying ‘if it looks like shit and smells like shit then it probably is shit’. And I what I see and smell right now is overpowering.
      The newly signed players and coaches have clearly been well drilled in what to say. I don’t blame them but as and until someone bungs me a very large sum of money I shall say `bollocks to the Hundred’.

  • The marketing isn’t all bad. The Can We Go To The Pub Nows must be the best team name in any professional sport. It is admittedly all downhill from there

  • “Look at footie, where the LIKELY audience will come from…” For me, this encapsulates quite a lot of what’s wrong wIth the Hundred. A competent organisation launching a new product would have some idea by this stage of who their target audience was, and some idea of HOW likely they were to attend–and why. I don’t get any sense of this from the ECB–just a vague hope along the lines you mention (“more populist, therefore football fans will come…”)

    “The public have always been succours for gimmicks if they make things more interesting…” Yes, but only if they’re already interested. The ECB’s approach seems to involve substituting the gimmicks for the product, not enhancing one with the other. The bottom line is, I wouldn’t pay fifteen quid to watch an opera even if it was full of gimmicks and 20% shorter than usual–I just don’t like opera.

    “We cannot make any worthwhile judgements till we see the tournament in action. It’s all speculation till then…” This is an approach I’ve never understood. Following that logic, once someone had come up with a crazy idea, no-one could criticise it until they saw how it had worked. Of course it’s speculation, but the key with a new product is to make your speculation intelligent, not just rubbish any questions about it because that’s speculation–which seems like an abdication of intelligent analysis. THAT’S what I don’t see any sign of from the ECB.


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