We’re a broad church at TFT, so it’s only fair we give counter-arguments a chance. So after all that criticism of The Hundred, here’s Alex with a more positive spin. Has he got a point? Be gentle folks.
For your face,
Let’s just say: I loath it all!
Every little trait, however small,
Makes my very flesh begin to crawl …”
If there’s anything English cricket fans loath more than Steve Smith and David Warner right now, it’s Tom Harrison, the ECB, and ‘The Hundred’ concept.
Middle fingers have been raised from county members, the media, and all the trolls on social media. In other words, The Hundred is the kid with no friends in the schoolyard. And like the bullies in a schoolyard, people just kick without asking questions. And that’s infuriating.
Sure, there have been some ECB screw-ups. They told existing cricketing fans they didn’t matter, and then did a U-Turn. But the U-Turn didn’t matter because the kick in the balls had already been received.
The PR efforts were a shambles. Tom Harrison, the ECB’s chief executive, never led the charge because he’s been fire-fighting various PR disasters, from that infamous night in Bristol to the calamitous trip to Australia. There wasn’t even room for much excitement about the 1000th test at Edgbaston in late July.
And there was the vagueness. The ECB have been accused of ‘cherry-picking’ stats by the media, not releasing all the stats (despite claiming that the data points were fantastic) to everyone, and then not finding names for the teams. Meanwhile, details concerning the draft, which players might get involved, and how the structure was going to be, have been thin on the ground.
It’s hard to defend the ECB for this. They’ve acted like wedding planner who decided on the day of the betrothal to take LSD and see what happened.
To add to that, the ECB bungled the launch last week. Using stock photos of rap bands and kids watching football matches, as well as a logo that was described as bad by just about everyone. One wag said on Twitter: “Just seen ‘The Hundred’ logo – congratulations to the primary school child who won the design competition.
But as my blood was boiling, I was revisted articles written about the shambles. This quote from the classic film Good Will Hunting hit me:
“It’s not about you, you mathematical dick! It’s about the boy! He’s a good kid! And I won’t see you fuck him up like you’re trying to fuck up me right now! I won’t let you make me feel like a failure too!” – Sean Maguire (Robin Williams).
The things is that The Hundred isn’t about me. I am a cricket fan who spent the best part of £900 going to various Tests, one-days, county championship games, and T20 contests last summer. I’ve lived and cried with the England cricket team over the last two winters. I swore when we lost, and jumped for joy when we won.
I already love cricket. As do you. So The Hundred isn’t aimed at people like us. It’s about people who currently have little interest in cricket – they think it’s too long, not fun enough, and don’t know who the hell any of the players are. It’s about reaching them. It’s about getting haters to change their mind.
Consequently, for my sins, I’m going to pay and watch The Hundred games next summer because, well, English cricket needs it to be a success. Some games will be terrestrial telly – hallelujah for that – and hopefully non-cricket fans will see some of it and think: “I want to go to one of those”.
Now don’t get me wrong. There’s plenty about The Hundred I don’t like. However, although I might not like ten-ball overs, maybe the kids might? I didn’t like the concept of 20/20 when it first came in, but look at T20 now: the attendances are fantastic, it gets ‘non cricket fans’ through the door, and it reverses the pattern of falling cricket participation at local levels.
The truth is that people undoubtedly have a thirst for the shorter form of the game (and I’ve been to Finals Day at Edgbaston, where ‘thirst’ was the marker of the day). So why not make cricket even more accessible by trying more short-forms?
And so, I refuse to join The Hundred haters. It’s almost like they don’t want more and more young people liking the game. Although ICC statistics claim the average age of a cricket fan is 34 (which isn’t old at all), what’s the average age in this country? A lot older I’d wager. The ICC stats have been lowered a lot by the massive cricket following in India.
Overall I just don’t understand why so many cricket supporters want The Hundred to fail. It’s almost like (some) people want English cricket to sink simply so they can say “I told you so”. Or am I missing something?
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Yep, interesting but the 100 is vanity project, a bastardisation of a beautiful game in my opinion. If you like this short form what’s wrong with T20, it’s only another 3.2 overs which shouldn’t tax the short attention span that much. If cricket hadn’t been taken off free to air 13 years ago far more people of all ages would be interested in it now. How many youngsters under 15 have heard of Ben Stokes or Alistair Cook? Well none of my 14 grandchildren have for a start.
A well known cricket writer said many years ago the cricket mirrors society. Well yes, today is very much an instant, let’s have it all, celebity, fast food takeaway society. Maybe we all, including that excuse for a governing body, the ECB, should try to educate people a bit more instead of feeding them a constant diet of junk. More in life is rarely better. And in doing all they can to allienate regular cricket supporters, the ECB are going to get bitten up the bum big time when cricket takes a big financial hit if the 100 fails, which it probably will. If it doesn’t real cricket could disappear in ten years. It doesn’t work either way does it.
Well, you say it yourself –
‘look at T20 now: the attendances are fantastic, it gets ‘non cricket fans’ through the door, and it reverses the pattern of falling cricket participation at local levels’
That being so, what was the need for a new competition? Why not spend the massive sums of money being put into the Hundred on promoting the Blast?
Precisely Maggie. No country has 4 domestic competitions to my knowledge. Also from a money point of view, people, certainly out of London, do not have an unlimited supply of disposable income; so they’ll only go to one or two games. The T20 is very popular but the two London grounds take the greater % of punters, particularly the Oval, where a ticket on the door is £35. Small change for the city boys. In places like Cardiff I have heard they give tickets away because they can’t fill the ground! And I really can’t see Mum and the kids who don’t go to cricket, turning up on Friday night at a boozy Oval, or anywhere else for that matter to watch the 100.
I have no clue as to why. I suspect it was to do with getting the sport on the BBC.
Quite right. I also don’t buy the FTA argument. Any broadcaster interested in the 100 would be equally if not more interested in covering a T20 tournament.
Oh but we do want more and more kids to like the game just not some dumbed down version. T20 is a worthy and an accepted short form that just about stays within the boundary of the game of cricket and, last time I looked, has plenty of kids excited.
Parents perhaps not so much because of the boorish fans that just go to get drunk but that is a management problem not a game-changing issue. So why do we have to bend like a pretzel to contrive something purportedly new?
The ECB have said The Hundred will not be alcohol-free.
What a pointless article. Absolutely nothing to say about the positives of the 100 (I wonder why that is. Simply negative – verging on abusive – comments directed at those who criticise it, without bothering to consider whether such criticism might be valid.
You have rather answered your own argument. About 30% of your piece is a reiteration of the ECB’s catalogue of mishaps and stupidity, pertaining to which you are in agreement (with the critics of the ECB):
”Sure, there have been some ECB screw-ups…the PR efforts were a shambles…it’s hard to defend the ECB for this. They’ve acted like wedding planner who decided on the day of the betrothal to take LSD and see what happened.”
We don’t need more cricket.
There is enough already.
Remember the days when we knew on which day a certain Competition started?
We had the B and H matches.,the Gillette ,the Sunday League and the Championship matches and we knew where we were.
Then the T -20 came along and proved a success.
Perhaps John c an tell us why we need another form of the Game?
A well written article and a well presented case. But wrong.
There is no sensible argument to introduce a fourth format to an already packed schedule.
Promote and develop what we have already.
I agree with you. Apart from the fact that I think this article was neither well written nor made a well presented case !
And I agree with you. Completely, John
The Hundred is a bad idea which was the excuse to create franchise cricket without the counties. The Blast as cricket is working well but it can’t be a money earner for new investors.
The ECB led by Graves have wanted their own baby. This meant a new product. Already cricket was Brand England. But this was a chance to have new brands and a new logo. And gamble with a lot of money. What worries the ECB is that this unpopular product might not attract the new crowds after all and alienate the real cricket fans. We all hate it. Why should mums and kids love this game dreamt up by money barons? The 50 over competition which is enjoyed by the rest of the cricket world is going to be sidelined after the World Cup. But what if England win and the 50 over game gets a huge boost? There is no logic in introducing The Hundred next year. The Hundred is junk food. It cheapens cricket. Some major cricketers will be pressurised to play in order to make it work. It should have died on the drawing board. It’s based on the idea that only batting is attractive and bowling isn’t. It’s turning cricket into a circus performance. There will be a reaction among fans. I think it should be boycotted or ignored. Real cricket needs to be fought for and campaigned for. The County season is under threat.
The start of the 100 clashes with the football season, the Olympics, Tests and an International T20 series. Not going to be many internationals taking part. More balls ups by the ECB.
Dire format .. it quite simply won’t attract a new cricket playing audience. It may like 2020 attract boozy lads who jut use it to get sloshed up at.. like 2020’s, hardly family friendly
Not sure I want it to fail… Just don’t see the point. Like others have said, the 2020 does what this aims to do and the money should have been spent on that. This just seems like a waste. The amount of games on FTA is negligible so that isn’t a selling point.
Beefing up the blast with 4 overseas players, England players playing, big marketing push push with it being IPLd a bit atmosphere wise and some free to air and they may have an answer.
Ultimately one reason for the IPL success ifls that like it or not, they are big matches with a big atmosphere and a standard closer to internationals than county cricket.
Unless you are going to fill sides with the best 2020 players in the world and have all the England players playing every game then you simply arent going to have the same effect.
I’m not at all convinced the standard of the IPL is what you claim. The appeal this eason seems more linked to close finishes with, so I’ve heard, about 30% of the matches decided in the final over. Of course this has happened organically….
If it is true, the IPL has the Indian players available and isn’t up against the CPL or many international series (including the hosts) on at the same time. None of that aplies to the 16.66. The teams look like they’ll be closer to the Shane Warne All-Stars than a World XI. If the tournament is foundering, watch out for tame media chumps starting to argue “we need England players available” so the international season can be pushed to the margins.
Talking of tame media chumps, the ECB’s accounts were published three days, there’s plenty of ammo in them to expose the ECB (e.g. admin up, youth development down) but, bar one article in the DM on Harrison’s pay rise, there has been no MSM examination of them. Literally the entire MSM could die out and it would make no difference to our knowledge levels of what the ECB do with our money.
Why is anyone surprised ..
THE ECB aren’t alone is paying admin (sorry, managers) people more and more for declining returns .. it’s literally what is common place in business
The IPL is lauded (mainly by Indians) as being a high class of quality. That really isn’t true. It’s a little better than the blast as it has more top line players in it but it also has a lot of old and local boys involved which equally lowers it.
The IPL Will always appear to be better simply because it’s Indian, in India and they have more people, more going to games arc. Outside of India (say the UK), very few give a crap about the IPL. Hence why this be all and end all idea that copying the IPL is the way forward is crap.
It’s actually fairly simple to attempt to solve crickets issues in the uk but first you have to decide what are the key issues and which you can realistically influence.
Is it the declining number of volunteers ?
Is it the cost
Is it the time
Is it the formats
Is it that alienating a core section if keen beens may destroy those who run clubs \ prepare grounds between now and the next 15 years
Etc etc etc
Or is it simply what will make the most money quickly
30% of IPL matches decided in the final over? Didn’t know that but not surprised. It does have a reputation as a bit of a betting shop. Makes you wonder…
I’d like to thank Alex for doing his best to present a pig’s ear as a silk purse. I don’t agree with much of what he says, and he knew he’d get a kicking in the comments for what he said in advance, but one thing I think he’s right to pick up on is the negativity.
Cricket fans (me included) can be a cynical bunch, and I can understand why the constant negativity from some quarters can get exhausting. It almost compels some to find positives just to play devil’s advocate!
I sometimes wonder whether we’d be slightly more positive about the new format if we had a little more faith in the ECB. They’re so incompetent and shifty that I think many would’ve opposed The Hundred even if it was a good idea! The impulse is usually to oppose anything they do.
I think, on close examination, that HHHH doesn’t stack up one iota. It’s a terrible idea. But I can see why some people of a more positive disposition might think too many cricket fans are negative by default.
Some of the football media have finally noticed after the FA Cup Final that competitiveness in the sport has been destroyed. If your league has a duopoly of big teams now you’re lucky because the norm is increasingly for one.
The Guardian dutifully wheels out “research” that this is fine-and-dandy and that any notion of redistribution is not what the punters want, really. They quote Buraimo and Simmons: “The classic notion of a pure sporting contest in which the outcome is unpredictable has been replaced with one in which the preference is for sporting entertainment delivered by superstars. The unpredictability of the outcome no longer matters for television.”
A few things strike me about this:
1) It’s funny how “academics” can always be found to justify the interests of big money.
2) The survey was based on those who watch – what about those who’ve given up in disgust or boredom?
3) Is this new “superstar” model sustainable in the long term? What happens when the next generation of superstars don’t emerge (see men’s tennis currently)? What happens when attention-deficient fans get bored? What is the future of team sports when a few individual players hold most of the power? What sorts of human beings will these “superstars” be if they hold so much wealth and power?
Fundamentally, it all comes down to TV money. Broadcasters are willing to pay more and more so all most be healthy? Right? But is it really… broadcasters are such empires now they can cross-subsidise their bids so the price may not truly reflect the sport’s worth and much of the money comes from advertisers. Notice how little actual viewing figures are part of the calculation. Much of the time it’s impossible even to find out what the viewing figures are.
The relevance of all this to where cricket is heading should be obvious.
Like most people on this blog, don’t see any point in ‘The Hundred’. It’s more complicated that straight up 20-20, so the idea that it will appeal to non cricket fans seems odd at best. However, I am prepared to see it given a go. Most serious cricket fans aren’t that interested in short format dumbed down versions anyway, so unless there is evidence it provides a serious threat to the red ball game’s future, which to me has yet to be confirmed, I don’t see the harm in seeing how it pans out.
A thing that does concern me is how many will buy season tickets to watch one dayers if the red ball game does suffer. The season ticket is a crucial prepayment for many clubs at the start of any season and core season ticket holders are more likely to watch the county game to get value for money. To replace the county game with one dayers would require either a lot of new competitions or the restructuring of existing ones to incorporate a league structure, which failed to excite interest with the Benson and Hedges Cup.