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. 

“Loathing,

Unadulterated loathing,

For your face,

Your voice,

Your clothing,

Let’s just say: I loath it all!

Every little trait, however small,

Makes my very flesh begin to crawl …”

– Wicked

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?

Alex Ferguson

@viewfromamerica

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