The Hundred – cricketing revolution or muddled thinking?

By Adam Williams Thursday 25th Oct, 2018

While English cricket may have brought the T20 format to the global game with unparalleled success, its domestic competition has lagged some of the major competitions around the world including the IPL and Big Bash. As a response, the ECB has proposed an 8-Team franchise tournament from 2020, while also proposing further revolutionising the game with a 100 ball format and innovations such as a 10 ball over.

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With much debate about the likely success of the ECBs brainchild, we take a look over the case for and against The Hundred.

The case for

Change can be good – By 2020, it will have been 17 years since the ECB pioneered the T20 format and its success in that era has been unprecedented when many expressed reservations about its longevity. The game has evolved from a condensed version of the 50 over game to a specialist skill in itself – new stars have been born, new shots created and cricket’s global appeal has broadened. While traditionalists may quaff at an even shorter format, who’s to say the game won’t evolve again?

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Increasing fan engagement – with the new franchise competition to be broadcast via terrestrial television, the ability to create a spectacle that anybody can follow and opine on is key. Purists will still deliberate over bowling strategies and field placings, but for the average man on the street surely the idea of hitting as many runs as you can in 100 balls is all you need? Simple and effective. In a time where cricketing participation levels are dwindling, this appears key.

Short and sweet – with the tournament scheduled to run in the school holidays, the format provides an ability to engage a younger audience within sociable hours. How this may interact with the usual beer snakes and raucous call of a Thursday at Chelsmford is anyone’s guess, but it’s intentions are good

The case against

Diluting skills sets – with yet more white ball cricket joining the calendar, are the ECB relegating their ambitions as a red ball side? While a number of players remain multi format, the creation of a format that may not be replicated on a global or international level feels detrimental to the skill sets of the national side.

A scheduling nightmare – with plans to run the competition during the peak of the British summer, the ECB faces competition from other global franchises such as the Caribbean Premier League, as well as the unenviable task of accommodating 3 other domestic formats and an international summer. The nail in the coffin of the one day cup?

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Brand loyalty – The franchise system of the IPL and Big Bash works well given a lower importance domestic game and regional format. With the English littered with multiple counties and various rivalries, it remains to be seen how players and supporters alike will grow into their new roles.

Player consultation – any major change needs support, and comments from players suggests the ECB has looked for very little of it. With players left in the dark at this stage scepticism is high, although that may well change in the coming years

The verdict

It’s obvious that the ECBs intentions are good, but executing such a format is fraught with risks. One must wonder whether their aim to revolutionise the game once more is an acknowledgement that while innovators in 2003, they have missed previous opportunities to cement the English domestic competition as a true competitor.