I watched about an hour of The Hundred draft on Sunday evening before I fell asleep.
The concept was good, but I found it long-winded and boring. The interviews were generally inane and some of the players looked like they didn’t want to be there.
When The Hundred was first announced I was in the camp which said ‘why is it needed?’ I wasn’t convinced a whole new format was the answer when Twenty20 has been doing so well.
Read more: Inside the launch of The Hundred
However, it is here to stay and now it’s all out in the open, there are plenty of encouraging aspects to the tournament.
Watching the draft I was very pleased to see some of the consistent domestic performers of the last few years rewarded with big contracts. The likes of Liam Livingstone, Tom Abell and Dane Vilas were all picked in the higher brackets with teams clearly valuing their leadership qualities.
Top county players have been crying out for something like this which allows them to earn more money. Even those on decent county deals will have been able to double their earnings.
Only 96 players were picked from a pool of 600, so the bog-standard players were filtered out. With some big-name overseas stars involved I’m sure the quality of the cricket will be high next summer.
Players from the bigger counties whose grounds will host games seemed to have an advantage in the draft, with Trent Rockets, for example, picking seven Nottinghamshire players. Leicestershire, on the other hand, had no-one selected.
But that is nothing new really. One of the reasons I joined Surrey was because I knew they had more traction and media attention, which would help my England Test ambitions.
On paper I like the look of Southern Brave’s squad, with Jofra Archer, Andre Russell, David Warner, as well as James Vince, Liam Dawson and others giving them a strong look.
But as we’ve seen in the Indian Premier League, and with the likes of Surrey in the T20 Blast, it isn’t about who has the best players. You can’t just throw 15 strangers together and expect them to click straight away – gelling as a team is vital.
It’s also hard to predict because it’s a brand new format. Tactical tweaks like 10-ball overs will take a little bit of getting used to, but many players have already featured in T10 leagues so will be used to slogging from the off.
To start with I expect the scores to be similar to those in T20s, with 20 fewer balls per innings cancelled out by the extra intent.
Glitz and glamour
More important than the format is the way it’s presented. Many people’s perception of cricket is that it’s boring and traditional. The Hundred is about attracting new fans so I think it needs to be marketed well by the England and Wales Cricket Board over the next six months.
The two London teams won’t have any trouble attracting crowds no matter what they do, but its success will be judged elsewhere.
I think they need to follow the example of Australia’s Big Bash, which took its cues from American baseball in its brash style, bright kits, commentary style, fireworks and entertainment.
We need to change our ingrained mindset in this country. If it takes a bit of glitz and glamour to make The Hundred a success then so be it.
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