You thought it was all over… well it isn’t. Sure the Ashes concluded yesterday in sublime fashion in south London but already eyes have turned to the reason the iconic series was shifted forward and away from the peak of British summer: The Hundred.
Back again, some had hoped the cricket format – which consists of 100 balls per side and only played in England and Wales – would fade away into oblivion but cricket chiefs on these shores have backed their radical idea and its existence goes on.
Eight teams in seven cities, each with a male and female outfit, compete across this month ahead of finals day at Lord’s.
Hundred has attributes
This year will be the competition’s third with Oval Invincibles women – based at Surrey – looking for a tat-trick of titles – and Southern Brave or Trent Rockets’ men aiming for a second title.
London Spirit, Birmingham Phoenix, Manchester Originals, Northern Superchargers and Welsh Fire are all aiming for a first title in one of the two competitions.
It’s an interesting concept, that’s for certain. And though it was in the pipework for a number of years, few can deny it earned its spot in the cricketing calendar as the noisy neighbour of the existing three formats when England and Wales Cricket
Board chiefs saw the barmy stands of Lord’s during the 2019 one-day World Cup final.
Here you had the Home of Cricket, often looked down upon by the casual England fan for being out of reach, fenced off, for the few – some would argue that hasn’t changed – instead rowdy and raucous, with chanting, cheering and the occasional painful broadcast of Neil Diamond’s adopted British sporting anthem Sweet Caroline.
If a party game was possible there – disco cricket as it were – it was possible anywhere.
And so it has been proven. There are record numbers of families, women and new fans watching cricket because of The Hundred; enough to outnumber the traditionalists who have boycotted the competition.
And the format, with men’s and women’s matches back-to-back, has undoubtedly exposed fans to more names and experiences.
For the players, too, it has developed a huge level of exposure.
Point of difference
Issy Wong, a 21-year-old English bowler, lit up the tournament last year and earned a huge contract in the inaugural Women’s Premier League – India’s sister competition to the IPL – where she got an iconic hat-trick.
And India will be watching this time around with the subcontinent showing the competition on television.
It’s a weird format, and no one says it is perfect, but it is at least a point of difference from other competitions.
And while there are a number of Twenty20 leagues popping up around the world, notably in South Africa, the UAE and the United States, none do it quite like The Hundred.
But maybe that’s The Hundred’s issue, it’s too unique to entice the world. Maybe that’s the point of The Hundred too.
Despite past statements suggesting the plan would be to export this competition around the world, what if it simply became a vehicle to drive kids and families into existing formats of the sport?
The Hundred can be a gateway for thousands into cricket so as it gets underway today, after a pulsating summer of Test matches, that must not be forgotten.