Was The Hundred A Cricketing Success?

ISLEWORTH, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 20: Players for the eight teams in The Hundred line up following The Hundred Draft, broadcast live from Sky Studios on October 20, 2019 in Isleworth, England. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images for ECB)

When it comes to the world of cricket and those people who lend their fandom, there are those who consider themselves purists of the game by watching Test Matches only and there are those who consider themselves part of the new wave.

A wave that started with the introduction of One-Day Internationals exactly 50 years ago and that wave became more of a tsunami by the time the quickfire world of T-20’s was born almost a full twenty years prior. 

However, the pursuit of evolution is one that cricket’s power brokers are constantly striving for and with attention spans around the world getting smaller and smaller by the day, many will argue whether even 50-over cricket is too long an art form for modern society.

Which is why the popularity of T-20 over the past two decades, has been such a boon for the sport as a whole and with competitions such as the Indian Premier League (IPL) making a land grab for riches, other nations have subsequently followed suit with their own 20-over competitions.

Then again, for all those that have followed, the IPL is undoubtedly the number-one T-20 league in the world and with India now considered the financial powerhouse of cricket, there is an element of jealousy within England’s boardrooms.

Jealousy that has made the ECB think further outside the box and although their own T-20 Vitality Blast competition has been something of a merited success, this is an organisation which themselves is looking to innovate rather imitate.

While their innovation comes in the form of their recent 100-ball tournament, one that was perhaps unsurprisingly named as The Hundred and with the first year of competition in the history books, the debate is whether or not an even shorter form of cricket was a success.

Because for those traditionalists that bemoan that even a T-20 fixture is a butchering of such a historic pastime, they will be all but aghast at another twenty balls being chopped off each team’s batting or bowling quota. 

Of course, like many other sports or like in life in general, if you stand still, you often then become left behind and for those who cling on to the golden days of sporting yesteryear, there is a sense that they will have to be bought kicking and screaming into the future eventually.

A future that saw The Hundred bring cricket back to British terrestrial television screens and with the remit being one to generate a younger audience for the game, it is fair to say that it certainly succeeded on that measure.

While when it comes to success, that was certainly something that was afforded to both the Oval Invincibles and the Southern Brave in the Women’s and Men’s competitions respectively, as they were crowned the inaugural champions of The Hundred.

With that said, the top sportsbooks would have also considered this a substantial success, as many punters were attracted by the prospect of shorter-form cricket and the ability to test their betting acumen along the way.

Just like in betting, The Hundred saw both winners and losers and although the former were mentioned above, it must be mentioned that the competition had to deal with both the lingering effects of COVID-19 and the British weather. 

With COVID-19 still unfortunately prevalent in society, it meant a number of high-profile withdrawals and although this would have been something of a hammer blow for the organisers, the show must always go on.

That is as long as it does not rain and with a couple of washouts along the way, it does also beg the question as to just where The Hundred can fit into both a congested domestic and international schedule each year.

However, these are issues that should be able to be resolved in the short or medium term and if the ECB can find a suitable window for its new competition each year, there is absolutely no reason why it cannot go from strength to strength.

A strength that has shown a franchise model within English cricket could work and for those who still cling on to a lazy afternoon at the County Championship, it may mean their beloved competition is soon one that is finally committed to a bygone era.