The Saviour of English Cricket? What is ‘The Hundred’
Champions Cricket Speakers Agency take a look at English cricket's answer to global franchise tournaments, 'The Hundred', a completely revolutionary concept that the ECB hope will take the world by storm
English cricket has one of the greatest and proudest traditions within the game. Seen as pioneers and inventors of the sport, the England & Wales Cricket Board and Marylebone Cricket Club have for a long time run the game and grown it to a global spectacle. The proud history of Lords and Test match cricket as the sole focus have left the English game behind as of late however following the emergence of Twenty20 cricket over a decade ago. The founders of the format of the game that received so much scrutiny following its unveiling, Twenty20 is now arguably dominating cricket and many believe it has fast become the most popular, exciting and profitable format of the sport. All very pleasant and positive on the surface, the English Twenty20 has become overshadowed, mocked and even swept aside by many however following the revolution of Franchise competitions. Extravagant, illustrious and appealing, the rest of the cricketing world have adopted a model to attract the best players in world, the largest investments and huge crowds, something English cricket has been unable to do. The Indian Premier League, Big Bash, Caribbean Premier League, Pakistan Super League and Bangladesh Premier League to name a few have taken the game by storm leaving the Twenty20 Blast behind.
Much Needed Action
Having fallen behind of other nations in terms of innovation, audience and most importantly participation within the sport, the ECB decided a change was needed for the future of the English game and to remain a the global powerhouse they are within the game. The ultimate aim to bring cricket to the masses and raise participation within the game in England, the ECB looked at the most successful franchise tournaments in the world that have so successfully attracted females and children as well as male fans and felt they needed to break the mould and separate themselves from the competition and already crowded landscape. The solution-‘The Hundred’, a brand new concept that would revolve around the idea of a countdown of ‘100’ balls that allowed for clear understanding and a greater ability to follow the game. 20 balls shorter then a Twenty20, the new format would also crucially fit inside a three hour broadcasting block leading the increased appeal to major sporting broadcasters (Sky Sports, BT Sport,etc) as well as bringing the game back to the masses via free-to-air television. Seen as the saviour of the English game, the hopes and expectations of the new revolutionary format are huge however have been meet with scepticism and scrutiny from many including players.
The Initial Proposed Format
The new and innovative, The Hundred competition will be played amongst eight city-based franchise teams, each of which will field a men’s and women’s team. The revolutionary league becomes timing becomes controversial however as it is proposed to run alongside the county based T20 Blast. Due to launch in 2020, the tournament will have 15 traditional six ball overs with the final over containing 10 balls. Players will enter a draft system much like other franchise tournaments with 15 members in each squad. Aiming to attract the superstars of cricket, The Hundred will be played at 8 Test match venues across the country which will act as homes to the franchises.
Complications & Changes
A tournament due to launch in just under two years, many intricacies and rules are yet to be finalised and in fact few have been confirmed. It has been rumoured that overs will now consist of five balls rather then six with rumours also emerging that the LBW Law will be cast aside from the game. A proposal is also in place for playing teams to consist of 12 players as appose to 11 with only being permitted to take the field meaning a specialist batsman or bowler that only plays during their half of speciality. Taking a leaf from American sport, The Hundred is also likely to see the introduction of general managers for franchises, a role English cricket has never seen before. A new tournament that is having daily changes and suggestions made, The Hundred could yet still have major transformations before it begins and following the trial matches that took place at Trent Bridge last week, players and organisers involved were able to gain a greater understanding of the proposed model through a live run through of events.
The Great Divide
A tournament tailored to elite performance, The Hundred is likely to segregate professional cricketers with potentially less then 100 county cricketers involved, a major contrast to the 300 or so professional cricketers involved in the county set up. Concerns have also been raised as to the drop in the standard and stature of the Twenty20 Blast, a tournament that has been held in the highest regard by players and fans for over a decade. Varying and extensive criticism has also resulted from traditional fans that have a great affinity to county cricket who feel they are losing both the identity and grasp of their beloved county game. The controversial format has also certainly drawn a huge divide within the county game with both teams and in particularly the players involved having drastically varying opinions on a competition that will inevitably result in an increasing elitist and exclusive playing group.
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A competition with so much at stake for all involved, this revolutionary concept could make or break English cricket and have a long lasting and significant impact on the health and future of the game. Players and coach Eoin Morgan, Samit Patel and Mark Ramprakash were all involved in the trial games for The Hundred respectively and are available to hire as cricket speakers for events through the Champions Cricket Speakers Agency to discuss the new competition in addition to sharing other tales and anecdotes about their careers and cricket in general.
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