A Hundred Reasons Why (The Hundred Won’t Work)

  1. The Hundred is more complicated than T20 cricket. The ECB claimed when it was first publicly launched that the format would be easier to understand for “mums and kids“. As more details have come out, it’s become abundantly clear that not a single part of the rules (at least the ones publicly released) make the game simpler than the 20-over competition.
  2. Even if The Hundred did attract an audience of mothers and children, I genuinely doubt that any cricket ground has sufficient women’s toilet or baby-changing facilities to accommodate them comprising a majority of the crowd. This would make the game day experience one to forget for many of them, and not encourage them to come back.
  3. Speaking of The Hundred’s target audience, there was a strong implication by the ECB that “mums and kids” aren’t cricket fans because they weren’t smart enough to understand cricket. Therefore, they argued, T20 cricket needed dumbing down to their level. To quote the former Director Of England Cricket, “We want to make the game as simple as possible for them to understand.” It is a bold marketing strategy to launch a product by insulting the people you intend to sell it to. And by “bold”, I obviously mean moronic.
  4. Even the concept of ‘The Hundred’ is somewhat shaky. No balls and wides, both of which are pretty common in white ball cricket, mean that most innings will have more than a hundred deliveries.
  5. Whilst I’m not involved in my local cricket club, I talk online with several people who are involved in theirs. One constant thing they all mention is how junior cricket grinds to a halt during the summer holidays. That’s when children go away on holiday, visit family members, go on day trips, etc. The late-July and August timeframe for The Hundred is therefore arguably the worst time of year for kids to be able to watch sport live on TV.
  6. It also seems likely that the majority of men’s games will be in the primetime TV slot. Given that coverage of the game will last roughly two and a half hours (assuming no rain delays), that means either 6.30-9pm or 7.30-10pm. Neither of these are great for children watching at home and, if you include time taken to get out of the ground and travel home, may preclude many families from attending the games. Again, it seems like the ECB may not have had children in mind when designing this competition.
  7. The BBC doesn’t have the rights to show highlights of the games which will be shown live on Sky, only short online clips. This means that most of the competition will not be seen by people who aren’t Sky subscribers.
  8. I can’t say that I’m aware of any franchise-style cricket competition around the world which has the majority of its games exclusively on a pay TV platform. In fact, I believe the Big Bash League started on pay TV but switched to freely accessible channels because it was failing to gain traction. It would therefore be untested as a business model, and might hamper The Hundred’s popularity as a result.
  9. As if the new competition wasn’t divisive enough, the head of Sky Cricket has said in an interview that he hopes to get Michael McIntyre as a commentator for Sky’s coverage of The Hundred. McIntyre is like Marmite, in that most people hate him and the rest of the population is wrong.
  10. There is also every chance that The Hundred will have the same matey, bantz-filled commentary that has infected almost every other T20 franchise league. On the BBC that would probably mean Vaughan, Swann and Tufnell, amongst others. It’s almost as bad as Michael McIntyre. Almost.
  11. The BBC will hate to adjust their schedules when a game overruns due to injuries, bad weather or slow over rates. Primetime dramas or the 10 O’Clock News are significantly more important to the BBC than cricket. That leaves the ECB with the choice of either having coverage finish on the BBC’s red button channel or using DLS to determine the winner at the game’s scheduled finish time. Neither of which is a particularly satisfying option for viewers, and using DLS so often could be open to abuse by the players.
  12. The Hundred will be played in the 8 grounds with the largest capacities in England and Wales. There has to be a fairly good chance that all of the games won’t be sellouts, particularly when you consider how hard the ECB has been working to alienate people who already attend county cricket. Consider Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire. They had the 3rd and 4th highest total attendances in the 2017 T20 Blast, but both sold less than half of their available tickets. This will not look good on TV, if it happens.
  13. Where Surrey have had success filling their ground for T20 Blast games, it’s been by targeting people who want to drink and socialize after work. This would seem the antithesis of the ECB’s proclaimed ‘mums and kids’ target demographic, and so they would have to essentially discard a highly effective marketing strategy and instead find a wholly new audience for one of the largest grounds in England.
  14. The Rose Bowl on the outskirts of Southampton really struggles attracting people to evening games. Despite their success on the pitch, they are consistently one of the least-attended teams in the T20 Blast. Glamorgan have had problems attracting fans to their ground too, and have a terrible team. It seems a genuinely bizarre choice to place teams here.
  15. Conversely, teams like Somerset, Worcestershire, Essex and Gloucestershire have a strong track record for drawing local fans to their grounds but have been excluded. In Somerset’s case, it’s been reported that they were given (clearly non-binding) assurances by the ECB that they would be strong contenders to be a host county before the counties voted. Smaller grounds with local audiences happy to watch domestic cricket seem ideal for the new competition, from a TV production perspective.
  16. One obvious effect of excluding ten county grounds from the competition will be to also practically exclude many cricket fans from attending. Someone in Taunton for example (where Somerset typically sell all 8,500 seats at their ground for T20 Blast games) would face a 98-minute drive (each way) to Cardiff to see The Hundred live, instead of having top flight cricket practically on their doorstep.
  17. England’s Test players will be unavailable for The Hundred. The men’s Test team contains by far the highest profile English cricketers, and an increasingly large number of players who are strongest in limited overs cricket. Even if they play a few games either side of a Test series, it’s a huge blow to the competition’s claim of having the best cricketers playing in it.
  18. If England’s Test players were to play a few games in The Hundred before a Test, that would be truly terrible preparation for the Test series. I mean, there’s a reason teams don’t use T20s as warmups for Tests. Two-day games against local clubs are often bad enough. Likewise, going straight from a Test match to the knockout stages of The Hundred would be an equally bizarre way to go.
  19. Despite England’s Test players being unavailable, they will still apparently be drafted and used for ‘marketing purposes’. So they’ll be in the promotional pictures, maybe do a few interviews. This is an absolute nonsense. It’s also largely pointless, because even England Test cricketers are almost entirely unrecognisable in the UK. The Hundred teams would be smarter to sign some actual celebrities for ‘marketing purposes’, like someone from TOWIE or a Sugababe. Not only are they more famous than (for example) Joe Root, but they’d be available for more games as well.
  20. It appears to be the case that the vast majority of the period from May to August will be devoted to white ball cricket with English men’s cricketers playing in the T20 Blast, The Hundred or the One Day Cup. This is also the time of year when England play their home Test matches, so any players brought into the Test squad later in the summer might not have played the longer form of cricket in months. Test players might be selected based on their T20/The Hundred form, which hardly seems like a recipe for long-term success.
  21. The Hundred will clash with the Caribbean Premier League, as things stand. This leaves the world’s T20 mercenaries with a stark choice between playing in a Caribbean island paradise or Wales. I know which I would pick…
  22. Many cricketers will also have played in the CPL before, and so choose that over a new competition because of familiarity and the relationships they might have with the coaches, players and fans.
  23. Brexit might have a major impact on this too. If the UK economy declines, that probably means that the exchange rate will become less favourable for overseas players. The top-tier players of the CPL last year received $160,000 (US Dollars). Three years ago, that would equate to roughly £110,000. Now, with the UK pound worth around $1.33 (US), it’s up to £120,000. Not only does this affect overseas players considering The Hundred, it will also work the other way with a league like the CPL becoming more lucrative for English players.
  24. On top of the obvious benefits of choosing the CPL over The Hundred, some T20 mercenaries might also factor in that playing in a new format won’t advance their career T20 statistics. For example, a player like AB de Villiers might have a target of reaching 10,000 career T20 runs before he retired.
  25. The Hundred is also in a particularly busy part of the international cricketing calendar. Looking at the ICC’s Future Tour Programme, Australia are the only team without a series scheduled in August 2020. In 2021, all 12 Test-playing nations have series during The Hundred. Put simply, most current internationals won’t be available to play.
  26. One reason that the BBL gained traction in Australia was the number of ex-internationals who played in it. Although they weren’t at their peak, old pros like Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting, David Hussey and Shane Warne added a star quality to the competition. Virtually all Australians knew who they were. Thanks to 14 years of Sky’s exclusive broadcast deals, there are no active equivalents in English cricket. Almost all of the players who were household names, back when cricket was on free-to-air television, have long since retired. The notable exceptions are Trescothick, Bell and Anderson, none of whom excel in the shorter formats.
  27. Likewise, foreign stars are typically unknown in the UK. Even if the ECB did manage to attract AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle, Brendon McCullum, even Virat Kohli (and for any number of reasons that last one won’t happen), virtually no one would know who they were. Actors on Hollyoaks are more famous in the UK than the best cricketers in the world.
  28. With the cream of T20 talent around the world unlikely to be attracted to England for The Hundred, a large portion of what’s left are has-beens. Players who made a big impact years ago but now get employed on reputation alone, if they’re even drafted by teams at all. On the other hand, the ECB might think that such ‘big names’ would draw cricket fans into watching it. I would be genuinely unsurprised if the teams for The Hundred were the 2020 equivalents to Shane Warne’s All Stars team which toured America or the ill-fated Masters Champions League.
  29. In 2014, the ECB 40 was replaced by the 50-over One Day Cup because it was felt that playing slightly different formats than those played at international level might disadvantage England players. Whilst the two formats are very similar, the ECB thought that the tactics and pacing of the games were slightly different and that might cause problems. Flash forwards five years and the ECB are making the same mistake yet again.
  30. The Hundred will be run concurrently with England’s 50-over competition. This means that England’s best white ball cricketers will likely not play any of the 50-over format, which you would expect would weaken the England ODI team in the long run.
  31. The reduction in status of the One Day Cup might also cause some counties to lose some money when it comes to memberships and attendances. Playing games in grounds with smaller capacities, lower ticket prices and in smaller towns, it’s likely the attendances and revenues for the competition will plummet.
  32. It also removes some county cricket from the TV schedules, as it is highly unlikely that Sky will broadcast any games from the diminished One Day Cup. Last season, Sky showed at least 12 One Day Cup games, in 2020 that will drop to 0.
  33. County cricket’s main money spinner, the T20 Blast, might also take a hit. The tournament will be played much earlier in the season, in May and June. The cooler weather at this time of year might adversely affect attendances, as might the perception that it is a lesser standard of competition to The Hundred.
  34. The whole process of creating the format has seemed oddly backwards. The ECB has begun with announcing a fully formed proposal, which was kept secret from virtually everyone in English cricket, and then ‘consulted’ the ‘stakeholders’. I put ‘consulted’ in quotes because there doesn’t seem to be much evidence of the ECB actually listening to anyone. And I put ‘stakeholders’ in quotes because I really hate the word, and wanted to make clear that it was used by someone else.
  35. Without consulting anyone prior to the official announcement last year, the ECB based this new format almost solely on research they funded to discover the best way to attract new cricket fans. The results of this research were so clear and compelling in their support for the changes the ECB made that the ECB have refused to release it, for fear that it would make The Hundred too popular. Or, perhaps more likely, that the ECB’s justifications would collapse like a house of cards under even the vaguest scrutiny. It’s one or the other…
  36. Michael Vaughan supports it. Whilst perhaps not 100% accurate (since he often takes both sides of an argument), taking the opposite view to Vaughan is usually the wise choice.
  37. See also: Matthew Syed.
  38. See also: Shane Warne.
  39. See also: Simon Hughes. ‘The Analyst’ also initially claimed credit for inventing the format, before becoming a lot quieter once the backlash started.
  40. Another group of people who openly support The Hundred are players who expect to benefit financially from the new competition. Whilst I don’t blame them at all for looking out for their own interest, you might look at (for example) Eoin Morgan’s statements over the years declaring every competition and format he’s ever played in to be the best in the world or something similar and consider his credibility.
  41. The ECB has been particularly ruthless dealing with dissent in recent years, and so people who work for them or for counties which rely on handouts and hosting rights will probably publicly support The Hundred despite any private reservations they have. The ECB’s chairman has already apparently threatened Surrey with losing hosting rights to The Hundred and Test matches if they don’t fall into line. To quote an (anonymous) county chief executive, Colin Graves is “exactly that petty, and he’s exactly that nuts.”
  42. Sport in the UK has a history of taking a long time to accept new teams. Welsh rugby has taken years to recover supporters lost when nine clubs merged into five regional teams.
  43. The Hundred also has the problem of teams essentially only existing for five weeks, only guaranteed to play seven games each. That’s barely any time for people to form a connection with the teams, particularly since only two or three of those games will be on Freeview.
  44. Even if people do miraculously latch on to a team in the new competition, they’d still have to wait 11 months from the final to the start of next year’s The Hundred.That’s a long time for people to keep their excitement or even their memories of the competition alive.
  45. If a fan of The Hundred keeps their love for their team for the requisite 11 months, there’s then little guarantee there will be an even vaguely similar squad. Whilst obviously personnel changes are part of virtually any team sport, wholesale changes seem to happen fairly often in franchise-style T20 leagues. That means that a fan’s three favourite players on a team might be playing for three separate teams a year later, and their love for the team will be diminished as a result.
  46. The ECB are running it. Let’s be honest, they couldn’t organise a beer-based party in a brewery. A new competition in a new format? There’s no chance this ends well.
  47. The people in charge of The Hundred teams are, more or less, the people who have run English cricket into the ground in the first place. The same county chief executives that devastated their club’s finances so comprehensively that they had no choice but to accept the ECB’s offer of cash are now running their local The Hundred teams. It’s been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. It seems pretty insane to believe that the people currently in charge could manage any project competently.
  48. Even the name has issues. The Hundred. If that sounds familiar to you, it’s very similar to the name of an American sci-fi TV show called “The 100” on E4. They have the Twitter handle ‘@The100‘, the hashtag #The100 is used almost exclusively by fans of the show. Likewise, TheHundred.co.uk is the website for a gastropub in Ashendon. Surely one of the most basic rules of launching a new product nowadays is to choose a name where you can pick up all of the social media accounts?
  49. Even when I search on Google for ‘The Hundred’, it isn’t in the top 5 or 6 results. To put that in context, I’m a cricket fan, I live in England, and I’ve been searching for articles about The Hundred almost constantly over the last few weeks. Despite all of that, Google’s personalised algorithms still think that I must be looking for the American sci-fi TV show. That’s how poorly chosen the name is.
  50. It also misses the clear marketing open goal of launching a Twenty-Twenty competition in the year 2020. I mean, it’s right there…
  51. There’s also the irony that it will be incredibly rare for batsmen to score a hundred runs in a The Hundred game, even more so than in T20s.
  52. Neil Snowball (that’s his actual name), the Warwickshire CEO, said that the “The Hundred [competition board] did a dummy draft in December where they played out how it might work. When you looked at the eight teams I challenge anyone in cricket not to get excited about the teams playing each other.” If true, you would think the first thing the ECB would do is release that draft to excite English cricket fans. Unless, of course, English cricket fans would know enough to realise that many of the players named would be unavailable or that the teams weren’t noticeably stronger than the better county T20 sides.
  53. One apparent motive for the creation of The Hundred was to differentiate the new competition from the T20 Blast. Whilst it is undoubtedly different in several small (and mostly annoying) ways, it mostly appears to just be a slightly worse version of T20. Not different enough to attract people who don’t like T20s, not similar enough to keep all T20 fans on board.
  54. The names (or “identities”, which is the term the ECB is using) for the 8 teams are almost certainly going to be cringe-inducing crap. Quite frankly, the current ones the counties use are already bad enough: Vikings, Bears, Lions, Falcons, Eagles, etc. The whole thing reminds me of when I played computer games which didn’t have the licenses for real team names and used bland and generic alternatives. It’s funny in a game, but kind of pathetic in a sport. Given the ECB’s inherent conservatism I also expect them to be extraordinarily bland, which means we’ll be deprived of awesome team names like Multan Sultans or Rising Pune Supergiants.
  55. Bowlers only get a maximum of 20 deliveries. What annoys me most about T20 is that great bowlers are so restricted in the impact they can make in a game, and The Hundred just makes it worse.
  56. Teams, commentators, and fans will have difficulty gauging the performances in the new competition because there won’t be any precedent from past games. Is 160 a good team score? Is a 40 in The Hundred equivalent to a 50 in T20? What’s a good economy rate over 20 deliveries? It might take years to find out…
  57. It will have a ‘strategic time out’, or an extra ad break in other words. Good for Sky, annoying for anyone watching. Particularly on the advert-less BBC.
  58. The ECB’s new strategy document, “Inspiring Generations”, says they will offer a new junior participation programme linked to The Hundred. It’s only been three years since the last one was launched, All Stars Cricket, and it probably means more work for hard-pressed club administrators and coaches.
  59. Speaking of clubs, the ECB will also probably try to get senior club teams to switch from T20 to The Hundred. More work for administrators, more fights, etc…
  60. The Hundred is costing the ECB (and therefore English cricket in general) a colossal sum of money. Two years ago, it was projected to cost £13m per year to run. Right now, the ECB has already assigned £180m over the next five years to run the new competition. At that rate of increase, by 2021 the costs will rise to roughly £100m per year.
  61. At some point, the amount spent on The Hundred will be so vast that it would have been cheaper to simply have some more England internationals on Freeview with Sky paying less for the TV rights. Quite frankly, we may already be past that point.
  62. The increasing costs of The Hundred have already had an effect on England developing young players, with their pace programme and overseas placement programme both being cut to make room in the budget. The pace programme is no great loss, it seemed mostly to injure promising English fast bowlers, but overseas placements could be more important. An issue England have had in recent years is an inability to deal with conditions abroad, and giving young potential Test players experience of different environments could be a useful way of combatting this.
  63. The ECB have promised that 10% of The Hundred’s ‘net revenue’ (ie profits) will go towards grassroots cricket. Given the huge loss they project over the first five years of the competition, it seems massively unlikely that the grassroots will every receive this much-needed money.
  64. The ECB is spending £6m per year solely on “event production”, which means gimmicks like cheerleaders and fireworks. To be honest, I always see these things as an admission that the game itself isn’t enough to excite the fans in the crowd or on TV. They also look bad if they’re in front of mostly empty stands.
  65. The fireworks and cheerleaders also show that the ECB is basically copying the basic T20 competition template, despite their protestations of innovation. The Hundred will be visually indistinguishable from the 20 or so other competitions around the world.
  66. Some teams are saying that they will favour players on their county squads in The Hundred draft. This means that players would be incentivized to play for the 8 host counties to increase their chances of getting a big payday in the new competition
  67. If The Hundred teams share staff and administration with the county teams, this will probably mean that the better-run counties will host the better-run The Hundred teams. Or, to put it another way, the Cardiff-based team will suck because Glamorgan suck. This does not bode well for the success of many teams in The Hundred, to be honest.
  68. It appears that the host counties will gain make more money from The Hundred than was first expected. This is a crucial point because the ECB’s stated plans before the counties voted to approve the new competition appeared to minimise any chances for the 8 larger counties to profit. This would appear, at least from an outside perspective, to have been a purposeful deceit in order to get the 10 smaller counties to support the new competition. A project which is built on lies is unlikely to be sound.
  69. This financial imbalance could lead to a two-tier county system. Apart from anything else, this could harm the England team in the long-term. ‘Smaller’ counties like Somerset, Durham and Worcestershire have been developing their own quality young cricketers in recent years, whilst The Hundred hosts Nottinghamshire, Hampshire and particularly Glamorgan have contributed virtually none. If poorer teams will inevitably lose their best players to richer counties, they lose any incentive to continue pouring resources into youth coaching and scouting.
  70. The men’s player draft will be this October. At least nine months before the first game of The Hundred and at least six months before the 2020 T20 Blast begins. Imagine that a player has a breakthrough performance in the 2020 T20 Blast. If they weren’t already picked in the draft nine months before, their chances of being involved are very limited. Conversely, a player who is in terrible form throughout 2020 might already have secured their lucrative spot in the squad.
  71. Nine months also seems an incredibly long wait in terms of building hype for the new competition. The draft will in essence be the launch event for The Hundred, but by the time of the first game most people will have forgotten about it. As a publicity event, that makes the whole thing seem kind of pointless.
  72. When the format was first announced, the women’s competition was given equal billing with the men’s. This was seen as a step towards the ECB treating women’s cricket as of equal importance to men’s cricket. Since then, the fact that women will also be playing The Hundred has barely been mentioned, confirming the ECB’s priorities and biases.
  73. Even the name is problematic in this regard. The ICC have recently changed their naming conventions to their competitions, properly recognising the women’s game. So this year, for the first time, England will be hosting the ICC Men’s World Cup rather than the ICC World Cup. Following the same logic, the ECB’s new competitions should be called The Men’s Hundred and The Women’s Hundred.
  74. Something which might worry women’s cricket fans is the fact that the latest BBC article on The Hundred fails to mention the women’s competition. The BBC has the rights to broadcast eight of the games from The Women’s Hundred, but I am not certain that they have to schedule them on BBC 1 or 2. They could quite easily put them on the Red Button channel or even have them as streaming-only on their website, neither of which would give women’s cricket much publicity.
  75. The timing of The Women’s Hundred has yet to be confirmed, but it seems likely that it will take place over the same period as the men’s competition. This is probably bad for the women’s competition, since it is likely that the ECB will schedule the games in less advantageous time slots such as weekday afternoons rather than allowing the men’s and women’s tournaments to compete for ratings. It’s worth noting that the Women’s Big Bash League in Australia, probably the most successful women’s domestic cricket competition, starts and finishes well before the men’s competition (with just a bit of overlap).
  76. If the women’s teams will be hosted by the same grounds as the men’s, the problem of low attendance and the image problems that brings will be even more acute. There’s currently a relatively small audience for women’s domestic cricket compared to the men, and the women’s international team has been poorly marketed even though they won the World Cup recently. Put simply, there’s no way that a women’s team consisting of 2-3 England internationals and several other more obscure players could hope to fill a 25,000 cricket ground like The Oval or Edgbaston at this moment in time. The Kia Super League didn’t even have 25,000 attendees in the whole of the 2017 competition. And if they can’t, it makes women’s cricket look bad on live TV.
  77. Alternatively, it appears that at least some women’s The Hundred games will be hosted by county outgrounds, such as Beckenham. That might present a problem for Sky and the BBC because smaller grounds like this might not be suitable for broadcasting live from. Loughborough (which hosts one of the Kia Super League teams) had this problem, for example.
  78. If The Women’s Hundred games are televised from smaller, less developed grounds that would make the women’s competition appear to be distinctly second-rate when compared to the men’s. Smaller stands, no floodlights, and no media centre for the journalists and commentators. Playing at amateur cricket grounds makes professional women’s cricket appear amateurish.
  79. If games (perhaps even a majority of games) in The Women’s Hundred aren’t televised, it would make the typical franchise-style scheduling certifiably insane. Literally the only reason for playing one game at a time is to allow every single one to be shown on television without overlap. Without needing to accomodate a broadcaster, you’d play all of your games on the weekends or after work on weekdays in order to maximise attendance like every other professional sport (and of course the T20 Blast) already does. If three or four of them are on at the same time, who cares?
  80. I fear that the tone-deaf ECB will give The Women’s Hundred teams gendered identities. Which is to say, I think they will make the teams ‘girly’. If you look at the T20 Blast for example, none of the team names would be out-of-place for a women’s team. Falcons, Lions, Lightning, Foxes, Steelbacks, Outlaws, Bears, Rapids, Vikings, Eagles, Spitfires or Sharks, none of them imply gender. Also, all of the animals used are all predators. I suspect that would not be the case for women’s teams, with the ECB’s marketing ‘geniuses’ probably suggesting that naming the teams the Unicorns or Roses will attract more girls to the games.
  81. The ECB are currently considering a groundbreaking proposal which will, for the first time, fund professional domestic cricket for women in England. The main stumbling block will be the cost, probably around £3m per year in the beginning. Whilst a small portion of the ECB’s budget, I fear that it would be one of the first things sacrificed by the ECB if the costs of The Hundred continued to grow at their current exponential rate.
  82. Whilst we know the draft for The Men’s Hundred is expected to be in October, no one seems to have mentioned the draft for the women’s competition. In fact, barely anyone seems to have any clue about any details regarding The Women’s Hundred. This could well mean that it ends up being rushed, poorly marketed, and a disaster from beginning to end. If it fails to garner a large enough audience, that will be seen as further proof that women’s cricket is not economically viable and not worth investing in, despite the success Cricket Australia has had recently.
  83. For all that the ECB might claim The Hundred will be a shorter and more exciting format than T20, it will also be slower. The Hundred will have 20 overs of 5 balls, so there will be 19 breaks between the overs plus the ‘strategic time out’. A hundred balls in a T20 is 16.4 overs, so that would be 16 breaks between overs and no time out. I would wager that the T20 takes less time to bowl a hundred balls.
  84. One major premise for The Hundred seems to be that it is a format which will appear to casual, generic sports fans. People who watch almost any sport when it’s on. Most of the sports that these people watch last 90 minutes to 2 hours: Football, rugby and Formula 1, to name three. Therefore, it seems odd to me that the ECB have chosen a format which will still take about 2 and a half hours to play. You can fit cricket into a football-sized timeframe, it’s called T10. Eoin Morgan has said that T10 is “brilliant”. As cricket formats go it is, at the very least, not any more complicated than T20 cricket (which is more than could be said for The Hundred).
  85. Even before its launched, The Hundred has made English cricket an international laughing-stock. See, for example, this video on the new format’s rules by ‘The Exploding Heads’.
  86. No current scoring software can handle The Hundred, including (I believe) the ECB’s own PlayCricket. At best, this means lots of programmers have a lot of work to do in the next year. At worst, this could cause technical problems for a lot of organisations which might be covering the competition.
  87. We’re only seven months away from draft for The Hundred and there hasn’t been a whisper about sponsors yet. Who the ECB choose, and why, is a big concern of mine. The right commercial sponsor could do a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to marketing the competition and promoting junior cricket. A company like McDonald’s, for example, would be able to give out The Hundred-branded cricket sets with their Happy Meals, along with prize draws to attend the games. The ECB have tended to simply take the highest financial offer, which has resulted in most things in English cricket being sponsored by banks and insurance companies who do nothing to promote the game.
  88. This assumes the ECB can even find a sponsor. Cricket is not a particularly popular game in England right now, and there is the risk that The Hundred will turn out to be an embarrassing mess. If I worked at a big business, I wouldn’t want to invest in the ECB right now…
  89. If Birmingham, for example, won the inaugural The Men’s Hundred, where would the trophy go? Would it sit in the Warwickshire trophy cabinet, even though most of the players came from other counties? Would there be banners outside the ground proclaiming it to be the “Home Of The Men’s Hundred Champions”? One issue with distancing The Hundred from the counties is that there’s no clear association between the teams and their homes.
  90. The first ever professional game of The Hundred will be televised, and there’s every chance that there will be on-field confusion, miscommunication and mistakes from players, umpires and the TV crew as they adjust to the new format’s rules. That’s the kind of thing most organisations want to happen behind closed doors. There’s a reason why theatres have rehearsals before allowing the public to see it.
  91. One thing which might help that problem would be for the counties to play practice The Hundred games in preseason, but they currently have no reason to do that. It would cost them money, take away time from practicing formats they actually compete in, and the majority of their players wouldn’t be involved in the new competition anyway. The only reasonable way to solve that problem would be for the ECB to pay the expenses for the additional games, which would make The Hundred even more costly.
  92. Every franchise-style competition around the world has brought with it an increased risk of match fixing and other betting-related problems. Having every game streaming live around the world makes it a dream for bookmakers, and there’s a lot of money to be made if you have inside information or a player prepared to fail on purpose. Whilst this is obviously not specific to The Hundred, most T20 leagues around the world seem to have had issues with it, there will be a massive increase in attempts to corrupt English players. Whether the ECB and PCA are prepared for that is, to say the least, up for debate.
  93. Another problem affecting every T20 competition around the world is the threat of poor weather. With all of the games played in a condensed period, a week or two of rain might cause severe damage to The Hundred. It certainly wouldn’t seem out of character for Manchester or Cardiff to have an abundance of precipitation, for example.
  94. They’re going to play ‘Sweet Caroline’ during every game, I can feel it. God, I hate that song…
  95. You might be under the impression that people in Yorkshire have a rivalry with Lancashire. Whilst technically true, the people they tend to hate most are people from a slightly different part of Yorkshire. People in Leeds despise people in Bradford, Sheffield, Hull and York, and the feeling is mutual. Yorkshire CCC manage to keep this loathing mostly under wraps by doing two things: Not calling themselves ‘Leeds’ and playing a few games away from Headingley at Scarborough. The new The Hundred team will probably do neither of these, and so will likely alienate a large number of Yorkshire cricket fans in the process.
  96. See also: Manchester and Lancashire. Especially if they play in red.
  97. It seems likely that the creation of The Hundred will cause the ECB to add even more jobs at their headquarters. Already the number of ECB employees has increased from 222 in 2014 to 321 last year, and that’s without having two competitions running concurrently and a marketing budget with 7 zeroes like they will have in 2020.
  98. I have a massive aversion to management jargon, and consider literally every single person who uses it an idiot whose ideas I can safely ignore. If you’re unable to use plain English when presenting your thoughts, particularly to the public, then you shouldn’t have a job which requires it. For an example, see Colin Graves’ use of “engagement”, “watershed moment”, and “stakeholders” in this ECB press release regarding The Hundred.
  99. It is an important aspect of sport, at least to me, that it can both lift your spirits or ruin your day depending on the result of a game. This can be seen in the way that the economy gains a boost when the England men’s football team do well, whilst everyone seems miserable and short-tempered the day after England crash out of the World Cup. Likewise, the players seem devastated when they are knocked out, sometimes even crying. I doubt that anyone, fan or player, will invest that much emotion in The Hundred. And if they don’t, fundamentally speaking, what’s the point?
  100. The one thing which annoys me most about the ECB’s creation of The Hundred is the premise that shortening cricket will draw more people to the sport than leaving it as it is. It is almost never challenged, the idea that cricket is ‘too long’ to attract many new fans. And so the ECB designed a tournament which they think will attract people who follow football.

    But I don’t think there’s a large number of latent sports fans in England waiting for new sport which takes 2 hours to play. Football and (to a lesser extent) rugby have the thing sewn up. There are over a hundred professional football clubs, most of which have around since the 19th century. To think you could possibly compete against that level and consistency of support which has built over decades with 8 made up teams playing for 5 weeks a year is ridiculous.

    There is a market which has largely been untapped in English sports, and that would be people who enjoy taking things slower. People who binge watch on Netflix, listen to slow-paced podcast series, or read long essays. People who probably won’t have been exposed to Test cricket in the past 14 years, and possibly never exposed to ODI/50-over cricket at all. It’s a demographic which several companies have been able to exploit financially, and the best thing is that ECB wouldn’t need to do anything in order to attract them except show them some longer formats. No ‘innovative’ rule changes, no £100m marketing budgets, no re-inventing the wheel. Just show it to them, and build the audience over time.

    Such a simple solution rarely appeals to expensive consultants, nor the ineffective managers who place more weight on advice depending on how much they pay for it. People like this want to ‘make their mark’ with a bold project, and then typically leave for new pastures before the dust settles. The Hundred is already projected to cost almost a fifth of the ECB’s Sky TV revenue from 2020-24, which has to make it a huge gamble.

    But, for people like Graves and Harrison, it is the best sort of gamble. If it works, they get all of the credit and will be lauded as the saviours of English cricket. If it doesn’t, it will be the fans who will pay the price. They will be the ones asked to stump even more money to support the sport, to work harder to save their local clubs, or see the teams they support collapse financially.

    And so, despite every bone in my body telling me it’s crap, I genuinely hope The Hundred succeeds. I hope that it’s a cricket spectacle which awes us current fans. I hope it inspires a new generation to take up the game. I really hope Michael McIntyre isn’t involved at all. But I can think of a hundred reasons why it won’t work.

As always, please post your comments below. Especially if you want to add something I’ve forgotten to the list!

EDIT:

Obviously there are many more than a hundred things wrong with The Hundred. As they occur to me, or as you guys suggest them, I’ll add them to the list here.

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37 thoughts on “A Hundred Reasons Why (The Hundred Won’t Work)

  1. thelegglance Mar 24, 2019 / 11:50 am

    Two things to note:

    1) I am genuinely in awe of Danny for managing to come up with a hundred things.

    2) He’s completely mad to consider it in the first place.

    Liked by 2 people

    • dannycricket Mar 24, 2019 / 11:56 am

      You’re not wrong. It actually works well as an ironic allegory for The Hundred. I came up with the title first, grossly underestimating how much time and work it would actually need. By the time I realised, I was already too committed to back out and had to just plough on regardless of the cost.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Quebecer Mar 24, 2019 / 1:39 pm

        It’s a tad Theresa of you, old thing. Far more honourable, obviously.

        Like

        • dannycricket Mar 24, 2019 / 1:41 pm

          Well I can’t dance and clearly should have quit rather than finishing what I started, so I can’t deny there are some similarities.

          Like

  2. Caroline McCullough Mar 24, 2019 / 2:02 pm

    Need to get your facts right – Beckenham Cricket Club play at a ground in Foxgrove Road

    Like

    • dannycricket Mar 24, 2019 / 2:15 pm

      Fair enough, I wrongly read “outground” to mean club cricket ground. I’ll change it.

      Like

    • LordCanisLupus Mar 24, 2019 / 7:45 pm

      Yep, the Beckenham ground was the old Lloyd’s Bank sports ground, which I played on before Kent took it over.

      Like

  3. Mark Mar 24, 2019 / 2:53 pm

    The reason they are giving it to Glamorgan is because Cardiff is a major city, and has a large Rugby stadium that people like Shinny toy really believe, (stop sniggering at the back) will one day attract 60,000 people to watch this format.

    I’m not joking, they boast of filling out Wembley and the Millennium stadium in some future world. I think they are out of their minds. Then again, the more they make it a circus with celebrities the more it might just work in this celebrity obsessed age.

    But it won’t be cricket. It will be a kind of…Its a Knockout merged with Saturday night at The London Palladium.

    Like

    • dannycricket Mar 24, 2019 / 3:34 pm

      One thing I don’t like about this (other than my justified loathing for Glamorgan) is that other, larger cities would be more interesting hosts than Cardiff.

      Cardiff: 346,090
      Bristol: 428,234
      Liverpool: 466,415
      Bradford: 522,452
      Sheffield: 552,698

      And that’s ignoring the possibility of copying the BBL and having teams sharing a ground in London. That would arguably be the easiest way to fill as many large cricket grounds as possible,

      Like

      • Mark Mar 24, 2019 / 4:33 pm

        Does anyone really want to watch so called cricket in a football or rugby stadium regardless of which city it’s in? I mean what size will some of the boundaries be? The playing surface in some Aussie stadiums is much bigger.

        I’m also not sure The BBC should be wasting licence fee money to act as free advertising for a new untried event, and get the ECB off their own hook of making cricket invisible for the last 15 years.

        Finally, I do laugh at the notion that The ECB is going to use Test players for PR purposes. Most of the new mums will have no idea who they are. And the ones that do know who they are will be pissed off they are not playing. Seriously? they pay people hundreds of thousands of pounds to dream up this stuff?

        Like

        • dannycricket Mar 24, 2019 / 4:53 pm

          Yeah, this article suggests that the BBC are paying £13m per year for the cricket from 2020-2024. That’s quite a bit more than I think The Hundred is worth, even if it also includes two men’s T20Is…

          Like

          • LordCanisLupus Mar 24, 2019 / 7:30 pm

            I was advised, a while back, that BBC paid nothing for the rights. Whether that is true or not, who knows, and we may never know, but the source is in TV and told me this – maybe figuratively in that £13m is “nothing” in sports rights terms.

            Reading that Lyle piece is utterly depressing, and just twaddle. Did England’s world cup run need cheerleaders and music to get the country enthralled? No. Would anyone miss the ever so slightly misogynistic cheerleaders at any sporting event? Those that do need to give their head a wobble.

            If the games are good, the people will watch. If there is meaning to the event, then people will follow. I remain to be convinced both of these are served by the Hundred.

            Like

      • LordCanisLupus Mar 24, 2019 / 7:44 pm

        The Sydney and Melbourne teams, Sixers and Thunder, Renegades and Stars, have their own home venues and don’t, at the moment, share venues. The IPL takes some teams home games out of the main stadium and plays them elsewhere (though this doesn’t look to be happening this season – maybe imagining things). Quite why one or two of the games for the Welsh team, or Yorkshire’s, can’t be played at some of the bigger venues in the region (Bristol, Taunton, Chester-le-Street) is for the organisers to tell us, especially if you want to spread the gospel.

        Like

        • dannycricket Mar 24, 2019 / 7:48 pm

          I would guess the reason is that, with only 4 home games each, losing 1 game to an outground reduces games at the main ground by 25%.

          Like

          • LordCanisLupus Mar 24, 2019 / 7:50 pm

            Yes. I forgot that this is not home and away. YET!

            Like

        • dannycricket Mar 24, 2019 / 8:05 pm

          I’ve never closely followed the BBL and always assumed that, because there was only one first-class club in Melbourne and Sydney, the two clubs in each city must share. I’d obviously not realised that there’d be two (or more) AFL stadiums the BBL could use instead.

          Like

          • LordCanisLupus Mar 24, 2019 / 8:14 pm

            Yes. Melbourne Renegades use the Docklands Stadium (the one that indoor ODIs) and the Stars the MCG. In Sydney one team uses the SCG and the other at the Sydney Showground (not the Olympic Stadium).

            Like

        • Mark Mar 24, 2019 / 9:02 pm

          Bristol makes more sense in that it is better for both Somerset and Gloucestershire. However, I think there is a bit of politics in this. The ECB are keen to keep the cricket flag flying in Wales.

          To be honest if I was either a fan of either Somerset or Gloucester I would stick to the 20/20. I’m still really not sure who this event is for? I suspect they will be reluctant to lose the heavy drinking after work hours workers seeing as that is more profitable than bouncy castles.

          Liked by 1 person

          • LordCanisLupus Mar 24, 2019 / 9:08 pm

            It was always said that the silent W in the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) was a very powerful one.

            Like

  4. Richard Bailey Mar 24, 2019 / 3:59 pm

    101. The ECB scrapped the KSL to free up players for the Women’s 100. At a Surrey forum when I asked Ebony at this she was disappointed to see all the work building franchise brands for women’s t20 was being binned for a pipe dream

    Like

    • dannycricket Mar 24, 2019 / 4:10 pm

      I won’t add this one because *hopefully* (as mentioned in #81) the ECB will use some of its TV money to properly fund women’s professional domestic cricket. If that happened, women’s cricket would have The Hundred, a T20 and a 50 over competition, which is an improvement on the current situation where a single 5-week T20 tournament is the only professional cricket most English women play in.

      Like

  5. LordCanisLupus Mar 24, 2019 / 8:43 pm

    Tee hee,,,,

    He has nothing to add. I rest my case.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Mar 24, 2019 / 9:22 pm

      I have always liked Bumble, and I like his sense of humour. But it is ludicrous for him to enter this debate because he is employed by the broadcaster who is the ECBs partner.

      What is he really going to say other than positives?

      Bumble was a leading light of the 20/20 when it first appeared. That too was supposed to grow the game in this country. It was a bit of fun. Hit and giggle. Yes, it has become massive in India, but has it grown the overall game in the UK? Why do we need another dumbed down version?

      I’m not sure it is the role of broadcasters to become stenographers for the governing body. I guess it’s inevitable though when a billion pounds are changing hands.

      Like

      • dannycricket Mar 24, 2019 / 10:15 pm

        In all honesty, I tend not to get particularly angry or annoyed with people on the internet. If someone wants to try to insult me or my work, I find politeness and peacefulness a better approach than retaliation and recrimination.

        It tends to bug the hell out of people too, of course…

        Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol Mar 25, 2019 / 1:15 pm

      5 years ago next Sunday, on my very last day as a Sky subcriber…

      https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/mar/31/england-humiliation-holland-world-twenty20

      I might allow myself a self-satisfied grin at no longer making a financial contribution to this asset-stripping, back-scratching crud. I really don’t feel like I’ve missed much at all – I doubt there’s been a better Test series than the last one I watched live (SA v Aus 2013/14), and this nonsense just confirms they learned nothing from the ‘outside cricket’ backlash.

      Like

  6. Wesley Mar 24, 2019 / 8:46 pm

    I also laugh every time baseball is given as the “razmatazz” sport. The people who say that have never watched a baseball game.
    Ever.

    Baseball is a game where a group of men stand in a field, in unchanged white uniforms, waiting for the ball whilst the other team sit on a bench.
    The pitchers are so dominant that in a 3 hour game the batters will probably get less than 10 hits in a game.
    Baseball is making rule changes to reduce the length of games and is worrying about the pace of play and crowds.

    If someone ever tries to equate T20/hundred cricket to baseball, I give you permission to say “bollocks”.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus Mar 24, 2019 / 8:54 pm

      I concur entirely as a baseball fan. A massive one.

      Just reading a book on the purchase of the Dodgers. This dying sport, as America claims it is, has massive TV deals. Enormous ones. It fills airtime on local sports networks. It still has a great place, if slightly diminished, in the local hearts. Minor league is also brilliant fun.

      Ed Smith tried this shit on, and he appears to know next to nothing about it as well.

      Like

  7. Topshelf Mar 24, 2019 / 9:15 pm

    Brilliant. My admiration knows no bounds.

    Addendum to 55/59/62: Congratulations to the ECB for chopping 40 balls from almost all state school cricket, and probably much kids’ club cricket.

    Teachers, often unpaid for after-school sport, will love the chance to knock off 30 mins earlier. Clubs can be sure they can get the kids’ stuff done before the adults need the square.

    Don’t worry though, the private schools will keep up their 50 over stuff, and county systems presumably also. Although I doubt they’ll be interested in kids who’ve never bowled more than 20 balls in a match and only know to smash it from ball one.

    Looking forward to Hugo Fotherington-Smythe and Rollo Ffoulkes-D’Eath terrifying the Aussies in the 2031 Ashes.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. j mareeswaran Mar 25, 2019 / 5:47 am

    I don’t have any issues with format, other than that I feel 100 balls is too long
    Maybe 72 ?

    One thing I feel strongly about is creating new teams, which I feel is totally unnecessary. They could have gone with a super league of 9 teams based on the top teams from existing Blast

    One hazard with a merit based superleague is that no team is guaranteed a spot in the super league and chairman of Yorkshire also being chairman of ECB creates a clear conflict of interest

    Other than that English can’t please everyone because the cricket season is limited due to weather conditions and there is only so much cricket that you can cram into the ‘summer’

    Like

  9. LordCanisLupus Mar 25, 2019 / 6:34 pm

    Dmitri statement on events at IPL

    Talikng in the third person rules when Dmitri says so.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Mar 25, 2019 / 8:35 pm

      My view on these issues is contrarian to the pundits. Bottom line….is it legal? If it is, why are so many people freaking out?

      Cricket makes itself look idiotic when we say something that is legal must not be done because it’s not in the spirit of the game.

      Liked by 1 person

      • dannycricket Mar 25, 2019 / 9:13 pm

        The issue isn’t whether it’s legal, but whether it’s clear. The law states that the bat has to be on or beyond the crease “the instant when the bowler would normally have been expected to release the ball”. That’s pretty hard to judge, live or on video, and leads to a situation like this where two people viewing the same event might make two different decisions.

        This shows the need for a simpler law, which would allow any TV umpire to make a precise decision.

        Like

        • pktroll (@pktroll) Mar 27, 2019 / 6:56 am

          I tend to have sympathy with the fielder when it comes to non -strikers backing up. Think liberties have been taken by batsmen for eternity. Don’t really have a great deal of time for the ‘spirit of cricket’ stuff in this respect. If you are gaining ground by the time the bowler has released the ball then you are gaining an advantage outwith the laws of the game. This is done at club level and batsmen whine about spirit of the game there too.

          I certainly never had sympathy for Buttler when he got run out v Sri Lanka a few years ago.

          Like

          • Mark Mar 27, 2019 / 10:03 am

            I agree. The spirit of cricket brigade are a bunch of hypocrites. You often find those pushing the “spirit of cricket” are fine with Sledging, or in some cases have been involved in ball tampering, drug taking, match fixing, giving information to bookmakers, Jelly bean throwing etc etc.

            Batsman take liberties backing up, And it will get worse in the limited form of the game where all runs are vital. If you abolish what the bowler did it will only give the green light to batsman to run half way down the pitch every ball.

            Should bowlers have to give a warning before they bowl a bouncer? Or for example say……

            “Excuse me old chap, my next ball will be on the stumps so watch out for LBW.”

            It has always been a batsman’s game,and 20/20 has increased that notion, so no surprise batsman think they should get a prior warning for pushing the rules. W G Grace once told an umpire when he gave him out that the crowd had come to watch Grace bat, not the umpire officiate. That attitude runs deep.

            Like

  10. rpoultz Mar 26, 2019 / 8:11 am

    Fantastic post and that’s a great effort to write 100 reasons!!

    Total agreement that there are so many faults and flaws in this new comp, and the ECB’s reasoning behind it.

    I honestly cant comprehend any need or want for this new competition. Of course it will still be cricket but creating a flawed competition for what I can see no real benefit does not make any sense whatsoever.

    Like

    • AB Mar 29, 2019 / 11:49 am

      FWIW, I was there and he was dropped on about 60. A hard-hit but relatively straightforward C&B off the spinner.

      Like

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