Cricket is synonymous with England, the UK being the spiritual home of cricket. After years of discussion, the England and Wales Cricket Board has decided to dive into unchartered waters with the launch of the Hundred. The initial plan was to reboot the T20 tournament, but upon further consideration, the board decided that a new approach is the best way to attract a younger and ethnically diverse audience.
So what is different?
As the name suggests, the Hundred chops down 20 deliveries from the previous T20 and introduces a fresh 100 balls per side format. The plan is to make the game simpler and shorter, fitting comfortably within a two-and-a-half-hour window. This is to make the game accessible to a wider audience, including mothers and kids who prefer the game ending by 9 pm. As expected, the ECB has received backlash on playing down the perception of the “mothers and kids” being targeted.
Other than the 100 balls delivered in an innings, other tweaks to the game include measuring innings by balls rather than overs as was the norm. The six-ball overs are now a thing of the past as they are replaced with a set of five or ten deliveries by bowlers, which will be done at the captain’s prerogative.
In an attempt to present equality in both the men’s and women’s editions, the term ‘batsman’ has been removed from the Hundreds vocabulary and replaced with ‘batter,’ a gender-neutral phrase. Both editions have similar branding, promised the same prize money and the women’s match launched 24 hours before the men’s, which is unheard of.
The Hundred consists of eight city teams, each with two groups – men’s and women’s – including local and international players. The tournament has faced withdrawals due to the Covid 19 pandemic seeing it lose high-profile international players. However, some of the best players like Eoin Morgan, the World Cup winner, Adil Rashid, and even Jason Roy have been confirmed to play all through the tournament, which is a great news for fantasy cricket.
Well Yes. Many critics have found the Hundred to be unnecessary and expensive owing to the fact that T20 was already a successful format. They argue that the only difference is the 20 fewer deliveries which don’t warrant a new format. The Hundred also aims to give more attention and showcase the women’s edition of the game by offering equal prize money in both competitions. This claim has, however, faced criticism as there is a huge contrast in the pay brackets of the male and female players. The female players are set to earn between £3600 and £15,000 while male players will pocket between £24,000 and £100,000.
The Invincibles vs. the Manchester Originals match kick-starts the tournament in the women’s competition, followed by the men’s. From then on, all teams will play each other, with the team that finishes at the top going to the finals.
Most of the matches will be broadcast on free-to-air television to increase viewership. The ECB chief executive says they are confident that this tournament will generate income through various means such as online betting on cricket, which is crucial to reviving English cricket.