The Hundred: Friend or Foe?
Cricket’s newest format is divisive to say the least, but here’s why I thoroughly enjoyed my first taste of it
The Hundred. It is one of the more contentious chapters in cricket’s long and conflicted history.
The new format was a step into a brave new world for cricket in the UK, and one that added to an already busy-looking summer schedule.
Assessing its success depends on which criteria you decide to use, but with plenty of factors it enjoyed a memorable debut season.
Its first outing came in a summer during which cricket fans in the UK were able to return to arenas across the country after essentially a year’s absence.
The franchise style format of the tournament brought with it a fresh look, new sides and some of the biggest names in the game.
Bringing these big gun players to play more games in England has been great and one of the main objectives of the tournament was to be entertaining.
In this regard, it has been a resounding success.
Pre-match coin tosses in a DJ booth, fireworks and pyrotechnics and big crowds made days and nights at the Hundred feel fresh, new and exciting.
I was able to attend one match during the first season.
Trent Rockets welcomed Southern Brave (who would later go on to win the inaugural Hundred at Lord’s later that summer).
The visitors batted first and on a warm, hazy afternoon in Nottingham stuttered towards a score which was always going to be tough to defend.
Only four players made it into double figures as the Brave managed just 126–8 from their 100 balls.
Despite losing notorious big hitter Alex Hales for a golden duck, the Rockets breezed to victory.
D’Arcy Short and Dawid Malan got the job done between them, with both reaching 50 in the process, and the hosts wrapped up victory with 18 balls remaining.
There was a real party atmosphere in Trent Bridge, and what was refreshing to see was a large crowd made up of people of all ages and gender.
It was a great afternoon out, and although the cricket was one sided, I got a glimpse of the new, fresh format.
Coming away from Trent Bridge, it felt as though I witnessed the start of something special.
The tournament had given me the chance to see players live who I would likely struggle to see in other competitions.
I thought of the younger people in attendance, and those who were perhaps taking in a cricket match for the first time.
It would have been a hell of an experience, and hopefully enough of one for them to come back again.
When the dust settled on the first Hundred season, the stats told a story of success.
According to the ECB, over 500,000 tickets were bought for the tournament, and over 55% of tickets were bought by people who hadn’t bought a ticket for cricket in the UK before.
Other positive stats include that 19% of tickets bought for the 2021 tournament were for children.
A new record was set for the number of people attending women’s cricket, with over 267,000 people attending women’s Hundred games across the tournament.
This was almost double the previous record at the T20 World Cup.
The Hundred is seen as the work of Satan by some cricket fans, as something which will lead to the death of domestic cricket.
In my opinion, the ECB should be able to make the Hundred an exciting new arm of the English cricketing summer.
What really needs to be addressed is the shortage of cricket at a state school level, and the failure to make cricket widely available could have a lasting impact on the game.
In the here and now, the Hundred had a successful debut summer. It will be back this summer, and many will be hoping this success carries on.
If it continues to bring more young and new fans into the game, particularly for the women’s game, then it will take another step forward in becoming the new and established fourth arm of domestic cricket.