Where is The Hundred Competition Succeeding?
The Hundred is a brand-new professional cricket tournament that has premiered in the UK this summer. The competition, run by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), was created to engage with a new audience in the UK and inspire a younger generation into taking up cricket as spectators and players. The tournament includes 8 franchise teams based around England and Wales fighting it out over 2 100-ball innings, with a men’s and women’s competition running side by side. Now we are nearing the end of the first competition, we can evaluate where the new format has succeeded and where it may look to improve in future editions.
The Hundred has certainly succeeded when it comes to match duration. T20 cricket, even as the shortest format of the professional game, has been criticised for lasting just over 3 hours. Hundred matches last around 2 and half hours, thanks to quick turnarounds and time limits. The 30 minutes saved may seem insignificant, but for families with kids – a 9pm or 9:30pm finish is extremely valuable when compared to a 10pm finish. The shorter duration has allowed for increased concentration and engagement with both innings, which is a massive positive.
The elevation and popularity of the women’s competition has to be the standout success for The Hundred tournament so far. The competition was heralded as a big step forward for gender equality in cricket thanks to equal prize money and TV coverage, but it was never guaranteed that the women’s game would benefit as much as the men. However, The Hundred has been very successful in raising the profile of the cricketers and their skills in the women’s game. Furthermore, record breaking attendances and TV audiences for women’s cricket have shown exactly how beneficial the competition is for the sport.
With earlier finishes, cheaper prices and family incentives – The Hundred has certainly attracted and engaged with a whole new audience that have rarely had the chance to experience live professional cricket before in the UK. The launch of the competition has been targeted effectively to the younger generation and families, with crowds consisting of fans of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds. The Hundred will hopefully inspire a whole new generation to pick up a junior cricket bat and ensure cricket’s popularity for decades to come.
From a spectator perspective, cricket has been slow to adopt the technology that has been introduced in many other sports in recent years. Integration with The Hundred app where tickets are accessed, interactive games can be played and all tournament information can be found, creates a comprehensive experience for fans and attendees.
What can be improved?
Unfortunately, the player pool for the competition has been somewhat restricted because of ongoing international travel restrictions and fixture clashes. Despite many international stars still attending, this has meant that the tournament has been missing several superstars that would have elevated the competition to an even greater height. Furthermore, international fixtures have meant that England’s superstars have missed the back end of the competition which is a massive blow for fans of The Hundred.
Another area where the ECB may want to focus on is the use of used pitches. Particularly at the start of the tournament, some used wickets created low-scoring and relatively unentertaining matches. The ECB and the counties have a very busy summer schedule to plan for, but quality wickets will be needed if they want The Hundred to be the most popular cricket tournament in the world.