Thoughts on the Hundred – Part Seven – Transferring its Effects

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Now we know the three semi-finalists, Southern Brave, Oval Invincibles and Birmingham Phoenix. No, not semi-finalists, because the ECB believes firmly in a triangular formation for its knock-out stages, a preference which is stunningly hard to accept.

It means that only one of the three will play two more matches; the Eliminator losers and the table-toppers are restricted to a single game. Very strange, very lop-sided.

This was the pattern adopted for the Kia Super League of blessed memory. For all the drama of those finals at Hove the format was deeply unconvincing. Does a side have an advantage in being able to wait for the last crucial match, or is it better to warm up with an eliminator? Either way, the imbalance at the end of a hard-fought campaign is the wrong way to decide the issue.

Four semi-finalists and two finalists might be a sensible innovation. I’ll try to copyright it.

Into the Future

But the most crucial aspect of the women’s Hundred is the effect it will have on the future of other formats. Will England’s test matches, ODIs and T20s receive the same support from the public, from publicity and marketing, from the media? And ditto the Charlotte Edwards Cup and the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy which follow hard on the final.

At the last match of the regular series in Cardiff Sky’s commentators made repeated references to next year’s Hundred: who will play for whom? who will come top and bottom?

But those are minor concerns compared to the well-being of English cricket as a whole. The ECB is labouring under heavy criticism as the men’s team for the third test against India is announced. As English batters flounder, more and more people question the balance between the traditional longer forms of the game and the newer shorter ones.

The good news is that money has been pouring into the ECB’s coffers thanks to the success of the women’s games, where attendances have far exceeded original expectations. And the public has warmed to the qualities shown on the field in batting, bowling, fielding, captaincy and umpiring.We can only hope that far more people will turn up to watch the remaining games of the season than pre-Hundred (see below*). Lockdown barriers have been lifted, so attendances should benefit.
The one element sure to be missing is the steamroller effect of The Hundred’s marketing campaign. Will the new enthusiasts it attracted know where and when the nearest game to home will be played?

That has been an obvious lack in the past.

The ECB needs to ensure that the impetus so fruitfully gained over the past few weeks is maintained.
We shall see.

*For the record, here are the opening games of the post-Hundred age:

Wednesday 25 August

Charlotte Edwards Cup

SE Stars v Lightning, Guildford CC
Southern Vipers v Central Sparks, Hove
Northern Diamonds v Sunrisers, Roseworth Terrace, Gosforth
Western Storm v Thunder, Sophia Gardens, Cardiff

All matches start at 14.30