PAUL NEWMAN: Don’t try to fool us while trying to woo us with the Hundred… everything that has worked could have been achieved with investment and belief in the existing white-ball tournaments
- The jury is very much still out on the Hundred despite the impressive start
- Young players have been given a fabulous platform to show what they can do
- Biggest plus has been the promotion and opportunities for the women’s game
- But exisiting white-ball tournaments could have received more investment
No sport does in-fighting so spectacularly as cricket. Even when it has so much to feel good about, It can never quite resist a good old verbal dust-up and the creation of bitter division.
Take the ECB’s attempt to reinvent the cricketing wheel with the Hundred. It does not seem possible to try to take a measured view of the start of the game’s great gamble. Instead an atmosphere of fear and loathing is rapidly enveloping the game.
This new format, certainly according to some over-excitable commentators, is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Dare to disagree and you are dismissed as an old dinosaur.
The jury is very much still out on the Hundred despite the healthy crowds at the games
So, at the risk of coming across all pterodactyl, I have not seen anything yet to contradict my pre-tournament view that the jury is very much still out on the Hundred.
Yes, much of the cricket has been good and young players, for example Yorkshire’s Harry Brook, have been given a fabulous platform to show what they can do under a big spotlight.
And, as we said in this column the day the tournament started, unquestionably the biggest plus has been the promotion and opportunities for the women’s game. If there is a big winner from this whole ‘revolution’ then it is definitely women’s cricket.
Young players such as Yorkshire’s Harry Brook have been given a fabulous platform to shine
But all that has been good about the Hundred could just as easily have been achieved by investment and belief in the existing white-ball tournaments that have been marginalised by the whole thing. Can you imagine, for instance, how good a new two-division Twenty20 Blast would be right now with the full weight of the ECB’s marketing machine — not to mention the millions spent on the Hundred — behind it in peak summer on prime time Sky and BBC TV?
And the impact on women’s cricket could have been just as great had so much lavish care and attention been placed on the Kia Super League that was beginning to grow and prosper before becoming another victim of the new world.
Instead that much maligned poor old existing cricket audience, the one treated with contempt by the ECB in its pursuit of a new, more ‘acceptable’ one, is being patronised by the impression that sixes and ramp shots had never existed until the Hundred came along. And by one TV cheer-leader trying to tell us a ‘party atmosphere’ existed at a near empty Cardiff when, palpably, it did not.
The biggest plus has been the promotion and opportunities for the women’s game
Best not to try to fool us while trying to woo us.
Not that there has been much sign of a new audience at the games so far, at least the men’s ones. Not if a rowdier than usual Lord’s was anything to go by.
Much more of the huge beer snakes seen at headquarters and ejected drunken spectators, and cricket might just start to pine for those families who are seen at so many Blast games.
The ECB might even start to be careful what it wishes for.
Bangladesh blow shows IPL rules roost
The postponement of England’s tour of Bangladesh in October is another blow for the primacy of international cricket.
Forget any suggestion it is down to a Covid spike or an over-crowded calendar. There is only one reason and that is the Indian Premier League.
Eoin Morgan’s side were due to face Bangladesh in three ODIs and three T20Is
Ashley Giles may have said the England team would have to come first if there was a clash with the resumption of the all-powerful franchise league, but nobody told the BCCI. They put pressure on Bangladesh to call off England’s visit so more players could play in the IPL in the UAE, and that has duly happened.
And for all the understandable and justifiable concerns about the effects of bubble life on cricketers, particularly in light of the Ben Stokes situation, you can be sure of one thing. England’s top cricketers will go to the IPL now. There is nothing stopping them. And sadly there seems nothing will stop franchise cricket undermining the international game more and more as time goes on. And for us old dinosaurs, that is very sad indeed.
Why not move the Ashes to UAE?
Clearly those top England players mean it when they say they will miss the Ashes this winter even if their families are forced to undertake two weeks in quarantine before they can join them in Australia. That means a weakened team at best may contest the biggest series of them all.
So here’s a suggestion. If a postponement is out of the question why not move the whole thing to the UAE? The Aussies may splutter at the very suggestion of giving up home advantage but it makes sense in these continuing highly difficult times.