Euro 2020 Special

The Hundred: Southern Brave And Oval Invincibles Dominate Inaugural Edition of Cricket’s Newest Format

The inaugural edition of cricket’s newest format has come to a close with tournament favourites Southern Brave clinching the maiden title in the men’s competition while Oval Invincibles took home the women’s title. The Hundred has led to much debate across the world – from purists who bemoan the ongoing commercialisation of the game to realists who see the need for attracting a younger fan base, especially in cricket’s home nation. The simplicity of the format, the short duration and equal emphasis on both men’s and women’s tournaments have succeeded in attracting kids to the game so far, though the edition’s long-term impact on cricket needs to be seen.

We take a look at how the Hundred fared in its inaugural edition, and how it impacts the game in general:



The group-stage fixtures of the tournament saw each team take on the remaining seven teams just once, leaving behind the traditional home-away format of the T20 tournaments. Both men’s and women’s tournaments included big names, especially from England and Australia. But the real breakout stars of the tournament have been county cricketers, who have long suffered to shine in the T20 Blast. The top-three topscorers in the men’s format are all upcoming stars in English cricket, and it bodes well for ECB’s hopes for the T20 World Cup.

The highest score of 200/5 by Northern Superchargers against Manchester Originals is worthy of a T20 score, showing the batting potential that the new format holds in a bid to liven up the game. The shortest fixture in the tournament lasted just 130 deliveries, showing that the bowlers have as much to contribute to the game as batsmen. Crucially, the decision to allow 5-ball stints can give rise to a new generation of all-rounders who primarily are batsmen but can contribute with the ball to the team.

While the format has succeeded in bringing in new fans to the game with its simplicity, certain innovations have been questioned. The decision to give 2 runs for a no-ball, for example, holds no merit. Similarly, the white card that umpires are made to use when a bowler changes after 5-balls – a ripoff from football, is barely visible and does not deserve inclusion in the game. 



The ECB’s decision to give equal weight to both women’s and men’s competitions, with matches being held on the same day and with a single ticket to watch both the fixtures, has been widely lauded. Cricket has been historically a male-dominated sport, and although there is a recent rise in the popularity of women’s cricket in Australia and England, there is a long way to go in other cricketing nations. As boards look forward to attracting new fans to the game, the emphasis they place on attracting women to the game is equally vital to the long-term growth of the game. Jemima Rodrigues finished as the top scorer in the women’s tournament with 249 runs, while Tash Farrant became the leading wicket-taker across both segments with 18 scalps to her name.



Cricket’s dilemma between preserving tradition and attracting new fans has been a perennial one, with no solution satisfying all stakeholders of the game. Test cricket, with its five-day long matches and laid-back approach, on the outset looks to be anachronistic. But the format has retained its aura, providing slow-moving entertainment to fans in a fast-changing world. The continuing popularity of the Ashes, the recent rise to prominence of the Indian team, and the World Test Championship format is likely to assure Test cricket’s survival, even if it comes at the cost of revenue to cricket boards.

On the other end of the spectrum are the shorter formats of the game – T20s, T10s, and now the Hundred. Competing with football’s 90-min games seems to be the goal for boards across the world, as an attention-based economy gives priority to delivering quick results. The success of the IPL and the rise of T20 leagues across small countries, coupled with ‘freelance’ cricketers have given birth to a whole new generation of cricketers and fans, who eschew traditional national loyalties.

In the middle, and sadly in decline has been cricket’s original ‘short format’ – One Day Internationals. Apart from the interest the World Cup generates, there is barely any interest left for the 50-over format – and it is being reflected in the declining number of ODIs played by the top teams in recent years. In contrast to the emphasis on purity in Test Cricket and fast-paced action in T20s, ODIs feature neither, and it looks like the end of the road for ODIs unless they can come up with an innovation.



Cricket’s rise in popularity in the last decade has been attributed to the shortest format of the game – the T20s. In a sport dedicated to testing the mettle of players over five long days, the T20 format, encapsulated by the Indian Premier League, brought both money and new fans to the game. Just as the 20-over game began its journey in England, the new format – decimalised to cater to younger fans, also is taking shape in the cherished grounds of England.

ECB’s T20 Blast was a subdued affair primarily due to the county-based nature of the teams, and as a result, lacking the city-based fan groups that give clubs their vitality. If the crowds at the inaugural Hundred are to go by, the strategy to detach the tournament from the county structure seems to be paying off, but it remains to be seen if the interest in the format persists over multiple years. There is no doubt that Cricket in England is declining in popularity among the younger generations, and the Hundred, with its simplicity, can attract more fans to the game. If the Hundred is to replace the T20s at an international level, however, it needs to be adopted by the other two giants of cricket – Australia and India. The Indian Premier League and the Big Bash League boast a bigger following than the T20 Blast, and there will be pushback from both competitions towards the introduction of a rival format. It will be a few more years before there is wide-scale adoption of the Hundred, just like the initial years of the T20s.




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