The ‘Hundred’ of English cricket seems to coexist with the test team



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As the England national team collapsed in two sessions against India at Lord’s to lose the summer test match, huge crowds gathered on the south coast for a decisive game in the most recent format and the shortest in cricket.

The Six were crushed in the stands by players in bright, loud uniforms. The children held up signs and danced in their seats to loud music. Beer lovers were getting louder and louder.

It was the new world of The Hundred, a competition created by the England and Wales Cricket Board to “inspire generations” and expand audiences for the sport.

But at what cost ?

The Hundred’s inaugural tournament ended on Saturday with the men’s and women’s finals at Lord’s cricket’s home. The champions were the Southern Brave (men) and the Oval Invincibles (women), teams that didn’t exist until five weeks ago.

Still, the very presence of The Hundred – which, as the name suggests, features 100-ball tag team matches played by eight teams from cities in England and Wales – poses some problems.

First, the new competition was deliberately placed in the heart of the UK summer, allowing children to register outside of school during the holidays. With the ECB wanting to put The Hundred front and center, this meant that the 50-year-old county cricket tournament – The One-Day Cup – was mostly overlooked while traditional county teams also lost many of their top players to profit. of the new Hundred franchises. England, remember, are the 50+ world champion.

The Vitality Blast, England’s national Twenty20 competition, was squeezed into a shorter window on either side of The Hundred. More importantly for many people, County Championship red ball cricket has taken a six week hiatus as England play their top test series against India.

India won the second test by 151 points at Lord’s last Monday, when England slumped to 120 overall in 51.5 overs on Day 5, to take a 1-0 lead in the series of five. matches. Traditionalists were understandably concerned about how the basics of the test-match stick looked beyond England at a time of so many shorter form competitions which, roughly speaking, often turn cricket into a “see ball” spectacle. , batted ball “where the technique comes out of the window.

The Hundred is here to stay, so can it coexist with trial cricket? The ECB says yes.

“The reason The Hundred got off to a successful start is the caliber on display,” ECB Managing Director Tom Harrison said on a video call on Monday, “because it’s electrifying content, things that people want to watch.

“Ultimately, the cricket test is the pinnacle of this electrifying content that you see being broadcast around the world. Players always judge themselves by their performance in the test format, primarily, and I think we should celebrate that fact. “

The ECB said more than 16 million people watched The Hundred on TV – “that’s more eyeballs than the Men’s World Cup in 2019,” said Sanjay Patel, chief executive of The Hundred – and 55 % were new to cricket. Some 19% of the 510,000 tickets sold for the 32 games were for children.

There were 7 to 8,000 fans for most women’s games and 90% occupancy for men’s games, Patel said, exceeding expectations. He said the ECB was on track to meet its expected revenue of £ 50m ($ 68m) for the competition, while a surplus of £ 10m ($ 13.7m) on expected costs associated with The Hundred would be “put back into the game.”

“The Hundred is all about opening the doors to cricket and we’ve seen in the first year how it already works,” said Harrison.

Harrison said there would be “learnings” to take into account in the second edition of next year, such as the antisocial behavior of some fans, some adjustments to TV production, as well as changes to the schedule. ‘one summer when the Commonwealth Games arrive. In England.

The key, he added, was how to migrate The Hundred’s audience – especially young viewers – to test cricket.

Fears for the future of the longer format have been around for years, especially since the advent of T20 cricket, but trial cricket remains king in England. It’s also a source of money, with men’s test-matches accounting for the majority of a broadcast deal worth more than $ 1 billion through 2024.

Harrison knows that better routes need to be developed not only for fans to watch try-out cricket, but for players to play it.

“This is something that has come to light this year because we had issues like losing the test match at Lord’s and because we had a tough start to the test series against India,” a- he declared.

“There is no silver bullet that solves all the problems a calendar will raise … We have to get to a place where we offer the players the opportunity to be in good shape and the players to continue playing cricket at red balls when they’re out of shape. It’s not an easy thing to fix. We’re working hard on it. “

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Steve Douglas is on https://twitter.com/sdouglas80


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