On Wednesday 21st July, history was made on a cricket pitch in South East London. The new Hundred competition was launched when Oval Invincibles faced the Manchester Originals in the women’s competition.
A couple of hours later it was the turn of the men to showcase their skills as the men’s Hundred kicked off. The Hundred started under a huge amount of negativity, but after the first few days of the event it has already turned out to be a success.
Before even a ball was bowled the doubters were in full flow
Before even a bowl was delivered many in the cricketing media world and the general public though it would be a flop. Even myself, I never thought it would be the success it has been so far.
On the opening afternoon over eight thousand people were at the Kia Oval to watch the Invicibles win. The size of the crowd would have pleased the ECB immensely, as most women players would never have played under such large attendances.
Over 18,000 witnessed the first ever men’s hundred match later at the Oval. A wonderful amount of people when you consider that for a normal T20 match, 20,000 would be par. The whole day at the Kia Oval was a wonderful occasion. Plenty of families including a lot of girls watching cricket would be just what the doctor ordered for the women’s game.
After the success of the women’s game, it was over to the men
The men’s match was witnessed by mainly what one would consider to be a normal twenty-twenty crowd. Noisy but not boisterous and certainly not a drunked crowd. It was a joy to see families mixing with your standard T20 crowd and everybody enjoying the fun.
The standard of cricket was good with the new rules taking a little while to digest. Overall, the entertainment in the mid innings interval was an enjoyable watch by everybody.
It was wonderful also to see so many people both young and of the older generation wearing replica shirts. Not bad considering the event is in its early stages.
The sun shone on the cricket
Yes, it helped by having perfect weather for the time of year. The real test will come in the next few weeks if the weather starts deteriorating. But overall, the ECB should be praised for this new competition. It has already captured the publics imagination and looks to be a winner.
The only downside to the tournament has been the length of time for matches. The original intention was for each 100 balls to be bowled in just over an hour. In most games played thus far it is taking longer to bowl the required deliveries. Only recently one bowler took over nine minutes to deliver five balls. Admittedly this wasn’t helped a sprinkling of wides sent down, but still not good.
This is where the umpires must, and I am sure in time will intervene to get the game moving on. The ECB originally said this was a new competition that needed to be quick and snappy. We can’t have matches lasting almost as long as twenty twenty games, otherwise this will just turn into another T20 competition.
All those years ago when the T20 was introduced, many said it would fall flat on its face. Today it is as strong as it has ever been. The Hundred has faced the same negative vibes as the Twenty twenty. Time will tell if those negative thoughts turn into positive ones. But so far the product and response has been extremely popular, and long may it continue.