The Hundred – Cricket’s Newest Venture
Two weekends ago, at the home of cricket, the inaugural season of The Hundred came to a fittingly dramatic conclusion. An almost capacity Lord’s crowd was treated to victories for the Oval Invincibles and the Southern Brave, in the women’s and men’s tournaments respectively, in the now familiar double-header format. Eight new teams were created especially for the tournament, each comprising a men and women’s team, as players were selected from a draft.
The beginning of the tournament introduced us to a brand-new format of cricket that abolished the long standing 6-ball over, punished teams for slow play and enticed aggressive batting with fielding restrictions and power plays. Graphics and branding, more akin to a retro arcade game, provided a completely fresh aesthetic, whilst info-graphics, helmet cams, on-screen win predictors and a run-chase countdown showed the sport from a never-before-seen perspective. For the diverse and lively crowds in attendance throughout, live music, DJ sets and pyrotechnics contributed to the party atmosphere that was always prevalent.
Now the dust has settled slightly, and focus has switched back to the one-day and Test formats, the debate will continue as to whether this new form of the game is one that has a sustainable future within the sport.
Even if currently unquantified, the early signs are that The Hundred grabbed the attention and spectatorship of people who previously had shown little-to-no interest in cricket in the domestic form. This can be largely attributed to the aforementioned revamp of the game, especially the often-nail-biting contests on display and the captivating aesthetics and graphics. The Hundred undoubtedly created its own brand and was seen, in many ways, as its own individual sport.
Additionally, there was a genuine focus on engaging the youth, as children and families were encouraged to attend matches. This focus was underpinned by numerous elements from the school-holiday-timing of the tournament, to the selection of the seemingly bizarre team sponsors, all of which were crisp and snack brands.
Sponsorships aside, the engagement of the youth and the previously dis-interested cricket fans can surely only prove to be beneficial to cricket as a whole in the years to come.
On top of that, much has been made of how the tournament has benefited the women’s game, as fans who likely had never before seen a women’s domestic cricket match regularly tuned in to be entertained. The women’s competition drew in crowds of 267,000 spectators over the month, comfortably topping the previous women’s cricket tournament attendance record of 136,000, which was at the recent Twenty20 World Cup in Australia. On top of that, the final match attracted impressive peak-viewing television figures of 1.4 million across Sky Sports and the BBC.
The women’s game is developing constantly and it is widely acknowledged that this development has been dramatically accelerated by The Hundred, in terms of quality, exposure and gender equality within the sport. The emergence of new role models and the increased spectatorship will continue to enhance these developments, as can be seen by the ECB’s commitment to addressing the gender pay gap that currently exists.
Like most new concepts, The Hundred has had its critics, and is highly unlikely to ever be accepted by the sport’s true traditionalists. However, one thing is for sure, The Hundred was an innovative, commendable and brave attempt to shake up the status quo in a world where tastes and demands change frequently and the focus of our attention is highly competed for.
What the future holds for the tournament, and the resulting legacy of its first outing, will continue to unfold. At Blend Group, we continue to work with our partners in all forms of the game and we’ll be delighted to discuss any luxury cricket experience you require.