The colossal farce that is the English Cricket Board’s (ECB) new competition The Hundred marks a new low for sports administration in this country,
Forget the ill-fated Premier League 39th game, English cricket has decided to take its own hugely successful innovation of T20 and bastardise it with a tacky knock-off.
It is like inventing Coca-Cola then deciding to invent an inferior product in Pepsi, while throwing away an estimated £40 million.
English cricket were pioneers when they invented T20 (or Twenty20 as it was known back then). It was fun, easy to understand and over quickly with batsmen told to get a move on or be timed out.
The format has been hugely successful in increasing crowd numbers, keeping counties afloat and enriching players from poorer countries.
So the ECB in its wisdom has decided we now need a fifth format in cricket, the rules of which were revealed last week and include bowlers being able to bowl five or 10 deliveries in an over, and the introduction of strategic time-outs.
Where to begin with this terrible idea.
English cricket already has a thriving T20 competition which, if it had the terrestrial TV exposure and millions of pounds of backing The Hundred has, would be a roaring success.
Instead, it will now be pushed to the margins. As will Test cricket and the domestic 50 over competition, both of which will be played in this country at the same time as The Hundred, not to mention the County Championship, which will be become even more reduced in stature.
All of this is to appeal to a mythical ‘new audience’ of mums and kids apparently. An audience that apparently won’t watch teams bat for 120 balls an innings, but will for 100, and at a time when most overseas superstars will be playing elsewhere.
We might get to see Chris Gayle who will be 40 by the time this nonsensical event starts in 2020. Gayle would turn out in the Northants T20 for Peterborough Town if the money was right.
The ECB even had to promise each first-class county £1.3 million a year just to get them to sign up for the new competition, which will see a load of made-up teams. They then threatened to remove Surrey as a host county when it voiced its opposition. Bribery and bullying, what a wonderful combination for a governing body led by former Oundle schoolboy Tom Harrison.
Harrison even had the cheek last week to declare The Hundred ‘a success’ even before a ball was bowled. What world is he living in? Does he not read the newspapers or even glance at social media? It’s the most unpopular idea since Dennis Lillee’s aluminium bat.
We can only hope that when this gimmick becomes reality old fans stay away and The Hundred quickly disappears so the ECB can start promoting the brilliant product it already has.