The Hundred trials bring cricket’s brave new world closer
Away from the life- affi rming afterglow of England’s gripping Test series with India, Surrey’s fi rst county title in 16 years and T20 fi nals day, cricket’s future is being shaped at two empty grounds with trials of the new 100- ball format having begun , writes Ali Martin .
The Hundred, a fi ve- week tournament featuring eight invented teams and intended to capture a supposed new audience , will land in the middle of the summer from 2020 . And to ensure the actual cricket is up to scratch, six days of testing is taking place using around 40 male and female county players.
These pilot matches got under way over the past couple of days at Loughborough University, with women cricketers acting as the fi rst triallists. The men start three straight days at Trent Bridge today before a fi nal outing for the women on 27 September , as the England and Wales Cricket Board’s cricket department tries to deliver a workable formula from the brief handed down by the marketing folk.
This, essentially, is to re invent the sport for the layman, breaking down perceived barriers and jargon . The number of deliveries will count down from 100 on the scoreboard as the number of runs goes up .
These pilot days are being used to explore different in- game scenarios and playing conditions , with the players set to then give feedback .
Behind the scenes Trent Woodhill, a freelance Twenty20 coach , has been working as a consultant and meeting players around the counties . Luke Wright, the Sussex T20 captain, has sat in on one of Woodhill’s seminars and as one of the country’s most successful short- form exports he hopes the cricketing public keeps an open mind about The Hundred.
Wright told the Observer: “The response has been so negative. If it’s a disaster, then slate it. But I saw the same happen at the start of the Big Bash [ in Australia] and that has been a huge success.
[ The Hundred] could have been handled better but the concept is sound – it’s cricket but simplifi ed. Let’s give it a chance.”
Since the 100- ball concept was fi rst announced there have been various gimmicks fl oated, such as teams being able to deploy all 15 members of their squad and the continuing debate as to how 100 deliveries will work in a sport of six- ball overs . It is now expected each innings will be made up of 20 fi ve- ball overs in blocks of two per end, with the option of a bowler sending down all 10 deliveries if on a roll . As regards the number of players, Woodhill has told Wright it is simply a case of substitute fi elders being permitted .
Wright, a World T20 winner with England in 2010, added: “People may be cynical and say I’m endorsing it because I want a gig in it. But I’ll be 35 by then. I just think it will work. ”