The Hundred 2022 - grander and bigger

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safarisafari
02 Aug 2022 | 05:55 AM
authorBastab K Parida

The Hundred 2022 - grander and bigger

The second edition of the Men's Hundred - which will kick start on August 3 - will feature some of the biggest stars in English cricket, barring Ben Stokes

When England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB)’s much-awaited idea of The Hundred came to fruition in 2021, it was seen as the crowning jewel in a country that has failed to lap up to the T20 franchise leagues in a way other nations have. Sure enough, T20 Blast has had some very interesting moments in the last couple of decades but to be a world-class tournament, you need something more than that. 

Quality of cricket needs to marry the marketing spends and a deep understanding of audience behavior. While the first season of the Hundred was a roaring success - for a combination of factors - they needed the exclusivity and the presence of their local stars to appeal to a grander audience. Credit to the ECB that they managed to find a space in the FTP to slot in The Hundred and the second edition of the Men’s Event - which will kick start on August 3 - will feature some of the biggest stars in English cricket, barring Ben Stokes. Apart from that, all teams, save Birmingham Phoenix, have four overseas players in their roasters for the second season.

What happened in 2021?

Southern Brave, based out of The Rose Bowl, Southampton, won the tournament by beating Northern Superchargers by 32 runs in the final. Alongside Birmingham Phoenix, they were by far the best team in the tournament and had lost only a couple of matches in the league stage. While everyone remembers Liam Livingstone’s heroics, it was also coming of age for James Vince, who steered the campaign for Southern Brave with 229 runs in 10 matches. Quinton de Kock was a big support for James Vince with 202 runs but it was the collective effort that left the narrative richer. 

The Women’s competition appealed to the audience in a whole new level, perhaps the scheduling of the double header helped, but there were complaints about the environment not being suited for kids and women - ECB’s target audience - in the Men’s event. There are reasons to feel optimistic about ECB working on those chinks to make it, what they proclaimed in the first place, as an ideal shot in the arm for a truly global event. This year, The Hundred will use extra stewards and additional cameras to take actions against antisocial behaviour at matches.

“There were isolated incidents last year - we're very aware of that,” tournament director Sanjay Patel said. “If you look at our demographic that is something we have to get right this year. There's a few things in place - non-alcoholic stands are available, there's family stands as well which we didn't have last year. So families have an option to sit among other families which I think will help.”

Things to look forward to

As we discussed in the aforementioned point, the presence of big-shot England players is the biggest boost that the tournament desperately needed. The likes of Jos Buttler (Manchester Originals), Eoin Morgan (London Spirit), Sam Curran and Jason Roy (Oval Invincibles), and Joe Root (Trent Rockets) will be a huge boost to the tournament. 

The ECB managed to sign some reputed international stars for the Men’s competition - Kieron Pollard (London Spirit), Andre Russell (Manchester Originals), Dwayne Bravo, Faf du Plessis (Northern Superchargers), Sunil Narine (Oval Invincibles), Colin Munro, Tabraiz Shamsi (Trent Rockets), David Miller, Naseem Shah (Welsh Fire). While the domestic stars are going to rule the roost, one can expect the quality to match the hype.

Tournament Format

As you’d have known already, The Hundred is a 100-ball tournament, with ten balls being bowled from each end before the fielding side alternates, with the option for bowlers to deliver five or 10 consecutive balls. 

As far as the tournament format goes, with each team playing six other sides once and twice against their nearest regional rivals. As a matter of fact, Manchester Originals and Northern Superchargers will play each other twice and the same goes for other derby matches like London Spirit vs Oval Invincibles, Trent Rockets vs Birmingham Phoenix and Southern Brave vs Welsh Fire. 

The qualification pathway has an IPL-touch to it, but with a little twist. The table-toppers will directly qualify for the finals and will take on the winners of the Eliminator between the teams finishing second and third. Defending champions Southern Brave have got the hosting rights for both the games. The Eliminator and the final will be played at The Ageas Bowl in Southampton on September 2 and September 4 respectively. 

What about the past controversy regarding the tournament?

Well, it hasn’t eased down surely with the traditionalists still fearing one more white-ball tournament undermines the glaring issues pertaining to the County Championship. They have reasons to feel that way, for England - albeit the ongoing summer paints a different picture - have dwindled massively and no clear restructuring for the County Championship has been planned. If the Hundred continues to enjoy the status of the most important tourmament of the summer, it might have had an adverse effect on the whole thing. 

The Final Word

No matter the controversy, The Hundred provides a novelty factor to the clamp and that’s fundamental to how things would move forward from here. It is fresh and earnest - but it remains to be seen if the ECB can achieve its ambition of making the sport more accessible for their newest target audience - kids and women. But that surely will be the tip of the iceberg and a wholesome change in how cricket is conducted in England can only be the plausible way forward in their suggested dream. 

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Southern Brave vs Welsh FireThe Hundred, 2022Southern BraveNorthern SuperchargersTrent RocketsBirmingham PhoenixLondon SpiritWelsh FireManchester OriginalsOval InvinciblesJos ButtlerJoe RootMoeen AliLiam LivingstoneFaf du Plessis

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