Chris Waters: Even Love Island generation are turned off by The Hundred

Yorkshire's Jack Brooks celebrates a wicket in a recent T20 fixture at Headingley. The proposed 'The Hundred' has not gone down well with the majority of cricket fans. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
Yorkshire's Jack Brooks celebrates a wicket in a recent T20 fixture at Headingley. The proposed 'The Hundred' has not gone down well with the majority of cricket fans. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
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THE question was this... “For the purposes of research, in your view, is the ECB’s 100-ball competition a good idea?”

I am not sure what prompted me to put this out on Twitter by way of a poll, although perhaps the latest barnpot suggestion that the matches could feature 15 players-a-side might have had something to do with it.

At any rate, I wanted to test what people really thought about The Hundred, and whether public opinion was as set against it as seems to be the case.

My findings, thanks to the kind assistance of everyone who took part, suggested that opinion is overwhelmingly against the ECB’s plan to the extent that no responsible governing body could fail to take heed.

I’m not sure what qualifies as a “significant” survey, but 4,983 respondents to this 24-hour poll would seem pretty significant, and once the votes had been counted, the result was emphatic.

Nine per cent of respondents thought that The Hundred was a good idea – 91 per cent did not.

What would old Father Time think?

What would old Father Time think?

As no-one could accuse Twitter of being predominantly populated by traditionalists (more the Love Island generation than the Treasure Island one), the result suggested that the ECB have not only got it wrong but cataclysmically so as they seek to attract new fans and, you hope, retain the ones they already have.

Of course, one cannot claim to be surprised by the poll’s outcome, for if you were to actively attempt to alienate the vast majority of cricket lovers in this country, then it would surely be impossible to do a better job than that achieved in this case.

The Hundred, set to start in July 2020, featuring eight city-based sides playing 36 games in a five-week window, has been a public relations disaster of epic proportions and should serve as a warning to any business that intends to introduce a new concept without having properly consulted/considered its success.

Indeed, in this instance, the initial claim that players had been consulted turned out to have been three players, since when many have spoken out in strong opposition.

Of course, one cannot claim to be surprised by the poll’s outcome, for if you were to actively attempt to alienate the vast majority of cricket lovers in this country, then it would surely be impossible to do a better job than that achieved in this case.

Chris Waters

In one respect, I have sympathy for the ECB, for the present administration is paying the price for the failure of a previous one to strike when the iron was hot and to create an English Premier League long before its Indian and Australian rivals left it for dead.

Hence we see this desperate desire for “points of difference” as the ECB seek to distinguish their tournament from the likes of the IPL and the Big Bash.

As such, we have heard talk of scrapping lbws, having a 10-ball last-over, five-ball overs, one bowler bowling two overs in succession, you name it.

Why, if you were to wake up tomorrow morning to discover that an element of human sacrifice was to be introduced, a la the Roman Colosseum, you would hardly be surprised, with spectators perhaps able to vote via electronic keypad on the method of death to be administered should an umpire, for example, make an incorrect decision.

I jest, but there is always that nagging fear at the back of one’s mind that the powers-that-be might just be reading and claim the idea as their own... “press 1 to have umpire Bird electrocuted, press 2 to have him hung, drawn and quartered”, and so on.

In the final analysis, the 91 per cent of people who responded to the poll cannot all be wrong – not quite “The Hundred” per cent rebuttal, perhaps, but not far off.