Cricket fans of County Championship, T20 Blast and 50-over comp are being short-changed - Chris Waters

THE Hundred, like coronavirus, is here to stay and we are just going to have to live with it.

Getting a good view?: Yorkshire v Warwickshire in the Royal London Cup at York. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

There is no vaccine for the thing – only the on/off switch and mute button, to drown out those in the crowd and commentary box alike.

At the same time, it would be churlish to pretend that there have not been accidental benefits to an enterprise born of gluttonous greed.

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One is that there have been more than 100 List A debutants this season in county cricket, including six at Yorkshire – Harry Duke, George Hill, Will Luxton, Matthew Revis, Jack Shutt and Josh Sullivan.

Got him: Duanne Olivier celebrates after catching Matthew Lamb for 14 off Matthew Coad - Yorkshire v Warwickshire, Royal London Cup, York.

Such players have seized their opportunity in the Royal London Cup, from which the top stars are absent due to the clash with The Hundred and the international game. That, at least, has been good for the sport and the players themselves, who have managed to gain valuable experience –albeit, by definition, against teams who might themselves not be at optimum strength.

But there is one deleterious effect to all this that is in danger of slipping under the radar. Namely, the lack of accountability for counties who have not done well in the competition and can now simply shrug their shoulders and say: “Oh well, at least we gave plenty of youngsters an opportunity and developed our own players. That’s the most important thing.”

But is it? Is that what the Royal London Cup has now become due to the imposition of The Hundred? The answer to that second question would have to be ‘yes’, for the Royal London Cup has indeed become a quasi-development competition in which results are secondary and can easily be dismissed as such by coaches and officials, for all that they want to win every game in an ideal world.

When you consider that promotion and relegation have also been abolished in the County Championship, following the introduction this season of a conference system, county cricket is now an increasingly cosy affair with fewer consequences for poor results.

Cricket by the sea: Royal London Cup, Yorkshire v Sussex at Scarborough Crickey Club.

Indeed, those teams about to contest the “graveyard games” when the conferences split into three new divisions later this month – 12 of the 18 counties, who now have no opportunity to win the title or the Bob Willis Trophy – there will be another chance to field young players and for those clubs to say, as they inevitably will come season’s end, that this was a huge positive despite the results.

Perhaps. But what happened to accountability and the quaint idea, I accept, that the paying public has a right to see the best players representing their counties in Championship and 50-over cricket unless they are involved in international action?

Yes, development is extremely important and it is great to see the best young players breaking through into first XIs and seizing their chance, as they always have done in days gone by.

But that is also why we have second-team and academy cricket, why there have always been pathways to the higher levels.

The Royal London Cup should not be like glorified pre-season friendlies in football, where managers can simply say after a defeat that it was all about looking at various players in a match situation and that results are not the be-all and end-all.

We have three county tournaments – the Championship, the 50-over and the T20 – and they should all feature, insofar as possible, the very best players.