The Hundred changing wickets to outs, what will these fools come up with next? - Chris Waters

A FEW weeks ago The Yorkshire Post published a letter criticising me for my continual lambasting of The Hundred.

Star man: Ben Stokes, who has been selected to play for Northern Superchargers in The Hundred.

I would strongly advise the writer of that missive to look away now.

For what is a boy to do?

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If the organisers of that infernal competition keep on making PR howlers (the latest being to rebrand “wickets” as “outs”), are responsible journalists supposed to stay silent?

Players for the eight teams in The Hundred line up following The Hundred Draft (Picture: Christopher Lee/Getty Images for ECB)

Are we expected to sit on our hands while the first-class game dies in front of our eyes and laugh it off as collateral damage?

Some people might not care whether other forms of cricket – Test cricket, the County Championship, 50-over domestic cricket, and so on – are being wilfully wrecked by this gimmickry and commercialism, but I do.

For this is not – and never has been – about criticising 100-ball cricket per se or some kind of snobbish distaste for white-ball cricket.

Rather, those against The Hundred – roughly 90 per cent of all cricket lovers, according to the polls – object to the damage being done to other formats by the preposterous prominence given to this enterprise, which is being staged at the others’ expense at the height of summer in a myopic attempt to win new fans.

Lauren Winfield of Northern Super Chargers one of the eight new mens and womens teams that will be competing in new 100 ball cricket competition. (Picture: Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images for ECB)

Now whether people who do not currently like/know about cricket will be wooed by such changes to the game’s lexicon as “outs” instead of “wickets” one really cannot say.

At the very least one has to be extremely sceptical, for if people cannot understand “wickets” because the England and Wales Cricket Board seems to think that the term is too complicated – ie, Northern Superchargers scored 180 for five “outs” as opposed to five “wickets” – then it says little for the mental capabilities of the prospective attendees – never mind those of the organisers. Another mooted alteration would see “batters” instead of “batsmen”, supposedly in the interests of gender equality.

Whatever next? Will “third man” be changed to “third person”, perhaps, or “square leg” altered to “rectangle leg” or to “triangle leg” in case other geometric shapes feel discriminated against?

Personally, the only terminology that I would like to see change is that which calls The Hundred “cricket”. For the ECB seems to be on a crusade to make it as far removed from cricket as possible and to turn it into a completely different sport.

Australia all-rounder Ellyse Perry will bring her star power to the inaugural season of The Hundred, after agreeing to join Birmingham Phoenix. (Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

Strangely enough, have you noticed how the only people who seem to want The Hundred are those who stand to benefit financially: players, coaches, counties, broadcasters, and so on. No-one with half a brain has any truck with the concept.

From time to time, people say to me: “Now listen here, wet blanket, why don’t you get behind The Hundred? What’s the point of knocking it all the time? That won’t do anyone any good.”

Perhaps not. After all, there is no doubt whatsoever that the battle has been lost.

But I always maintain that the game comes first and that everyone connected with it – players, officials, supporters, journalists – are simply passing through.

“If you tolerate this,” as the Manic Street Preachers famously put it, “then your children will be next.”

All of us have a duty to leave the game in a better condition than we found it and to fight for its values – not to turn a blind eye to what is happening and, worse still, to kid ourselves that it is somehow necessary progress.

I’m sorry that people don’t like my continual lambasting of The Hundred (well, actually, I’m not sorry).

I regret that I have to do it – I see it as my duty to the game and to those people who care about its future.

For this constant dumbing down of cricket, this systematic erosion of Test and County Championship cricket, mainly to line the pockets of people who are already well-lined in that respect, cannot be tolerated by anyone who does love cricket.

“Outs” instead of “wickets” is just the latest proof of what has long been clear – namely, that the game is being run by fools.

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