The Hundred - How will we cope now this ‘unmissable’ entertainment has ended?

AND so The Hundred is over for 2021.

WINNERS: Southern Brave players lift the inaugural Hundred trophy at Lord's. Picture: Steven Paston/PA

And as we dry our tears and neatly fold away our Northern Superchargers replica kits, having washed the saliva stains out after five weeks of foaming at the mouth at the sheer excitement of it all, it is difficult to know how to fill the void in our lives.

It’s a bit like that feeling you get when you’ve come back from the garage after taking your car in for its annual MOT and service, knowing it will be another 12 months before you can experience the thrill again.

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Or a bit like filling in your annual Inland Revenue self-assessment tax return, having grappled with the myriad complexities at play, a bit like trying to fathom five-ball blocks instead of overs, or the tactical timing of strategic timeouts.

Northern Superchargers' Ben Stokes (centre) celebrates with team-mates after taking the wicket of Trent Rockets' Tom Moores at Trent Bridge Picture: Tim Goode/PA

I don’t know about you, but I’m struggling to know what to do of an evening without the Fire, the Invincibles, the Phoenix, et al.

In a double-whammy, the latest series of Love Island ended this week too, so there’s been nothing to watch on television either. Surely the ECB and ITV could have timed it so that this twin hammer blow was avoidable?

After all, the ECB is usually so brilliant at scheduling, with all four domestic tournaments fitting together seamlessly.

Somewhere, of course (and these people could well be living in your neighbourhood, because who really knows what goes on behind closed doors?), people will indeed be neatly folding away their Northern Superchargers replica kits, or those of the other 100-ball franchises, and packing them away for another year.

Oval Invincibles' Dane van Niekerk poses with the trophy after the Women's Final of The Hundred at Lord's. Picture: Steven Paston/PA

And what, I wonder, will the children among them (unfortunately, we have to assume that there are adult replica kit-wearers too, people who have somehow escaped our health providers) do during the 47-week hiatus before next year’s Hundred, assuming that it takes place at the same time of year?

How will the excitement of those children, some of them new converts according to the over-enthusiastic official data, be sustained and their interest retained by a competition that only runs for five weeks out of 52? Will they gravitate, as if by magic, to the ongoing Test series between England and India, or to the closing stages of the County Championship and T20 Blast?

Or will they go “boring!” – and instead badger their parents to take them to watch Leeds United?

These kids are new converts, after all, to what the commentators have spent the past few weeks assuring us is the greatest thing since sliced bread, not the sort of cricket that is apparently so boring that, by definition, no child could possibly have got into cricket that way in the first place.

While you ponder that tautology, apparently beyond the grasp of those paid circa £700,000 a year plus bonuses to ruin county cricket, you might well reflect that the interests of the average child tend to change on a whim.

One day it’s all Northern Superchargers this, Northern Superchargers that, “I want Mujeeb Ur Rahman’s autograph and I want it now!”, the next they’ve moved on to something else – like gaming.

“I remember young Elijah watched t’inaugural Hundred,” his father, Dazza, may reflect over his Christmas lunch in 2031, “but after that he weren’t that bothered, to be honest.

“Lost interest in it, did the little fella, ‘cos there weren’t no more matches till following year.”

Quite. In one ear and out of the other – The Hundred was an eminently forgettable, ephemeral interruption of white noise masquerading as unmissable entertainment.

The only good thing about it, ironically, is that it does only last for a short time, a bit like an omission of wind after 10 pints and a curry.