Does The Hundred Simplify Anything?

One of the aims of The Hundred, we are told, is to ‘simplify’ cricket – to open the game up to those left bewildered by the mere mention of a googly, or confused by what fielding at silly mid-off means.

It’s a laudable aim. Cricket is indeed a strange beast to the uninitiated, something I can attest to having recently tried to explain the sport to a Russian colleague – but can The Hundred actually simplify the game?

At its most basic level, the format itself is pretty simple – the first team gets 100-balls to score as many runs as they can, the second team then gets a maximum of 100-balls to score more.

Having a scoreboard display a ‘countdown’, from 100 down to zero, creates its own element of drama too – the ticking clock effect.

Bowling ten-balls from one end, then switching to bowl ten from the other (then back again) is straight forward too – albeit how that differs from switching every six balls is open to debate.

Here’s where the facade of ‘simplification’ starts to wear.

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It may be that one bowler will bowl all ten balls from one end, or it could be that two bowlers will deliver five-balls each – either is fine in terms of ‘ability to understand what’s going on’ – but does it truly differ from ‘that bowler delivers six balls from one end, then another bowler delivers six from the other’?

If anything it risks being more confusing if a bowler is ‘suddenly’ bowling 10-balls in a row rather than 5.

Ultimately, it’s a time saver though, something that could have been brought in to T20 cricket arguably, but I digress…

So deliveries are deliveries (or balls are balls, if you prefer) and we still change which end the deliveries are coming from after an allotted number of balls.

The bowlers will be the same too – Harry Gurney, Rashid Khan, Anya Shrubsole, and so on.

Same bowlers, same actions….same problems explaining Rashid Khan’s standard leg-break, his googly, his (alleged) four-other variations of the leg spinner, and how his style of bowling differs to, say, Moeen Ali (should he feature) and his off-breaks.

By that same token, the batsmen will not differ greatly either – Alex Hales, Tammy Beaumont, maybe Andre Russell. All talented, all trying to achieve the same thing they do in T20 (or any other form of cricket really).

If Beaumont breaks out a switch hit, the same need for explanation may still be required.

Are we to assume that field placements will be given new names? Or is that going to over complicate things further? An argument could be made for either.

What about the ‘wicket’? Will that be ‘rebranded’?

There’s always the commercial case for the Dulux Paint Strip one supposes, but how much simplification can the on-field action actually undergo?

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The scoreboard is one area for change – less clutter – but these are almost superficial changes; they matter in a sense, but do not fundamentally alter the game itself, which, at its core, has been one of the barriers to wider interest if we are frank – it’s still a funny old sport if you’re not familiar with it already (and even if you are…).

Real, serious fundamental change is extremely hard to bring about. Get it wrong, and you risk compromising one of the other primary aims of the tournament: to act as a gateway to cricket as a whole.

Try to use The Hundred as a way to ‘reinvent the wheel’ and the transition to other formats risks becoming awkward – it’s not insurmountable, but ultimately feels like it goes against the grain of what The Hundred is trying to achieve in the first place by ‘simplifying’ the game.

It may take away one barrier, but create another.

The ECB wish to revive wider interest in cricket via The Hundred – to use city names rather than counties (albeit Warwickshire/Birmingham already went there…), to shorten the game for an audience with (we are told) decreasing attention spans and a desire to watch on iPads rather than traditional TV – but how much can you really change?

On the field, will The Hundred really be different to the game we already know?


About Rob

Software engineer by day, wannabe sports writer by night - I throw together words about hockey for One Puck Short and InGoal Magazine, and cricket for One Stump Short.

Posted on May 22, 2019, in Domestic Cricket, The Hundred and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. 10 balls are going to be bowled from one side. This can be done as a block of 10 or two bowlers bowling five balls each. The maximum a bowler can ball is 20 balls. The names will most probably be geographical. Most of the matches will be on SKY. Some matches but mostly highlights will be on BBC.
    The Hundred will confuse the target audience. Let’s give the benefit of doubt to The Hundred. Say a group of children or Mums or ladies absolutely love the format. What would happen when this group goes to see the T20 blast or One Day Cup or an international match? How are you going to explain the changes?
    Monetary punishments are not going to cut it because like the IPL they most probably will be paid by the franchise than by the player. Players can be banned but that will not make a significant difference. I dealt with the time issue in T20 on my blog.


  2. Is that how they’re doing it? I thought it was just 6 ball overs and one 10-ball over but they’re all 10… or 5 are they?

    And I thought they weren’t having geographical names of any kind, just… Green Wizards (!) or something?

    There’s gonna be matches on terrestrial TV. What a great opportunity for people to discover cricket like before Sky but only if it makes sense otherwise it’ll put people off altogether.

    The fact that these matches won’t have any official status as they can’t be classed as even T20 seriously irks me. The year will be 2020 so why not launch the world’s best Twenty20 competition!

    T10, Indoor or six-a-side would be better ways of getting people interested and involved.


    • The plan is to change the end they bowl from every ten balls – so it appears it will be either a 5 or 10 ball ‘over’ before said changing of ends. Nothing is set in stone per se, but that seems to be the ‘accepted wisdom’ in terms of how it will go. Max. 20 balls per bowler during an innings.

      Likewise, it sounds very much like it will be City Somethings in terms of team names – Leeds Lions, Manchester Monarchs or whatever. Though again, until Autumn when they actually reveal these details, I guess nothing is set in stone.


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