The Hundred: young people ‘not attracted to cricket’ says ECB chairman

The proposals from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for a new 100-ball competition has had its critics, but the launch is key to “attracting a younger audience” to the sport says its chairman.

Planned to start in the summer of 2020, the “Hundred” will be a men’s and women’s competition featuring eight city-based teams who will each face 100 balls in their innings.

The BBC says the concept will see matches played with 15 traditional six-ball overs and a final ten-ball over. This is 20 balls fewer than a Twenty20 (T20) match.

Player representatives said last week that many “unanswered questions” remain regarding the 100-ball competition, but in an interview with BBC Sport yesterday ECB chairman Colin Graves said the format is “set in stone” and that the new concept is key to attracting young fans to cricket. 

England director of cricket Andrew Strauss said the Hundred is aimed at “mums and kids in the summer holidays” and Graves backed up this statement.

He said: “The younger generation, whether you like it our not, are just not attracted to cricket. In all the work, surveys and research we have done, the younger generation want something different. They want more excitement, they want it shorter and simpler to understand. Those are the things we have learnt for this new competition and that is what we have to make it.”

When plans were announced last month for the Hundred, reaction to the proposals was mixed. Despite this Graves was defiant that the 100-ball concept will work but admits there is “work to do”.

Speaking with The Times he said: “The reaction [to the new tournament] was disappointing, but to be expected because a lot of it is in its infancy. It’s only a concept, there’s a lot of work to do with it and, when we do that work and put it out to the public and players, they will see it in a different light.”

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail said Graves’s comments that young people are not interested in cricket were “extraordinary” – and came on the same day that the ECB’s All Stars Cricket initiative had announced that 50,000 children had signed up to take part this summer. 

In a scathing article, the Mail’s Paul Newman wrote: “Truly, it is difficult to remember a time when even the ECB were in as big a mess as this. It is as if every lover of cricket in this country is being disregarded in a bonkers attempt to locate a ‘new’ audience. One that does not like cricket. And the ECB’s attempts to get their message across have been laughable.

“The comments make Graves’s position untenable. He should resign now and let people who know what they are doing sort out the mess that The Hundred threatens to create.”

 

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