By Richard Edwards
10 June 2021
It’s safe to say the Hundred has received a relatively
mixed reception since its launch. But it’s impact on the club game, and youth
cricket at large, has rarely been much of a talking point.
With the competition just weeks away, excitement in the
professional game is increasing, as what has seemed an abstract concept over the
past four or five years suddenly looks set to become something a whole lot more
years, young cricketers up and down the country have played within relatively
set formats of the sport, 16 overs, 18 overs and 20 overs having been the norm
since youth cricket began. There may be the odd tinkering, some may play pairs
cricket up until the age of 13. Recently, more and more children have been
playing Charley Cricket, an element of which is a period of grace for batsmen
which removed the ignominy of a first ball dismissal – something which all
cricketers are keen to avoid, regardless of age. A fact this writer knows only
the Hundred era, though, it seems that over a century of tradition is about to
be turned completely on its head, for better or worse. Anecdotally, we’re
hearing of a number of county boards who are keen on ensuring that the learnings
from the Hundred filter all the way to the grassroots of the game, with the
format being played by the likes of the Oval Invincibles and
the Manchester Originals also being played by club sides from under-9s
given the ECB’s desire to make a success of the format coupled with the need to
provide a legacy that endures long beyond this summer, it makes sense for the
Hundred to ultimately become the DeFacto format
for grassroots cricket.
It’s understood that, for the moment at least, there has
been no top-down edict to ensure that this is the case but a number of county
boards have pre-empted this.
The very thought of it might be enough to bring some league
secretaries out in a rash. But at least one England cricketer believes it’s
merely a natural route for cricket to take.
Lauren Winfield-Hill grew up playing for Stamford Bridge
cricket club in Yorkshire. The 2017 World Cup winner will captain the Northern
Superchargers in this year’s competition and she believes the impact it could
have on young cricketers is every bit as significant as the impact it could have
on the game as a whole.
“With it being on TV and with so many kids expected to come
to the games then I think it will be the case that they’ll want to play it,” she
“They’ll say ‘I saw Katherine Brunt on TV the other and she
was playing the Hundred, can we have a go at playing the Hundred as
“That’s how these things work. You saw it during the World
Cup when England won in the Super Over, suddenly all the kids wanted a go at
playing a Super Over, when they had probably never heard of one before that
“I actually think it might be instigated from the kids,
rather than a blanket ‘we have to do this’ from the governing body. T20 started
off in the same way, kids wanted to start whacking the ball out of the ground. I
think it will be the same with the Hundred. It’s new, it’s exciting, it’s
entertaining, it’s energetic. If it’s a good product – which it will be – then
the kids will want to do it.”
How long this evolution takes will be anyone’s guess,
particularly, as it stands, no-one really has the first idea of how the
inaugural competition will be received. We’ll have to wait on that one until
July, by which time the T20 Blast will be close to completion.
The County Championship season, meanwhile, is nearly done
already and it’s not even mid-June.
It’s a cricket season that most of us would have struggled
to recognise as recently as five years ago. By the time 2026 rolls round, the
landscape of youth cricket might have changed out of all recognition