Club Cricket Conference

Wednesday, 24th April 2024

The Hundred

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. 

Until now.  

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 concrete. 

For 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 too well.  

In 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 upwards.  

Arguably, 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 says. 

“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 well?’ 

“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 match. 

“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 too.