It’s hard to think of an English cricket competition upon which so much is supposed to rest – reputations, careers, and supposedly even the sport’s existence as a force in this country.
I’ll be candid: I’m definitely in the sceptic camp rather than the fan zone – and the list of reasons for that are myriad, with some enumerated by George Dobell.
At the same time, it has to be recognised that cricket, after all, places a high value on giving a sporting chance – and so in an attempt to be as fair as possible to it, now it is inevitable, we should give it the chance to succeed. Which brings us to the question: what does success look like?
One aspect that I have little to no doubt about is the quality of the on-field play. There will, almost certainly, be moments of brilliance. It’s hard to see how there can’t be, given the number of world-class performers being flung together on the stage.
Yet that isn’t what the competition is supposed to primarily be achieving. It’s meant to be the centerpole for cricket in England and Wales, the means by which a generation is inspired or re-engaged.
With less than a hundred minutes before the inaugural Hundred game gets under way, here, then, off the top of my head (with admittedly arbitrary figures) are what might reasonably be considered long-term markers of success for the Hundred.
If in five years:
- The number of 9-16 year olds playing junior club cricket is up by 20%
- The number of 17-21 year olds playing adult club cricket is up by 20%
- At least 18 professional counties are still playing first-class cricket in organised competition
- The proportion of cricket professionals from Asian backgrounds closely reflects the proportion of recreational cricketers from Asian backgrounds
- The Hundred competition is profitable (after the payments to counties have been factored in)
- The number of recreational grounds in rural and urban areas static or increased
- The number of qualified scorers and umpires in recreational game is up by 20%
…then it can be fairly said, I think, that the Hundred has succeeded. The means won’t have been remotely acceptable, but the end will have partically made up for it.
If, on the other hand, it doesn’t achieve those aims—
What other markers of success could be fairly added to that list?