Having watched a game of The Hundred for the first time this weekend, we have a confession to make: it really was a lot more like cricket than we expected.
To be fair, our friends at the ECB had repeatedly told us this (waves at Beth Barrett-Wild) but we’d been sceptical, partly because all the initial marketing had beaten into our heads that it WASN’T like cricket – it was completely new and different – that’s what all the Facebook ads and Instagram posts were telling us… and we believed them!
The fact that The Hundred is actually “just cricket” is both a blessing and a problem for the ECB.
It is a blessing, because I now think that “normal” fans will come around to it as a game pretty fast; but it is a problem because the rest of the world – the “mums and kids” who “don’t like cricket” – will also realise quite quickly that it is just cricket… and… well… they don’t really like cricket!
To help get over this, the ECB have a huge entertainment push on the cards – they are planning to make the game a spectacle around the field, even if it isn’t quite so entertaining on it.
Which brings us to Katy Perry, and the real reason why the Aussies paid what I believe the kids call “serious coin” to have her at The MCG last year for the T20 World Cup Final. Put simply, Katy Perry was an insurance policy – and one that, like many insurance policies, they didn’t actually need in the end.
Perry’s presence was insurance against Australia NOT making the final. The main concert was scheduled for AFTER the game, so that local fans, 99% of whom were of course Australian, would come (and crucially STAY) in the event of (say) an India v South Africa final.
But the point is, in order to do this, they needed KATY FREAKIN’ PERRY – one of the biggest stars in the world! Getting Ella Henderson* would just not have cut it; and the tournament organisers knew it.
(* No, I’ve no idea who Ella Henderson is either – I just googled who is currently top of the pops!)
Now back to The Hundred, which of course won’t have Katy Perry… or even Ella Henderson. And here’s the bad news: I’m just not convinced that even pulling out all the stops short of that – the juggles, the acrobats, the guys with bats on stilts – is going to make much difference to only thing that really matters – the cricket on the field.
But here’s the good news: the cricket on the field will be good. It will be the best players in the world, and they’ll be playing CRICKET. And the ads can scream all they want that The Hundred “Not Just Cricket”; but they will be wrong – it is “just” cricket; and as far as I’m concerned, that’s just fine.