The Hundred maintains the old and captures the new as cricket has a new love affair

Are we entering a Golden Age of British cricket?

Dan Balliston
12th September 2023
Image by @Vitu_E on X
The Hundred returned for its third season in the English domestic cricket calendar and this year’s tournament for both men and women looks to have finally put the Hundred in the conversation amongst the top tier domestic competitions in cricket.

Since its establishment in 2021, it attempted to capture a new audience through subtle alterations of the rules, between innings entertainment and a new wave of current players and television personalities simplifying the commentary. A recipe for success it was deemed by cricketing authorities, but the oven was not even heated for the debut season, with the Coronavirus restrictions forbidding international stars from playing, meaning that the tournament was purely a watered-down version of the already popular Vitality Blast. The purists did not warm to the changes made to the game they loved, whilst new viewers were not exposed to the international players and world-class cricket they were promised; ultimately resulting in an unpopular addition to the cricketing summer.

A sceptical reception was hastily improved as English entertainers produced some magnificent cricket

Fast-forward two summers though, and after both the men and women’s Hundred has concluded, the opinion has appeared to have drastically shifted. A sceptical reception, with the competition directly following the memorable women and men’s Ashes series in which England and Australia put on a show for all cricket lovers, was hastily improved as English entertainers such as Joe Root, Sam Curran, and Sophie Ecclestone took to the field and produced some magnificent cricket from the off. Spectators were then treated to the overseas brilliance of Sunil Narine, Matt Wade and Shaheen Shah Afridi as the Hundred focused on providing excellent cricket rather than tea-time entertainment. Watchable times, terrestrial television slots and the combination of men and women’s matches on the same day all combined to ensure the tournament was a resounding success.

The Ashes had already hooked the nation. The initial job was done for them and so the Hundred just needed to maintain the nation’s captivation with the sport. An eighty-two percent increase on viewing figures for the men’s opening match and a peak viewing figure of four-hundred and five thousand ensured that statistically the men’s Hundred has made the desired impact. A smaller yet equally significant rise of six percent average viewers for the women’s equivalent meant that this summer has been a resounding success for the female game and the English Cricket Board’s decision to distribute equal match fees to both genders is a step in the game and sport worldwide that cannot be underestimated.

Cricket is the winner

Cricketing victories for the men’s Oval Invincibles and women’s Southern Brave in thrilling finals continued the adage that in sport there can only be one winner; however, another phrase as old as time can well and truly be used to describe cricket this summer and at last the Hundred has contributed: cricket is the winner.

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