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Will The Hundred stoke cricket?

TCA Srinivasa Raghavan | Updated on July 26, 2021

Pumping adrenaline: Harmanpreet Kaur plays for Manchester Originals in The Hundred   -  REUTERS

All eyes are on the Olympics, but away from the glare in England, a new format tournament threatens to disrupt cricket

* Revenues from T20 now comprise more than 80 per cent of total revenue from cricket

* In The Hundred, each team will bowl 100 balls and a bowler can bowl either five or 10 consecutive balls but not more than 20 balls in all. Cricket has been ‘baseballised’

*TV has been the driving force behind all sports since the late 1960s.

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If there are two things the English are very good at, it is making money and giving it the garb of divine duty. When they were looting the colonies, they called it White Man’s Burden!

So it comes as no surprise that their Board for Cricket, the England and Wales Cricket Board, better known as the ECB, has come up with yet another innovation: A 100 balls-a-side cricket match. It’s aim is to make a lot of money via television.

The total earnings of top cricketing boards in 2020:

BCCI (India) — ₹3,730 crore

CA (Australia) — ₹2,843 crore

ECB (England) — ₹2,135 crore

PCB (Pakistan) — ₹811 crore

This new format is only 20 balls less than the current 120 balls a side match, known as T20 which has really taken off commercially in all major cricket playing countries. Revenues from it now comprise more than 80 per cent of total revenue from cricket which runs to nearly $750 million a year. Ninety per cent of this comes from India, Australia and England.

Different strokes

Officially, back in 2003, the reason given for introducing T20 was that something was needed to replace the Benson and Hedges domestic county cricket tournament in England. The real reason, however, was money. In England it always is.

The old formats — Test matches and 50-overs-a-side games — were just not pulling in the revenue. The Tests lasted five days and the 50-overs games lasted 8 hours, at the very least. People wanted a shorter baseball-like format.

TV was there to oblige. It’s been the driving force behind all sports since the late 1960s. It expands viewership — and, therefore, the bang-per-buck from ads — by a factor of 10,000.

The overwhelming power of live international TV sport started with tennis with the ATP circuit. Before that in the US there was baseball, basketball and American football, all short format sports compared to cricket.

The English quickly delivered what TV wanted: The 2.30 pm-10.30 pm, 50 overs each game. It was a huge success for 30 years.

But by 2003 even just 100 overs per match had become too long. Viewership was falling.

So T20 was started by them. The game lasts for just three-and-half hours. Only 240 balls are bowled — down from 600 — if there are no wides and no balls.

Now it seems even the extra 20-odd minutes needed to bowl the difference between 100 and 120 balls have become too much. Hence the 100 balls format. Cricket has thus been baseballised.

Each team will bowl 100 balls and a bowler can bowl either five or 10 consecutive balls but not more than 20 balls in all. This means the old six-balls per over is gone.

There was a time when it was eight balls per over. That went even before TV became dominant.

Reward ratio

There are some other process rules in the 100-ball game — like powerplay, fielders inside the line etc — to make the game more TV and therefore batsmen friendly. The bowlers are what the Christians were to the lions in Roman times.

But there is really no need to feel sorry for them. They make a lot of money for very little work.

Thus in T20, a bowler gets to bowl only 24 balls and gets paid more-or-less the same as a batsman. And now he or she will bowl even less — just 20 balls — and get the same money.

The effort-to-reward ratio is therefore heavily skewed in their favour. Typically, if a bowler manages to play 100 T20 matches, he can expect to earn at least ₹1 crore for bowling just 400 overs. That’s better than even a low level politician or a minor bureaucrat.

Nor is there any requirement that he should take any wickets. All he has to do is to bowl 10 or 11 dot balls. That’s it. This stands the economics of productivity on its head, whichever way you want to measure it.

Viewers go to see runs scored while no one really cares if a bowler gets bashed without taking wickets. Nor does anyone remember a good ball or a great bowling spell. After all, how great can it be in 24 balls?

In contrast, batsmen have to score runs at the rate of at least two per ball over half a dozen matches if they want to remain in the team. This is the only thing that matters. It will matter even more in the 100 ball format.

A comparison with other short format sports is interesting. It is only the goalkeepers in football and hockey who come anywhere close to this in terms of productivity.

Theoretically, it is possible for them to just stand there. The other 10 players could ensure that the ball goes nowhere near the D.

Even in basketball, where there are just five players on each side, a player can just run up and down and not touch the ball even once. That, in fact, is an art in itself.

In tennis, it is possible, again in theory, for a match to be over in 72 points. This would happen if there are 36 aces and 36 un-returnable returns of service. But the effort level required there would be so great as to make the reward come close to infinity.

Contrast this with a bowler in T20 or this 100 balls version. There is nothing in economics that explains such high rewards for such low performance. When you look at it, a T20 bowler’s returns are almost infinite in relation to his productivity.

So how do the broadcasters make money from this? As in the US football and IPL, play halts for two-and-a-half minutes to allow advertisements. The code for this is ‘strategic time out’.

In India, of course, the broadcasters, in complete indifference to the viewers, insert ads between overs and during any other stoppage of play that lasts more than 30 seconds.

Is it any wonder that global revenue from cricket is now close to ₹10,000 crore of which India’s share is almost 40 per cent?

TCA Srinivasa Raghavan is a senior journalist and columnist who writes on current economic issues

NEW FORMAT, NEW RULES

  • Rule #1 — 100-ball Cricket

Each innings goes on for a maximum of 100 balls.

  • Rule #2 — Toss with a twist

The toss does not have to take place in the middle!

  • Rule #3 — Overs Fives

The umpire will call ‘Five’ after a bowler delivers five balls. A bowler can choose to bowl five or 10 balls in a row. Each bowler gets a maximum of 20 balls per match.

  • Rule #4 — Ends change in 10 balls

The fielding side will change ends every 10 balls.

  • Rule #5 — Powerplay

The Powerplay will be the first 25 balls of each 100-ball innings. Only two fielders are allowed outside the 30-yard circle in the Powerplay.

  • Rule #6 — Drinks. Timeout

The fielding team can take a two-minute strategic timeout at any point after the Powerplay.

  • Rule #7 — Caught, not crossed!

With caught dismissals the non-striker must return to their original end, even if they crossed.

  • Rule #8 — In case of a tie...

In the group stage, both teams will get 1 point each for a tied match. In the eliminator and final, they will play a Super Over Five.

  • Rule #9 — DRS

DRS will be available, third umpire will monitor no-balls.

  • Rule #10 — Over rate penalty

If a team is behind the over rate, they will be allowed one less fielder outside the 30-yard circle. This will happen from the point the penalty is enforced.

  • Rule #11 — Game length

Short and sweet! Each match will last for just two and a half hours.

The Hundred Men — full schedule here

The Hundred Women — full schedule here

Live-stream The Hundred exclusively on FanCode: iOS | Android | www.fancode.com

Source: Fancode

  • It has been three years in the making. But after a troubled gestation period, ECB’s new offering to cricket — The Hundred kicked off on July 21 with a thrilling stand-alone opener between the Oval Invisibles and Manchester Originals. ECB made a statement by getting the ladies to start first!
  • The Hundred, which promises fast and furious action, has eight women’s and men’s teams from major cities across England and Wales. Five Indian women feature in the different city teams — Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Deepti Sharma and Jemimah Rodrigues.
  • The eight teams in action are Birmingham Phoenix (Edbaston), London Spirit (Lord’s) , Manchester Originals (Old Trafford), Northern Superchargers (Headingley), Oval Invincibles, Southern Brave (Ageas Bowl), Trent Rockets (Trent Bridge and Welsh Fire (Sophia Gardens).
  • For viewers in India, the 68 matches tournament played over five weeks will be available to watch on FanCode, the digital sports destination. Fans can access the matches through a Match pass, which gives access to one game, or a Tour Pass, for the entire tournament.

Published on July 26, 2021

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