The England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has announced that they will be holding a draft for foreign players on 20 October for The Hundred, a 100-ball competition that debuts in 2020.
There are eight franchise teams that are city based, and they are each allowed to draft and play three foreign players. This means that only 24 foreign players will be drafted for the tournament; these will be the top 24 players in the world.
They have also announced the coaches for each franchise. All are high profile former cricketers and T20 coaches like Stephen Fleming (Nottinghamshire), Gary Kirsten (Cardiff) and Shane Warne (North London – Lord’s). The ECB are launching a new product with the best foreign players the world has and big name coaches with very little respect for cricket ethics.
But does world and English cricket need this tournament?
The ECB have just announced record attendances for cricket in England this past summer with 3,15 million spectators that have been through the turnstiles, including a record attendance for a Cricket World Cup.
This new innovation is now the fifth version of cricket behind Tests, One Day Internationals, T20 and the Dubai T10. The game of cricket is already too fragmented by the many different concepts that continue to create confusion with regard to the identity of cricket. Also, it is creating more product in a market that is already bordering on saturation. Professional sport has created an imbalance with regard to a healthy supply and demand situation.
With regard to England, they already have a healthy T20 tournament in the Vitality Blast that enjoys good stadium support and television exposure on Sky Television. Why place this successful tournament at risk for a maverick competition that is not cricket with its uneven balls per overs and batsman who don’t have to field? It is nothing more than an ego driven matter by certain people in the ECB.
The Indian Premier League (IPL) remains a sustainable success because the IPL Governing Council has recognized this and not tried to fix something that isn’t broken.
The International Cricket Council needs to protect the values and identity of the game and not approve these dangerous innovations like the T10 and the Hundred. What will be next?
Cricket needs to rid itself of its paranoia of having to reinvent itself constantly. Cricket is the second biggest team sport in the world and does not need to be paranoid about its future.