A packed out Lord’s enjoyed hundreds of runs and plenty of wickets on a sunny Bank Holiday Sunday. The third edition of The Hundred, Britain domestic cricket’s newest tournament, with Southern Brave Women and Oval Invincibles Men being victorious.
The Brave Women were ruthless in their defeat of the Northern Superchargers, bowling out their opposition for just 105- 34 runs short of their target. Lauren Bell was the pick of their bowlers with 3-19 from her 19 balls. This came after a quick fire 59 off 38 from Danni Wyatt helped the Brave to 139-6.
The Men’s Final was similarly low scoring, and Oval Invincibles were in a heap of trouble at 35-5. Jimmy Neesham and Tom Curran then put on an unbeaten 127 partnership to set Manchester Originals 162 to win. The chase never really got going, and despite some big hitting from Max Holden and Jamie Overton, the Invincibles sealed a 14-run win.
The tournament’s finals day has quickly become a showpiece event, and there are few cricket venues in the UK that could be a better host for the day than Lord’s. The old very much meets the new, and the fireworks, smoke flares and DJ booth are very much not in keeping with the rigid traditionalism of Lord’s, but it makes for a fine blend.
Walking into Lord’s, there was a real party atmosphere with plenty of colours- not just of the four teams involved in the finals day either. Thousands of people no doubt from all corners of the country and probably even further gathered for what ended up being an action-packed day.
Many cricketing puritans will not entertain The Hundred, and this is of course understandable and something they have reason for given how it takes away the best players from domestic counties for the Metro Bank One Day Cup tournament which has run adjacent to The Hundred this year.
Yet after spending the afternoon and evening at Lord’s, it’s hard to be annoyed by what The Hundred is trying to do. Young people, large families and groups of all ages were in attendance, the competition's rapid format was engaging for all - from cricket enthusiasts to those taking their first plunge into the sport.
The tournament feels as though it is missing a real identity with fans, although this may be down to simply the fact that it is still only three years old. Teams changing every year is the nature of franchise cricket, and we in the UK are not used to. IPL and Big Bash fans may be all too familiar with. Support for the competition will grow, as will objection, and the path The Hundred takes will be dictated by those in charge.
The Hundred has divided opinion this summer, and it will no doubt continue to do so deep into the winter, spring and during the emergence of the 2024 cricket season. Yet few can argue its entertainment value and for the issues which it has, there is no denying it is a steady introduction to cricket for many.