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Hundred or Duck?

by Justin Rourke

Last week I took my family to watch The Hundred – Trent Rockets V London Spirit at Lords.

To set the scene, I love cricket and have been to many games and to Lords before. I was firmly anti ‘The Hundred’ however a chance to take the family to Lords proved hard to resist.

My wife is not really a cricket fan, she watches bits and pieces and did follow the 2019 World Cup.

My 15 year old son is not a cricket fan, but thought it would be a ‘good experience’.

My 10 year old son is sport mad, likes cricket but has never been to a professional match before.

Lords was busy and looking fantastic when we arrived. There were queues to get in, and a well organised team checking tickets, alcohol etc as you entered. There were lots of stewards making it easy to get to our seats (in the Compton stand) and a well stocked bar with Estrella and various other drinks.

We got seated easily enough, and it was immediately apparent to me that this was a very different atmosphere to a Test match at Lords (I have also been to Trent Bridge, Riverside, Old Trafford too). This was much closer to a football ground atmosphere.

I’d caveat this by saying we chose not to sit in the family stand as we wanted to have access to a bar. The family behind us were also a family of 4, a dad with his brother and two sons in their late 20’s. They had a  great time, they were well oiled and at times the language was a bit course. One of them was having some challenges with his balance causing him and his ever present beer to sway like a ship in a storm. They adopted my youngest son, sharing banter with him and buying my wife and I a pint. Drunk – yes, loud – yes … but one of the party frequently asked if we were ok and if we needed him to shut them up (we didn’t).

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This is no criticism, trust me I have had some long days at the cricket drinking and talking even more nonsense than usual. They were great craic, but I think that’s from my perspective and that of my 10 year old. My wife and 15 year old might hold a different view … one person’s fun can be quite intimidating to another.

The music went pretty much unnoticed, to be honest this was a bit of a non event. I googled the act before the game, not someone I knew (nor the kids) – if truth be told I didn’t hear a word she sang so I’m still none the wiser.

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The cricket, now I will concede this is a small sample size, I thought was pretty average. Dropped catches behind the stumps, average fielding and not much explosive hitting. Maybe it was the size of the ground? Maybe just a bad game, but it really failed to hold my attention or from what I could see anyone around me. Most were entertaining themselves singing ‘Ravi Bopara’ and ‘take me home’ – my wife commented that the fire was very good (not the welsh fire) the flames they throw up around the ground when something exciting happens … which says something.

I quite like the simplicity of the scoreboard screen – balls left – runs needed but that need not be unique to this format. It was noticeable that lots of cricket fans found elements confusing in a way that those new to it did not.

Our conclusion, not sure any of us will be rushing back. It’s fine, ok, not a bad day out but it ranks well down our experiences over 4 days in London and my experience of watching cricket.

I think it will remain divisive, I actually don’t mind the franchises but the South West and North East need to be represented. I don’t think it brings anything to the party that T20 would not if it were structured and marketed in the same aggressive and expensive way.

I actually think T20/The Hundred is ideal for stag do’s, cricket club days out etc. as it doesn’t really matter if you forget about the cricket or can’t remember it the next day.

My final thought … why are bowlers restricted to 20 balls but batsmen are not?

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