Eoin Morgan, England’s limited-overs captain, has thrown his weight behind the ECB’s 100-ball concept, describing himself as a “big fan” and suggesting it was crucial for the governing body to innovate in order to stimulate waning interest in cricket in the UK.
Morgan was one of only three players briefed on the plans before they were announced last week – England women’s captain Heather Knight and PCA chairman Daryl Mitchell were the others – and he has given it his full backing. While there has been criticism from many quarters and complaints about the lack consultation during the process, Morgan felt the “noise” around “The Hundred” was a good sign.
“I think the biggest positive is that it is something different,” he told ESPNcricinfo, speaking at the launch of the 2019 World Cup fixtures at Lord’s. “The ECB have identified that there has been a huge decrease in participation in the game for a number of years, we need to do things differently to attract a new audience and I think this does.
“I think the noise that it’s created is brilliant, it’s good news, because you get the same people who love the game – like I do – coming to the game and complaining about it, because staying rigid is what we’re used to and what we enjoy. But there’s a huge element of staying rigid that can eat away at the game an deter the popularity of the game and that’s a big worry. So the hundred format, I’m a big fan of it.”
Falling participation figures have been a cause for concern at the ECB for several years, but last year the ECB sold its TV rights package for GBP1.1bn, a deal which guarantees the return of live cricket to the BBC.
The new tournament for 2020 was initially envisaged as a T20 competition that would be similar to the IPL or Australia’s Big Bash. There have been suggestions that broadcasters demanded a shorter game in order to better fit schedules but Morgan said it was important to consider the wider picture in attempts to grow the game.
“When they came to the idea of the 100-ball scenario, I really enjoyed it,” Morgan said. “It’s cricket at its simplest and coming from a background in an area that’s not very cricket orientated, I suppose I had a reasonable view on things, because I’m not tied to one format, or appealing to one certain audience. I want to get something forward that’s going to appeal to everybody.
“I think having the new format on terrestrial television, is a huge opportunity for us to go into people’s living rooms and grab their attention for a short space of time in the evening, which I think could be great for the game.
“We’re still a long way out from the tournament starting, a good two years, so plenty of time in between to iron things out. Hopefully we come to something that’s practical and appealing not just for the cricketing public but for the sporting public.”