Who would have thought this whole “The Hundred” idea hadn’t been thought through properly, eh? It is almost as if someone forgot to check whether the players would be up for playing it.
The PCA (Professional Cricketers Association don’t you know) have kindly reminded that ECB that that to have a match that lasts 200 balls then you will need at 22 cricketers up for it and, if you don’t mind, they’d like a little more clarity on the how it is going to work before committing to it.
Despite the fact that the 8-team tournament “will start in 2020” there are concerns still being batted to the boundary over the move away from T20, the actual format of this big new idea and the impact it could have on the women’s game. But hey, the ECB aren’t worried because this is all still very much a “concept”.
Daryl Mitchell, the PCA Chairman, is suddenly the kingpin and was revelling in delivering soundbites like, “we’d have to feel very strongly to go against it” and “there’s no competition without players, is there?”
At the centre of this idea, still a concept don’t forget, is some market research (yet to be put in the public domain) that suggests that ‘the audience’ would be in favour of an even shorter format of the game.
Christ, if they want a short cricket match go and watch Yorkshire, right? Right?
Personally, I just want to know how they are going to score the ten-ball over as I know many a bowler that would point blank refuse to carry that in their figures. Mind you, I also know many a bowler who have bowled a few ten-ball overs in a spell, not that they meant to.
We are getting to the time of the year where I need to start brushing up on the new names in the hat for Test selection so I can at least honestly say I have heard of them when they take the field at Lords in a few weeks time.
With the likes of Joe Root, Jimmy Anderson, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow and probably Stuart Broad the only ones set in stone for the summer there are a few places left up for grabs and no matter how much I long to see Jason Roy and Alex Hales hidden in the batting line-up somehow with Joss Buttler ready to come in later it just isn’t going to happen.
As I flick through the list of possible openers that the Guardian are suggesting, I recognise a few names. That Cook lad probably has a bit left in the tank. Mark Stoneman didn’t do enough on tour for me and is an obvious choice to be dropped so the new regime can look like they are doing something useful. Keaton Jennings started badly then got a ton, the opposite to his Test career to date. Haseeb Hameed has apparently just been dropped. From the team I assume, not on the boundary. Rory Burns and Nick Gubbins I can honestly say are new names to me but I do like the potential puns that surround a name like Gubbins.
England need to sort out the middle order as well and someone is going to have to force Root to bat three because there appears to be no other option. Liam Livingstone and Dan Lawrence are in the mix so I must research them and Joe Clarke (no idea) has apparently just hit 157 for Worcester so must be brilliant. Oh, it was at the Oval. Does that count?
Stokesy will be the all-rounder, obviously, and one way to find a specialist middle order bat would be to hide Jonny Bairstow’s gloves – again, this could be something on Ed Smith’s to-do list so he can take the credit if it comes off. If Bairstow comes out from behind the stumps then who would take over? Riddle me that, batman.
In the bowling department, I seem to be aware of most of these lads – injury prone the lot of them. Jake Ball, Mark Wood, Olly Stone are all talented but appear to be made of paper and unless we can mould them into one bowler it would be risky to back a summer on them. Chris Woakes is an obvious shout with a nice Duke in his hand, but who else? “Ben Coad,” you cry! “Who?” I cry back. “The leading wicket taker in county cricket,” you say. And that will be why I don’t know who he is.
In the spinner’s lounge, I hear from a friend (who happens to be his agent) that Surrey’s Amar Virdi is the next big thing. I’d imagine he’ll get a go once England realise that they do need to look outside of the Moeen Ali envelope and that Jack Leach probably isn’t going to do it on his own.
It’s going to be pretty much the same XI, isn’t it? England play Pakistan at Lords on May 24th.