Same teams, same format, but smaller venues.
The ECB’s new controversial cricket competition The Hundred gets underway next year for both men and women, but it is the men who have yet again been gifted with the honour of playing their final at the home of cricket.
Teams were asked to submit bids to host the final, with the ECB allocating the chosen locations based on several factors, including the likelihood of selling out each respective stadium. The County Ground in Hove, with a capacity of 6000 people was chosen for the Women’s final, whilst Middlesex’s home ground Lords, which can hold up to 30,000 was unsurprisingly picked to host the men’s match.
Would Women sell out Lords? This has been the question often posed in defence of this scheduling. Lords has a rich history of showcasing some of cricket’s biggest finals, including this year’s men’s world cup final, but many forget that the women’s final in the same tournament was also held there, just two years ago. That day, on which England defeated India to become world champions, the game was a sell-out and attendance was registered at around 24,000 people.
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In light of statistics like this, it is evident that the women’s game generates enough fan interest to justify the selection of Lord’s as a finals day venue. This is not to say that women should play there instead of the men, but that a joint finals day on the same date would be fairer, more enjoyable and better value for money to all consumers.
Each finals day will see the second and third-placed teams from the league stages go head to head before the winner plays the first-placed team in the final. Therefore, a maximum of 400 deliveries could be bowled on each day, if both games go the distance. This is some 320 balls less than the maximum number of balls bowled on T20 finals day in England, the ECB’s other premier short-format tournament. If 720 balls can conceivably be bowled in one day, surely combining the male and female finals for the Hundred would make logistical sense? A maximum of 800 deliveries in total, and four games for the public as opposed to just two.
Managing director of the Hundred Sanjay Patel said ‘The Hundred represents an incredible opportunity to broaden our audience for cricket and it's great to see our finals venues committed to delivering great spectacles next August to close the inaugural competitions with a bang.’
Clearly the intention of the competition is to attract new fans to the game of cricket, but by placing the two finals on consecutive days, the ECB are segregating fans and forcing them to make a decision. Is it men, or is it women? This will achieve the opposite effect to the one Patel intends to make happen. Will it ultimately generate more revenue? Most likely. Will it help fans of the men’s game view the women’s competition in the same vein? Probably not.
The best way to broaden audience engagement with the sport is to let fans enjoy both spectacles on the same day, and help fan’s not just to love the men’s game, or the women’s game but Cricket in general.News Now - Sport News