Nasser Hussain says The Hundred has been “a success so far”

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During his playing days, Essex and England’s Nasser Hussain was known for his taciturn nature, a man who was stand-offish to fans and unafraid to be controversial with the media. Now that he has moved into the punditry world himself, a more outgoing side has emerged, but he still has no reservations about saying what he thinks, even if it causes offence or goes against the grain.

So when Hussain speaks in cautiously positive tones about England’s latest shorter-than-T20 form of the game, it is worth taking notice. In the run up to the event, the hype from the media and the mobile betting sites was immense, but fans and former players were decidedly cynical about the whole idea. However, much the same was said about T20 when it was first trialled back in the early 2000s.

Successful so far

Hussain works as a commentator for UK broadcaster Sky Sports. When the game between London Spirit and Oval Invincibles was washed out a couple of weeks ago, he took the opportunity to muse on The Hundred and its role in the wider world of cricket.

He said that the overall reception of The Hundred has been a positive one, something that is especially significant given that so many people “didn’t want it” or saw no point to it when it was first announced. Crowds have been large and enthusiastic, and Hussain’s paymasters are positive about the viewing figures, which are believed to be higher than anticipated.

Better focus

Part of the cynicism related to The Hundred creating city-based franchises when there are already 18 first class counties with established support bases. However, Hussain believes this is exactly what cricket needed. He said: “England has always needed its own city-based tournament. Before, the finishing schools were the IPL, the CPL, the Big Bash. The ECB wanted something that gets the talent together a little bit more – having 18 first-class counties dilutes it a bit.”

With fewer teams, the media can cover every game in full, and that, says Hussain, leads to The Hundred’s biggest strength. Equal coverage has been dedicated to men’s and women’s cricket, something that was previously unprecedented in the sport.

The Hundred is being hailed as a game changer for women’s cricket. When 16 year old Alice Capsey scored 59 from 40 deliveries on debut, almost a quarter of the spectators were children. What better way to inspire the next generation of players, regardless of gender?

What about the downsides?

According to Hussain, the only real downside to The Hundred is that it is yet another tournament competing for a share of those precious few weeks at the height of the English summer. The red ball rustiness of some England players in the opening test matches against India brought this into focus.

However, that’s a dilemma that English cricket has been facing for years. Ultimately, The Hundred has been a success, and there’s every chance we’ll see more of the format in the wider cricketing world over the coming years.