Kent were outclassed by Essex in Sunday’s Royal London One Day Cup contest, hobbling to 159 all out and losing by an emphatic nine wickets. It was only George Munsey’s 39 that saved the away side from complete embarassment, and a first win in the competition remains elusive.
Although blighted by several injuries, Kent’s demise seems at least partly explained by the financial dominance of cricket’s new format, the Hundred, which has attracted many of the county’s most impactful players.
The likes of Daniel Bell-Drummond, Joe Denly, Sam Billings and Qais Ahmad being unavailable for their county highlights the inevitably damaging effect that staging the Hundred at the same time as the Royal London One Day Cup was always going to have. The influx of investment into the ECB’s new invention has undermined a tournament that proved so influential in international 50-over success.
The Hundred itself is by no means wholly negative, and games such as Sunday’s thriller between Southern Brave and London Spirit have displayed the world-class talent taking part. Attendances at the Royal London Cup have also been determinedly healthy, particularly down at that “legacy fan” hotspot Taunton.
However, to inject such funds and broadcasting commitment into new franchises during an institution that has done so much for England’s talent pool in recent years does grate slightly. The Hundred has meant that youngsters playing in the One Day Cup will not, for large periods, be playing against the best in the country. The contests that have forged a white-ball dynasty will not be repeated.