The Hundred, the brainchild of England & Wales Cricket Board, got off the ground with all pomp and show in London, with Oval Invincibles Womens hunting down Manchester Originals Womens' 135/6 to begin their campaign with a bang. Dane van Niekerk supplied a captain's knock, weaving an unbeaten 56 to power her side past the finish line.
✅ A historic moment for British cricket at an iconic ground— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) July 21, 2021
✅ A record crowd for a domestic women's game
Same again tomorrow! 💯 What did you make of that? ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/1vtE0VcH99
Here are three key takeaways from the inaugural match of the sport's newfangled format:
Scope of improvement in catching standards
There were butter-fingers galore at The Oval as more than a couple of catches went down, with van Niekerk's let-off at backward square costing Manchester Originals dearly. Harmanpreet Kaur too shelled a sitter at mid-off, although she did outstretch her arms to grab a sharp chance earlier. Catches win matches, as they say, and the quality of groundwork must ascend to top-flight benchmarks sooner than later.
Twisted rules led to chaotic clutter
The boundary riders often found themselves in a tizzy after each over, confused whether to hold onto their positions or shift base as the captain and bowler mulled their options regarding extension of a particular over.
Moreover, the umpire signalling the end of a five-ball sequence by holding up a white card didn't come across as the most clear-cut way of declaring an over, both to the television audience and the players on the field. Loud calls could be considered or else, a neon coloured flashcard would do.
Time is a great healer, and players and spectators alike are expected to become better acquainted with the rules and regulations as the tournament progresses.
Attendance of families in the crowd a wholesome sight
The Hundred's primary objective is to draw people from all walks of life to the stadium for some capsule-sized cricketing action. It looked as if the trimmed format served its purpose as females and children thronged the stands, waving banners and cheering for their respective teams. Although ECB shelling out nearly ten thousand tickets for free helped the cause.
The initial signs are promising, but it remains to be seen if The Hundred maintains its charm as a crowd magnet of a diverse range of fans once the board pulls the plug on freebies.