Recently I took my family to the home of Cricket; Lord's, St John's Wood, to watch London Spirit vs Northern Superchargers in The Hundred competition. It was the first game of any type of professional cricket that my children had been to (Imogen is 7 and Finley is 6) and they had both shown lots of interest in the lead up from seeing the adverts on Sky Sports.
The main aim of the organisers was to attract a younger, more diverse crowd to a shorter and easier to understand format of the game. Eg. overs were replaced by balls with both teams having just 100 balls to score as many runs as they can. Another main focus of The Hundred was to increase the interest in the women's game which of late has been going from strength to strength from participation and more exposure. Each ticket allowed you to first watch the women's game followed by the men's game that evening so it was a full day out.
Greeted by the friendly security staff and after a quick check of the bags we were on our way into Lords with two hugely excited kids skipping ahead in front and an intrigued wife by my side. Immediately we could feel and hear the carnivalesque atmosphere, which ultimately meant time for a beer! With the type of efficiency you'd expect at the home of cricket we were in our seats (albeit up in the gods) taking it all in. It quickly became apparent that our two little people wanted to be closer to the action so we politely asked the steward if there were any spare seats anywhere else and as luck would have it there were a few available in the Taverners stand. The steward couldn't do enough for us and we were finally settled in our seats with Fin and I in awe watching the fielding and warm up drills for the men's match. Neither of us could quite believe just how high the ball was being hit with a boom bat. The number of 6's to follow didn't disappoint either.
I should note that the family area we were originally sat in has a restriction on drinking to avoid the rowdiness of a usual cricket match and bad language that is not suitable for younger ears. I totally understand why they did this as a father to two young children but it did take away the usual banter you love and hear at the cricket in the family areas. The atmosphere from the rest of the stadium filtered through though and thankfully where we were moved to allowed us to sneak a cheeky beer in!
The live music from the main stage from BBC Introducing was a a great atmosphere building addition and the pyrotechnics and IPL horns every time a boundary was hit or a wicket was taken really fed the crowds energy! The kids were up cheering and dancing and I may have even taken part in a mexican wave or two myself! Being from the North we were fully behind the Northern Superchargers who went on to absolutely hammer the home side. It was noticeable that the team fielding were very proactive in keeping the game high-tempo by getting in position quickly to keep the game going and to avoid being penalised (another new rule). Due to the nature of the new format being only 100 balls the big hitting started very quickly in the batting innings which was great for the crowd. David Willey was a particular hit with the kids who thought it was hilarious every time his name was mentioned; which was A LOT as it was a true showcase of power hitting with at least 2 balls disappearing over our stand and ending up somewhere in downtown St John's Wood!
Apart from the very late finish getting home that evening the day out was a total success. Finley has been asking to go back again regularly and he watched as much of the game on the TV as he could getting to know the teams (if only by colour!). I think we will make it a yearly family outing... even my wife enjoyed it!
I know there have been lots of thoughts and controversy over the new format from avid Cricket fans who think that The Hundred detracts away from the true nature of the sport. I suppose I myself may have thought that before kids but having a game you can watch and follow with the new superfans of the future by my side I genuinely think there is space for a format of this type. Test match cricket will always be my main love but I have thoroughly enjoyed watching my first love with my children who were both fully taken in by The Hundred. Having a shorter format that the younger ones and non-cricketers can follow can surely only be a good thing for the sport.
Don't you worry ive already promised them that this is just the beginning and one day we will go to watch the holy grail i.e The Ashes.
So overall mission complete! Well done The Hundred.
What did you think?