Cricket Expert & Columnist
The Hundred: Nasser Hussain hails the start of the tournament but says 'we must keep asking questions' of the format
Nasser Hussain: "This is just a start, but based on what we've seen, has the tournament been a success? I'd say absolutely"; watch continued coverage of The Hundred live on Sky Sports throughout the summer
Last Updated: 26/07/21 12:22pm
Sky Sports' Nasser Hussain has reflected on the the launch of The Hundred, hailing the new 100-ball tournament a success, but he believes questions must keep being asked of the new format to ensure it best serves it purpose in attracting new fans to the game.
Speaking during a rain delay in the washed out game between the London Spirit and Oval Invincibles, Hussain covered topics like the quality of cricket on show, the need for the competition, the make-up of the crowds and the strength of the women's game - click on the video above to watch the discussion in full and read on below...
Has The Hundred been a success so far?
I think it has been a success.
If you've been sat at home or in the stands watching the tournament; would you say it has been a successful, enjoyable tournament? Definitely.
There would have been some fingers crossed from the ECB. A new format, it had polarised opinion - people didn't like it or weren't going to, but then there were a lot of people that wanted to buy into it as well - but from what we've seen, it has been a success.
It's not all been ticks. There are still areas of concern. My main one is, everyone wants this bit of the summer - it's the hottest time of the year, we've just had the longest day, schools are on holiday - it's the best time for white-ball and red-ball cricket.
We've got a Test series starting against India soon, and what are Zak Crawley, Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Joe Root doing? How much red-ball cricket have they played?
As much as we applaud The Hundred, when England are 50-5 against India or something, we've then got to realise there is a flip side to all this.
But, what England have always needed - speak to the cricketers themselves and the fans - is its own city-based tournament.
Before, their finishing schools were the IPL, the CPL, the Big Bash. They wanted something that gets the talent together a little bit more - 18 first-class counties dilutes it a bit. Even though we've not had the overseas players that we could've, because of Covid, the standard of cricket has been phenomenal.
Why The Hundred when the T20 Blast is a success?
For every [T20 Blast] game at The Oval that is sold out, or at Headingley and the like, there are some games where the quality isn't quite good enough and it's not setting up players to be international cricketers.
And, we as broadcasters, can't be in 18 different places at once. We'll be at a game in Chelmsford while Chris Gayle is smashing it around at Taunton and our Twitter feed will be saying, 'why haven't you chosen to cover the game at Taunton?'
With this format, you can have a camera at every venue. And to cover the women as well.
And that is what I think the biggest plus so far has been, the women's game. It's a really small sample size, but it looks to be exactly what was needed. And it has shown everyone the quality of the women's game that is out there.
We've just seen a 16-year-old, Alice Capsey, be the hero of the game for Oval Invincibles while 23 per cent of the crowd was kids. That has only got to be good for the future.
Are the crowds reflective of what the ECB wants?
The Oval was brilliant. My family were in the crowd there and they said it was a completely different atmosphere - similar to the 2017 Women's World Cup final at Lord's.
It was a completely different atmosphere from the Blast. But, we've got to be honest - we can't fib for this tournament - in the last couple of evening games it has gone back a bit more towards a typical Blast crowd.
There's nothing wrong with that. I don't know any sport that would not want someone to go and enjoy themselves, have a few beers, and bring the atmosphere that they have. The game at Edgbaston, when Mohammad Amir bowled those wides and the Hollies Stand were up giving him stick, and then he got the wicket and went back at them, that was the best atmosphere we've had. Brilliant theatre. We cannot knock people for having a good time.
But I notice that The Oval are now trying to think of ways to have drinking zones and non-drinking zones. How do you manage the fact that you're going to get different audiences?
You don't want your family to be put off going to a game because of one drunken idiot. I think that has happened with the Blast.
As I say, we shouldn't knock it, the people in fancy dress, the beer snakes, but we must manage it. The future generations are coming from those family crowds. We must keep an eye on that.
Should the women's competition be played separately?
In an ideal world, yes [there would be stand-alone women's fixtures]. I think that was the way it was originally going to be, but then there was Covid and they decided to have it this way around.
But you also have to ask the question, could it be feasible to do things differently? Occasionally on Sunday, play the men's game first, the crowd will come in, and then have the women's game afterwards. Why is it always the women's game first?
We need to keep asking questions of this tournament, of this format. And then, eventually, like with the Big Bash, you will have the stand-alone women's tournament when it grows so much that it will stand on its own feet.
In Melbourne, they play women's games at the Junction Oval, a much more intimate venue - not the MCG - so it looks and feels like a full house. Those are the sort of things you could do.
Are the games being played quick enough?
We must keep an eye on the over-rate. A couple of the games have overrun - you've got to hit them hard.
It is a non-negotiable. In T20 cricket now, you can have a game that goes on for four and a half hours! In the IPL, broadcasters are still on the air gone midnight, 1am.
That will work in India because they're cricket-mad. You could put a game on at 3am, or have a seven-hour IPL game, and they'll watch it. In England, you're not having that.
You need to get back from the stadium, you need to work out your train time, your bus time; your kid may have something else on the next day, you don't want them in the stands still gone 10pm.
This is just a start. But, so far, based on what we've seen, has the tournament been a success? I'd say absolutely.
Watch continued coverage of The Hundred live on Sky Sports throughout the summer!