A notice at the top of a set of stairs leading into the Compton Stand at Lord’s reads, “Please remain seated during an over.” But what if there are no overs in the game? Deliveries only. Every ball counts, as the Hundred constantly reminding us. Overs are nonexistent in addition to not counting.
Before ends are modified, deliveries are made in “sets” of 10. One bowler might deliver each of the set’s 10 balls or they could switch after five. A team’s innings are finished after 100 balls, and bowlers are only allowed to deliver 20 balls per game. Therefore, it does exactly what it claims.
The Hundred differs from other white-ball cricket formats primarily in those ways. It is difficult to understand why it has caused the game’s hidebound classes to experience such misery and angst. Perhaps because people outside the usual circles are showing an interest in it: on Sunday night, a stroll through the streets of Manchester revealed that many televisions were tuned to the men’s match between Birmingham Phoenix and Manchester Originals at Edgbaston through the windows of pubs and private homes.
The reason for the Hundred in a sport that recently saw a resurgence by eliminating the perpetually dull 30 overs in the middle of a List A innings: hey presto, T20! The explanation is that a game that was even shorter was required. With T20, a game might theoretically be finished in three hours. In actuality, games frequently last well past the fourth hour. The One Hundred? Approximately 2.5 hours. Done. Or roughly as long as even the longest football game, including extra time and penalty kicks. Another explanation is that the ECB, who developed the Hundred, wants to be able to sell the idea. That hasn’t happened yet, even though The Hundred is already into its second season. There are now only eight franchises in England where “every ball counts.”