Match Analysis

Timeless truths link Hundred present to John Player past, no matter what the slogans tell you

Despite the hype, spin-dominant one-day games are not new to English cricket

Paul Edwards
Paul Edwards
Matt Parkinson celebrates with his captain  •  Getty Images

Matt Parkinson celebrates with his captain  •  Getty Images

In "Bartlet for America", an episode in the third series of The West Wing, there is a flashback to the time when the future President was merely a state Governor. A man of formidable intelligence but little patience when confronted with intellectual inadequacy or amoral charlatanry, Jed Bartlet is being asked to consider a new slogan for his state: "New Hampshire. It's what's new". He decides to have some fun and show off his knowledge: "Thomas Hilton started a fishing village here in 1623, Allen." The ad-men don't last long.
"Every ball counts." The slogan advertising the Hundred plastered below the 1864 suite on the pavilion at Emirates Old Trafford is barely avoidable. The implied contrast is clear. This will be different to - multiple history klaxons - the 1971 Gillette Cup Final, when Jack Bond obviously wasn't that arsed about most deliveries until he caught Asif Iqbal and turned the game. And the contrast couldn't be clearer with the Bodyline series, when some balls were lethal but, of course, no one cared?
The ECB's crude promotion of the Hundred invites such mockery. When the Board stops yelling the supposed merits of its new competition in our ears, most people will be able to see the worth of the cricket without hindrance. Certainly the cricket on offer at Emirates Old Trafford on another sun-baked Sunday gave spectators (7,855 at the women's match, 12,378 at the men's) a chance to see pleasing examples of at least five spinners' arts and many were leaving the ground talking about an eccentric, prodigiously gifted Boltonian whose legspinners may yet be on view in this winter's Ashes.
No, where Matt Parkinson is concerned, the link between a 100-ball match and a five-day Test is not quite as remote as one might think. The Lancashire spinner took 4 for 9 from 19 balls in the second of today's games, thereby setting up Manchester Originals' first win in the Hundred, a six-wicket victory over Birmingham Phoenix. If the most memorable moment of Parkinson's spell was his signature dish - a legbreak that pitched outside Chris Cooke's leg stump and hit the top of his off - there were plenty of other examples of his different skills, enough to encourage the hope he might be given a go against India this summer. His shrewdness in throwing a ball wide of Liam Livingstone's off stump, for example, was rewarded with the wicket of his county colleague for 12 and it took its place in a fine few hours for the Originals, who dismissed Birmingham Phoenix for 87 in 84 balls before winning the match with 27 balls to spare. A thrashing, in other words.
But, of course, a huge note of caution should be sounded. Any spinner worth his pay would have enjoyed bowling on this used Old Trafford pitch and it was merely to be expected after the women's game that both Tom Hartley and Calvin Harrison would deliver their full ration of 20 balls. They did so and their figures, added to Parkinson's, read: 59 balls, 49 runs, six wickets. No Phoenix batter got to 20 and indeed the only one six hit all day was that smashed over square leg by Amy Jones when Laura Jackson sent down a waist-high full toss.
Certainly Jos Buttler was not minded to give it large. Instead the Originals' skipper blocked a goodly number of his 31 balls and hit only four fours in his 30 runs. He was bowled by Livingstone when the job was almost done and had scarcely removed his pads when Carlos Brathwaite's four finished the game.
The women's match had already seen plenty of fine spin bowling. The class of slow left-armer Sophie Ecclestone was plain as the Originals restricted Phoenix to 113 for 9, a total bolstered by the 20 runs Jackson conceded from her second set of five. The importance of Jackson's over was made very plain in the second half of a game played with 70-yard square boundaries, the maximum allowed in the women's game. Slow left-armer Kirstie Gordon's three wickets for 14 runs in 20 balls included the vital scalp of Lizelle Lee, who made 7 before smearing a full toss to square leg, and Gordon was well supported by her fellow Scot, Abtaha Maqsood whose legspin accounted for both Mignon du Preez and Ellie Threlkeld. Harmanpreet Kaur made an unbeaten 49, almost all of them scampered runs, and was utterly exhausted by the end a match whose low scoring added to its charm.
"This is new. This is the Hundred." So claims the ubiquitous advert shown prior to the sad sight of fine cricketers simulating drama. Actually, no. This Sunday's cricket proved that whatever the ECB may demand that we think, the new competition will take its place in the history of limited-overs cricket, a history that stretches back over half a century. Low-scoring games dominated by fine spinners have often been on view at Old Trafford on summer Sundays, especially so during the golden years of the John Player League. Perhaps some of those present today will have realised that simple truth as they sought refuge from the DJ's incessant drill and took the chance to think about the cricket they were watching.

Paul Edwards is a freelance cricket writer. He has written for the Times, ESPNcricinfo, Wisden, Southport Visiter and other publications