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The Light Roller

So you thought cricket was uncool?

Poor you. Haven't heard of the Hundred then?

Alan Gardner
Alan Gardner
Heavy rain delayed the toss at Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester Originals vs Northern Superchargers, Women's Hundred, July 28, 2021

Instant coolness: stage a new competition in a perennially rainy country and watch the temperatures drop, courtesy cloud cover  •  Getty Images

The Hundred is here, bat slung casually over one shoulder, proudly wearing a cricket:team t-shirt and with its official merch snapback turned to face the other way - very much a "How do you do, fellow kids?" kind of vibe. And don't worry, if you had any doubts about whether cricket could be considered a cool sport, they've now been fully dispelled.
The game's fourth format (although it's technically recorded as T20 - more on that later) has arrived to take the world of sports entertainment by storm. "Not a fan of cricket? That's okay! We're not that bothered about it ourselves. Look, we've got fireworks and a band! Plus a DJ… We're all about the choons!" If you turn up during the afternoon, it's basically just a kids' party with some human billboards promoting snack foods in the background. Of course, it then descends into something more like a kegger once the grown-ups have indulged on their fruit juice for a few hours…
Still, are we not entertained? (Don't answer that unless you're a nine-year-old with a guileless smile.) The take-no-prisoners approach has been most evident on the TV broadcasts, which tries to sex up and dumb down at the same time - and remember this is still cricket we're talking about, a sport which is both too clever by half and about as sexy as a librarian in galoshes. (It's fine if that's your thing, we're not here to judge.)
Obviously a bit of flannel for a new enterprise is to be expected - in the early days of the Light Roller, we liked to describe ourselves as "like the Briefing, but funny" - but some of the Hundred's coverage would make the editor of Pravda wince. Kass Naidoo, brought in to anchor Sky's coverage, seems a very personable sort, but her habit of standing in front of an empty stand while hailing the "great crowd today" is bold, to say the least. You suspect even Prof Pangloss might recommend toning it down.
Meanwhile, a cavalcade of former players have picked out choice spots on the bandwagon - and some are noticeably more objective than others. The astonishment with which Andrew Flintoff greeted a decent crowd for Old Trafford's first fixture would suggest he'd never even been to a T20 Blast game, never mind played in several (including bringing out the Freddie-as-Jesus pose to rapturous applause at Finals Day a few years back). Kevin Pietersen, too, seems ready to lose the run of himself every time he steps into the pod. But maybe he's just excited at being back in the ECB's good books.
And the product itself? Well, if you think of it as 20 five-ball overs with one or two quirky playing conditions and a real fetish for timekeeping, it all looks suspiciously like T20. Which, you may have noticed, was already quite successful. But then some clever folk thought New Coke was a good idea too.


To Bangladesh. Which is not a phrase you hear Australians utter very often. And perhaps that's understandable, what with the gulf between the sides, the inevitable mismatches, lop-sided scorelines, and so on. Anyway, after the conclusion of Bangladesh's 4-1 win in the T20Is, reports emerged that Justin Langer was involved in a "heated confrontation" with a staffer from, after Cricket Australia's media arm posted a video showing the home team celebrating enthusiastically, while being politely applauded by the visitors. But what was it that got Langer in such a stew? Was Australia's coach perhaps hoping that, with the series not being broadcast back home, people might not find out about the result? Maybe he felt the humility being displayed by the Australians fell short of "elite"? Either way, as the wags on Twitter have pointed out, if you don't want people to laugh at the fact you got thrashed by Bangladesh, you should try not getting thrashed by Bangladesh in the first place.


To Bangladesh… at some unspecified date in the future. That is what's been agreed between the ECB and the BCB, after they announced that England's limited-overs tour scheduled for later in the year was postponed. Is it a coincidence that this removes a clash with the IPL, meaning England's players will now be able to participate in the rearranged second half of the tournament? Or maybe someone at the ECB simply spotted the aforementioned footage on We'll let you be the judge.

Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick