Vitality Blast and The Hundred

31 October 2022

  • On the Blast, Stuart Cain explained that it would allow the season to be more spread out if there was a reduction in group games. It would also mean that you could have the ‘best v best’ playing on a Friday or Saturday to boost crowds and create great atmospheres if you had less games and changed from the current conference system to a two-division merit league. In an ideal world you would retain the option for ‘wildcard’ derbies such as the Roses and Bears v Pears, however this might not be possible of you lost the conference structure. There was broad support form Members for two divisions based on merit, rather than the current conference system.
  • Mark McCafferty felt that a potential reduction to twelve games should be considered for the above reasons.
  • There was a lot of conversation around the Hundred, and whilst there is understandable resistance to the format and also the impact it has on other cricket at the height of summer, Stuart Cain and Mark McCafferty explained the benefits it does bring to the Game and the Club commercially as well as developing exponentially the Women’s Game and introducing new fans to cricket. There were a number of views about the same being possible with T20 cricket if the ECB invested heavily in the format and got it back onto free-to-air television.
  • Stuart Cain explained how the Hundred had been created to try and differentiate from T20 at the request of Counties that felt it could harm their Blast teams if a new T20 competition was formed around cities. So, whilst some people may not like it, the Hundred will be needed in coming years, so it should be about how to potentially truncate and link with the Blast.
  • There was a wider question around how the ECB was marketing other formats of cricket to the new audience attracted to the Hundred. Stuart Cain explained that this was an ongoing discussion with the ECB and should be a key part of their strategy moving forward.
  • A number of Members supported the view that the Hundred brings new people into the game and these are the Members of the future. So, this marketing was crucial. Stuart Cain agreed and felt that you could look at a ‘cricket lifecycle.’ Young fans being attracted to the Hundred would hopefully go on to watch the Blast and then mature into the One-Day Cup and County Championship as their love of the game progressed and the time they had available to watch the game changed.
  • Mark McCafferty felt that there should be more thought on how the Blast linked to the Hundred, and its impact on Women’s Cricket should be highlighted. It had catapulted the Women’s Game into the limelight and done more for diversifying the game than anything else in recent years.
  • Linked to the need to promote the Blast to families, there was a discussion about ticket pricing and Stuart Cain re-iterated that U16s come for free and there were a range of season pass and family offers in place. However, more needs to be done to attract new audiences and he addressed questions from the floor about the ‘boozy’ atmosphere at some T20 games, particularly those at the weekend, by running through the measures taken by the club in 2022 to try and ensure that Edgbaston was a safe and welcoming environment for all.
  • Some Members questioned whether Hundred women’s games could be played at smaller venues. Stuart Cain felt this would be a backward step as it would lead to smaller crowds. He said this was the original intention, but COVID led to all games being played at the same venues and those impacted were compensated by the ECB so commercially they weren’t disadvantaged.