‘Cricket like you’ve never seen before’. That’s how The Hundred is being billed ahead of the competition’s launch in the summer of 2020.
The Hundred player draft that takes place on Sunday – live on Sky Sports Cricket from 7pm – is certainly unlike anything ever seen before – well, certainly in this country.
Across the pond in the USA, the NFL Draft has become an institution after being first held in 1936, first televised in 1980, attracting a TV audience of millions!
For those unfamiliar, here’s a look at a few things that can be learned from how it’s done stateside…
Get your picks right!
It may sound obvious. But, certainly in selecting your first-round players – at the £125k bracket – it’s imperative teams get a difference-maker.
Draft busts are a thing. Look to the NFL, and there have been numerous examples of highly-touted players out of college taken early in the draft who have gone on to disastrously flop on the big stage.
The most glaring example comes in the form of former Oakland Raiders quarterback, JaMarcus Russell, taken with the No 1 overall pick in the 2007 Draft, but who flamed out of the league within three years.
The pool of cricketers come Sunday are, no doubt, more proven commodities but, with only three overseas players allocated per team, it’s vital one (if not all) of them isn’t an expensive mistake.
From a team’s perspective, the danger is in reaching for a player as suggested above but, for those waiting to be picked, the fear is from falling down the draft order.
There are some substantial earnings to be made, particularly in the first two rounds, where players picked will pick up a six-figure cheque (£125, £100k), but that figure is then progressively eaten away at through to the still-not-to-be-sniffed-at £30k offered in Round Seven.
Not only will a player sliding down the draft affect their potential earnings, but it will also determine whether they will take part in The Hundred at all. The likes of Chris Gayle, David Warner and Steve Smith – with the highest set reserve price of £125k – simply must be picked in the first round or they miss out.
It could make for uncomfortable viewing in the green room during as those attend on Sunday night nervously wait for their name to be called out. Just ask future Hall of Fame NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers who, having been initially considered a No 1 prospect in the 2005 Draft, watched 23 teams pass on him before finally being picked by the Green Bay Packers.
As much as there’s pressure on getting your big-money, early draft picks right, there will also be plenty of value and depth to be found in the latter rounds.
This is where a team can truly separate itself from the pack as, arguably, the three top overseas stars taken by each team have the potential to cancel each other out. It’s discovering game-changers deep in the draft that could prove the difference between winning and losing.
There is no better example of this to be learned from the NFL than in Tom Brady – winner of an all-time record six Super Bowl titles. Brady, unfancied by teams coming out of college, was famously not taken till the 199th pick of the 2000 Draft, but his New England Patriots have gone on to utterly dominate the sport for the two decades since.
Also, a little closer to home, and the inaugural IPL season in 2008, Shane Warne’s Rajasthan Royals unexpectedly romped to the title with a team of lesser-heralded cricketers as apposed to the big names of the time. Can the head coach of the London Spirit repeat the trick in The Hundred?
Don’t miss your turn!
Each team gets 100 seconds to make each pick. Plenty of time, surely?
In the NFL, it’s even longer – up to 10 minutes – for teams to make their selections yet, incredibly, there have been instances where the clock has expired.
It has happened to the Minnesota Vikings, not once, but twice, in consecutive years! In 2002, the Kansas City Chiefs beat them to the player they had wanted, defensive tackle Ryan Sims. In 2003, it was even worse, as two teams – the Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers – jumped ahead of Minnesota as they deliberated.
It’s conceivable we see the same on Sunday. Should a team higher in the draft order swoop in and select a player you were eyeing up, the pressure will suddenly be on for a quick shift in strategy with the 100-second clock ticking.
And should that clock tick down to zero without a pick made, you head to the back of the queue of that round.
Who will be Mr. Irrelevant?
One of the more bizarre but enjoyable traditions of the NFL Draft is the crowning of ‘Mr. Irrelevant’, the moniker awarded to the last pick on the playground.
The NFL Draft dates back to 1936, though the first person to officially be given the Mr. Irrelevant title was Kelvin Kirk, the 487th pick of the 1976 Draft. A wide receiver, Kirk ultimately never played in the NFL, instead enjoying a seven-season career in the Canadian Football League.
Sunday’s ‘Mr Irrelevant’ is sure to be a bigger name in the cricketing sphere, but it will be interesting to note if the pick takes hold in the same way. What will be the overwhelming feeling? Relief at being selected, or embarrassment at being last?
Beyond Mr Irrelevant, teams will still get another chance to add to their squads, with each awarded a ‘Wildcard’ pick that they’ll use next year – picking from the top performers from the 2020 Vitality Blast not yet attached to a team.
Sunday just the start
Watching people selecting players on a laptop – with no cricket actually played till July – may not sound like must-watch television but, if the NFL Draft is anything to go by, it will have you gripped.
Former NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle certainly didn’t think it would make for interesting viewing when, in 1980, ESPN first struck a deal with the league to broadcast the draft. He couldn’t have envisaged the monster it has now become.
The first NFL Draft, in 1936, was held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia, with 90 names written on a blackboard in a meeting room from which the teams would choose.
As for this year’s 2019 NFL Draft, not only did 47.5 million people watch on TV, but more than 600,000 people lined the streets of Nashville – both record figures.
While Sunday’s live draft might just struggle to reach the millions, it’s also just the start.
The Hundred Draft – Live will be shown on Sky Sports Cricket, Main Event & Sky One from 7pm on Sunday. It will also be available via Sky Sports’ Facebook and YouTube channels, as well as live on the Sky Sports app and streamed on skysports.com.