I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but when I saw the list of international players registered for the Hundred draft, I couldn't help but get excited.
Yes, the marketing is awful and whoever designed the website should be fired immediately. Yes it was frustrating that fans weren't consulted and other forms of the game are being pushed to the extreme ends of summer to accommodate it.
However, the Hundred is here and it's here to stay, at least for the next couple of years and English cricket can't really afford for it to fail, so I'm going to give it a fair chance.
While the draft was unfolding, over the course of 24 hours with very little media coverage, I couldn't help but feel as though the Hundred were shooting themselves in the foot.
Being held just days after the IPL's 2021 offering, the Hundred lacked what the Hundred needs, eyes. The draft was held behind closed doors, there was no anticipation, no auction, no bidding, player names were released as a bunch and 24 hours after the draft was held. In terms of how to hold a draft to excite the masses, this was the complete opposite to what you should be doing.
The draft however wasn't the biggest issue for me. The Hundred has set itself up for failure with how the Hundred has set itself up.
The Hundred imposed two rules that personally I think were a mistake for a brand-new competition trying to get a foothold in an already jam-packed franchise circuit.
1) Teams were only allowed to have two players from a certain salary band
2) Teams were restricted to three overseas players in the squad.
As the draft results were drip-fed through, it became obvious that the Hundred would be turning away talent. A controversial competition that is relying on sponsorship, tv revenue and public interest had no place for some of the best players in the world.
West Indies captain Jason Holder, Pakistan captain Babar Azam, South Africa captain Quinton de Kock were among the names to miss out.
The ECB have been trying to figure out how to engage the British-Asian cricket population for years, after largely ignoring them for decades. Here they had Babar Azam, a hero to the Pakistan community, a top 5 rated T20 batsmen in the world and there is no place for him in this competition, due to the rules listed above.
It's insane to think that Rory Burns will be featuring in this "Action-packed, unmissable new 100 ball cricket tournament" but there is no place for Babar Azam, who is the exact definition of action-packed and unmissable.
Whether you're starting a new business or looking to build the next big thing in sports, the first rule is you do not turn away talent. It's as easy as that. Quinton de Kock is good enough to open for the 5-time champion Mumbai Indians, but he can't secure a place in the Hundred?
The rules outlined prevented teams from putting together the best possible short-format teams, which is a cardinal sin. Australian pair Steve Smith and Mitchell Starc who were originally drafted and later released by Welsh Fire didn't even bother to put their names forward. The same can be said for Trent Boult, Lasith Malinga and Chris Gayle who all went undrafted in the first draft.
There will be scheduling restrictions which mean some drafted players won't be appearing in all the games, which is even more reason to have four overseas slots which give teams the flexibility to chop and change their lineup without missing the star appeal.
Having the restrictions in salary band slots severely limited the teams, considering most star players would place themselves into the highest band, as they should.
If the teams were instead salary cap based liked the IPL, this would allow teams to build their roster in the way they see fit. This would likely mean more star players and more younger English players who would place themselves at the cheaper end of the spectrum.
This is the first year for The Hundred, and we can only hope that the tournament develops and adapts. There is plenty of overseas talent taking part, but turning away star talent like Babar Azam isn't the best start.