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The Hundred

What the 1947 County Championship could tell us about The Hundred

the hundred
Yas Rana by Yas Rana
@Yas_Wisden 3 minute read

The breakout of war in 1939 meant Yorkshire would have to wait another seven years before getting the chance to defend their County Championship title.

In 1946, Yorkshire successfully defended the Championship as they secured the title for a 22nd time in a season ravaged by wet weather. Despite it being the first year with County Championship cricket since 1939, Wisden Almanack editor Hubert Preston described the weather in 1946 as “execrable”, “cold” and “wet” within the first 10 words of his editor’s notes. Partially down to the weather, total normality did not resume until 1947.

Writing in issue seven of Wisden Cricket Monthly, Henry Blofeld said of the 1947 summer: “Everyone was just thoroughly grateful to be there. The relief of being free from the War, that life was returning to normal, is something you can’t understate.

“Absolutely everyone watched the County Championship that year. All the grounds were completely full. There weren’t anything like the alternatives – there was no television worth speaking about, there were no other attractions – and therefore the popularity of cricket was enormous. It’s something you can’t conceive of now. County Championship matches between Glamorgan and Northamptonshire were pulling in thousands of people a day. Middlesex played Surrey at Lord’s in front of 25,000 people.”

Fast forward to 2020 and due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the UK hasn’t seen day-to-day life affected to such a degree since World War II. Blofeld’s description of the 1947 might shed light on what’s to come when professional cricket returns in the UK, whenever that may be, both on attendances in county cricket but also how The Hundred could capture the public imagination.

On Friday, the ECB confirmed that professional cricket wouldn’t resume until May 28 at the earliest. After the suspension of this summer’s European Football Championships and question marks still hanging over the viability of the Tokyo Olympics,  there is a chance that cricket could feed the appetite of a sport-starved public that might gorge on whatever it’s served.

With portions of The Hundred scheduled to be broadcast on the BBC, 2020 will be the first year that cricket played in England is shown regularly on free-to-air television since 2005.  Should the government lift social distancing measures before July 17, the scheduled start of The Hundred, cricket, through unforeseen and ultimately heartbreaking circumstances, might have stumbled on the perfect time to make a comeback on free-to-air television.

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