Cricketer Issy Wong’s Winning Playlist
Al Greenwood talks to professional cricketer Issy Wong about the new tournament The Hundred, the power of music to bring fans together, and the songs that are close to her heart
By Al Greenwood
Illustration by Cat Sims
The summer will see the worlds of live music and sport collide, with world-class cricketers and musicians taking to stadiums across England and Wales for an all-new competition. The Hundred – so named as each innings will consist of 100 balls – marks a new type of cricket; shorter, faster and easier to understand. All of this, plus its affordable ticket pricing and free broadcasting on the BBC, makes it a perfect entry point for a new audience to the game. Each of the 64 matches will see a musical act or DJ – including my own band, Sports Team – play a live performance. This emphasis on entertainment and energy is a far cry from the traditional cricket Test-match format and has certainly ruffled a few feathers amongst traditionalists. Yet The Hundred’s undeniable merit – and, for me, its most exciting element – is what the competition represents for gender equality in sport.
Women’s and men’s games will take place on the same day (aside from the launch, with an all-female game on July 21st), and all those competing will receive the same treatment in terms of travel, logistics, broadcasting and prize money. At a launch event for The Hundred, Helen Falkus, Director of Multi Sports at Sky, spoke of the importance of the visibility of women in the game and in the press. She highlighted the normalisation of seeing women in sport, not just as athletes but as complete characters – as we expect of the men. Broadcast on terrestrial television, The Hundred offers a huge stage to highlight the greatest talent in the women’s game and an opportunity to demonstrate its commercial viability. It marks a historic moment in the world of women’s sport more broadly, and reflects a model that could be easily replicated beyond cricket. Organisers hope it will be a catalyst for young girls’ passion for the game, inspiring the next generation to pick up a bat and ball. Someone who shares that hope is 19-year-old rising cricket star Issy Wong, who I was lucky enough to catch up with at The Oval.