Inaugural season of ‘The Hundred’ postponed until 2021

Coronavirus outbreak has halted new 100-ball competition scheduled for July

 The launch of The Hundred has been postponed and it will now take place in the summer of 2021. Photograph: PA

The launch of The Hundred has been postponed and it will now take place in the summer of 2021. Photograph: PA

 

The inaugural season of ‘The Hundred’ has been postponed for a year after the England and Wales Cricket Board decided the ongoing coronavirus pandemic rendered the launch unviable.

The new 100-ball competition, featuring eight city-based franchises rather than the traditional 18 counties, was due to begin in July but will now be pushed back to the summer of 2021.

An ECB board meeting was convened to discuss the matter via teleconferance on Wednesday, with the session rubberstamping the deferral.

The decision was made for three primary reasons: the likely unavailability of overseas talent, the probability of empty stadiums should any cricket be possible this summer and the logistical challenges caused by the amount of operations staff currently on furlough at host venues.

For a competition explicitly designed to grow the profile of the sport and draw new fans — inside grounds and on television — the problems represented a perfect storm.

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison, one of the competition’s main advocates, has faced down much criticism of the project over the past couple of years and has doubled down on its importance.

Far from reconsidering the value of a divisive and untested product, he insists the potential financial benefits are now even more important than they were before the health crisis.

“The situation we find ourselves in as a country means that delivery of The Hundred will not be possible this summer,” he said.

“Whilst we are naturally disappointed that we won’t get to realise our ambitions this year, it will go ahead in 2021 when we are safely able to deliver everything we intended to help grow the game.

“As we emerge from the fallout of Covid-19, there will be an even greater need for The Hundred. Our survival as a game, long-term, will be dependent on our ability to recover financially and continue our ambition to build on cricket’s growing fanbase. That need has not gone anyway, if anything, it is now more critical.”

The tournament is projected to lose money in its early years, not unusual for a new event, but the ECB hope the increase in new supporters, plus broadcast and staging interest from overseas will help it turn a significant profit. Initial ticket sales of more than 180,000 were welcomed as a positive by the governing body.

“The Hundred will create millions in revenues for the game, through hosting fees, hospitality and ticket sales, as well as delivering £25million in annual financial distributions to all first class counties and MCC,” added Harrison.

“Its role in driving participation alongside supporting the development of the women’s game will be material in generating take-up of our game across country-wide communities.”

The Hundred is due to be broadcast in full by long-term partner Sky Sports, but this summer was also set to form a major part of cricket’s return to the live BBC schedules, with 10 men’s matches and eight from the women’s competition due to be shown.

A BBC spokesperson said: “We’re in unprecedented times and whilst it’s disappointing the competition can’t take place this year, we absolutely support the decision. We’re delighted to be a broadcast partner for the competition and look forward to getting under way next year.”

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.