The dummy’s guide to The Hundred

The excitement is mounting for The Hundred…

After plans to run the competition for the first time last year were scrapped due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the inaugural season of The Hundred is due to take place in England from 21 July to 21 August. 

The competition will be contested by eight city-based teams:  Manchester Originals, Northern Superchargers (Leeds), Birmingham Phoenix, Trent Rockets (Nottingham), Welsh Fire (Cardiff), Southern Brave (Southampton) and the two London-based teams, London Spirit and Oval Invincibles.  Every team has a men’s and women’s side.

Each team is to be made up of 15 players, of whom three are overseas players.  The men’s teams have each been assigned one England centrally contracted player and two players who have performed well in recent T20 Blasts.  The rest of the squads were signed up in a draft system.  The women’s teams are made up of two England centrally contracted players, three overseas players and other England players signed up in a draft.

Apart from the opening two fixtures between Oval Invincibles and Manchester Originals, all men’s and women’s matches will be held on the same day at the same grounds.  In total there will be 32 matches.  Each team will play four matches at home and four away – one against every other side and a second bonus match against their nearest regional rivals.

Once the league phase has been settled, the second and third teams will meet in a semi-final at the Oval.  The winner of the semi-final will then clash with the team that finished top of the league in the final at Lord’s. 

By now everyone knows The Hundred is a new version of limited overs cricket, with each team playing a single innings made up of 100 balls (or 16 overs and 4 balls).  But here is how the rest of the format will work:

  • A change of ends after every ten balls (effectively meaning ten overs of ten balls each).  
  • Bowlers deliver either five or ten consecutive balls from one end.   
  • Each bowler can deliver a maximum of twenty balls per game.  
  • Each bowling side gets a strategic timeout of up to two and a half minutes.  
  • There will be a 25-ball powerplay start for each team.  
  • During the powerplay, only two fielders are allowed outside the usual 30-yard circle.

Speaking at a recent virtual sports conference, Tom Harrison, the chief executive of the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB), said that he expects The Hundred to be adopted outside of England in the future.  According to Harrison one of the aims of The Hundred is “to create a growth asset for cricket on a global basis”.  He also claimed that The Hundred will take existing fans “on a new journey” while broadening cricket’s audience “into younger communities”.

For a traditionalist, The Hundred smacks of gimmickry.  But let us reserve judgment and give it a chance…

Francois Brink

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