Conceived in 2018, The Hundred – which hopes to attract a new audience to the sport – was due to start last summer but had to be postponed due to coronavirus.
While Covid-19 continues to impact on elite sport, the England and Wales Cricket Board hope this summer’s edition of The Hundred will go ahead more or less unscathed, although they have already had to make some last-minute changes due to player withdrawals.
Speaking last week, chief executive Tom Harrison said the ECB were ‘totally committed to the existing, popular forms of cricket’.
‘The Hundred will help cricket to reach more people,’ Harrison said. ‘This new competition will help us to meet the ambitions of our game-wide strategy for 2020-24.’
What is The Hundred?
It is the ECB’s new cricket tournament, featuring eight brand new teams from seven cities in the UK. A men’s and a women’s competition will run side by side every year from July 21 to August 21.
The eight teams are: Birmingham Phoenix (Edgbaston), London Spirit (Lord’s), Manchester Originals (Emirates Old Trafford), Northern Superchargers (Emerald Headingley), Oval Invincibles (Kia Oval), Southern Brave (Ageas Bowl), Trent Rockets (Trent Bridge) and Welsh Fire (Sophia Gardens).
Each squad consists of 15 players, with a maximum of three overseas stars.
An ECB statement about The Hundred said: ‘An action-packed, unmissable new 100-ball competition is coming. One that puts you on the edge of your seat. Featuring some of the best players from around the world, competing in eight brand new city-based teams.’
The tournament will be broadcast on Sky Sports and the BBC.
Most England players – both male and female – will feature in The Hundred, alongside a number of domestic players and overseas stars.
Andre Russell, Kieron Pollard, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner and Ellyse Perry are some of the high-profile withdrawals, but the tournament will still feature many of the world’s best players.
England stars Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes and Amy Jones will play for Birmingham Phoenix, as well as South Africa spinner Imran Tahir and India batter Shafali Verma.
London Spirit – coached by one of the greatest players in history, Shane Warne – will be led by England World Cup winning captains Eoin Morgan and Heather Knight, and boast the likes of Mohammad Amir and Tammy Beaumont.
England’s Jos Buttler lines up for Manchester Originals alongside Lockie Ferguson and Carlos Brathwaite. The women’s side includes Kate Cross, Sophie Ecclestone and Lizelle Lee.
South Africa’s Faf du Plessis captains Northern Superchargers, who signed Ben Stokes, Adil Rashid, Lauren Winfield-Hill and Jemimah Rodrigues.
England brothers Sam and Tom Curran will feature for Oval Invincibles, as will Jason Roy and Sunil Narine in the men’s competition and Dane van Niekerk and Fran Wilson in the women’s.
Southern Brave boast one of the more eye-catching squads, with Jofra Archer supported by Quinton de Kock and Colin de Grandhomme and the likes of Smriti Mandhana and Sophia Dunkley turning out for the women’s team.
England Test captain Joe Root will represent Trent Rockets alongside Lewis Gregory, Rashid Khan, Natalie Sciver and Katherine Brunt.
Jonny Bairstow, Tom Banton and Ollie Pope will team up for Welsh Fire, who have signed former England wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor for the women’s competition.
What are the rules of The Hundred?
As the name suggests, it’s 100-ball cricket. Both teams face 100 balls and whoever scores the most runs wins. Boundaries, wickets and the various modes of dismissal stay the same.
In other forms of cricket, the fielding side switch ends after every over, which is generally every six balls.
But in The Hundred, the teams change ends after 10 balls, with bowlers delivering either five or 10 consecutive balls (and a maximum of 20 balls per game).
As in many T20 leagues around the world, each fielding side gets a strategic timeout of up to two and a half minutes, when the coach can walk out to the middle and discuss tactics with their players.
The powerplay, generally six overs at the start of each innings in T20 cricket, is 25 balls for each team. Two fielders are allowed outside of the 30-yard circle during the powerplay.
The Hundred matches will last two and a half hours.
In total there will be 32 matches in the league. Each team will play four matches at home and four matches away.
Once the group stage has concluded the top three teams will compete in the play-offs, with the second-placed team facing the third-placed team in the semi-final, and the winner taking on the first-placed team in The Hundred final.