ECB’s (England Cricket Board) much awaited and highly hyped endeavour – ‘The Hundred’ has been postponed until 2021 amid the unforeseen circumstances of Covid-19 pandemic, the ECB confirmed on Thursday (April 30). The inaugural season of The Hundred, which included eight-team men’s and women’s tournament, was all set to get rolling in this year’s English Summer.
The decision has come after the ECB’s announcement last week, in which ECB had announced that there will be no professional cricket in England and Wales until at least July 1. With an ever narrowing window and the priorities set by ECB, the Hundred was always under the cloud.
After an ECB Board meeting on Wednesday, ECB chief executive Tom Harrison stated, “Of course today’s decision is tinged with disappointment with the amount that has been achieved over the last two years but we do recognise the country is going through something unprecedented. We will be back next year that is the exciting thing. We have learnt an awful lot from the process of getting a competition ready but it is not possible for us to deliver it,” as quoted by BBC.
“The operational challenges to maintain social distancing and global travel, the multiple voices over the point of playing a competition behind closed doors and the challenge of delivering the tournament across a number of venues to attract a range of audience,” were given as three reasons behind rescheduling the tournament.
Apart from these challenges, the ECB still have to manage the pay outs of players and all the process that has followed to deliver ‘The Hundred’ this year. “We are envisaging it to be as we planned it,” he said. “We have a commitment to deliver The Hundred in the way we set out to deliver it this year. We will be having discussions with players who have been selected through the draft.
“It is a good thing to have more time where we can build out some of the areas where we wanted more time to think about things. We have more time to test the format and there are lots of other areas we can now concentrate that we wouldn’t have had the opportunity of doing.”
Harrison also quashed the reports that the ECB might consider entirely scrapping ‘the Hundred’ amid the financial crisis they are facing in these challenging times. “The Hundred is a profit-making venture for English cricket,” he said. “Its importance is accentuated through the loss of a large part of our summer. In no way, in the opinion of the ECB Board or most people around the game, does it dilute the impact of this or importance of it.
“This is a competition that is designed not only to become a commercial powerhouse but grow the audience of cricket around the country for young people, for diverse communities and build on what have with cricket in this country.
“That job is has suddenly become even more important. It was already critically important and is now more important than that. We will be competing with a lot more coming out of the impacts of coronavirus. There will be a lot of sports competing for people’s free time. We need to be in their thoughts and making sure we are as appealing a game as we are as and we need to be going into this very competitive future.”