The Hundred draft. © Getty Images

The inaugural ‘The Hundred’ competition will now be in 2021 instead of this year, the England and Wales Cricket Board announced on Thursday (April 30). The news came to light after a meeting dedicated to the subject was held by the Board and it was concluded that it would be tough to stage the competition owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

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

With the new competition, the ECB aimed to grow the game and inspire a new generation to take up the sport. It was noted that the operational challenges caused by social distancing, along with the global travel restrictions, would make it tough for players and coaches to assemble.

It wasn’t viable to play ‘The Hundred’ behind closed doors because of its purpose of extending the reach of the game and getting new people to watch and take up the sport. Given that a significant number of people in furlough, the logistics of delivering a brand new event would have been challenging.

“As we emerge from the fallout of COVID-19, there will be an even greater need for The Hundred,” said Harrison. “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 fan base. That need has not gone anyway, if anything, it is now more critical.”

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It was decided that the refocussed efforts for the launch in 2021 would be based on four objectives:

  1. Engaging a broader audience in cricket to grow the game
  2. Driving participation throughout the game with the support of partners Sky and BBC
  3. Delivering guaranteed revenues and support for First-Class Counties (FCCs), MCC and the wider game
  4. Developing young talent as they grow their skills playing for and against teams made up of world-class players and coaches

“The Hundred will create millions in revenues for the game, through hosting fees, hospitality and ticket sales, as well as delivering £25m in annual financial distributions to all First-Class Counties and MCC,” he said. “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 an important element of the game’s Inspiring Generations strategy, which has been debated and agreed upon across the whole game. While financially, our plans may be impacted, our ambition, ‘to inspire a generation’ should in no way be diluted.”

“We would like to thank our broadcast partners, for their extraordinary commitment and support to get The Hundred to this point and our commercial partners for their ongoing support. We very much look forward to working with them as we build to the 2021 launch.”