The Hundred in limbo but ‘even more important’ now, says ECB

AP – The Hundred, English cricket’s controversial new competition that was supposed to be the centrepiece of the domestic game, was left in limbo after the ban on professional play was extended on Friday to July 1.

As expected, England’s three-test series against the West Indies, which was to start on June 4, was postponed by the England and Wales Cricket Board because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The expected new dates for the international season in England are now from July to the end of September.

The domestic cricket calendar is even more up in the air, with the ECB arranging a special meeting for Wednesday when a decision will be made about whether The Hundred — the 100-ball tournament launched to much fanfare last year with a United States (US)-style draft — can make its debut.

The Hundred will feature eight invented, city-based teams — ripping up the traditional county system — and some of the world’s biggest cricket stars, and is costing a reported GBP58 million (USD71.5 million) to run in its first year. It was due to start on July 17, but Britain remains in lockdown and sports are expected to be closed to the public for months.

Factors such as launch costs, potential unavailability of overseas stars and the damaging effect of playing in empty stadiums mean there is almost no expectation the divisive competition will take place as planned this summer.

It was reported in British newspaper The Daily Mail that The Hundred may look drastically different if its inaugural season is pushed back to 2021, with organisers potentially reverting to 18 counties in two divisions.