‘The Hundred’ is a new 100-ball cricket tournament which will be held in the United Kingdom. It has been organised by the England Cricket Board (ECB) where men and women each will compete in parallel tournaments, respectively.
Every team will have a maximum of 15 players each in the squad. Instead of the usual T20s where one side bats for a maximum of 120 balls (20 overs), this tournament will see 100 balls bowled in blocks of five or 10.
Interestingly, those 100 balls can be bowled either in sets of five or 10. The bowlers will also be allowed to switch ends halfway through a 10-ball spell if they want to. The maximum number of balls a bowler will be allowed to bowl will be 20.
While fielding, the teams are also allowed a 150-second of tactical time out. A batting powerplay will also be activated for the first 25 balls of the innings in which only 2 fielders can stay outside the 30-yard circle.
All the eight teams will face each other once, but each team can take on their ‘paired rivals’ twice over the course of the season. Overall, 32 matches will take place in the inaugural season of The Hundred.
The Hundred features eight teams, representing seven cities from around the UK, and will be played from 17 July-16 August.
The ECB maintains that it is a really good way of protecting Test and four-day cricket. The Hundred saw an American-style draft system to determine which players would represent each new team, the first such draft in British sport.
All the teams are owned by the ECB, so unlike in plenty of other leagues there were no owners on the draft tables. Picks were made by head coaches, but with plenty of behind-the-scenes inputs from the rest of their staff and their analysts.
The men’s players were divided among different brackets – (£125,000, £100,000, £75,000, £60,000, £50,000, £40,000 and £30,000 – with the captain of the team set to receive a £10,000 bonus.
There was no draft for the women’s competition, with players instead negotiating deals directly with head coaches.
The names of the teams and coaches are:
Birmingham Phoenix (Edgbaston) – Andrew McDonald
London Spirit (Lord’s) – Shane Warne
Manchester Originals (Old Trafford) – Simon Katich
Northern Superchargers (Leeds) – Darren Lehmann
Oval Invincibles (The Oval) – Tom Moody
Southern Brave (Ageas Bowl) – Mahela Jayawardene
Trent Rockets (Trent Bridge) – Stephen Fleming
Welsh Fire (Cardiff) – Gary Kirsten
The Hundred, which will run alongside a reworked version of the existing domestic calendar, is the result of years of research and development at the ECB. With shorter games, featuring fewer teams, in a condensed tournament, it is at its core, a made-to-measure play for a wider audience.
A strong commercial performance will be vital for a tournament that has reportedly set aside a lot of money for event production costs like pyrotechnics and other in-venue entertainment. That represents a spend some way in excess of any previous English domestic cricket tournament.
Informal conversations have taken place between the ECB and overseas boards about the Hundred, while the playing regulations are likely to filter into grassroots competitions if the tournament is a popular success.
For the time being, though, it is a concept machine-tooled for a specific purpose in a specific context. After all the intrigue, how well it delivers on that will be what counts.