The launch of The Hundred has been postponed and will now take place in 2021, the ECB has confirmed.
The 100-ball competition’s immediate future had been up in the air in recent days following the announcement last week that no professional cricket would be played in England and Wales before July 1 at the earliest due to the coronavirus crisis.
The announcement placed the T20 Blast at the forefront of the ECB’s domestic cricket priorities as the cricketing calendar continues to be disrupted by the global pandemic.
“Operational challenges caused by social distancing” was cited as one of the reasons for The Hundred’s postponement till next year, with global travelling restrictions limiting the presence of marquee overseas signings and coaches another.
An ECB statement added that playing the tournament behind closed doors this summer would have contradicted its goal “to attract a broader audience through a unique event for viewers and spectators”.
Staff furloughed across the 20 venues for the men’s and women’s competitions was another stumbling block, with the ECB arguing that “the logistics of delivering a brand-new sporting event, without a tried-and-tested delivery plan, would be incredibly challenging”.
ECB chief executive Tom Harrison argued that “there will be an even greater need” for the competition next year as the board deals with the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
“As we emerge from the fallout of COVID-19, there will be an even greater need for The Hundred,” Harrison said. “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.
“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. 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.”