The Hundred 2021 – Chronology of the Hundred
Reminder of the milestones of the five years of gestation of the competition
From the widely ridiculed concept to one of the central elements of the ECB in its strategy for developing the game in England and Wales, the Hundred have been slow to come. Here we come back to the important milestones along the way.
Almost five years ago the seeds of the Hundred were sown – we didn’t know it at the time. In late summer 2016, first-class counties finally voted in favor of the ECB’s idea for a new city-based competition, initially designed as a T20 vehicle. Colin Graves, President of the ECB, said: “We have all been looking at how to use the domestic T20 for an even bigger purpose, especially to get more young people playing. This format was invented here and is enjoying worldwide success. It can excite new fans, attract the best players and fuel the future of the game, on and off the pitch. “
During a winter scouting trip to the resort town of Desert Springs in Spain, ECB chief commercial director Sanjay Patel first put forward the idea of 100-ball cricket. Patel gave a presentation to Graves, ECB Managing Director Tom Harrison, and England Cricket Director Andrew Strauss, who presented a game that was shorter and simpler than the T20. “Don’t prejudge it,” he said, “go away and think.” With a new banking broadcast deal ensuring the return of cricket on BBC TV, the board was considering a sweeping move.
The 2018 season had barely started when the ECB made public its new plan. Instead of a T20 tournament, eight city-based teams would face off in a completely untested format – 100-ball innings, split into 15 six-ball overs and a 10-ball final. No, it was not an April Fool’s Day. “It’s a fresh and exciting idea that will appeal to a younger audience and attract new fans to the game,” said Harrison. Strauss was later criticized after suggesting that a simplified game would be aimed at “moms and kids”.
With the establishment by the ECB of a working group to refine the concept, now known as “The Hundred”, various ideas were put forward – including the abolition of the law on lbw. Opposition from the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) led to the abandonment of the 10-ball final; instead, a switch to five-ball overs played in blocks of ten won favor, with reduced end changes helping to save time. The option of keeping a bowler for 10 consecutive deliveries, if a captain so wished, was also discussed.
Pilots of the new format took place at Trent Bridge and Loughborough, allowing players to finally see what they were getting into. Various different adjustments to the rules were introduced over the trial days – ranging from substitute outfielders, tactical timeouts, and Powerplays of varying lengths. The reception of the people concerned was generally positive. “I think the focus on the ball is really interesting and really important,” said Kevin Shine, the ECB’s main bowling coach. “We don’t think of the overs, we don’t think of the sleeves. It’s that old cliché: every ball is an event.”
Work continued behind the scenes during an Ashes and World Cup summer, with a launch slated for 2020. The eight team names – Birmingham Phoenix, London Spirit, Manchester Originals, Northern Superchargers, Oval Invincibles , Southern Brave, Trent Rockets and Welsh Fire – have been confirmed, and test players assigned. Later that month, the first UK sports draft took place at Sky Studios in West London; Rashid Khan was the first player chosen, followed by Andre Russell and Aaron Finch, as the teams prepared to select 96 players from a starting list of 571.
Playing conditions have been announced for the Hundred, including confirmation of 25-ball Powerplay, one strategic time-out per inning, and the possibility of a new hitter still on strike, even though the center two have crossed paths. before the referral is complete.
The Covid-19 pandemic has shaken the entire 2020 season. With the prospect of a possible decline in cricket and the likelihood that it will have to be played behind closed doors, the ECB quickly made the decision to postpone the Cent entirely. Commitment to the idea had not waned, however, with Harrison describing the tournament case as “far more important than it was”.
With the player draft taking place a year earlier, the ECB had to rethink how the teams for the 2021 tournament would be put together. Initial plans had been to allow 10 players to be retained year after year – but in this case, the men’s teams were allowed to retain as many as they wanted, with a period to negotiate new deals. before a mini-draft in early 2021. The players of the women’s teams have all had the opportunity to renew their contracts.
Matches in the competition are announced, with the decision to start with an independent women’s match at the Oval headlining. The second draft took place behind closed doors this time around, with Kieron Pollard and Nicholas Pooran among the selected foreign players; while the advent of Brexit meant that several of those who expected to be involved using their Kolpak status in 2020 have missed out.
There was still time to launch new innovations, with a controversial suggestion that wickets could become “outs”, in order to make the language of the game more accessible. The idea was dropped soon after.
Amid uncertainty over travel restrictions due to Covid-19 and player quarantine requirements, a number of foreign players have started to withdraw from their offers. Women’s competition was particularly hard hit, with the 11 Australian internationals who initially signed up eventually withdrew – including major draw card Ellyse Perry. Generic selections, based on the shape of the T20 Blast, have also been announced.
Despite concerns about rising Covid-19 infection rates, with self-isolation requirements causing cancellations in the Blast and County Championship, Harrison says there will be no return to biosecure bubbles for the Hundred. The availability of English players in the Men’s Test, initially scheduled for the first three matches, is reduced to two on the eve of the tournament. The conditions of play are finalized, the referees holding a white card between sets of “five” (the term “more” will be largely abandoned) from the same end; a modified version of Duckworth-Lewis-Stern will be used for matches affected by rain.