English cricket’s new innovation, The Hundred, takes its next major stride on Sunday night as the draft for next year’s inaugural season takes place.
Here the PA news agency looks at some key questions around cricket’s latest tournament.
What is The Hundred?
An entirely new format – cricket’s fourth – designed by the England and Wales Cricket Board. The idea is to inject fresh life into the sport domestically, building on the existing fan base with a particular emphasis on bringing families and women into the fold. There has been some criticism from supporters of the county game but the gambit has been well received by broadcasters.
When will we see it?
The inaugural edition of the tournament will begin on July 17, 2020, lasting for five weeks throughout the prime school holiday period. The men’s and women’s competitions will run concurrently with some double headers.
What are the teams?
The traditional county lines have been abandoned in favour of city-based franchises. London Spirit (Middlesex, Essex, Northamptonshire), Oval Invincibles (Surrey, Kent), Welsh Fire (Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, Somerset), Northern Superchargers (Yorkshire, Durham), Manchester Originals (Lancashire), Trent Rockets (Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire), Southern Brave (Hampshire, Sussex) and Birmingham Phoenix (Warwickshire, Worcestershire) are the eight teams in the competition.
How do they look?
The shirts are full of big, bright and bold colours, with each sponsored by a different KP snack. It is certainly a more garish sight than most cricket fans will be used to but the designs tack closer to those seen in the Indian Premier League and the Big Bash in Australia, where they have proved a hit.
Which players have been chosen?
All teams have already selected one centrally contracted men’s player, two ‘local icons’ and two centrally contracted women.
Is everyone on familiar turf?
No. While some sides had it easy when they picked their Test star, Northern Superchargers had to choose between Ben Stokes, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow and went with Stokes. That left Root and Bairstow up for grabs and they ended up at Trent Rockets and Welsh Fire respectively. Surrey’s Rory Burns, meanwhile, will be heading to Lord’s after Oval Invincibles chose Sam Curran instead.
How big are those picks?
Not that big in terms of the competition, with England commitments restricting the Test players to just three group games and potentially finals day. The big names will be more useful for the marketing men as they seek to grab attention and build their brands from scratch.
So what happens on Sunday?
The men’s 15-strong rosters will be filled out in the draft. The event will be shown live over two hours on Sky Sports, with seven salary bands ranging from £125,000 to £30,000. An additional
wild card pick can be made next year. The women’s teams will sign 13 more players from three designated pools in the coming months.
Will there be international talent?
Oh yes. Aside from the India stars, most of the biggest names from around the globe are available. Steve Smith, Chris Gayle, David Warner, Mitchell Starc, Kagiso Rabada and Lasith Malinga are the big-name stars who are in the £125,000 salary band. In total, 570 players have made themselves available for the draft with four English players – Joe Denly, Samit Patel, Liam Livingstone and Mark Wood – setting the highest reserve price of £60,000.
Where can people see it?
There are eight host venues for the men’s competition – Lord’s, The Oval, Old Trafford, Headingley, Cardiff, Trent Bridge, Edgbaston and the Ageas Bowl. A further 11 grounds will host games in the women’s event. The tournament also marks the return of top level cricket on regular free-to-air television. While the whole campaign will be broadcast by Sky Sports, a selection of 10 men’s matches and up to eight women’s matches – including finals – will be shown on the BBC.
How will it affect the existing domestic Twenty20 and 50-over competitions?
The Vitality T20 Blast will be moved slightly forward in the calendar but retain its current format, with the counties split into North and South groups of nine teams each. Seven home matches and seven away will see each team play 14 fixtures, with the top four qualifying for the Finals Day at Edgbaston on September 5. However, all the players involved in The Hundred will be unavailable for T20. Furthermore, the ECB has said its 50-over Royal London One-Day Cup tournament will be downgraded to a “development competition”, the year after England won a 50-over format World Cup.