The Hundred could be AXED with bombshell talks taking place over turning the divisive competition into a Twenty20 event… as the ECB are concerned 100-ball cricket is still only played in the UK
- Discussions have started about turning the men’s Hundred into a T20 event
- Sky’s recent deal was signed with expectation Hundred would still be around
- The ECB is concerned about 100-ball cricket as T20 continues to expand
Informal discussions have started about turning the men’s Hundred into a Twenty20 competition as English cricket wrestles with the sport’s rapidly changing landscape.
Conversations are at an early stage and sensitivities are high because of the money invested by Sky Sports, the English game’s main broadcasting partner.
Sky extended their deal with the ECB – which is said to be worth £220million annually – last year until 2028, with the expectation that the Hundred would still be around.
But Mail Sport understands there is concern at the ECB about the fact 100-ball cricket is still played only in the UK as the competition approaches its third summer.
By contrast, T20 cricket continues to expand, with Major League Cricket set to begin in the USA this summer, Saudi Arabia looking to start their own competition, and growing talk of bespoke 20-over contracts for an international army of freelance players.
Discussions have started over turning the Hundred into a T20 competition (Lewis Gregory of the Trent Rockets pictured lifting the trophy after winning the tournament last year)
The ECB is concerned that 100-ball cricket is still only played in the United Kingdom
Sky extended deal with the ECB until 2028 believing that the Hundred would still be around
No change to the men’s Hundred is likely before 2025 – the highly successful women’s format would be untouched – but one option is to invite the National Counties (formerly the Minor Counties) to join the 18 first-class teams in an expanded competition aimed at providing promising cricketers with a pathway into the professional game.
The T20 Blast might then become a two-league affair, with promotion and relegation.
But no change would be possible without consensus among the first-class counties, and the ECB remain open to ideas about how best to shape the summer.
One county executive said: ‘It needs cool heads to think it through but it needs to happen quickly.’
The highly successful women’s format would be untouched (pictured: Dane van Niekerk celebrates with the trophy after the Oval Invincibles won back in 2021)
ECB chair Richard Thompson suggested last year that the board were open to the idea of offloading the Hundred to private investors, citing the sale of IPL franchise Lucknow Giants for $930m.
But the failure of other nations to take up 100-ball cricket has led to a conviction among English administrators that the home summer should not be for sale at any price.
Earlier this month, a report by Worcestershire chairman Fanos Hira, a chartered accountant, claimed the Hundred had lost £9m in two years – a figure that did not include £25m paid by the ECB to the counties and MCC to back the competition.
The ECB argue it made a profit of £11.8m.