Essex & Northamptonshire cricketers kept waiting for 'The Hundred'

County cricketers at Essex and Northamptonshire chosen to take part in the sport's newest competition 'The Hundred' have to wait until 2021 to be involved.

The tournament, featuring games with100 balls per innings, was due to start in mid July.

But the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has announced that the launch will now take place in the summer of 2021, due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

It followed a meeting dedicated to the subject, where the Board concluded it was not possible for the competition, featuring eight franchises each for the men's and women's game, to be staged this year.

Essex Eagles and England Lions batsman Dan Lawrence was due to play with the London Spirit franchise, along with Northamptonshire Steelbacks wicket-keeper/batsman Adam Rossington.

Lawrence's Essex teammates Simon Harmer and Ryan ten Doeschate were signed up to play for the Welsh Fire.

Former Essex left-arm pacemen Reece Topley and Tymal Mills were also due to feature for Oval Invincibles & Southern Brave respectively.

Essex and England Women leg spinner Mady Villiers is part of the Trent Rockets franchise.

England Women leg spinner Mady Villiers signed up for the Trent Rockets franchise for The Hundred Credit: PA

The new competition has a vision to grow the game and is part of the ECB’s long-term strategy to inspire a new generation to choose cricket.

A number of reasons were outlined for the decision including

  • Operational challenges caused by social distancing, alongside ongoing global travel restrictions, making the competition’s ambition to feature world-class players and coaches unattainable in 2020.

  • A behind closed doors competition directly contradicts the competition’s goal to attract a broader audience through a unique event experience for viewers and spectators.

  • With significant furloughing across the partnership network of 20 venues, the logistics of delivering a brand-new sporting event, without a tried-and-tested delivery plan, would be incredibly challenging.

"As we emerge from the fallout of COVID-19, there will be an even greater need for The Hundred. "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.

Tom Harrison, ECB Chief Executive Officer