In 2003, worried about the continuing poor attendance at County teams' domestic matches, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) decided to take a drastic step – bring in a whole new format – T20. The ECB was enthusiastic while many were unsure about this new version.
But T20 cricket flourished beyond anybody's expectation. Thousands of fans started coming into the stadiums for county teams' matches and soon, the T20 bug was biting other cricket boards as well. India resisted the T20 wave but eventually got swept away by it.
But even T20 isn't proving to be enough for the ECB in the present context and not drawing the kind of crowd they want. So, a whole new format has been thought of and a whole new tournament is being given shape by the board.
This tournament – The Hundred – is all set to be played next year and will feature a new version of the game where both teams will get an innings of 100 balls each. The motive behind this new format, according to ECB, is to bring in new cricket viewers - 'mums and kids' - to cricket grounds, not just die-hard fans.
But the tournament has also received a great deal of negative press. Many people, and not necessarily the purists, are unhappy about this strange new beast that the ECB is about to unleash. Some believe a fourth format of the game will crowd the calendar too much for the players while others think it will have a negative effect on them.
But what exactly is 'The Hundred'? As the name suggests, it will be a tournament where innings would comprise of 100 balls. But what else will you get to see in it?
Well, let's give you an in-depth look at this brand new event:
Both teams will have an innings of hundred balls. The overs will last for either five or 10 deliveries, as decided by the team bowling them. Each bowler can bowl a maximum of 20 deliveries. The change of ends will occur after every set of 10 balls. There will also be a strategic timeout of two-and-a-half minutes similar to Indian Premier League (IPL).
But there would be one crucial difference between the timeouts in IPL and those in The Hundred. The coaches of the respective teams will be allowed to walk out to the middle for discussing tactics with their teams and players.
Interestingly, the innings would also have a period of Powerplay while will be 25-balls long. While each team will be based out of a particular ground, the matches will be played across the country at 19 venues.
The tournament would be on the lines of various T20 leagues around the world. Unlike the T20 Blast – England's premier domestic T20 event, there won't be county sides but eight city-based teams created specifically for this event.
These eight teams are:
- Northern Superchargers – Based at Headingley
- Southern Brave – Based at Ageas Bowl
- Welsh Fire – Based at Sophia Gardens
- Trent Rockets – Based at Trent Bridge
- Oval Invincibles – Based at The Oval
- Birmingham Phoenix – Based at Edgbaston
- London Spirits – Based at Lord's
- Manchester Originals – Based at Old Trafford
The tournament will be held both for men and women. These eight teams will be represented by both men's and women's sides.
The draft of the players for this tournament has been divided into two phases. The first one already took place on October 3. As part of it, every team was allowed to pick three players from their catchment area. One of these three players can be a contracted Test cricketer for England.
After all the teams have picked one red-ball player, the remaining Test players were available to be chosen by teams who did not have a Test player in their catchment area. This way, every team has one contracted Test player in their squad of 15.
Apart from the Test players, every team could pick two local players categorised as 'icons.' So, the first round of draft ended with each team having three players committed to them already.
The second part of the draft will feature players from all over the world. One by one, in a changing order, each team will pick a player and the process would go on for 14 rounds. The upper limit for overseas players picked by a team is three. Next year, during the T20 Blast, all teams will also have the opportunity to pick a wildcard from among the eight best performing players of that tournament.