The inaugural season of The Hundred, English cricket’s controversial new competition that was supposed to be the centerpiece of the domestic game, was left in limbo after an announcement Friday that there will be no professional play in the country until at least 1 July.
As expected, England’s three-test series against the West Indies, which was to start on 4 June, was postponed by the England and Wales Cricket Board because of the coronavirus pandemic. The expected new dates for the international season in England are now from July to the end of September.
The domestic cricket calendar is even more up in the air, with the ECB arranging a special meeting for Wednesday when a decision will be made about whether The Hundred — the 100-ball tournament launched to much fanfare last year with a US-style draft — can go ahead.
The Hundred will feature eight invented, city-based teams — ripping up the traditional county system — and some of the world’s biggest cricket stars, and is costing a reported 58 million pounds ($71.5 million) to run in its first year. It was due to start on 17 July, but Britain remains in lockdown and sports are expected to be closed to the public for months.
It was reported in British newspaper The Daily Mail that The Hundred may look drastically different if its inaugural season is pushed back to 2021, with organizers potentially reverting to 18 counties in two divisions.
In pushing back the beginning of the English season for the second time, having given a tentative start date of 28 May, the ECB left its options open and decided against scrapping any domestic competition in 2020.
The Blast, a Twenty20 competition, will be moved as late in the season as possible to give it the best opportunity of being staged. Nine rounds of the County Championship, the four-day format, have been lost but rest of the campaign could still be played.
“As much as we remain hopeful that we can deliver some cricket this summer,” ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said, “we are in the midst of a worldwide crisis and our priority — over and above the playing of professional sport — will be to protect the vulnerable, key workers and society as a whole.”
Harrison said attempts to rearrange the cricketing calendar had been “complex and sensitive.”
“There have clearly never been times like this and my colleagues at the ECB and across the game have been exemplary in this period," he said. "It has been refreshing, but not surprising, to see how cricket has come together.”
The women’s series between England and India has also been postponed.
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