100 ball tournament one step closer after ECB confirms rules

A 100 ball tournament which has been in the works for a number of months has come a step closer to being realised, after the ECB confirmed the playing conditions for the tournament in a Wednesday meeting at Lords. Details of the tournament, to be known as The Hundred, will be further finalised in January 2019.

The agreed upon rules include a 100-ball innings per side, with each bowler bowling either five or ten balls at a time for a maximum of 20 balls through the course of the innings. This follow the same format as T20I’s and ODI’s, in which a single bowler can bowl 20% of the total deliveries for an innings. Change of ends will occur after ten balls.

The Hundred will once again provide a shortened format to a sport which has become increasingly shorter in recent years and decades. Initially, of course, cricket was played over a number of days, with World Series Cricket effectively paving the way for professional limited over cricket in 1977. Fast forward around three decades, and the 50-over format had become stale for many, leading to the introduction of T20 Internationals - the first of which took place in February of 2005.

Of course, T20 cricket went on to explode around the world, though this has been most notably in various domestic tournaments - particularly the IPL - rather than international matches. England, however, has not been the location of any of this domestic success, with the Twenty20 Cup, previously known as the t20 blast, never taking off to the extent of many of its competitors around the globe.

Presumably that has played a major role in the ECB’s decision to break away from the pack and create their own form of the game. Few would argue that it is necessary - there are already three different formats of the same sport, and the cricket calendar, both international and domestic, is more crowded than it has ever been.

From the perspective of cricket in England, however, it makes perfect sense. Regardless of whether the tournament ultimately takes off, and whether they are able to lure any sort of depth of quality to the tournament - probably unlikely, at least initially, given the busy schedules of most high-profile players and the fact that they presumably won’t want to play in a one-off tournament with little benefit to them aside from financial - it will draw some initial interest from fans.

Whether this interest will last is another question, but there is no doubt cricket fans, particularly those in England, will be intrigued to see how the tournament runs, and how this format of the game looks in comparison to its closest brother - T20 cricket. 

Presumably, when the tournament does eventually come to fruition it will be made up of players from the United Kingdom and Ireland, and perhaps a few less notable names from around the world. A major contributor to whether they are able to draw any decent names to the league - most likely English cricketers - will be how much the ECB is able to dedicate to salaries, but with the competition for players signatures in leagues around the world this will likely be significantly less than at numerous other domestic leagues.

Regardless, there will be interest. It may be confined largely to the UK, and it may not be sustainable, but in its initial stages The Hundred will no doubt be able to draw a crowd. 

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