The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has confirmed today (Thursday) that its new competition, The Hundred, will debut in the summer of 2021 and not this year as originally planned.

The ECB board has decided that it was not possible for the competition to be staged this year due to the ongoing uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ECB noted that the significant furloughing of staff across the network of 20 venues would make it “incredibly challenging” to put on a new event without a tried and tested delivery plan.

The ECB also cited operational challenges caused by social distancing and ongoing global travel restrictions as reasons for the postponement, adding that a behind-closed-doors event would contradict The Hundred’s aim to attract a broader audience and create a unique event experience.

Fans who purchased tickets for The Hundred will be issued with a full refund. All ticket buyers will be notified and anyone who signed up at thehundred.com will be told how to gain tickets for the 2021 event. Ticket prices will remain the same for next year.

Any fans who purchased tickets for the finals this year will be given the opportunity to buy the same number of tickets for the 2021 finals, but they will not be obliged to buy the same amount. Organisers hope to process all refunds by the end of May.

The Hundred will operate under a 100-ball format and had been due to get underway in July with eight city-based teams from across England and Wales. Today’s announcement comes after the ECB confirmed last week that no professional cricket would be played until at least July 1, meaning that nine rounds of fixtures will be lost in the County Championship.

Tom Harrison, ECB chief executive, said: “The situation we find ourselves in as a country means that delivery of The Hundred will not be possible this summer. Whilst we are naturally disappointed that we won’t get to realise our ambitions this year, The Hundred will go ahead in 2021 when we are safely able to deliver everything we intended to help grow the game.

“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.

“The Hundred will create millions in revenues for the game, through hosting fees, hospitality and ticket sales, as well as delivering £25m in annual financial distributions to all First-Class Counties and MCC. Its role in driving participation alongside supporting the development of the women’s game will be material in generating take-up of our game across country-wide communities.”

Image: ECB