It was the unique vehicle that was going to push cricket into a new stratosphere as far as fan popularity is concerned….and then along came 2020 to ruin things.
The inaugural edition of the competition was delayed for a year as a consequence, although the show will go on in 2021 – hopefully with crowds in tow.
The upheaval of international travel means that a few of the big names scheduled to play – including Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc and Imran Tahir – will miss out when the tournament gets underway in July.
However, there are still some stellar names in the mix, with David Warner and Dale Steyn declaring their availability to go with the likes of Kane Williamson, Glenn Maxwell, Aaron Finch and Andre Russell.
So how is The Hundred shaping up in 2021? Here’s everything you need to know about this exciting new dawn for cricket.
When is The Hundred in 2021?
The original idea behind The Hundred was to play all games during the school summer holidays, which would typically have been between July and August.
Of course, things have changed somewhat in the past year and now we don’t know when the school holidays will be – nor if the bubbles the teams will deploy will allow for a quick turnaround of games.
However, we expect the action to begin in July as scheduled, and probably run through until August.
What are the Rules?
As the name suggests, The Hundred will do away with the traditional over format and instead each team will have 100 balls to bowl per innings.
A bowler can deliver five or ten consecutive balls at any one time and a maximum of 20 in the innings, with a change of ends taking place after every ten ball allocation.
As with most limited overs events, there will be a powerplay (25 balls) at the start of each innings, with only two fielders allowed outside of the inner circle within that time.
The idea is for bombastic cricket to attract a new audience to the sport, and it will be interesting to see if the format captures the imagination of youngsters around the UK.
What Teams are Taking Part in 2021?
Rather than being based on the traditional county system, there will be eight ‘franchises’ that represent each region of England and Wales, with both men’s and women’s teams:
- Manchester Originals
- Northern Superchargers
- Birmingham Phoenix
- Trent Rockets
- Welsh Fire
- London Spirit
- Oval Invincibles
- Southern Brave
With franchises named after some the biggest cities in the UK, the home is that a more urban audience will be reached when compared to the ‘one man and his dog’ stylings of the current county cricket circuit.
Each of the teams will play four matches at home and four away, and the top three points scorers will progress to the knockout stage. The top team from the league phase will automatically reach the final, while second and third will contest a play-off game to see who meets them there.
How are the Squads Decided?
Both the men’s and the women’s teams have had centrally contracted England internationals divvied out between them, so all of the squads will be headlined by at least one recognisable name.
Most will play for the team most closely linked to their county side, and that feeling has been supplemented by the ‘local icons’ selections – each franchise will also have a pair of leading hitters from the nearest county set-up.
On February 23, a draft will take place that determines where the remaining overseas stars end up. They have each been given a reserve price and all franchises must stay within the salary cap – there’s a clutch of big names costing £100,000 including Warner, Babar Azam, Kagiso Rabada, Jason Holder and more.
Who Is Playing in The Hundred in 2021?
While some global stars have opted not to take part in The Hundred, the players that will be participating reads like a who’s who of English and international cricket.
Joe Root will captain the Trent Rockets, and they will boast the explosive batting of Dawid Malan and Alex Hales plus the mysterious leg spin of Rashid Khan.
Ben Stokes will take the helm of the Northern Superchargers, where Yorkshire trio Adil Rashid, David Willey and Adam Lyth will be supplemented by big hitting opener Aaron Finch.
The Manchester Originals, captained by Jos Buttler, will have to re-draft pretty much a whole new squad due to withdrawals, but much more settled will be the Birmingham Phoenix – they will boast England internationals Chris Woakes, Moeen Ali, Dom Sibley and Liam Livingstone plus the outstanding Kane Williamson and T20 specialist Adam Zampa.
Look out for London Spirit, whose stacked roster will feature Eoin Morgan, Zack Crawley, Mark Wood, Dan Lawrence, Joe Denly and Glenn Maxwell, while capital rivals Oval Invincibles could be dangerous outsiders.
There will be a calypso feel to the Southern Brave with Jofra Archer joining Andre Russell and Chris Jordan in their ranks, while the Welsh charge will be led by Ollie Pope and Jonny Bairstow at the Fire.