There are question marks over the long-term future of The Hundred following reports that the England and Wales Cricket Board is open to reviewing the format.
So far there have been two seasons of the eight-team tournament, with a third due to get underway in August, but it continues to divide opinion and attract debate.
The Hundred was effectively ring-fenced and spared scrutiny during the high-performance review of English cricket helmed by Sir Andrew Strauss last year, but with several of its key recommendations discarded the Daily Mail and The Cricketer have reported that the governing body is now ready to put it back on the table. The ECB has been approached for comment.
Reverting to the T20 format and a two-division structure with promotion and relegation is one suggestion, but any changes are unlikely to come quickly. While contracts associated to the competition, from players to backroom staff, typically run year to year and could be unpicked with relative ease, the ECB’s current broadcast deal with Sky runs to 2028 while the BBC’s existing free-to-air arrangement covers at least the next two editions.
It is perhaps relevant that the ECB is currently led by chief executive Richard Gould and chair Richard Thompson. The pair held matching roles at Surrey when The Hundred was first under mooted, with the club forthright in their opposition during their tenure.
Gould has publicly reversed his stance since taking over at the ECB, declaring the 100-ball tournament “a significant success” and predicting it would have “a long future”.
Opinions on The Hundred remain mixed. The elevation of the women’s game has been an unvarnished success, while there is evidence that the scheduling, marketing and ticket pricing have helped attract new fans and a broader demographic to cricket grounds.
But the financial situation is disputed. A report from Worcestershire chair Fanos Hira, a chartered accountant, attaches a £9million loss to the first two seasons but the ECB argues that it turned a profit of £11.8m.
The Hundred has been granted a clear window at the height of summer, taking place throughout August in the immediate aftermath of the Ashes, but appears unlikely to be granted the same luxury in 2024.