Test match cricket played over five days, or perhaps longer, has long been considered to be the purest form of the game. It is the format which decides many of the most historic cricketing series, such as The Ashes.

Yet, in the modern world, it seems fans are not that keen on games that can take five days and yet come to a draining halt, ending in a draw and with one team batting for two hours and scoring 15 runs just to see out the day.

This is why games such as one-day cricket and more recently 20/20 has become markedly more popular, especially events such as the T20 World Cup and One Day Cricket World Cup, the latter of which sees England as the current holders.

However, the county game in England now has something new to consider. The England and Wales Cricket Board have developed a brand new and completely original format for a new game. It’s called The Hundred and the competition, delayed a year, got underway yesterday.

What Is The Hundred And How Does It Differ To T20 Cricket?

Having witnessed the huge popularity of the Indian Premier League competition, the ECW Cricket Board tried to devise a competition that would appeal to a younger and more diverse crowd. The result of that was The Hundred.

The tournament will feature both men’s and women’s teams who will receive equal coverage and equal prize money. Games will be played in back to back double-headers at the same venue on the same day and a ticket gives you access to one women’s and one men’s game.

In order to attract the audience and make the game more accessible to new viewers. The Hundred is named after the 100 balls that each team will face in their innings. These will be divided up into ten 10-ball overs.

Bowlers can either bowl five, or ten consecutive balls and after ten balls, the bowler will change ends. Each bowler can deliver a maximum of 20 balls per game and the bowling team can call a time out of two and a half minutes at any point.

Each team will also have a 25-ball powerplay starter which sees only two fielders allowed outside the 30-yard circle for those deliveries.

So this is a new game of cricket to learn, but perhaps the biggest change for The Hundred is that it will be based in seven cities around the UK and the teams will be comprised of 15 players, three of whom may be overseas players who will be signed up through a draft.

Each team will also have one (in the case of men’s teams) or two (in the case of women’s) England centrally contracted players, as well as two local icons amongst the squad.

The eight teams and the cities in which they are based are:

  • Manchester Originals (Manchester – Old Trafford)
  • Northern Superchargers (Leeds – Headingly)
  • Birmingham Phoenix (Birmingham – Edgbaston)
  • Trent Rockets (Nottingham – Trent Bridge)
  • Welsh Fire (Tan Cymreig) (Cardiff – Sophia Gardens)
  • London Spirit (London – Lords)
  • Oval Invincibles (London – The Oval)
  • Southern Brave (Southampton – Rose Bowl)

How is The Hundred Organised?

The format for both the men’s and women’s tournaments at The Hundred are the same. Each team will play the other teams in the group at least once during the course of the competition, plus they will have one additional game against another team (usually a local rival),

At the end of those eight games, the team that finishes top of the table will earn a place in the final at Lords. The teams that finish second and third will play off against each other in an Eliminator at The Oval for a place in the final.

Each game is decided solely by the number of runs scored. The team that scores the most runs off their 100 balls, is the winner.

Stars In Each Team

Given how the make up of each team has been decided, this means that there are a number of top quality players playing in the tournament for all eight teams.

Ben Stokes, for example, will play for the Northern Superchargers, while Jofra Archer plays for the Southern Brave and England captain Joe Root will bat for the Trent Rockets. Other stars of the world game to be signed up include Moeen Ali, Eoin Morgan, Saquid Mahmood, Faf du Plessis, Carlos Brathwaite, Jos Buttler and Rashid Khan will play in the men’s event.

The women’s event is equally well-blessed with top stars of the game including Heather Graham, Nat Sciver, Rachel Priest, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Shafali Verma, Erin Burns, Amy Jones and more all featuring.

The tournament will be played over five weeks from July through to August with both finals being played on the 21st August at Lords in London.

Fixtures And Betting

The action begins with the Oval Invincibles taking on the Manchester Originals in the first game of the tournament for all teams. Then on Friday, the Birmingham Phoenix will face London Spirit followed by the Trent Rockets against the Southern Brave on Saturday morning, followed by the Northern Superchargers facing the Welsh Fire at 2.30pm on Saturday.

Bet365 is offering odds on a number of markets for the tournaments including of course betting on which team will win the games. However with this being a brand new tournament and the strength and quality of teams somewhat unknown, you can expect the odds to perhaps be a little more cautious until there is some context by which to better judge the team and players.

And as for who will win the tournament? There are no outright winner markets available, precisely for the reasons that we stated above, but as the competition progresses, you should find that more and more markets open on the event and you may well have an opportunity to back the team that you think will win either the men’s or the women’s tournaments.

And for those who like a wild prediction, my money is on the Northern Powerhouse coming out on top, although I think in terms of personnel, the London Spirit probably look the strongest of the teams.