New summer schedule planned by ECB to stop Hundred harming England’s Test team
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From left: Mahela Jayawardene, Chris Jordan and Jos Buttler.
From left: Mahela Jayawardene, Chris Jordan and Jos Buttler.

By Ben Rumsby

PLANS were being drawn up on Monday night to stop The Hundred wrecking England’s bid to become a winning Test team again.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed it was looking at ways to avoid a repeat of a summer schedule that saw the County Championship take a six-week-plus break to make way for the new limited-overs competition at a time when England were trying to prepare for and compete in their Test series against India.
The lack of first-class red-ball cricket in that period has been heavily criticised amid England’s struggles in the first two Tests, which culminated in last week’s stunning collapse at Lord’s.

Speaking to mark the end of the first edition of The Hundred, ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said: “It’s something that’s been highlighted this year because we have had issues like losing the Test match at Lord’s and because we’ve had a difficult start to the Test series against India.
“There is not a silver-bullet solution that solves all the problems that a schedule will raise. We have to get to a place where we provide opportunities for players to get into good form and players to continue to play red-ball cricket when they are out of form. That’s not an easy thing to solve. We are hard at work at that.”

The ECB has long argued The Hundred was necessary to save Test cricket and Harrison continued to do so on Monday after the governing body published figures it said proved the new competition had attracted new fans to the game – fans he said would ultimately be drawn to its longer formats.
That remains to be seen but one goal of The Hundred that has already been achieved in spectacular fashion is the boost it has provided to women’s cricket.
Women’s matches across the tournament drew crowds totalling 267,000 – almost double that for any women’s cricket event anywhere in the world.

Ex-England captain Charlotte Edwards, whose Southern Brave side were beaten by Oval Invincibles in Saturday’s final at Lord’s, said: “The Hundred has singlehandedly changed women’s cricket in this country. I never thought it would have the instant impact that it’s had.”
Much of the credit for that has been apportioned to the staging of the majority of men’s and women’s matches as double-headers, something the ECB was forced into doing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It plans to retain that format for next year – Edwards said it should be the “permanent way forward” – and was on Monday night considering whether it could be adopted for some England matches.
Harrison also said there would be a narrowing of the pay gap between Hundred men and women’s players, which this year saw respective salaries start at £24,000 and £3,600. (The Telegraph).

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