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COVID-19 forces ECB to shrink women's The Hundred venues

The women’s edition of The Hundred will be played over eight venues instead of 20 next year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has announced.

Instead of the 20 venues originally planned across England and Wales, the women’s competition will be played in the same eight venues that the men’s event will be played in.

The ECB has stated that operational consequences from the COVID-19 crisis has forced them into making the decision.

Organisers believe that the addition of double-headers and more alignment with the men’s team will offer more exposure for the women’s games on TV.

“It’s clear that the wide-ranging impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the delivery of elite sporting events and society more generally, necessitates a change to our plans from 2020,” stated Beth Barrett-Wild, head of The Hundred women’s competition and female engagement.

“The move to an integrated eight-venue model with the men’s competition next summer will simultaneously enable us to reduce our operational risk, protect the delivery of the women’s competition, and optimise the opportunity to work with our broadcast partners to provide maximum visibility and exposure for the women’s game.

“We therefore believe that this is the best structure for the women’s competition in 2021. However, with the women’s game transforming and growing at pace, it is important that we remain flexible in our approach to evolving this model in the future.”

The eight venues set to host both the mens’ and women’s The Hundred competitions are Lord’s, The Oval, Trent Bridge, Edgbaston, Emerald Headingley, Emirates Old Trafford, the Ageas Bowl and Sophia Gardens.

The inaugural competition was set to take place during the summer of 2020 but suffered the same consequences of most sports by being postponed until 2021 because of the coronavirus crisis. The 100-ball cricket tournament was first proposed by the ECB in 2016 to reignite an interest in the sport and attract new fans to cricket.

Author: Jake Wilkin