The Hundred, the new tournament formed by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), is set to make history with its opening fixture to be a women's match.
The inaugural competition, which was originally due to kickstart last year before being postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, will see the Oval Invincibles take on the Manchester Originals at the Kia Oval On July 21, 2021, before the same two men's side compete the following day.
It will make it the first time a major UK team sporting event has launched men's and women's competitions alongside each other and headlined the tournament with a women's match.
Following the opening two matches, the rest of The Hundred schedule will see both the men's and women's teams playing on the same day and within the same venue, in a bid to boost the women's game through the new competition.
"The thought of making history and potentially bowling the first ball of The Hundred is really exciting," said new Manchester Originals signing Sophie Ecclestone. "It is fantastic news that the competition is launching with a women's match and we can't wait to get The Hundred off to the best possible start."
The Hundred has been designed by the ECB to open up the sport of cricket to families and young people by providing fast-paced and world- class cricket, alongside entertainment off of the pitch and features eight new teams based in Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham, Southampton and two in London. The game is played simply with each side having 100 balls and whoever scores the most runs, wins.
Beth Barrett-Wild, head of The Hundred Women's competition, added: "Opening The Hundred with a standalone women's match represents a historic moment, not just for cricket and women's cricket, but more widely for sport.
"We are really proud to be able to make this announcement, and I cannot wait to see our brilliant female players walk out at the Kia Oval on July 21.
"The schedule really epitomises how The Hundred is changing the game - putting gender-balance at its heart and presenting men and women on the same platform, with the same scale of ambition from the very start."
Author: Jake Wilkin