The first match of the Hundred is all set to be played between women’s teams on July 21. The fixtures of the tournament were announced on Tuesday, February 23. Oval Invincibles will play Manchester Originals in standalone women’s and men’s fixtures on the first two days. It is also said to be the first major sporting event in the UK that will see women’s fixture as a curtain-raiser.
The England and Wales Cricket Board’s new 100-ball competition was originally scheduled to be played in 2020 but the COVID-19 outbreak forced it to be pushed back by a year. The tournament will follow a unique format with all fixtures set to be played as double-headers, with the women’s and men’s matches happening back to back at the same designated venue.
Although the initial plan was to organise the women’s matches at smaller county grounds. However, it could not be stuck owing to logistical constraints of a COVID-19 stricken world. That eventually led to all the matches being scheduled at the eight men’s Test venues with every game set to be televised by the same broadcast network.
Men’s fixture to follow women’s match on matchdays, “unprecedented coverage”
Interestingly, the women’s match after the men’s fixture was also being mulled but Beth Barrett-Wild, the head of the women’s Hundred had other ideas.
“We did have some discussions as to whether we’d look to flip that [but] we’ve had a few trial runs of the women playing after the men and sometimes you get a different vibe. I went to a Surrey Stars match in the KSL [Kia Super League] a few years ago after a men’s match and you got the horrible scenario of people leaving, which looks dreadful,” she said.
“It’s mega news that every single one of those women’s matches will be broadcast live on Sky Sports – all 34 matches. It really is an unprecedented level of coverage,” she added.
The ECB is eyeing a sell-out at The Oval for the tournament opener with tickets set to go on sale for the general public from April 7.