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The Hundred to launch with women’s fixture on July 21

The first match within the Hundred might be performed between women’s groups on July 21, with the ECB focusing on a sell-out at The Oval on the competitors’s opening night time.

Fixtures for the ECB’s new 100-ball competitors have been launched on Tuesday, after the inaugural season was postponed by a yr due to the Covid pandemic, with Oval Invincibles taking part in Manchester Originals in standalone women’s and males’s fixtures on the primary two nights. It is assumed to be the primary time {that a} main sporting occasion within the UK has seen males’s and women’s tournaments launched alongside one another with the women’s fixture chosen because the curtain-raiser.

From that time on, all fixtures might be performed as double-headers – branded as “matchdays” – with women’s and males’s video games happening back-to-back on the identical venue.

There had initially been plans to stage women’s matches at smaller county grounds across the nation, however they were shelved in November due to Covid-related logistical issues. Instead, all fixtures might be staged on the eight males’s Test venues, with each sport broadcast on Sky Sports. The BBC will present 10 matches within the males’s competitors, and have the rights to broadcast up to eight within the women’s. They have confirmed they may broadcast the opening fixture and the ultimate of the women’s competitors dwell on BBC2.

“All of the women’s matches will be first,” Beth Barrett-Wild, the pinnacle of the women’s Hundred, informed ESPNcricinfo. “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 and crowd to the one you’d want. 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.

“It’s mega information that each single a type of women’s matches might be broadcast dwell on Sky Sports – all 34 matches. It actually is an unprecedented degree of protection.”

Tickets will go on sale to the general public from April 7, with earlier priority windows for county members and 2020 buyers. While tickets had been cheaper for standalone women’s fixtures when they went on sale in early 2020, they will now provide access to the ground for a full double-header at the original price of a men’s ticket. The prospect of fans being able to attend games was enhanced on Monday, when the UK government announced plans to lift all Covid-related restrictions by June 21.

Barrett-Wild played down any concern that the requirement to buy a ticket for both games – rather than just the cheaper women’s ones – could put families off going to games. “It might be one ticket nevertheless it’s so moderately priced that we do not see that as being a barrier,” she said. “The complete matchday expertise will hopefully make it worthwhile.”

There has also been a change to the format of the knockout stages, with the ‘eliminators’ – a single semi-final between the teams finishing second and third – and the finals being staged back-to-back at The Oval and Lord’s respectively on August 20 and 21, rather than separate women’s and men’s Finals Days. Hove had been due to host the women’s Finals Day, but will no longer stage any games in the competition.

“Having the women’s and males’s last at Lord’s on the identical day on that Saturday is very large,” Barrett-Wild said. “They’re each going to be on the BBC – that is monumental. When we discuss taking part in in entrance of 4000 folks in Hove, that is nice and we have seen that working brilliantly. But by way of the size and the uplift for the women’s match being performed at Lord’s, hopefully in entrance of a full crowd, on that Saturday – it is big. That’s one thing the gamers might be actually enthusiastic about.”

Kate Cross, who could bowl the competition’s first ball for Manchester Originals, said: “We love breaking boundaries and making historical past. This era of women’s cricketers are doing a number of that on the minute.

“Actions speak louder than words and sometimes you see a lot of words on paper about how much they [the ECB] want to support us. Well, this goes to show that they are taking it seriously. It’s a big step. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the women are playing the first game – it should just be the first game of the Hundred. Unfortunately we’re in a time where women’s sport has taken to the back-burner and we are doing this stuff to push it forward. It’s incredible and long may it continue.”

Cross additionally highlighted the significance of taking part in on the most effective pitches within the nation. “We were joking about the fact that some of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy games were being played at better venues than our international games,” she mentioned. “We were playing at Test grounds for the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy compared to Derby as an international team.

“It’s so vital for us: should you put us on sluggish pitches, then you definitely’re going to get a sluggish sport, and that is not what folks need to see. If you place us on quicker, higher wickets, you are going to see extra runs and extra wickets. It’s not even essentially simply the pitches – it is the standard of the bottom, us having the ability to get our fielding proper and in addition having that type of environment with the group as nicely, which I believe is de facto vital. Put us on higher pitches and immediately you will see a greater product.”

Initial males’s squads for the competitors might be finalised on Tuesday, when the ECB announce the outcomes of Monday’s behind-closed-doors participant draft. Further women’s signings may also be introduced, together with a number of Australian abroad gamers.

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