Virus forces delay of English cricket's Hundred until 2021

London (AFP) –


English cricket's controversial new Hundred competition has been delayed until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic, cricket chiefs announced on Thursday.

The new 100-balls-per-side format, to be played by eight franchises rather than the established 18 first-class counties, had been due to start in July.

But with the English season delayed until at least July 1 and matches after that likely to be played behind closed doors, the England and Wales Cricket Board has decided to hold the Hundred over until next year.

"The situation we find ourselves in as a country means that delivery of the Hundred will not be possible this summer," ECB chief executive Tom Harrison in a statement.

"Whilst we are naturally disappointed that we won't get to realise our ambitions this year, the Hundred will go ahead in 2021 when we are safely able to deliver everything we intended to help grow the game."

The ECB's statement said playing the Hundred behind closed doors was not an option because an event with no fans "directly contradicts the competition's goal to attract a broader audience".

Global travel restrictions also mean it was not possible for star players from other countries to take part.