The Hundred, the ECB’s new cricket format, ticked off its first major event milestone with its groundbreaking The Hundred Draft - the first of its kind in major UK sport.
Broadcast live on Sky Sports and BBC iPlayer, the event held at Sky Studios saw some of cricket’s biggest stars picked for the ECB’s new city-based franchise teams, while the governing body for cricket in England and Wales also announced an extension to its partnership with Vitality, which will now include The Hundred.
The partnership will focus on promoting physical activity among cricket fans, and will see the health insurer offer The Hundred tickets and experiences to their members as part of the company’s rewards scheme.
The ECB has been criticised by some for it's deal with KP Snacks, with some claiming that promoting unhealthy snacks during a competition it has set up in order to appeal to a more diverse and younger audience. Others see the deal with the FMCG brand as an astute piece of sponsorship with a brand with experience in marketing to a family audience.
Neville Koopowitz, CEO at Vitality, said of the partnership: “We’re excited to be involved with The Hundred, a completely new type of cricket format. Driving awareness of sport, and helping people to undertake more physical activity, is at the very heart of what we do. This is why we’re delighted to see so many fantastic sports stars being lined up to play. I am sure they will directly inspire many more people to take up and participate in the game, right from grassroots, to local club level and beyond.”
Meanwhile, the draft itself saw Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan, who will play for Joe Root’s Trent Rockets, picked first, while Australian Ashes-retaining duo Steve Smith and Mitchell Starc will join up with Jonny Bairstow’s Welsh Fire.
The women’s competition, which will run alongside the men’s, was also featured, with Australia captain Meg Lanning joining the Welsh Fire, and England opening batter Tammy Beaumont picked by the London Spirit.
Shane Warne, London Spirit Head Coach, said: “I’m used to playing a tactical game, but that was something else! Our position in the rounds meant that I had to think on my feet, and at times re-evaluate who I was going to pick and when. I’m thrilled to have Glenn Maxwell, Mohammad Nabi and Mark Wood join Eoin and Rory in the team and can’t wait to see them step up to the crease for London Spirit in the first season of The Hundred. I think 2020 is shaping up to be a really exciting year for cricket – so many people watched the sport for the first time this summer, and I’m confident The Hundred will get even more people watching next year.”