The England and Wales Cricket Board has unveiled the principal playing conditions for its controversial 100-ball format as well as announcing it will be called The Hundred.
Set to launch next year, a fourth format being added to an already crowded summer schedule has divided opinion, yet it was pushed through by a vote of 17-1 from the 18 first-class counties when a two-thirds majority was required.
The eight grounds for the franchise tournament were confirmed 12 months ago, while a player draft has been scheduled for the autumn, but there is still no indication of any team names or whether they would incorporate cities or regions.
Surrey were understood to be the only dissenting voice among the counties, reportedly putting The Oval’s status as one of the host venues at risk – although the ECB would not be drawn into specifics.
Nevertheless, this is another major stepping stone as the ECB officially confirmed a format of 100 balls per side with a change of ends after every 10 deliveries – with the traditional ‘over’ kicked into the long grass.
Instead, bowlers will deliver either five or 10 consecutive balls but are restricted to a maximum of 20 per match while each fielding side gets a strategic timeout of up to two and a half minutes.
A 25-ball powerplay will start each side’s innings, where only two fielders will be allowed outside of the initial 30-yard circle.
Many of these idiosyncrasies were piloted across six days last September at Loughborough and Nottingham’s Trent Bridge – one of the eight venues along with Lord’s, The Oval, the Ageas Bowl, Edgbaston, Sophia Gardens, Headingley and Old Trafford.
ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said: “There has been overwhelming support from the game to make the transition from ‘the new competition’ to The Hundred.
“Signing off the playing conditions is a significant moment. Another staging post before the player draft at the end of the year.
“There’s a huge summer of stuff ahead of us. Work is being done at the moment on the team identities.
“There’s a lot of research into building authenticity on those identities so people can relate to them from those communities and beyond. We’ll work hard to make sure the timing is right so it doesn’t butt up against other priorities.
“It’s already a successful event in terms of not just finances but the excitement generated. I’m very confident the game will get behind us. We’ve done a lot of work to understand concerns from fans and we’re listening to those concerns.”
The format has been derided in some quarters as a gimmick, although the ECB’s aim for the eight-team event in seven cities across five weeks next summer is to attract a wider and more family-based audience.
While India captain Virat Kohli suggested last year there was no need to create another format, powerhouse West Indies batsman Chris Gayle this week said he would be willing to feature if drafted.
Harrison said: “We’d love to have Chris involved, I’m keen to have a conversation and see what he thinks.
“He’s played in probably all the major tournaments around the world, his view is very much worth listening to to see how we can make this even more exciting.
“I think players will want to play in this. We’ll demonstrate an ambition behind this that is very pure and can enhance players’ skills under pressure.
“We’ll make it attractive to players to come and play. England has always been a place the big players want to come and play.”