The Hundred to be played in four-week window in August 2023

The Hundred will run from August 1-27 in 2023, a shorter window than in its first two seasons as the competition avoids a clash with England’s home international cricket for the first time.

England men’s Tests against India (2021) and South Africa (2022) have been previously played alongside the Hundred, overlapping with the second half of the competition, but the tournament will instead dominate the month of August in 2023.

A draft fixture schedule obtained by ESPNcricinfo sees the tournament launch in Nottingham, where defending men’s champions Trent Rockets play Southern Brave on Tuesday, August 1, the day after the scheduled fifth day of the fifth men’s Ashes Test at The Oval.

The group stage is due to finish on August 24 with the eliminators on August 26 and the finals on August 27. Both knockout rounds are likely to be staged in London following criticism over the travel time involved in the 2022 schedule.

The tournament will span 27 days in 2023, compared to 32 in its first two seasons. That shift may be held up as a victory for the counties, some of whom asked the ECB to explore a shorter window for the Hundred as part of their feedback on the reforms to the county schedule proposed unsuccessfully by the Andrew Strauss-led High Performance Review.

In practice, the Hundred was always likely to last a shorter period of time in 2023 due to the avoidance of any overlap with international fixtures, opening up broadcasters’ schedules. As a result, there are due to be eight double-matchdays – which see two venues host men’s and women’s fixtures on the same day – in 2023, compared to three in 2022.

The Hundred’s future has been in the spotlight this weekend after Sky News reported that a private equity firm had approached the ECB with a £400 million bid for a 75 percent stake in the competition. It appears unlikely to proceed at this stage with the board hopeful that the tournament’s value will continue to increase in coming seasons.

The tournament’s critics argue that the Hundred has not been worth the significant investment it has required, pointing to underwhelming free-to-air broadcast figures and a disappointing standard of overseas players; its proponents counter that strong attendances, commercial interest and its transformative impact on the women’s game have vindicated the ECB’s decision to launch its own short-form tournament.

The appointments of Richard Gould and Richard Thompson, two outspoken critics of the Hundred during their time at Surrey, as the ECB’s new chief executive and chairman, might have suggested a change of direction from central leadership, but the tournament is locked into the terms of the broadcast deal with Sky which runs until the end of the 2028 season.

Provisional fixtures for 2023 were circulated to Hundred teams’ general managers last week and discussions with players around retentions have already begun. Men’s teams are expected to have the option to retain up to 10 players at a mutually agreed salary band before the draft in March, while the women’s retention mechanism was recently confirmed.

Salaries have been frozen and the overseas wildcard has been scrapped after one season. Teams in both the men’s and women’s competition will only have three overseas players in their squad rather than four, with all three allowed to feature in any given playing XI.

As a result, the availability of overseas players will be particularly important. New Zealand’s international schedule is clear during August across the next two years and tournament officials hope that Trent Boult will enter the draft as a potential top-bracket pick. Bangladesh, Ireland and Sri Lanka’s players should also be fully available while South Africans and Australians may miss the final week for a bilateral series.

While the England men’s schedule is clear during the Hundred’s window, organisers accept that the likelihood of multi-format players being available for more than a handful of fixtures is low. The tournament starts immediately after the Ashes and England’s busy limited-overs schedule in September leads straight into their 50-over World Cup defence in India, meaning some players could skip the Hundred entirely.

The ECB held talks with the Caribbean Premier League earlier this month to discuss the competitions’ windows and it is understood that all parties are keen to avoid future clashes. However, they are expected to overlap again in 2023, with space during West Indies’ home season limited by the World Cup in October.

The 2023 county season will follow a similar pattern to 2022: the T20 Blast’s group stages will run from May 20 until July 2 with the quarter-finals held the following week and Finals Day at Edgbaston on July 15, while the Royal London Cup will be staged at the same time as the Hundred, with the final at Trent Bridge on September 16.

Men’s county and women’s regional fixtures will be released in full on Wednesday, with the Hundred’s fixtures announced at a later date.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98


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