Sanjay Patel defends The Hundred and says it will attract new fans to cricket
Patel was speaking at the Leaders Sports Business Summit in Abu Dhabi
The Hundred can help attract new fans and create a pathway for more professional players, according to the cricket tournament's managing director.
Speaking at the Sports Business Summit in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, Sanjay Patel defended the new format to be launched by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) this summer, saying The Hundred offers entertainment and value for the audience.
Eight city teams will play take part in the five-week long contest starting in July, but the tournament has been the target for heavy criticism from players, pundits and county teams unhappy how funds from the ECB's record broadcasting deal - which includes the new tournament - have been allocated.
Patel said the white-ball clash will be “simple, 100 balls, and whoever gets the most runs wins” and is not intended to rival any of the game's traditional formats - Tests, 50-over and Twenty20 - but instead supplement it and encourage more families, and particularly young children, to attend matches in the summer and ultimately take up the sport.
“We see Hundred as a gateway to get people more involved,” he said. “We have to evolve and we have to move as it has over the years, how the one-day cricket and the T20 were invented.
“It’s a format change which is slightly controversial for the way people watch cricket as they hate messing with it.
“But we thought it was really important, answering some of the questions people were telling us.
“We haven’t and don’t want to take away the game from the purists because Tests, 50 over-a-side and the T20 cricket will continue to exist, but we are bringing in one more format for people to enjoy.”
The tournament has drawn eight teams representing seven cities in the UK, with each having a men's and a women's line-up.
A mini draft saw the men's teams’ select three English players before top overseas players joined the main draft on October 20 to fill the remaining places in the 15-man squads.
There will be 32 league matches in total, with the top three finishers competing in the finals day.
The cost of staging the tournament has more than tripled from the ECB's original estimates of £13 million to "roughly £40 million", according to Patel, adding that he expects to generate £50 million in revenue.
He said: “We are also going to invest in an academy structure across the country to create a performance pathway for more professional players.
“We are investing more on the women’s teams in terms of salaries, and of course investing heavily in treating the women’s competition for The Hundred.
“We have looked at the best places to invest in order to grow the women’s game. Our job is to make sure that we build a commercially viable women’s competition for The Hundred.”
Updated: January 22, 2020 04:59 PM