"The Hundred": England and Wales Cricket Board seeks overseas trademark for new 100-ball format

By Stephan ShemiltBBC Sport
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The England and Wales Cricket Board has applied for overseas trademarks for the format for its new competition, which is to be introduced in 2020.

Nations planning to run their own version may have to seek ECB approval.

The ECB has filed to trademark "The Hundred" in India, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, and is understood to be considering other countries.

The tournament's format, which is set to take place over 100 balls per innings, will be trialled from Friday.

An overseas trademark could mean that the ECB could demand payment from other international boards that want to play a version of the 100-ball format.

However, it is thought to be too early in the development of the format for the ECB to consider charging for its use.

Still, the ECB sees the application for a trademark as prudent given the investment, research and marketing that has so far gone into or will go into the new competition.

It was the ECB who first demonstrated that professional 20-over cricket could be a commercial success after launching the Twenty20 Cup in 2003, with a host of other nations then establishing their own T20 leagues.

The ECB applied to trademark the new competition in the UK on 13 March, around a month before its plans for the new format were made public.

That application is currently being opposed by a US-based clothing company that operates in the UK and trades on the website thehundreds.com.

The ECB has developed the new tournament - which will be played by eight city-based teams in both men's and women's cricket - in order to attract, in its own words, "a younger audience and new fans".

A number of England international players have backed the concept, but the Professional Cricketers' Association has expressed its concern and India captain Virat Kohli has said he cannot imagine the needexternal-link for another form of the game.

After its initial trademark application was submitted in the UK, the ECB had a six-month period in which it had priority for a similar submission in individual overseas countries.

The applications in India, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland were made on Monday, just before the six months expired.

On Friday, the first of six pilot days for "The Hundred" will begin with female players taking part in trials at Loughborough.

Women's teams will feature again on Saturday and on Thursday, 27 September, while men's sides will be involved at Trent Bridge on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

The trials will not solely be full 100-ball matches, but also various scenarios and sequences of play.

At the end of each day, the ECB will collect feedback from those taking part on the flow and duration of the game, tactical innovation and player enjoyment.