The Hundred: 'Being on BBC will make big difference', say Warwickshire after clubs trial

Solihull Blossomfield and Knowle & Dorridge were two of the 10 teams involved on the opening weekend of the Warwickshire Sunday Smash
Solihull Blossomfield and Knowle & Dorridge were two of the 10 teams involved on the opening weekend of the Warwickshire Sunday Smash

The Hundred has been tipped for success following the launch of 100-ball cricket at club level in the Warwickshire Sunday Smash.

Andy Wyles, growth and participation manager for the Warwickshire Cricket Board, says having the new professional tournament televised by the BBC in 2020 is a key factor.

"The fact it will be on the BBC will make a big difference," said Wyles.

"I think it's going to be played on Thursday evenings."

Speaking at the official launch of the Sunday Smash, aimed at recruiting more local male, female and age-group cricketers, Wyles said the competition in Warwickshire will go hand-in-hand when The Hundred starts locally at the higher eight-franchise level.

"We just wanted a different competition," he said. "We started looking to do something after seeing too many deserted cricket grounds on a Sunday afternoon and too many club players unable to commit to playing seven hours at a time.

"Coincidentally, it has tied in with The Hundred. But the truth is we need lots of opportunities to engage the public in different ways to get people playing cricket and this is just one of them."

The newly-created Midlands team, reported to be going under the name Birmingham Phoenix, is still at the planning stage, although it is known that Warwickshire chief executive Neil Snowball and his Worcestershire counterpart Matt Rawnsley are on the board involved in setting it up.

It is also understood that all of the men's games will be played in Birmingham at Edgbaston, while the women's team will play predominantly at New Road, Worcester.

There will be one back-to-back double fixture when both sides will play at Edgbaston on the same day.

What do the club players think?

Solihull Blossomfield captain Ben Seifas

"This format will be great for the game - the sheer pace of it.

"No swapping at the end of overs makes a big difference, just going straight from five balls from one bowler to five from another.

"I think it will transform the game of cricket and get the new audience they're looking for.

"The countdown from 100 balls on the scoreboard makes it simpler, makes the game less complicated.

"We struggled last year to get teams out on a Sunday, especially for those with young families. But to play from two o'clock to 4.30 will be great."

Hundred trial
Solihull Blossomfield beat Knowle and Dorridge by 27 runs in the opening fixture

Knowle & Dorridge captain David Smith

"It was a bit crazy getting used to the new rules, but it's very exciting.

"It's a new vehicle into cricket. That's the most important thing.

"And, at the higher level, it's going to be great seeing the best players in the country playing against each other."

Thumbs up from Bears duo

Sunday's opening Smash fixture between Solihull Blossomfield and Knowle & Dorridge was watched by two Warwickshire first-team players - England winter tourist Olly Stone, still out with a back injury, and fellow fast bowler Henry Brookes.

"I've seen all the hype about it," said Stone. "There were some positive and negative thoughts about it, but I think it will be exciting.

"When T20 was introduced, there was uncertainty about it, But it should be good and hopefully it will bring the kids in.

"With T20 being such a worldwide success, to change it up was a bit frightening, but everyone's now looking forward to it and hoping that it goes the way T20 has.

"Sides will be strong with more overseas players coming in. It can only help county cricket and bring back the excitement."

Olly Stone (left) and Henry Brookes
Warwickshire fast bowlers Olly Stone (left) and Henry Brookes

Brookes added: "It's definitely exciting. It's supposed to be more high-paced and batsmen a lot more aggressive. They've had a massive impact. We've got to adapt as well.

"Most countries around the world have franchised their cricket and there's certainly been some great results from it.

"Hopefully the franchise can be very profitable here. I'm a Birmingham boy. And I hope I can get picked up in the home franchise at the auction.

"I enjoy playing all three formats at the moment. My eggs are in all those baskets. It's just a case of developing more skills."

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