Moeen Ali believes it is “better for the Hundred to be delayed” for a year than to launch the tournament without overseas players or fans.
The ECB board meet today (April 29) to discuss whether to postpone the launch of the tournament in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. While the Hundred is a central component of the ECB’s strategy to broaden the appeal of the game, there are concerns that any potential launch will be compromised by the current situation.
Not only is there currently a ban on gatherings of any kind – meaning the tournament may have to be staged behind closed doors – but it is likely to prove hard to attract the overseas players whose presence was seen as a draw card.
As a result, it could prove hard to build the momentum the ECB envisaged to ensure the Hundred makes the big splash that was anticipated. There will also be concerns that it struggles to justify its large budget. It is currently scheduled to start at the Kia Oval on July 17.
While Moeen has long been an enthusiastic supporter of the competition – he has been named captain of the Birmingham Phoenix side – he now accepts that, with the prospect of a heavily abbreviated season and the absence of overseas players, it would be better to delay and ensure it is given every opportunity to succeed next year.
“It is better for it to be delayed,” Moeen said. “As players we want the Hundred played with all the best players around the world available to come and play so it makes more sense that way.
“If we can get other international players who were not available this year to make the Hundred even stronger for next year through a mini draft then we an attract a new audience to come and watch cricket. It is probably going to be too much to squeeze in the last couple of months of the season. It would be hard work to squeeze in the Hundred as well.
“It is such a big deal for us in this country and we want it to be played when everything is right and no problems around the world.”
An announcement on the tournament’s postponement is expected later this week, following today’s ECB board meeting.