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The Hundred: history in the making for women’s cricket

Inaugural edition starts with a women’s match between Oval Invincibles and Manchester Originals

Women’s cricket will take centre stage when The Hundred’s inaugural edition launches this summer.

Postponed last year because of the pandemic, the new 100-ball tournament for men and women will begin on 21 July with a women’s fixture between the Oval Invincibles and Manchester Originals. 

The historic decision to start the tournament with a women’s match is a “first for a major UK sporting event”, Sky Sports reports, and has “set a statement” says former England international Ebony Rainford-Brent.

“It’s amazing news,” she told Sky Sports News. “Men and women competing side by side, the women play the first game and that sets a statement. 

“Women’s sport has been put on the backburner a bit over the last 12 months because of the pandemic and this is a real chance for young boys and girls to turn on the TV and see something exciting and the women are really going to drive it. It’s a fantastic message to start the tournament.”

After the clash between the Oval Invincibles and Manchester Originals women’s teams, the same sides will then feature in the first men’s match a day later. 

Cricketing equality

In a year of upheaval caused by the coronavirus, Caroline Nokes MP, chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, told Sky Sports recently that “women’s sport has been left behind” and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport insisted that women’s sport “must not take a back seat again”.

With a women’s fixture beginning the tournament, The Hundred “could be transformational”, says the BBC. There will also be equal prize money on offer to men and women.

Beth Barrett-Wild, head of The Hundred women’s competition and female engagement at the England and Wales Cricket Board, said there’s a “big opportunity” for cricketing equality this summer.

“Visibility is crucial,” she told the BBC. “We’re really presenting those two [men’s and women’s] matches to the same scale. Everything we’re doing is through a gender-balanced lens. How do we harness this opportunity so that it’s not a surprise that the women are opening the competition and that it is just a completely normal thing to happen?”

The Hundred cricket

Christopher Lee/Getty Images for ECB

Eight new teams 

The Hundred will feature eight brand new teams from seven cities, with men’s and women’s competitions taking place side by side. The teams are: Welsh Fire (Cardiff), Southern Brave (Southampton), Northern Superchargers (Leeds), London Spirit, Trent Rockets (Nottingham), Oval Invincibles (London), Manchester Originals and Birmingham Phoenix.

Fixtures start at The Kia Oval with the games between Oval Invincibles and Manchester Originals. All matches will be broadcasted live on Sky Sports and BBC and the finals will be held at Lord’s on 21 August. 

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