LONDON – English cricket’s new Hundred competition will feature equal prize money for the men’s and women’s competitions, tournament organizer the England and Wales Cricket Board announced on Wednesday.
The ECB said the total prize budget of £600,000 ($769,000) would be split fifty-fifty between the women’s and men’s competitions as part of the governing body’s “commitment to making cricket a gender-balanced sport.”
The Hundred is a new tournament consisting of eight city-based franchise sides, breaking away from England’s traditional county system.
Teams will bat for 100 balls each, with overs lasting for 10 balls and bowlers either bowling five or 10 balls consecutively.
All eight franchises will feature both men’s and women’s teams, with the two competitions running side by side.
“This is a great announcement for women’s sport,” said England captain Heather Knight, who will skipper the London Spirit in the Hundred.
“Women’s professional cricket is on an exciting journey and whilst there is still a way to go to realise gender-parity, this move from the Hundred is a significant step in the right direction,” added Knight, who has led England to the semifinals of the ongoing women’s Twenty20 World Cup in Australia.
“We’re all really excited about playing in the new competition and hopefully inspiring more young girls and boys to pick up a bat and ball.”
Beth Barrett-Wild, the head of the Hundred’s women’s competition, said that “The ECB is committed to transforming women’s and girls’ cricket, from inspiring young girls to pick up a bat for the first time, through to establishing the women’s game as a professional career option.
“This announcement today represents one signal of intent towards that commitment,” she added.
The ECB is adamant the Hundred will attract a new audience vital to safeguarding cricket’s long-term future.
But critics have questioned the need for a fourth format in an already crowded men’s schedule featuring first-class, one-day and Twenty20 matches, while concerns have been voiced over the Hundred’s potentially damaging knock-on effects to the existing 18-team county set-up.
This year’s inaugural edition of the Hundred will take place from July 17-Aug. 15.