ECB chief Tom Harrison insists The Hundred is 'not a threat to county game'

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison
ECB chief executive Tom Harrison

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison has declared that the new 100-ball competition that will be launched next summer is 'not a threat to the county game'.

The Hundred will begin in 2020, with the draft being staged for the tournament last weekend and being broadcast live of Sky Sports.

The Hundred draft was staged last Sunday

The Hundred draft was staged last Sunday

The ECB are convinced they need to launch the new format to help 'grow the game', but there has been opposition from cricket fans across the country.

#StopThe100 was trending on Twitter while the draft was taking place, with many fearful that the competition will spark the beginning of the end of the first-class cricket system as we know it.

But Harrison, who was speaking during the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee evidence session yesterday, insists the new competition will protect the long-term futures of the 18 first-class counties, including Northants.

He insists the tournament will protect 'the things we value the most', including Test cricket and the county championship, and that he is determined to see the 'precious county environment' flourish.

Northants Steelbacks were winners of the national Twenty20 competiton in 2013 and 2016

Northants Steelbacks were winners of the national Twenty20 competiton in 2013 and 2016

Harrison appeared in front of the committee along with ECB chairman Colin Graves and managing director of women's cricket Clare Connor, and The Hundred and the effect on the game dominated a large part of the session.

And Harrison launched a staunch defence of the new tournament, and what he insists will be the positive effect it will have on the sport in the UK.

"The Hundred is all about growing the game of cricket in this country and protecting the things we value the most," said Harrison.

"The Hundred is a really good way of protecting everything that we are serious about.

"It's about protecting Test match cricket, it's about protecting four-day Championship cricket, it's about getting kids playing more cricket at school.

"This is engaging at a different level with a completely new community in this country and that is something we should embrace and celebrate.

"It is not a threat to the county game. It is a much greater threat to rest on our laurels and say everything is rosy in our garden and things will be fine if we keep ticking along as we are."

The Cricket World Cup this summer was highly successful, where a huge number of spectators bought tickets for the first time.

Harrison insists that the Hundred will try and replicate the atmosphere of the World Cup and thus appeal to those fans.

He added: "The Hundred is an attempt to replicate that and bring it back to our country every year without taking anything away from our precious county environment, to ensure we grow the game of cricket in this country. That is our job.

"We have seen throughout the Cricket World Cup grounds across the country packed to the rafters, 40 per cent of whom were first-time buyers to cricket in this country.

"The vibrancy, the colours, the noise and energy is something that will live with all of us."

The Hundred will see eight new franchise teams battle it out next summer.

Despite the Steelbacks winning the Twenty20 competition in 2013 and 2016, just one Northants player was selected for the new competition, with Adam Rossington being picked up for the London Spirit team, which is based at Lord's and is affiliated with the County.

To make room for the tournament, the 50-over one-day competition has been demoted to a development competition, and will be played during the same time frame as The Hundred.