The Hundred: Seven reasons why you should watch the new 100-ball competition

Read more at www.bbc.co.uk

Venues: Eight grounds across the UK Dates: 21 July-21 August
Coverage: 10 men’s games live on BBC TV, eight women’s games live on BBC platforms and live text, radio commentary and in-play clips of every game. More details.

The time is almost here. History is about to be made.

On Wednesday, The Hundred, the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) new 100-ball competition, begins.

The first match of the competition – a women’s fixture between Oval Invincibles and Manchester Originals – will be live on BBC Two (18:00 BST).

In total, there will be 18 games shown live on BBC TV and iPlayer, consisting of 10 men’s and eight women’s matches, as well as both finals.

Whether you’re watching live on TV, listening to radio commentary or following our live text, here are eight reasons why you should follow The Hundred this summer.

It’s cricket with a new twist

The Hundred has split opinion among cricket traditionalists.

But even some of those who may not have completely warmed to the competition will be intrigued by the new rules and the strategies teams may deploy.

Cricket fans can tell you what is considered to be a healthy first-innings lead in a Test match, or a par score in a Twenty20 game, but where do we begin with The Hundred?

Will batters go hell for leather from the first ball or take a few deliveries to settle in? Is it possible to score a century in such a short game? How will bowlers fare with 10-ball overs? And how big a part will spin play?

There are so many questions and so many unknowns, but it’s still cricket – just with a little twist.

It could inspire the next Ben Stokes

England superstar Ben Stokes will play for Northern Superchargers

Fast forward 20 years… England win the World Cup thanks to an explosive 25-ball century from the nation’s new sporting sweetheart.

“How did you first get into cricket?” asks the interviewer.

“I watched The Hundred on TV and was hooked straight away,” he or she replies.

The 2005 Ashes series was shown on free-to-air TV and 14 years later, England won their first 50-over World Cup as Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Jofra Archer became household names.

The Hundred is fresh, innovative and has the potential to inspire young boys and girls to pick up a bat or ball and give the sport we love a go.

For that reason alone, it’s worth following.

You’ll see some of the best players in the world

Rashid Khan and Shafali Verma
Rashid Khan (left) is the world number one T20 bowler and Shafali Verma tops the women’s T20 batting rankings

Some of the best players in world cricket will be playing both with and against each other.

Who doesn’t want to see Birmingham Phoenix’s 17-year-old India superstar Shafali Verma smashing the ball out of the park?

Or Afghanistan’s world number one-ranked Twenty20 bowler, Rashid Khan, putting opposition batters in a spin when he plays for Trent Rockets?

And then there are England’s domestic superstars.

We live in an age where arguably the fitness, agility and skillset of cricketers is like never before and The Hundred will undoubtedly treat us to some wonderful battles and individual performances.

Test captain Joe Root (Trent Rockets) and his limited-overs counterpart Eoin Morgan (London Spirit) will contest the battle of the England skippers when their two sides meet, and spinning superstar Sophie Ecclestone will face her England captain Heather Knight when Manchester Originals take on London Spirit.

You will be entertained.

Will the young guns shine or the old timers turn back the clock?

Alive Capsey and Imran Tahir
Sixteen-year-old Alice Capsey (left) is the youngest player in The Hundred, while Imran Tahir, 41, will play for Birmingham Phoenix

The Hundred may also catapult unknown players to cricketing stardom.

The Indian Premier League unearthed talent such as Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah, who both went on to become international superstars.

Will The Hundred do the same for players such as Welsh Fire’s leg-spinning all-rounder Matt Critchley or Oval Invincibles’ 16-year-old trailblazer Alice Capsey?

Then you have those experienced players who have seen and done almost everything in cricket.

South Africa’s Imran Tahir is still going strong at 41 and will turn out for Birmingham Phoenix, while former England wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor, 31, has come out of retirement to ply her trade with Welsh Fire.

Viral wicketkeeping clips incoming.

It’s a chance for you to get behind your local city

The Ashes, Lancashire-Yorkshire, India v Pakistan; Cricket provides us with some great rivalries as fans cheer on their nation or local side.

And The Hundred will give us even more derbies by pairing up ‘rival’ teams.

A franchise will face its ‘rival’ twice in the group stages, and play the other teams just once.

Manchester Originals and Leeds-based Northern Superchargers will be vying to be kings of the north, while Oval Invincibles and London Spirit will compete for bragging rights in England’s capital.

Birmingham Phoenix and Trent Rockets will be Midlands rivals, and Southampton-based Southern Brave and Welsh Fire will contest the south west derby.

In fact, Hundred fever has already started to hit some of the cities; walk down Barlow Moor Road in Chorlton and you’ll see this magnificent mural of Manchester Originals duo Matthew Parkinson and Harmanpreet Kaur…

Matt Parkinson and Harmanpreet Kaur take centre stage in the mural

The Hundred will bring music to your ears

A graphic showing the Team DJs for the Hundred

Speaking of entertainment, The Hundred is more than just cricket – the tournament will be the biggest sport and music collaboration ever seen in the United Kingdom.

Singer Becky Hill, rapper Lady Leshurr, Manchester-based band Everything Everything, singer-songwriter Jack Garratt and musician Jake Bugg are just some of the big names signed up to perform at the grounds.

There will be live music at all 68 games in the competition coming from the resident Hundred DJs, who are also part of BBC Music’s Introducing scheme.

Jax Jones, the Ivor Novello, BRIT and Grammy-nominated DJ, will then perform live at the final at Lord’s on 21 August.

Matches will be family friendly, with The Hundred linking up with both Lego and The Croods 2 movie in their desire to take cricket to a new, young and diverse audience.

Innovations on and off the field

Augmented reality picture
Using augmented reality on The Hundred app, fans can transport Moeen Ali to their back garden, or see Amy Jones wicketkeeping on their living room floor

Away from the music and big screen, whether you’re watching in the grounds or on TV, fans will be treated to a unique experience.

Much like a boxer entering the ring for a blockbuster bout, cricketers will make their way on to the field via a brand new entrance, with their name in lights and accompanied by pyrotechnics.

Strategic time-outs for teams to rethink their tactics and a 100-ball countdown clock will only add to the suspense.

Meanwhile, those at home will be able to enjoy the experience via an interactive smartphone app.

The Hundred app will allow you to get closer to the players via augmented reality technology where you’ll be able to interact with digital avatars of some of the cricket stars and break down their skills in slow motion.

You will even be able take selfies with the players, take part in a predictor competition and answer cricket trivia.

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