The Hundred: Moeen Ali says tournament should be postponed until 2021

By Stephan ShemiltBBC Sport
Moeen Ali in Birmingham Phoenix kit
Moeen Ali is due to captain Birmingham Phoenix in The Hundred

England all-rounder Moeen Ali believes it would be the right decision for the launch of The Hundred to be postponed until 2021.

The England and Wales Cricket Board will meet on Wednesday and is expected to delay the new 100-ball competition because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"It makes sense that way," said Moeen.

"It is such a big deal for us in this country and we want it to be played when everything is right and there are no problems around the world."

The ECB are expected to announce the decision made at their board meeting on Thursday.

The 100-ball competition, involving eight city-based teams in separate men's and women's tournaments, was due to begin on 17 July and end on 15 August.

At a meeting last week, the ECB opted to extend the shutdown on professional cricket in England and Wales until at least 1 July.

If and when the 2020 season gets under way, the governing body will look to schedule men's and women's internationals, as well as domestic first-class and limited-overs cricket, in the period from July to the end of September.

The Hundred was devised to attract a new audience to the game, utilising the wave of interest that followed England's World Cup win of 2019.

However, it is looking increasingly likely the majority of any professional cricket played this summer would have to be behind closed doors.

Cricket will take 'no risks' - Stuart Broad on BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast

Last week, ECB chief executive Tom Harrison told the BBC: "The Hundred was envisaged as being a tournament that enabled us to widen the audience for the game. With an in-stadia environment, with international players, it's going to be very, very difficult."

More than 180,000 tickets have already been bought for matches, some of which were due to be televised live on the BBC.

"The mood and wave cricket was on in England last year made it an amazing opportunity this year to play The Hundred, but obviously with what has happened around the world, that is going to be harder now," added Moeen, who is due to captain Birmingham Phoenix.

"If we can get other international players who were not available this year, it can make The Hundred even stronger for next year and we can attract a new audience to come and watch cricket."

The 18 first-class counties were each set to receive £1.3m from The Hundred, money which the ECB confirmed in March had already begun to be distributed.

And while Harrison admitted the game in England and Wales is facing a "very significant financial problem", he reiterated the ECB's commitment to The Hundred and the costs that will come with launching it at a later date.

"The reason why the Hundred was put in place was as a way of growing the game in this country and Covid-19 simply exacerbates the requirement for us to grow the game in this country," he said last week.

"The Hundred is going to generate revenue, interest and excitement and that is the kind of thing we need to continue to prioritise as we go through this enormous challenge

"I see the case for The Hundred being much greater than it was, if that is indeed even in question."

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, England fast bowler Stuart Broad said The Hundred will be "vital to the health of English cricket over the next few years", adding it is imperative the T20 Blast - involving the 18 first-class counties - is prioritised this summer.

"I don't think the sport will take any risks, I think we'll only get playing live cricket when it's been safe to do by the government," Broad added

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