The inaugural season of The Hundred has been postponed until 2021 following an ECB board meeting held on Wednesday. The 100-ball competition, comprising eight teams, and designed to attract a "new audience" was slated to begin from July 17 onwards. However, the continued concern over the COVID-19 pandemic which implies that the competition would be held behind closed doors while also putting a doubt over the availability of overseas players, has urged the organisers to shift the tournament to next year.
ECB cited a number of reasons which included "operational challenges caused by social distancing, alongside global travel restrictions, making the competition's ambition to feature world-class players and coaches unattainable in 2020".
Moreover, staging of The Hundred in empty stadiums to avoid social gathering "directly contradicts" the very idea behind bring about this new competition - of attracting new audience.
Tom Harrison, the ECB's chief executive, reckons that there will be "an even greater need for the Hundred" once the pandemic ends.
"The situation we find ourselves in as a country means that delivery of the Hundred will not be possible this summer," Harrison said. "Whilst we are naturally disappointed that we won't get to realise our ambitions this year, the Hundred will go ahead in 2021 when we are safely able to deliver everything we intended to help grow the game.
"As we emerge from the fallout of Covid-19, there will be an even greater need for The Hundred. Our survival as a game, long-term, will be dependent on our ability to recover financially and continue our ambition to build on cricket's growing fan base. That need has not gone anyway, if anything, it is now more critical.
"The Hundred will create millions in revenues for the game, through hosting fees, hospitality and ticket sales, as well as delivering £25m in annual financial distributions to all first-class counties and MCC. Its role in driving participation alongside supporting the development of the women's game will be material in generating take-up of our game across country-wide communities.
"The Hundred is an important element of the game's Inspiring Generations strategy, which has been debated and agreed upon across the whole game. While financially, our plans may be impacted, our ambition, 'to inspire a generation' should in no way be diluted."