We have arrived at the point of the season where cricket supporters are split between the franchise Hundred competition and the One Day Cup, competed for by the county players left after squads have been raided.
This is the only domestic 50-over competition that English players are exposed to and with a 50-over World Cup coming up in two months’ time, it might seem strange that none of the players who will be playing for the current holders are likely to take part in it. There might not be the big names on the field, but the competition has produced plenty of exciting cricket over recent years and it is always great to see new faces taking centre stage and games being played at county out grounds. It is a shame the ECB and broadcasters do not give it greater coverage and this has obviously been highlighted by the problems finding a sponsor after the Royal London had had enough.
The format remains two groups of nine with the top three in each group qualifying for the knock out stages. The final will be played at Trent Bridge on Saturday, 16th September. The groups are not defined on any geographical basis and are different from last year’s. Six of the teams in Group A play in Division One of the County Championship and therefore might be considered the tougher group, although the demands of the Hundred means that these sides lose more of their first team players. There has been a suggestion that players not being utilised by their Hundred squad will be made available to their county, but the details are unclear. Meanwhile each county has played a warm up game against a National County side, although given the fact that Championship fixtures had only just finished, the sides fielded for these games were devoid of most first team regulars.
The bookies’ favourites (SkyBet) at present are Hampshire and Nottinghamshire, but as in previous renditions of this competition, surprises are more than likely.
In the Hundred: Dan Lawrence, Adam Rossington, Michael Pepper, Matt Critchley, Paul Walter, Sam Cook
Essex will be without most of the hard hitting batting contingent that helped take them to Finals Day of the Blast. Simon Harmer will be leading the side and they will have a competitive bowling attack with Aaron Beard, Shane Snater and Jamie Porter.
In the Hundred: James Vince, Ross Whitely, Joe Weatherley, Liam Dawson, Chris Wood, Mason Crane, Brad Wheal, John Turner, Benny Howell
Hampshire had a strong finish to the group stages of the Blast, but went down to Essex at the semi-final stage. They will only have two of that side available for this competition, but they have the depth of squad that can still mount a challenge, as they did last year, topping their group with just one loss. They will have the Championship regulars Nick Gubbins, Ian Holland, Fletcha Middleton, Ben Brown and Felix Organ alongside the hard-hitting Aneurin Donald, as well as their overseas bowling duo of Mohammad Abbas and Kyle Abbott. Hampshire will be in the mix come the end of this competition.
In the Hundred: Zak Crawley, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Sam Billings, Tawanda Muyeye, Jordan Cox
Kent put behind a poor showing in last year’s Championship and Blast to win this competition in 2022. They have had major problems this season with injuries and if these players continue to be sidelined they will find it hard to mount a defence of their title.
In the Hundred: Phil Salt, Jos Buttler, Richard Gleeson, Tom Hartley, Liam Livingstone, Luke Wood, Luke Wells
Lancashire also lose Daryl Mitchell, as he has now completed his spell with the club and Colin de Grandhomme is already back in New Zealand. They still have Dane Vilas, although he did not play in the last Championship fixture or the warm up match against Cumbria. However, they are able to loan out Rob Jones to Worcestershire and Matt Parkinson to Kent, prior to their moves at the end of the season, reflecting the strength of their squad. They will be hopeful to go one step further than last year, when they were losing finalists.
In the Hundred: Callum Parkinson, Rehan Ahmed
Leicestershire have the reputation as being one-day specialists, but they had a poor Blast campaign culminating in the removal of Paul Nixon as head coach and the announcement of the departure of three key players. They lost their last Championship match and the internal turmoil may be a distraction. However, they have only lost two players to the Blast and can call on the experience of the likes of Colin Ackerman and Peter Handscomb. Their bowling will be weakened by the loss of Parkinson and Ahmed and they lost on DLS in their warm up game against Staffordshire, unable to defend a revised target of 101 from 17 overs. Ex-Northamptonshire and Glamorgan opener James Kettleborough was the decisive factor, making 63 not out off 59 balls.
In the Hundred: Max Holden, Stephen Eskinazi, Tom Helm
Middlesex have had a miserable time in the Blast in recent years, but only narrowly missed out on qualifying for the knock out stages of this competition in 2022. Their performances last year were based on the batting of Steve Eskinazi, who finished as the top run scorer with 658 at 94.0. He has now been picked up by the Welsh Fire, but with only two other departures to the Hundred and the boost given by a win against Warwickshire in their last Championship game, they will be hoping for another strong campaign. Ryan Higgins will undoubtedly be a key performer in this format, having missed out on a Hundred contract.
In the Hundred: Ben Duckett, Alex Hales, Samit Patel, Matt Carter, Tom Moores, Joe Clarke, Jake Ball
Nottinghamshire are one of the pre-tournament favourites, but will need to call on the depth of their squad if they are to fulfil that expectation. They lost at the quarter final stage last season and other than Sol Budinger, the same players will be available. They will also be boosted by the presence of Steven Mullaney, who has not been retained by the Trent Rockets this season.
In the Hundred: Jamie Smith, Laurie Evans, Jamie Overton, Reece Topley, Sam Curran, Will Jacks, Jason Roy, Tom Curran, Tom Lawes, Gus Atkinson, Chris Jordan, Dan Worrall
It is difficult to imagine any squad coping with the loss of 12 players and they only won two games in last year’s competition. It is an opportunity for their younger players, but it would be a major achievement to get out of the group stages. They would obviously benefit if players were released from Hundred squads.
In the Hundred: Jordan Thompson, Adil Rashid, Harry Brook, Adam Lyth, Jafer Chohan, Matt Fisher, Joe Root, Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow
Although Yorkshire are missing nine players, a number of these are not regular contributors to the club’s first choice eleven. They have been putting in better performances in the more recent Championship games and have enough depth in their squad to mount a challenge in this competition.
In the Hundred: Wayne Madsen, Zak Chappell, Leus du Plooy, George Scrimshaw
Derbyshire have only lost four players, but Leus du Plooy and Wayne Madsen are at the heart of their batting efforts. They should have their two overseas players available and are boosted by the arrival of David Lloyd, on loan from Glamorgan, prior to a permanent move at the end of the season.
In the Hundred: Mark Wood, Ben Stokes, Brydon Carse, Matthew Potts, Bas De Leede, Ollie Robinson, Nathan Sowter, Ben Raine
Durham are riding high at the top of Division Two in the Championship, but are shorn of a large part of their bowling attack. They retain Alex Lees and Michael Jones at the top of their batting order, but this was not enough to avoid defeat to Northumberland in their warm up game. It seems unlikely they will have the bowling resources to progress to the knock out stages.
In the Hundred: Chris Cooke, Dan Douthwaite
Glamorgan won the inaugural staging of this competition in 2021 and narrowly missed out on third spot in their group last year. They have only lost two players to the Hundred, but club captain David Lloyd has gone on loan to Derbyshire. Colin Ingram and Kiran Carlson will provide runs in the middle order and they have steady bowling options. They also have a new white ball coach in Mark Alleyne and he will have sights on a top three spot.
In the Hundred: Miles Hammond, David Payne
Gloucestershire have had a torrid time so far this summer and would be at the bottom of Division Two of the Championship were it not for Yorkshire’s points deduction. They have most of the squad available and will be hoping that this competition can see them put some positives into the season. Their bowling options have been hit by injury to Marchant de Lange and the loss this year of Ryan Higgins and Benny Howell. They will do well to gain a top three spot.
In the Hundred: Saif Zaib, David Willey
Northamptonshire are firmly rooted to the bottom of Division One of the Championship and will be grateful for a change of focus. Australian batter Sam Whiteman is their overseas player and their batting looks strong enough, but the bowling options are more limited, with a preponderance of youngsters. This could be a tough few weeks.
In the Hundred: Will Smeed, Tom Lammonby, Tom Banton, Craig Overton, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Lewis Gregory, Tom Abell, Roelof van der Merwe, Ben Green
Somerset are clearly one of the stronger white ball counties, fresh from winning the Blast, but the majority of that side will be absent. Young wicket-keeper batter James Rew has been in the runs recently and skipper, Sean Dickson will be hoping that his form continues. Last year they only managed one win in the competition and it may be a big ask of the depleted squad to progress.
In the Hundred: Ravi Bopara, Tymal Mills, George Garton
Sussex look a strong squad for this competition with their young, talented batting line-up intact and some useful bowling options. They have had a solid four day campaign and would be expected to be competing for a top spot in the group.
In the Hundred: Chris Woakes, Moeen Ali, Chris Benjamin, Dan Mousley, Henry Brookes, Jacob Bethell, Danny Briggs, Alex Davies, Sam Hain
Warwickshire have lost a number of their key batters to the Hundred, but have retained most of their bowling attack. They have a strong squad and should be in the mix for a top three spot.
In the Hundred: Josh Tongue, Mitchell Stanley, Adam Hose
Worcestershire have only lost three players to the Hundred and on the back of two successive wins in the Championship, should be going into this competition full of confidence. They are also boosted by the loan of Rob Jones, prior to his move from Lancashire at the end of the season. They ended bottom of their group last season, but will be hoping for a significant improvement this time around.
This competition is sure to produce some exciting cricket, with evenly matched teams and a mix of youth and experience. There is still uncertainty as to whether some of the fringe players from the Hundred will be able to play for their counties, but it is always great seeing some new faces starring. Hopefully plenty of people will get down to watch games being played at out grounds and that this competition can have a secure future.