The Hundred has the potential to one day rival the Indian Premier League – just don’t expect India’s finest to play in the competition any time soon.
So says Andrew McDonald, who was due to head up the Birmingham Pheonix side in this year’s competition. As it is, Australia’s current assistant coach to Justin Langer, has another 12 months to fine-tune his 100-ball strategy after the competition was postponed by a year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking to The CC from his home in Victoria, McDonald brushed aside criticism of the competition and insisted that the new 100-ball format would make the ECB’s new flagship tournament a hit with both players and spectators, despite the fresh wait for it to begin.
“People I’ve been speaking to have been really, really excited about it, they want to see what it looks like and how the new format works,” he tells The CC. “When the draft was done, I think there was a real sense of it coming together and there was a lot of excitement around the new franchise set-up being used in England for the first time.
“When it does start, I still think there will be that excitement because of the kind of cricket it could potentially offer. You look at the players involved – you’ve got 18 counties providing players for eight franchise teams with three internationals in each. The list of those players coming over is mind-blowing.
“You could easily argue that it will be the best short format competition in the world behind the IPL. Just because we have to wait another year, I think there will still be that excitement when you’re putting that kind of player list together.”
The former Leicestershire all-rounder and coach has had the double disappointment of missing out on the IPL, where he was due to work alongside Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer for the Rajasthan Royals, and also the Hundred.
The CC understands that the former could still happen, potentially in the window created by any cancellation of the Twenty20 World Cup, which is still in considerable doubt.
The Hundred, though, will definitely have to wait. And, according to McDonald, is unlikely to feature any Indian players for the foreseeable future.
“It has always been a question hasn’t it,” he says. “They haven’t in the past so you would have to say that that’s probably not going to change. We have seen a change of leadership at the top of the BCCI with Saurav Ganguly coming in and every time there is a change at the top there is always a chance of a change in policy.
“The thing to understand with Indian cricket, though, is the sheer volume of cricket they play. The amount of games they play in comparison to other nations is a lot more, so you have to take that into consideration. People say that they’re trying to enhance their position in certain areas but it’s literally that players are playing so much cricket and the demands on them are so great.”