The England & Wales Cricket Board is ready to offer IPL franchises a stake in Hundred teams and the Indian board a slice of Asian television rights in a bid to attract superstars such as Virat Kohli to play in the competition.
Talks between the ECB and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have been ongoing since before the pandemic but moved up a notch when Tom Harrison and Ian Watmore, the ECB’s chief executive and chairman, were in Ahmedabad during the pink ball Test last month.
It is understood the ECB are considering a number of potential partnership opportunities with India as they look to capitalise on a relationship with the game’s powerhouse that has never been stronger.
The options include:
The eight IPL franchises each taking a 25 per cent stake in an allocated Hundred team
Giving the BCCI a revenue share of broadcast income in Asia, the value of which would correlate to Indian players appearing in the Hundred
There have also been discussions within English cricket of IPL teams playing in England with Test grounds asking the ECB to provide more content as they look to recover from the financial losses of the Covid pandemic.
It is also expected that India players will be made available this summer for the women’s Hundred, potentially paving the way for the men to follow in 2022.
The pandemic delayed progress and it is unlikely any agreement will be possible before the start of this year’s inaugural Hundred. The talks last month in Ahmedabad, the first face to face meetings with India of Watmore’s chairmanship, were wide ranging and covered more than just the Hundred. Nothing was finalised but further meetings are planned this summer when India are in England.
Tickets for the Hundred will go on sale in April with the tournament starting at the Oval on July 21, just before England’s five Test series against India. The ECB hope the tournament will host full crowds, and with India here at the same time, they hope BCCI officials will see it as a potential investment opportunity.
For the ECB unlocking Indian players is seen as vital for attracting the south Asian audience as well as increasing recognition of the Hundred in India.
It would only need one Indian player per team – so just eight overall – to give the competition a real lift and set it apart from other franchise tournaments around the world.
IPL franchises Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders have already expressed an interest in buying into Hundred franchises.