ECB hopeful India’s women may yet feature in the Hundred

The ECB is in talks with the BCCI about agreeing the involvement of some of the India women’s team in the inaugural edition of the Hundred later this year. However, the chances of India’s men also being allowed to play in the tournament remain slim.

Players such as Harmanpreet Kaur, who will lead India at the forthcoming Women’s T20 World Cup, and Smriti Mandhana have previously featured in England’s T20 Kia Super League, which has now been disbanded to make way for the Hundred. Their presence in the 100-ball competition would be a boost for the ECB’s new format, as well as raising its visibility around the world.

ESPNcricinfo understands that the ECB is currently engaged in discussions with the BCCI about allowing such a move. But while that may be seen as a way of preparing the ground for India’s male stars to participate in future editions of the Hundred, BCCI officials have poured cold water on the idea.

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A few India internationals, such as Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh, have expressed an interest in the Hundred, but the BCCI has long exercised tight control over granting permissions to play in limited-overs tournaments overseas. Virat Kohli, India’s captain, even questioned the need to “experiment” with a new format.

The ECB last year conceded that India’s men were unlikely to be involved from the outset. “I can’t commit to the involvement of India players,” Tom Harrison, the ECB’s chief executive, said. “It’s a political conversation as much as anything.”

In December, the BCCI’s top three administrators were in London to meet ECB counterparts. The BCCI team was led by former India captain Sourav Ganguly, who was elected as the Indian board’s president last October. Ganguly was flanked by Jay Shah and Arun Dhumal, the BCCI secretary and treasurer respectively.

It is understood the BCCI was open to considering the ECB’s request of looking into Indian women participating in the women’s leg of the Hundred, but since then there has been no firm decision taken on that front. “We have had discussions on county cricket and women players might be allowed,” a senior BCCI official told ESPNcricinfo.

As for the question of India men’s cricketers participating in the Hundred, there has been no change in the BCCI’s stance. It will not allow India men to participate in any overseas T20 or other similar leagues.

The BCCI official reiterated that by allowing the men to participate in overseas leagues, it would hurt the IPL, the biggest cash cow for the BCCI. In 2017, global sports broadcaster Star India bought the consolidated global rights for IPL for a record US$2.55 billion for a five-year period, the biggest deal in cricket.

The official also pointed out that with the Future Tours Programme planned in advance, players could be at risk of missing bilateral events, which is another stream of revenue the BCCI heavily relies on.

The first draft for the men’s Hundred took place in October. Harbhajan was the only Indian player to put his name forward, but he subsequently withdrew after it was suggested he would have to retire from international competition – and potentially forego an IPL contract – if he wanted to be considered.

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