Sarah Taylor and Katherine Brunt, two of England's most experienced women's players, have given the thumbs-up to the ECB's new 100-ball tournament, saying it will only help improve the health of women's cricket in the country, the scrapping of the Kia Super League (KSL) from 2020 notwithstanding.
"I am happy to play any tournament whatsoever," Taylor told ESPNcricinfo in Mumbai during England's ODI series against India. "I am not too fussed either way. I think The Hundred's going to be a brilliant tournament. The amount of work and effort the ECB have put into The Hundred, I think it will be an absolute success.
"It will be a lot of fun for us as well. We've had some warm-up games played around with it, and we all love it. We think it's brilliant. We just think it's going to be an exciting time for English cricket, and we get to have a little bit of fun as well."
"It's about slowly professionalising the women's game - not just at the international level but also in England" Anya Shrubsole
Fast bowler Brunt - at 33, the oldest player in the England squad and second only to Taylor in terms of ODI caps - echoed her team-mate's views on The Hundred. Brunt also emphasised that the format itself would be a good opportunity for female cricketers to hone their skills further after the platform offered by the KSL, where the domestic players rub shoulders with some of the top-drawer internationals.
"The KSL has done its job," Brunt said. "It's set the platform for T20 cricket in England. It's had a lot of good exposure. It's gotten better, year on year. The overseas [players] take it more seriously now. It's taken as a really good competition to be part of in terms of their development but also learning from the best in the world and playing cricket has been really good.
"The Hundred will be a whole new ball game, obviously keeping some of the same traditions. But sounds like I'm going to be pretty tired bowling ten balls! But that's exciting too.
"Like anything, a lot of it is about taking it head-on, do the best we can and learn from that. I feel it can only improve your cricket: the better you can be in the shorter [format]. It takes a lot of skills to be good at that. And you can take that forward into longer competitions. I'm loving it. I can't wait for it to start and see what happens with it."
Taylor and Brunt's views come at a time when the ECB has been firming up plans to implement a new women's domestic structure from 2020. This would mean that the women would have a 20-over league and a 50-over tournament, in addition to The Hundred.
The new competition has been held partly responsible for the extra money set to come into the English game, through the £1.1 billion broadcast deal announced in 2017, and that is likely to be reflected in a much increased pool of professional women. The Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA) has been involved in negotiating with the ECB and David Leatherdale, the PCA chief executive, said England's senior women players were supportive of efforts to spread the wealth.
"We'll obviously see salaries in women's cricket grow substantially, but they've been very open to say it's not just about them, and if we don't have a domestic structure that develops who is the next Charlotte Edwards, Heather Knight, etc - they've been totally understanding that the structure is key," he said.
While several observers have criticised the ECB's move to scrap the KSL, which has only recently gained full momentum after coming into existence in 2016-17, Taylor and Brunt's views align them squarely with that of ECB chief executive Tom Harrison. Last week, he told BBC TMS that the 100-ball tournament, "an optimised short-form cricket", is a "success already" given the purported interest it has generated among those outside the "traditional cricket bubble".
As with Brunt, who said the biggest contribution of the KSL had been "the exposure it gave our youngsters", Anya Shrubsole, the England vice-captain, emphasised the KSL's legacy would be the pool of young talent it created.
According to Shrubsole, not only did it improve the health of domestic cricket in the country but it also benefited the national side, as was evident through the influx of players like Sophia Dunkley, the batting allrounder, and left-arm spinner Kirstie Gordon in the World T20 side last November, via the KSL route.
"Kirstie came in and performed really well," Shrubsole said. "She, like many others, will go on to play many games for England. That's the most important part of the [KSL's] legacy.
"Yes, it will change slightly with the Hundred, but it's about slowly professionalising the women's game - not just at the international level but also in England. The KSL started to do that, and I'm sure that'll be carried forward into the Hundred."
England captain Heather Knight added that The Hundred would ring in "an exciting time" for the women's game in the country, especially for up-and-coming women's cricketers aspiring to make it to the England side.
"The opportunity for the women's game is to be put alongside the men's game and be marketed at the same," Knight said, "and hopefully it's going to put the women's game out there and give it an opportunity to shine."