ECB set to ramp up Hundred promotion in the new year

Southern Brave retain 12 more players to join Archer, Shrubsole, Taylor

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
Anya Shrubsole has re-signed for Southern Brave, London, October 20, 2019

Anya Shrubsole has re-signed for Southern Brave  •  Getty Images for ECB

The ECB will step up their promotion of the Hundred at the start of 2021, with tickets due to go on sale early in the new year and a fresh player draft to be held in February.
Twelve more Southern Brave players were confirmed on Thursday in addition to their previous signings, with Danni Wyatt, James Vince and Chris Jordan the biggest names to have secured deals.
The retention window for the men's competition will close in January, following lengthy negotiations between agents and teams over the past few months. Teams are permitted to retain as many players as they wish from the squads initially picked at the draft in October 2019, but the Covid-enforced 20% cut in player salaries and a lack of clarity over the Future Tours Programme have provided sticking points in some discussions.
The draft will be staged on an unconfirmed date in February, with a full player list and a grid outlining both the draft's mechanism and the salary slots that teams have available to be published beforehand. Teams will then sign one additional 'wildcard' player following the T20 Blast group stage next summer at the lowest salary band.
In the women's competition, players have the option to roll their contracts over to 2021 or to negotiate with other teams if they wish. There is no draft, and squads will not be finalised until June next year.
Southern Brave were the latest team to announce a swathe of retentions on Thursday, in addition to their previously confirmed signings of Jofra Archer, Anya Shrubsole and Stafanie Taylor.
There is a strong local flavour to the retentions in both men's and women's squads: Vince and Liam Dawson (both Hampshire) have renewed their deals alongside Sussex's George Garton, Jordan, Tymal Mills and Delray Rawlins, while the six women's signings are all Southern Vipers players: Maia Bouchier, Freya Kemp, Tara Norris, Carla Rudd, Paige Scholfield and Wyatt.
Manchester Originals and Welsh Fire are the only sides yet to confirm any signings since England's marquee names were allocated in early October. Both squads are expected to undergo a number of changes, with their Kolpak players no longer qualifying as locals and some overseas players unlikely to be retained.
The tournament itself is set to be staged from the third week of July, with the Finals Days set for the weekend of August 21-22, in the gap between England's second and third men's Tests against India.
In the men's competition, that should allow England's multi-format internationals to be involved for a handful of games between the T20I series against Pakistan which finishes on July 20 and the first Test against India on August 4 as well as for Finals Day. Their involvement may hinge on the status of the pandemic by mid-summer, but with the early stages of the vaccine's roll-out now underway in the UK, there is some optimism within the game that the English season may have a more familiar feel.
Women's Finals Day had been due to be staged at Hove in 2020, but with the women's competition shifting to the same venues at the men's, it remains to be seen whether that will be the case next year.
The ECB is advertising for a role as ticketing manager for the competition and ticket prices have been frozen for 2021, with those who bought tickets for the 2020 season to be given priority access after receiving refunds this year.
The ECB has also announced a number of new commercial deals for the Hundred in recent weeks, with Cazoo, Masuri, Unilever and Vitality all confirmed as partners.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @mroller98