At the record company meeting, On their hands a dead star, And oh, the plans they weave, And oh, the sickening greed

Unlike in The Smiths' song, there is evidence to suggest that our star - T20 cricket in England - is not in fact dead. But, some three years in the making - longer if you count the time it spent percolating as a concept before being refined, wrapped and released into the world - then a false start due to Covid, followed by a period of "Re-issue! Re-package! Re-package!" and the Hundred is here.

The women will take the stage first, Oval Invincibles hosting Manchester Originals as the first-ever match of a new tournament which may or may not achieve its aim of attracting a new audience to cricket. Whether the hundred-ball concept is different enough from the T20 format played around the globe and over which nations battle for World Cup honours remains to be seen.

For Kate Cross, Manchester Originals' captain, the least we can all do is give it a go. It's still cricket after all.

"I'm looking forward to actually playing some cricket and stopping talking about cricket," Cross told ESPNcricinfo. "We played two warm-up games last Friday and, to be honest, the cricket is the cricket. We've said as a team that that will pretty much take care of itself."

Yes there are five-ball overs and a change of ends after every 10 deliveries. Yes, there will be a DRS for the first time at domestic level. And yes, each of the eight teams has their own DJ act and social-media influencer. But is it different enough?

"When I was a kid, the women's professional scene wasn't really a thing so it was never an ambition to get in front of a packed crowd at The Oval and make history," the 29-year-old Cross said.

"We're very lucky, we're a generation of cricketers that are getting to do things for the first time.

"We spoke in the team meeting the other day around how, in 2003 when T20 was first introduced to the world, everyone said it was never going to catch on, it was too short a format. You look at T20 now, it's your big money-maker, it's played all round the world.

"The Hundred might revolutionise cricket. It might not. But it's exciting that we're going to get to go out there and give it a go for the first time."

For the women's game in particular, the Hundred fills a void. Whether it's a void of the ECB's own creation in killing off the Kia Super League or not, the Hundred has attracted some star players from India, South Africa and West Indies.

There would have been more star power had Covid-enforced travel restrictions and quarantine requirements not been, in many of the top Australians' view, too insurmountable, even with a £10,000 bonus offered for their trouble.

When Cross suggested to the Daily Telegraph that the money could be used to top up the incomes of women who were having to choose between their 'other' jobs and playing in the Hundred which, due to Covid-prevention protocols did not enable them to enter their non-cricket work environment, it caused more talk - about gender equality.

For a tournament that has sold itself on placing its women players on an even footing with the men, it was an awkward moment. And, while Cross stands by what she said, she was at pains to highlight the opportunities that the Hundred has offered women.

"In terms of the Hundred being a massive stepping stone for the women's game, I absolutely believe it is," she said. "There's been so much progression over the last five years in that parity that we're striving for. We strive for equal opportunity, we don't strive for equal pay.

"One day out from the tournament now, we're talking about something other than cricket, which is a shame. However, if it pushes the game forward and it means that the girls are more comfortable with money, then that's also a positive thing for me that has come out of this."

Oval Invincibles allrounder Marizanne Kapp agreed on the opportunities presented by the tournament: "I think it will be the first time ever that a women's team plays a match, or the sport, ahead of the men's team so that's absolutely amazing for me.

"I've felt in the past the Big Bash and the Kia Super League really helped my cricket because you learn so much... the reason women's cricket is moving forward so rapidly is because of these leagues."

Former England international turned broadcaster Isa Guha said the concept had arrived "at the right time" with increased professionalisation in the domestic women's game thanks to the introduction contracts for 41 players outside the group of 17 on central England contracts.

"You've got some amazing players coming over, the domestic contracts, the England players," Guha said. "It's not just about what they're doing out in the middle, it's all the stuff that goes around it. That builds confidence. It makes you feel like they can achieve that as a player coming through."

Cross's role as captain follows a match-winning and ODI series-sealing five-for against India in Taunton last month. And, while she would take a five-wicket haul in international cricket any day, with England preparing to defend their 50-over World Cup title next year and the Hundred upon us, it was rather timely.

"As a cricketer, it's massively a confidence sport," Cross said. "Getting the opportunity to go out and perform for England and be a match-winner for once, that's not often my role in that team, so it was really nice to feel a real part of that team.

"I've not really often come out of international series feeling very confident. I don't play in the T20 stuff too much and then I feel like I'm in and out of the one-day team, so to be able to come out of that series feeling good about bowling and about cricket hopefully will set me up for this tournament.

"As captain, that's really important that I feel confident going out there because if I want to get the best out of the girls and the best out of this team, I've got to portray that."

Cross will lead out the likes of India's Harmanpreet Kaur and South African duo Mignon du Preez and Lizelle Lee against an Invincibles side boasting three South Africa internationals in Shabnim Ismail, Dane van Niekerk and Kapp along with England's Tash Farrant, Mady Villiers and Fran Wilson.

"We just want to go out and play cricket now," Cross said. "I feel like I've talked so much about the Hundred and now we get the opportunity to colour the tournament because we get to play some cricket and put some pictures to the words now."

The least we can do as onlookers is refrain from assuming that this tournament will Paint a Vulgar Picture.

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo