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The Hundred - everything you need to know (or have forgotten)

Here's the condensed and updated explainer on the tournament, to help make clear what's different and what stays the same

Alan Gardner
Alan Gardner
A year on from the first edition of the Hundred, you might need reminding about how cricket's newest format - give or take the 6ixty - works. With that in mind, we have condensed and updated our original explainer on 100-ball cricket, to help make clear what's different and what stays the same.
Just like last summer, in between renditions of "football's coming home", I've seen this thing called "the Hundred" being advertised on the BBC. It looked kind of like cricket, so here I am…
Yessir, you've come to the right place. The Hundred is the rootin'-est tootin'-est thing to happen to the game since they added a third stump. Or at least since T20s started in 2003.
Ah yes, I heard about this. Cricket with pop music and jazzy kits. But how is it different from T20?
Well, it's shorter, for a start - 100 balls (hence the name) compared to 120. And to speed things up they will bowl ten balls in a row from each end, meaning a game should take less than two-and-a-half hours.
That doesn't seem significantly shorter…
We live in an entertainment-rich, time-poor era. And being able to squeeze in a televised game between 6.30 and 9pm - prime time on the BBC - was supposedly one of the big selling points. It's also SHINY and NEW (relatively speaking), which might help when being dangled in front of the new generation the ECB is hoping to attract to the sport.
Okay, you've got my attention. Give me the hard sell
For the next four-and-a-half weeks, over the course of 34 men's and 26 women's games, the cream of English cricket - plus a generous dollop of overseas talent - will be bouncing around on a nightly basis in front of (hopefully) packed stands. All of the games will be broadcast on Sky's cricket channel, with a selection also showing on the BBC (if you're following in India, it will be on Fancode). There will be in-house DJs to add to the atmosphere in the grounds, and rule tweaks to try to makes things simpler for casual followers. As in T20, fours and sixes will be the order of the day; unlike T20, nobody will mention the word "overs", as it is balls 1-100 that matter.
There seems to be a deficit of women's games this year. Why's that?
The timing of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, which features women's cricket for the first time (but not men's), means the women's Hundred will start eight days after the men's competition. Women's teams will only play six group games this year, rather than eight.
They also get paid a lot less, right?
This is true, although the ECB has doubled women's salaries across the board. The highest-paid women will receive £31,250 (US$ 41,500) - compared to £15,000 (US$ 20,000) in 2021 - with those in the lowest band receiving £7500 (US$ 10,000) - up from £3600 (US$ 4800). Men's salaries range from £30,000 (US$ 36,500) to £125,000 (US$ 152,000), returning to the levels originally set before the pandemic led to wages being cut.
So what are the rule changes and things I should look out for?
Balls will be delivered in sets of five, with an option for captains to keep a bowler on for ten balls in a row if they are feeling in the groove (and they can bowl their quota of 20 balls in two sets of ten each, but not consecutive sets). There will be a 25-ball powerplay, with fielding restrictions in place, and the fielding side can call a two-minute strategic time out thereafter. If a catch is taken after the batters have crossed, the next batter in will still be on strike - a change that MCC has since introduced to the Laws for the game as a whole. Despite all the tweaks, the spectacle by and large should look recognisably crickety.
Are there any other innovations?
Sky will stream the opening matches in the men's and the women's competitions on TikTok, once again with the aim of reaching that all-important "new audience of young cricket fans". The broadcaster is also introducing its "power meter", a graphic using Hawk-Eye data to measure big hits.
Right then. Give me some dates for the diary
The men's competition starts this week, with 2021 winners Southern Brave taking on Welsh Fire at the Ageas Bowl on Wednesday. The women will be in action from August 11, with the first of the double-headers - and in a twist reminiscent of them having the opening night to themselves last year, Oval Invincibles versus Northern Superchargers will be in the evening slot, with the men playing earlier in the day.
The top team in the group stage will qualify directly for the final, to be staged at Lord's on September 3, with second and third playing in an eliminator the day before.

Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick