The inaugural season of the women's Hundred will be played at the same eight venues as the men's event, the ECB has announced, after taking into account the impact of Covid-19 and the need to align the two competitions more closely together for operational and exposure reasons.

The competition, which had been due to take place this summer but was postponed due to the pandemic, had originally been spread across 20 venues in England and Wales in a bid to increase the visibility of the women's game.

Now, however, with Covid likely to limit the number of spectators at any given venue, the decision has been taken to stage all matches, men's and women's, at the same eight venues - Lord's, The Oval, Edgbaston, Headingley, Old Trafford, Trent Bridge, Cardiff and the Ageas Bowl - to increase the opportunities for double-headers and more comprehensive broadcast coverage.

"It has always been our intention to review the structure of the Women's Competition on an annual basis, to ensure that we are maximising the scale and prominence that The Hundred platform provides to profile the women's game," Beth Barrett-Wild, Head of The Hundred Women's Competition & Female Engagement, said.

"Looking ahead to 2021, it's clear that the wide ranging impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the delivery of elite sporting events and society more generally, necessitates a change to our plans from 2020.

"The move to an integrated eight-venue model with the Men's Competition next summer will simultaneously enable us to reduce our operational risk, protect the delivery of the Women's Competition, and optimise the opportunity to work with our broadcast partners to provide maximum visibility and exposure for the women's game.

"We therefore believe that this is the best structure for the Women's Competition in 2021. However, with the women's game transforming and growing at pace, it is important that we remain flexible in our approach to evolving this model in the future."

The decision, however, has not gone down well with some of the venues that had been expected to benefit from staging the women's matches - not least, Sussex, whose chief executive Rob Andrew, who described the news as "hugely disappointing".

"Everyone at Sussex Cricket as well as the ever-increasing number of supporters of the women's game in the county were really looking forward to hosting two Southern Brave fixtures as well as the women's final at The 1st Central County Ground," Andrew said.

"We note with optimism that the eight-venue model for The Hundred will be reviewed after 2021 and will do all we can to bring matches in the competition to Hove in the seasons that follow."

The double-header model was used for the early iterations of the Women's World T20, up to and including West Indies' victory in Kolkata in 2016, after which the tournament has been staged as a stand-alone event, in the Caribbean in 2018, and Australia in 2020, when a record 86,174 packed the MCG to watch the hosts lift the trophy.