The Hundred: Heather Knight says new competition can thrive without crowds

3 weeks ago
Heather Knight

England captain Heather Knight says The Hundred can still be a success if its inaugural season has to be played behind closed doors.

The launch of the new competition this year was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Plans are being made for a range of scenarios in the summer of 2021, including no crowds in attendance.

“I’m hopeful it will be back to normal and people can come watch, but it is doable without crowds,” said Knight.

The 29-year-old, who on Thursday was confirmed as captain of London Spirit, pointed to her experience of playing for Sydney Thunder in the Women’s Big Bash, which is currently being held behind closed doors, with all teams staying and playing matches in Sydney.

“The Big Bash has proved it can be done,” Knight told BBC Sport. “It has done what the bio-secure bubbles have done in England, just on a slightly larger scale.”

All professional cricket in England in 2020 was played behind closed doors, with both men’s and women’s internationals taking place in bio-secure conditions.

It is understood that the England and Wales Cricket Board’s planning for 2021 has scenarios involving no spectators, limited numbers and capacity crowds.

In once again being confirmed as the London Spirit captain, Knight is joined in the women’s team by all-rounder Naomi Dattani. The men’s team will be led by England white-ball captain Eoin Morgan, with Dan Lawrence also retained.

As well as the launch of The Hundred, the 2021 Women’s World Cup also fell victim to the coronavirus pandemic, with the tournament in New Zealand pushed back to 2022.

When the postponement was announced in August, Knight tweeted that she was “pretty gutted” and she still believes it could have taken place as planned.

“New Zealand has been one of the most successful countries in fighting Covid,” said Knight. “With tournaments like the Big Bash and Indian Premier League going ahead, you can see that the logistical issues can be overcome.

“My concern was about the women’s game as a whole. A lot of men’s cricket has started again but there hasn’t been a huge amount of women’s cricket – it’s just been the big boards that have had the money and the will to put it on.

“You hope in the build-up to the delayed World Cup is there is enough preparation for the teams, because that was one of the reasons we were given for the cancellation.”

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