The Hundred has reportedly been identified as a priority for the England and Wales Cricket Board, along with its T20 Blast, as it braces for the financial impact of COVID-19 on the northern summer. While the timing of the outbreak has been more kind to Australian cricket, as it is at the end of its season, the ECB is facing the possibility of the County Championship being pushed back. England’s home Test series against West Indies starting in June is also in danger.
With international travel coming to a standstill, Warner may not be the last big name lost to the Hundred, with sport largely shut down around the globe. Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Aaron Finch, Mitchell Starc and D’Arcy Short are other Australians signed up for the league on maximum wages while Chris Lynn, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Dan Christian and Adam Zampa also have deals.
The news comes as Cricket Australia finalises its central contracts for the 2020/21 season. Marnus Labuschagne is expected to rocket from outside last year’s list to as high as the top five on the rankings below Pat Cummins, Smith, Warner and Starc.
The likes of Warner, Smith, Maxwell and Cummins were due to be en route to the subcontinent this week to take up lucrative Indian Premier League deals. In Cummins’ case, his contract is now worth $3.76 million due to the tanking Australian dollar. The start of the world’ top T20 league has been delayed from March 29 until April 15, but with all Australians warned not to fly overseas under a level-four federal government travel warning, they face being grounded even in the highly unlikely event the IPL goes ahead.
There were reports out of the subcontinent that the Board of Control for Cricket in India may consider switching the IPL to a window in July and August, a move that if it transpired would throw another spanner in the works for the Hundred and for Australia’s schedule. Australia are pencilled in to play three T20 internationals and three ODIs in England from July 3 to July 16.
Before that, Australia are scheduled to play two Tests in Bangladesh from June 11 to June 23. CA will make a decision on that series closer to the tour, but if the government’s travel advice stays in place the team won’t be going.