ECB to stage trial matches for new 100-ball-a-side competition in September

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The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will stage trial matches in September as it decides on the best format for its new 100-ball-a-side competition, Press Association Sport understands.

Loughborough will host a series of women’s games between September 13-16 and men’s teams will play at Trent Bridge from September 16-18 to test a range of proposals decided upon by a steering group chaired by Clare Connor, the director of women’s cricket.

The matches will be contested by teams of elite players with the counties having been sounded out about those who might be available to take part – with a series of first-class fixtures still to be completed at that point.

A series of different formats will be trialled for the eight-team city-based tournament – dubbed “The Hundred”, although the name too is yet to be finalised – which is due to take place for the first time in July and August 2020.

A team comprising members of the Board’s high performance group, representatives of the Professional Cricketers’ Association and the players themselves will assess the elements of each in a bid to identify the best one for an initiative the ECB hopes will attract a new audience to cricket.

Much of the focus will be on coming up with a game which is entertaining, easy to understand, logistically accessible and value for money with England director of cricket Andrew Strauss having referenced “mums and kids in the school holidays” as part of the target group after the move was announced in April.

Suggestions that each team would be required to bowl six 15-ball overs and one of 10 have attracted criticism, while there have also been reports that 10 overs of 10 balls could represent the way forward.

However, it is understood no hard and fast decisions have yet been taken.

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Lord's date set for historic Test match between England and Ireland

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The Home of Cricket is set to welcome Ireland.

The dates have been set for England’s historic first Test match against Ireland at Lord’s next summer.

Ireland, who made their Test debut against Pakistan at Malahide in May, will head to London for a four-day match against England from July 24-27.

The clash is the precursor to next year’s Ashes series, which begins at Edgbaston on August 1. Lord’s hosts the second Test followed by Headingley, Old Trafford and the Oval.

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said: “We fully supported the ICC’s decision to award full membership to cricket Ireland and we expect next summer’s inaugural Test match at Lord’s against our neighbours to be an historic celebration for all Irish cricket fans.

“It will also provide excellent Ashes preparation for England against an Irish team whose impressive performance against Pakistan earlier this year showed they can compete strongly in this form of the game.”

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Joe Root aiming to score more ODI centuries for England

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Joe Root is eyeing more one-day international tons after becoming England‘s most prolific century-maker, though his next one is unlikely to be celebrated with another bat-drop.

Root reached three figures in back-to-back games in the ODI series with India, which England won 2-1 having claimed an eight-wicket victory at Headingley on Tuesday.

England’s number three had trailed Marcus Trescothick by one century heading into the three-match series but Root’s successive unbeaten tons took him to a record 13 from 110 innings.

However, given he is still just 27, Root feels there is plenty more to come.

“It’s not a big thing, I don’t think – it’s obviously nice but I feel I’ve got a lot more to give this ODI team for hopefully a long time,” he said.

“Hopefully, there’s quite a few more (hundreds) left.”

Those might be marked with the customary removal of the helmet and the raised bat after Root revealed his uneasiness with his on-pitch celebrations in Leeds.

England needed just one run to win to the match but Root required a boundary to bring up 100 and, after swatting Hardik Pandya to the fence, the Yorkshireman responded by mimicking a ‘mic-drop’ with his bat.

Former US president Barack Obama and Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner are among those to have dropped the mic for emphasis at the end of speeches but Root’s act will likely be a one-off.

“It was something that I immediately regretted,” he added.

“I’ve not heard the end of it, it was literally the most embarrassing thing I’ve done on a cricket field! I don’t think it will be the last I hear of it from the group – they’ve been hammering me.

“You’d think if you were going to do a celebration like that, you’d have smacked it 30 yards out…it was just an absolute car crash!”

Attention now turns to the Tests for England when Root will lead a team in five matches against India.

The first meeting between the two is at Edgbaston in an encounter which begins on August 1 and could finish the day before the date set for all-rounder Ben Stokes’ trial for affray.

Stokes looks set to miss the second Test at Lord’s due to the trial expecting to last between five and seven days, yet Root has no concerns over his mental state heading into the first game.

“We are going to pick our best team and make sure we go into that series with the strongest squad,” Root said.

“If Ben’s fit to play, he’ll be up for selection. He loves playing cricket, he loves being out there – you can see when he’s on a cricket field he’s fully engaged with what’s going on.

“He wants the ball all the time. He wants to be involved in what’s happening and I’m sure that will be exactly the same throughout that game.”

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