The Hundred is being blamed by counties for “very slow” ticket sales for the Vitality Blast.
Ahead of Wednesday’s start of the domestic game’s flagship Twenty20 tournament, several counties have reported lower than usual take-up for the first full season in which it and The Hundred will coexist without limits on crowd sizes.
Ticket sales for the second edition of The Hundred, meanwhile, were said to be going well in comparison, with the England & Wales Cricket Board accused of prioritising what one source branded Tom Harrison’s “legacy” project.
The controversial competition has once again been handed a prime slot in the school holidays, which the Blast has been stripped of for the first time since 2016 in order to prevent the two overlapping.
A source at one county told Telegraph Sport: “It’s showing that a lot of the stuff that counties were saying would happen about The Hundred – and the ECB said wouldn’t happen – is beginning to happen.
“The key thing to this is to compare it with Hundred ticket sales. It shows that the ultimate priority that is given to The Hundred in terms of scheduling and in terms of moving the summer around to fit the window of The Hundred in is having an impact on other competitions, undoubtedly.
“It’s not ideal. We’re working hard – the marketing teams are working their socks off.
“The ECB have been relatively supportive in terms of the stuff that they’ve done for us but the key thing is that they’re obviously selling Hundred tickets at the same time.
“The game needs to look at how you do this sort of stuff and have firmer agreements in place around what happens with The Hundred and what happens with T20.”
A source at another county branded Blast sales there “very slow indeed”, saying that was the case almost “across the board”.
This season’s county fixtures were only published in late January – two months later than usual – but the shortened sales window has not prevented Finals Day on July 16 selling out.
An ECB spokesperson said: “There has been a reduced number of trading days to sell Blast tickets this summer – due to the earlier start of this year’s competition and the forced delay of the fixture announcement – but we continue to work closely with the counties to drive ticket sales.
“With the opening matches just days away, starting with a repeat of last year’s final between Kent Spitfires and Somerset, we are looking forward to the high-quality cricket and vibrant atmospheres up and down the country that has made the Vitality Blast much loved by fans for two decades.”
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