Moeen Ali has endorsed postponing the Hundred this year, reasoning that the England and Wales Cricket Board’s flagship competition is too important to be diluted because of current world events. The ECB last week called a halt to all cricket until 1 July at the earliest because of coronavirus while the board is set to convene on Wednesday evening to discuss delaying its 100-ball competition by 12 months.

A number of factors, including the prospect of overseas stars being unable or reluctant to travel, means a delay is the expected outcome and Moeen believes it a necessary measure. The England all-rounder was set to captain Birmingham Phoenix but he pointed out any schedule will already be bloated without a fourth format being added to the calendar.

Speaking via conference call, Moeen said: “It is better for it to be delayed. As players we want the Hundred played with all best players around the world available to come and play so it makes more sense that way.

“It is probably going to be too much to squeeze in the last couple of months of the season. It would be hard work to squeeze in the Hundred as well. It is such a big deal for us in this country and we want it to be played when everything is right and no problems around the world.”

The ECB developed its eight-team competition as a means of capturing a new audience, a prospect that would have increased after England’s triumphant World Cup campaign during a memorable summer last year.

So a delay in launching the Hundred could make luring new fans all the more difficult but Moeen believes the tournament could be even bigger if more overseas players who were unavailable to feature this year can be tempted to come over in 2021. He added: “The mood and wave cricket was on in England last year made it an amazing opportunity this year to play the Hundred but with what has happened around the world that is going to be harder now.

“If we can get other international players who were not available this year to make the Hundred even stronger for next year through a mini-draft then we can attract a new audience to come and watch cricket.”

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