England's Test stars will sit out climax of first Hundred tournament

England’s Test stars will sit out the climax of the inaugural Hundred competition as ECB look to limit the coronavirus risks for the multi-million pound series against India

  • The Hundred format opened its doors for the first time on Wednesday night 
  • The brand new tournament will run across the nation from July 21 to August 21  
  • England’s Test players will not be picked for the semi-final and final this year
  • Joe Root’s side face India in August so the ECB want to limit any Covid risks

England’s Test players will not feature in the semi-final and final of the Hundred as the ECB look to mitigate Covid risks for the multi-million pound series against India.

Although ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said just last week that the bio-secure bubbles of the past would not be reformed due to concerns about the effects such living conditions have on players’ mental health, Sportsmail understands a raft of restrictive measures have been drawn up to lessen the chances of Covid pull-outs for a five-match campaign worth £100million in home television revenue alone.

They include keeping their A-listers apart from Hundred environments once they have participated in the opening two matches.

England’s Test players will not take part in the semi-finals or final of The Hundred tournament

The inaugural edition of the new cricket format launched on Wednesday night at the Oval

The original plan for the inaugural season – of which the men’s competition launches on Thursday – was for the country’s centrally contracted cricketers to feature in three rounds of games and be available for the eliminator at the Kia Oval on Friday, August 20 and the final at Lord’s 24 hours later.

Confirmation of a reduction from three to two came on Wednesday and of the competition’s business end, an ECB spokesperson said: ‘A decision will be taken in due course.’

An eight-day window between the second and third Tests provides ample time for players to be involved in both the traditional format of the game and its fourth and newest one, and the governing body viewed the presence of England stars in their 100-ball-a-side investment as crucial in projecting the sport to a new audience.

Joe Root’s England side have a multi-million pound series against India starting next month

However, they appear to have been forced to re-think with coronavirus numbers surging and the marquee series against Virat Kohli’s India not only being financially lucrative but launching a new World Test Championship cycle.

Players have been advised to keep away from public areas as much as possible, avoid visiting restaurants and bars, and even limit contact with team-mates outside of playing hours while on England duty later this summer. 

Several regular team rooms at both hotels and grounds are to be ditched and meetings will take place in open areas instead.

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