By Connor Steel
SOUTHERN BRAVE have learnt their full fixture calendar for their upcoming 2023 Hundred season following an announcement by the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Tuesday; franchise organisers promising to build on the short form competition’s amazing success since it was fully introduced two years ago in 2021.
This form of cricket is the shortest and is designed to speed up matches, which organisers hope will improve gates and inspire the next generation. Both teams will have one hundred balls apiece to score as many runs as possible with overs reduced to five balls and bowlers can only bowl a maximum of twenty legal deliveries.
Men’s and Women’s tournaments will be held during August and teams should play a total of eight group ties within a league format, with the first placed outfit automatically reaching a Grand Final on August 27. Second and third placed sides are due to contest in an Eliminator game on August 26, often viewed as the semi-final.
One subtle change will see the return of the 2021 schedule, which saw the games played as double headers with men’s and women’s competitions starting at the same time. This had to be tweaked last summer due to the Commonwealth Games from Birmingham as women’s cricket featured as an international medal contest.
The competition will launch on August 1 (Tuesday) as Southern Brave make a long journey to Trent Rockets; the women’s team scheduled to begin their campaign at 3pm with the men’s game set to run from 6:30pm on the same day. The two encounters will take place at Trent Bridge and features a short interval between them.
Brave are set to return to the Ageas Bowl as the teams play Welsh Fire on August 4; the women’s tie starting at 3pm before the men’s encounter begins at 6:30pm. These times are due to be replicated when Brave visit London Spirit (08/08) at Lords and again as they host rivals Birmingham Phoenix in Southampton on 16/08.
The club will further play three weekend double headers with the first on August 6 (Sunday) against Northern Superchargers; the women’s tie taking place at 11am and the men following at 2:30pm from the Ageas Bowl. Matches versus Welsh Fire in Cardiff (12/08) and Oval Invincibles (19/08) in Southampton are scheduled for successive weekends; with both women’s ties starting at 2:30pm and men’s games from 6pm on both dates.
The final group stage will see Southern Brave travel to Emirates Old Trafford on August 23 in another double header; contesting against Manchester Originals at 3pm (women’s) and 6:30pm (men’s). Depending on their final standings they will either leave the competition or participate in the Eliminator and Grand Final matches.
The men are hoping to reclaim the title from 2021 under new manager Stephen Fleming, whilst the women’s side will be looking to build upon two losing final appearances in 2021 and 2022 to finally win a title. Staff at the Ageas Bowl aim to make 2023 a landmark in attendance figures following last summer’s success; nearly half a million fans attending tournament games combined including a record crowd of 9,000 in Southampton.
2023 is further likely to feature a player draft across both the men’s and women’s competitions; this selection being made on March 2. Teams have until February 16 to announce a listing of retained stars; considerations needing to be given to the Ashes tests between England and Australia alongside the domestic One Day Cup.
BBC Sport and Sky Sports will be showing the majority of matches across this tournament with over fourteen million people enjoyed watching digitally; both platforms occasionally showing multiple ties free-to-air on their YouTube channels. Supporters can further sign up for priority access to tickets by clicking the accessible link.
According to an article on the Hampshire Cricket website, tickets will be available for general sales from April 20 (Thursday) and will follow 2022 pricings. Adult entry will begin at £10 for each person whilst prices are set at £5 for juniors ranging from five to fifteen year olds and free access is provided to those aged five or below.
Readers can explores quotes from men’s captain James Vince and women’s bowler Lauren Bell on the 2023 return of this competition to the Ageas Bowl via this article here. Fixtures and times for all tournament games can further be seen via the Hundred website, with TV selections likely to be fully announced later in the year.
PICTURED BY ALAMY (2HJ6KAT): Southern Brave players celebrate lifting men’s title in first ever Hundred competition in August 2021, beating Birmingham Phoenix by 32 runs at the Home of English Cricket (Lords).