Durham ‘100 per cent committed’ to bringing Hundred franchise to north east

Durham chief executive Tim Bostock says the club are “100 per cent committed” to bringing a Hundred team to the north east and would be ready to take part in an expanded tournament as soon as 2025.

Consultations over the future direction of the competition, which has divided opinion since its launch three years ago, are ongoing and a decision on proposals for new, external investment is expected in the coming months.

The likeliest outcome would see the sale of stakes in the eight existing sides and there is also support for expanding the field to 10 teams.

Durham are eager to bring The Hundred to Chester-le-Street.
Durham are eager to bring The Hundred to Chester-le-Street (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Durham are currently affiliated to the Yorkshire-based Northern Superchargers but, with around 90 miles between Chester-le-Street and Headingley, they are eager to branch out on their own.

Bostock is an unabashed supporter of the tournament and is busily preparing a pitch to join the fray at the earliest opportunity.

“We are 100 per cent committed to bringing a franchise here to the north east,” he told the PA news agency.

“We pitched for it originally and I think we were close. We don’t have a divine right, that would be complacent, but we are very confident we would be able to mobilise very quickly.

“The north of the country cannot be ignored and we have an international ground ready to go; the facilities and infrastructure are in place.

“We’ve got to make the business case, put our best foot forward and make sure the ECB can’t turn us down.

“I don’t think we need to get too hung up on when you move to 10 teams, that could be 2027/28, why not go to nine first? If I go to the ECB in six months’ time and say, ‘we have a very powerful backer, we’re ready to go’ there’s no reason the ECB won’t make us the ninth team.

“People are sports mad in the north east and we sell out every international we get, which is one of things they look at when awarding teams. I have no doubt if we got one as part of any expansion it would be brilliantly supported. We’ve got a following wind behind us, to say the least.”

There are county cricket fans who remain stridently opposed to the entire concept of the Hundred but Bostock insists its commercial potential is unparalleled in the domestic game. The Bridgepoint private equity group offered the ECB a reported GBP 400million for a 75 per cent share of the competition in 2022 and overseas interest would be high if individual teams went on the market.

Bostock believes his region is well placed to cash in and argues that a fresh influx of cash would be a lifeline that would prop up the rest of the national framework.

“There’s probably no bigger strategic decision to be made than this one. You’re not going to please everybody but you’ve got to get it right,” he said.

“This is the silver bullet, game-changer for the game. Despite all the criticism, I’m yet to see another product three years on from start up that is thought to be worth GBP 750m.

Durham are currently linked to Northern Superchargers, who play at Headingley.
Durham are currently linked to Northern Superchargers, who play at Headingley (PA Archive/PA)

“That money will sustain 18 counties, accelerate the growth of the women’s game and support recreational cricket. The economic reality is that without the advent of the Hundred and the huge investment it’s going to bring, it’s unlikely we’d still have 18 counties in five years’ time.

“We need to make sure the Hundred is monetised to become recognised as the second best short-form competition in the world, after the IPL. To do that, you’ve got to pay the money that attracts the best players and for that we need investment.

“As a destination, the north east is well placed. We’ve seen the Saudis have bought Newcastle United just down the road and you don’t need to be a brain surgeon to see they are building a portfolio.

“We are very confident we could attract a lot interest.”