The inaugural edition of England’s controversial new competition ‘The Hundred’ has been postponed until 2021 due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, cricket chiefs announced on Thursday. A brainchild of England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said it will not possible to stage the event because of the operational challenges caused by the current social distancing directives. The 100-ball competition, comprised of eight teams rather than the established 18 first-class counties, and designed to attract a ‘new audience’ was slated to begin from July 17 onwards. Also Read - Harry Gurney Retires: English Cricketer Calls it a Day From All Formats Of The Game

“The situation we find ourselves in as a country means that delivery of the Hundred will not be possible this summer,” ECB chief executive Tom Harrison in a statement. Also Read - Shafali Verma Reacts on Preparation For 'The Hundred' Stint - 'Koi Tension Nahi Hain'

“Whilst we are naturally disappointed that we won’t get to realise our ambitions this year, the Hundred will go ahead in 2021 when we are safely able to deliver everything we intended to help grow the game.” Also Read - IPL 2021: Jos Buttler Hails Rajasthan Royals 'Captain' Sanju Samson, Calls Him Free Spirited And Relaxed

Despite the postponement of the tournament, there are certain number of issues to resolve for the board. That includes whether to pay the players who were to be involved in this year’s competition and what to do about the squads for next year. Harrison confirmed that discussions were ongoing on those aspects but that the competitions will remain more or less in the same guise as they would have been this year.

“We are envisaging it to be as we planned it,” he said. “We have a commitment to deliver The Hundred in the way we set out to deliver it this year. We will be having discussions with players who have been selected through the draft.

The ECB’s statement also said playing ‘The Hundred’ behind closed doors was not an option because an event with no fans ‘directly contradicts the competition’s goal to attract a broader audience’.