The Hundred: England star Dawid Malan expects new tourney to be massive boost for fans [Exclusive]

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The sound of leather on willow has been all too prominent at English cricket grounds
over the past year or so but supporters are finally able to, at least partially, fill the
empty stands.

With Lord’s at 25% capacity for the first New Zealand Test and 70% expected at Edgbaston,
it now looks as though packed-out stadiums will be a possibility for the majority of what is set
to be a blockbuster summer for the English game.

Included in that will be the inaugural season of The Hundred – the new English franchise
competition that the ECB are hoping can draw in a new generation of supporters as well as
entertaining those that already love the sport.

The new format, which will see each side face just 100 balls in 5 or 10 ball overs along with
numerous other tweaks to the rules in an attempt to make cricket more accessible, has not
been universally well received by supporters but England batter Dawid Malan believes it is
the perfect way to mark the return of fans in stadiums.

Speaking to GiveMeSport six weeks out from the first fixtures, Malan added: “You have to be
excited to go and watch a new tournament with a whole new set of written rules.

“Obviously, cricket is still going to be the main factor, so we as players still have to play a
really good and attractive brand of cricket to attract the supporters but I think when those
crowds come in it will be fantastic for everyone because we’ve all been starved of live sport
for so long.”

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It seems the prospect of loud and excited crowds at the likes of Lord’s, the Oval, Trent
Bridge and Old Trafford is likely to enthuse the players as much as it will the supporters.

“It’s fantastic to play in front of full houses as a player,” explained Malan, who usually plies
his trade for Yorkshire but will represent the Nottingham-based Trent Rockets in this year’s
competition.

“The atmosphere, the noise and everything it brings is just unbelievable.

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“I think as a batter you very rarely hear the noise if you’re going well. If you’re playing badly
you can hear everything that’s shouted from the crowd. Whether there are 10,000 people or
100,000 people – you tend to hear it.

“That’s great. That’s what sport is. It’s what adds the pressure of cricket and other sports,
when you have spectators in it adds to the spectacle.”

The cream of the crop

Malan’s dominance in international T20 cricket has seen him rise to number one in the ICC
Men’s rankings and the prospect of testing himself against the best players in England and
from around the globe in this new format is one of the things that he’s looking forward to
ahead of the tournament.

“It’s going to be the cream of the crop in England playing,” explained the 33-year-old.

“It’s not going to be a diluted format as you’ve only got eight teams. You can expect the
standard to be extremely high, especially if all England’s Test and white-ball players are
available as well, you’re looking at a fantastic variety and strength of players that are able to
play.”

The Trent Rockets boast a squad that includes the likes of England Test skipper Joe Root,
powerful white-ball opener Alex Hales, and Aussie batter D’arcy Short, but it’s Afghanistan
all-rounder Rashid Khan that Malan is most excited about playing with.

He said: “He’s someone that I’ve played against a few times and I admire him massively for
what he’s done and what he’s achieved. So to be able to see how he goes about things,
that’s going to be great for me to watch.”

World Cup boost

Playing alongside and against some of the world’s best should help England’s stars develop
their own game.

Malan – who has pulled on the Three Lions in Test, ODI and T20 cricket – is certainly a believer that The Hundred will be a fantastic learning experience and potentially one that could help Eoin Morgan’s side ahead of the T20 World Cup later this year.

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The tournament is scheduled to be played in India in October and November, with England
looking to make it a clean sweep of international limited-overs silverware by adding the title
to their 50-over World Cup triumph in 2019.

“It is a different format and it is close to the World Cup – whether that’s a good thing or not
will be told,” said Malan, who looks likely to be part of England’s T20 squad for this year’s
World Cup.

“But every format of the game you can play as a cricketer you learn things, you improve,
learn new skills and have to get better at your skills.

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“So with The Hundred, death bowling might be better, which gives your death bowlers that
will potentially be picked for England an opportunity to get better.

"It gives the batters that could be picked for that World Cup squad, the opportunity to experiment with being harder and playing more aggressively at certain times of the game.

“It can only do you well to have less balls in a franchise tournament and be able to
experiment.

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“That World Cup is a long way away and there’s a lot of cricket to be played. Whether they
know who they want to take yet or not is a different story. I’d love to be part of it but it’s not
something I’m focussing on at the moment, it’s The Hundred and whatever’s coming up for
Yorkshire in the meantime.

“If in The Hundred I can learn something that can help me and I’m lucky enough, then
hopefully that will put me in good stead.”

The Hundred will get underway at the Oval on Wednesday 21st of July but Malan’s Trent
Rockets will begin their campaign on the 24th in a Women’s and Men’s double-header
against Southern Brave.

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