Scottish interest in the women’s edition of The Hundred has been boosted further by the news that Abtaha Maqsood will appear in the inaugural season of the ECB’s new franchise-based domestic competition this summer. The Wildcats leg-spinner will play for Birmingham Phoenix, joining national captain Kathryn Bryce, who was announced by Nottingham-based franchise Trent Rockets before the tournament’s launch was delayed by the global pandemic.
“I’m so excited,” said Abtaha. “It’s going to be fantastic to be able to learn from some really amazing stars.
“Sophie Devine is in my team, for example, and I feel that just watching her and everyone else is going to be brilliant, never mind actually training and playing with and against them too.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever done something like this and I’m going to soak everything in.”
The ECB’s announcement of its concept for The Hundred provoked much debate, with many commentators focusing on what will be a completely new way of organising the game. Abtaha is keen to see how the new design will play out in practice.
“I think it’s going to be a whole new game, to be honest,” said the twenty-one-year-old, who plays her regional cricket with the Stormers. “Every ball is going to count, every run is going to matter, it’s going to be super-exciting and it’s going to broaden the audience perspective as well. It’s been quite controversial, but at the end of the day [I’m sure that] people are really going to like it.”
That the tournament will be free-to-air is perhaps its most welcome innovation. Sixteen years after the vast majority of international and domestic cricket became subscription-only, The Hundred offers an opportunity to bring the game back to public consciousness in a new and potentially significant way.
“It’s really going to engage a whole new audience I think,” said Abtaha, “especially with the fact that I’m wearing a hijab and playing this game at a high level. I feel that that’s really important, and hopefully more Muslim girls will be able to watch me play now that it’s free-to-air.
“That’s all I want, to be able to inspire as many people as possible.”