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“You need some kind of gateway to get into The Hundred”: Hampshire great Chris Wood laments waning importance of T20 Blast

Hampshire seamer, Chris Wood hopes the T20 Blast won’t fall to the wayside as the ECB’s focus remains on The Hundred.

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Having played 185 times for Hampshire in the Blast, Wood knows how crucial the tournament is to the development of younger players.

He said: “You need some kind of gateway to get into The Hundred. If we just play The Hundred, how do those young players who are coming through at 18, 19, 20, who are getting so much better at white ball cricket so early on, how are they going to showcase something that is relatively close to The Hundred.

“And the counties, we need T20 cricket financially as counties to keep going as well.”

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One of the benefits of The Hundred is that there are fewer teams than the Blast and therefore greater concentration of the best available talent, but Wood thinks there is minimal difference between the competitions.

He said: “I think they’re relatively similar. You have a slightly smaller pool in The Hundred and a few more overseas players to pick from but I think it shows the Blast’s strength over the last four or five years that we’re in a position now where we can play The Hundred and have 96 of our best domestic and overseas players and really put on a spectacle for the paying audience.”

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The left-arm seamer is a canny top-and-tail bowler who has played in all three seasons of The Hundred due to his fantastic skills with the ball, which he has developed over his 15 years at Hampshire.

Wood said: “T20 has evolved massively since when I first started, many years ago. Back in the day you could run up and hit a good length like you would in four-day cricket, over and over again. You would have the odd changeup, maybe one slower ball but as it’s gone through the years, people have had to evolve to keep up with the times.

“Now people have so many slower balls, yorkers, wide yorkers and the batsmen have got way better. They can hit sixes at will. I’ve had to keep up with the game and I’m going to have to continue to do that if I want to play the next couple of years.”

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Hampshire are the joint most successful side since the Blast’s creation in 2003, with Wood being an integral player in all three titles.

The Hawks are almost always competitive within the Blast and Wood is confident it will be the same this year too, saying: “Every year we go into the season with the non-negotiable of getting into the knockouts and I think we’ve done relatively well at that over the years. Obviously, the goal is to always win it.

“We’ve got a very similar squad. It’s a slight shame that Nathan Ellis isn’t back this year. He’s been such an integral part the last couple years: unbelievable death bowler. We’re replacing him with Neser and Naveen, who is lighting up the IPL as we speak so there is absolutely no reason why we can’t go close again.”

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In February, Hampshire awarded Wood a testimonial year for 2024, after 15 years of service.

“When I first walked through these doors in 2010, it was beyond my wildest dreams to put on a shirt for Hampshire but when I got offered a testimonial [year] for recognition of my career, it tops it all off.

“It’s been an unbelievable journey, hopefully not the end, hopefully another trophy or two before I do actually officially hang my boots up.”


  • Toby Reynolds

    Toby is the cricket editor at the Sports Gazette. For the last three years, he has been a radio host and podcaster at URN. He also enjoys F1, rugby and football. Having written his dissertation on rugby union salary caps, Toby loves to explore tactical trends and use statistics to back up his arguments, as well as trying to disprove the saying that “stats are for prats”.