The opening match of The Hundred, English cricket’s new competition, attracted a record UK television audience for a women’s match.
A peak audience of 1.95m watched as the Oval Invincibles beat the Manchester Originals in a closely-fought curtain-raiser to the tournament.
The figures marked an encouraging start for a competition that has divided opinion since it was announced it in 2018.
Across BBC Two and Sky Sports’ Cricket, Mix and Main Event channels, the game reached more than 3.8m people
Nearly 35 per cent of viewers were female, a boost to the England and Wales Cricket Board’s mission of reaching new audiences.
The figures comfortably eclipsed the previous most watched women’s cricket match in this country, England’s third IT20 against India last week, which pulled in 1.24m viewers.
The start of The Hundred also coincided with the busiest day of ticket sales since they were put on general sale. More than 11,000 tickets were bought for remaining matches across the competition.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better start to The Hundred,” said the competition’s managing director Sanjay Patel. “A thrilling match which went down to the wire, a brilliant atmosphere inside the crowd with lots of families and children, and record figures watching at home.”
Players past and present also gave The Hundred a warm welcome.
Michael Vaughan, former England captain and BBC pundit, wrote on Twitter: “I think this Hundred is going to be a huge success. What a great advert for the women’s game.”
Former England off-spinner Monty Panesar also threw his support behind it. “Loving the new format, going to be a success,” he tweeted.
Kate Cross, whose Manchester Originals outfit ended up on the losing side, still seemed overwhelmingly positive about the new format.
“Does it honestly get any better than that?!” she posted after the game.
The men’s competition starts this evening with the same fixture at the Oval.