FORMER Somerset chairman Andy Nash has told a Department of Sport, Culture and Media (DCMS) Select Committee that The Hundred "has the potential to split the game and bankrupt a lot of the game."

Nash was one of eight witnesses called to give evidence to 11 MPs during a three-and-a-half hour session on Wednesday afternoon and he did not hold back when asked his views on the ECB's new 100-ball competition, which will begin next summer.

Wisden called it an almighty punt and others have called it a reckless gamble – and that is what I think it is," Nash said.

“This has the potential to split the game and bankrupt a lot of the game.

“The fans own this game, it’s not owned by the administrators. The fans feel as though the game is being taken away from them.

“They can see the damage The Hundred will do to the existing three formats.

“It was invented by a marketing committee inside the ECB."

Nash went on to further outline his concerns regarding the financial impact of the new tournament.

“This is going to cost about £60m a year to put on," he said.

"So if no new fans come it will have cost £200m to cannibalise the existing game.

"I cannot believe it is in the interests of the governing body to do that."

Nash stepped down from his role as Somerset chairman in January 2018 and resigned from the ECB board two months later citing "standards of corporate governance [which] fall well short of what is acceptable."

He has since become a vocal critic of The Hundred on social media and articulated further reasons behind his viewpoint as the evidence continued - particularly surrounding its impact on the existing competitions.

“The 50 [over competition] is not only deprived of the top 100 players in the country – there will be no overseas players and it won’t be played at the Test grounds," he said.

"It is a Second XI competition. What kind of preparation is that for retaining the World Cup?

“With the [T20] Blast, Eoin Morgan may have misspoke the truth when he said there was not room for four competitions in England and Wales – something has to go.

"If the Hundred stays, the Blast will go. If you take the Blast away, I suspect you are consigning 10 non-Test match grounds to a semi-professional future.

“You can’t blame the players, who have a short and perilous career, for following the money. In their shoes, I would do the same.

“In addition to the eight foreign coaches, only 77 English players out of 400 were picked up and there were 36 Kolpaks.

“There are some pretty upset and cross cricketers who have realised they are being left on the sidelines.

“The players are beginning to realise ‘we are probably better off at a Test team venue’.

"The Trent Rockets picked many Notts players but none from their neighbours, Derby and Leicester.

"That sends a pretty clear message through the professional community and I think that would be an extremely negative development for the game.”

In terms of a solution, Nash proposed a two-division T20 competition involving the 18 First Class counties, with nine in each division and the top division becoming a 'Premier League'.

This was first proposed at the end of 2016 by a domestic structure review group, chaired by Nash.

"That option is still there," he said.

"It is what the fans would like and would be a far more hard-headed business route to follow. It is far lower risk than the hundred and would cost far less to get off the ground.

“The summer was a fantastic success for cricket. Why on earth put it all at risk when the following is climbing and participation is turning around?

"A lot of people in the game are baffled as to why this [The Hundred] is the best way to proceed."

Somerset have never voted against the new competition, from its original inception as an eight-team city-based T20 in September 2016 and April 2017 to its newer guise as a 100-ball tournament, voted through in February 2019.

Nash was speaking alongside Laura Cordingley (Chance to Shine chief executive), Becky Fairlie-Clarke (Cricket Supporter’s Association co-founder) and Chris Willetts (Platform Cricket co-founder).

The quartet followed earlier evidence from Colin Graves (ECB chairman), Tom Harrison (ECB chief executive), Clare Connor (Managing Director, Women’s Cricket) and Lord Patel (senior independent non-executive director, ECB).

Harrison used his evidence to insist The Hundred will help protect other formats of the game.

"The Hundred is all about growing the game of cricket in this country and protecting the things we value the most," he said.

"It is a really good way of protecting everything that we are serious about.

"It's about protecting Test match cricket, it's about protecting four-day Championship cricket, it's about getting kids playing more cricket at school.

"This is engaging at a different level with a completely new community in this country and that is something we should embrace and celebrate.

"It is not a threat to the county game. It is a much greater threat to rest on our laurels and say everything is rosy in our garden and things will be fine if we keep ticking along as we are."

The Cricket World Cup this summer was highly successful, where a huge number of spectators bought tickets for the first time.

Harrison insists that the Hundred will try and replicate the atmosphere of the World Cup and thus appeal to those fans.

He added: "The Hundred is an attempt to replicate that and bring it back to our country every year without taking anything away from our precious county environment, to ensure we grow the game of cricket in this country. That is our job.

"We have seen throughout the Cricket World Cup grounds across the country packed to the rafters, 40 per cent of whom were first-time buyers to cricket in this country.

"The vibrancy, the colours, the noise and energy is something that will live with all of us."

Harrison was grilled by MP Jo Stevens on the competition's budget, a question he was keen to swerve.

After several attempts by Stevens to get an exact figure out of Harrison, the chief executive would not budge from his view that "the budget is in line with the game's expectations".