by George Willoughby
The Hundred, a much-discussed topic within cricket at both local and elite level, is set to commence in July 2020. The drafting process took place on October 20, with the coaches and team representatives selecting their players very much reminiscent of how the NFL sides select their draft picks.
Each player had a certain value, and all the eight teams tried to find the balance between their previously chosen icons, domestic players, and cricketers from overseas.
Welsh Fire, who had already selected Johnny Bairstow, Colin Ingram and Tom Banton, came away as one of the major winners from Sunday’s draft. They were able to add Mitchell Starc and one of cricket’s best batsmen in Steve Smith.
Some noticeable domestic additions included Nottinghamshire’s Ben Duckett, Liam Plunkett of Surrey and the T20 Blast’s leading wicket-taker Ravi Rampaul.
The batting in this Welsh Fire side is strong, with a nice mix of aggressive hitters alongside some more measured batsman at the crease. The likes of Duckett, Banton and Ingram can really accelerate the scoring, while Bairstow and Smith can anchor the innings if the aforementioned names fall early.
Despite being only 100 balls, this is still a sufficient amount of deliveries to construct a substantial innings. Attacking from ball one may be a risky approach given that a certain bowler can bowl 10 balls in a single over. This provides an extra four deliveries, which for bowlers is great if they are in the midst of a successful spell. This is where the likes of Smith and Bairstow can rotate the strike and take the sting out of opposition bowling attacks.
From a bowling perspective, Welsh Fire have a nice balance. The current seventh-best ODI bowler in the world Mitchell Starc will most likely take the opening overs, as well as the responsibility of bowling at the death.
Starc, who was formerly the number one ranked bowler, had a difficult World Cup in the UK but will be looking to once again show why he is regarded as one of the most dangerous pace-bowlers in cricket.
Joining Starc is Yorkshire’s Liam Plunkett who has been excellent for England through the middle overs of their T20 and ODI internationals. He can provide control with some good variation and is a proven wicket-taker both domestically and internationally.
Welsh Fire also selected Danny Briggs who is currently playing for Sussex. Briggs bowls left-arm orthodox spin and has plenty of experience playing county cricket. Himself and young spinner Qais Ahmad make up the spin attack for Welsh Fire.
In addition, Simon Harmer and Ryan ten Doeschate can contribute with bat and ball occupying the all-rounder positions.
Overall, this Welsh Fire side looks excellent. The selectors have done a brilliant job putting together a team that is extremely well-balanced. Expectations will be very high given the talent, but one of the reasons why the players selected are as good as they are is because of their ability to play under pressure.
The Hundred’s first round of fixtures begins July 2020.