Pakistan fast bowler Shaheen Afridi has been chosen to spearhead the Welsh Fire’s attempted revival in The Hundred men’s tournament in 2023 after going in the £100,000 category at the player draft.
The Fire are rebuilding following a difficult 2022 which saw them finish bottom of the table after losing all eight matches, with left-arm paceman Afridi joining the team’s first pick in Thursday’s player draft, Tom Abell, and another £125,000 selection in England all-rounder David Willey in the new-look squad.
Afridi’s compatriot and right-arm fast bowler Haris Rauf was chosen by the Fire in the later rounds too, yet several of the other big-name men’s overseas players were not chosen.
Bangladesh star Shakib Al Hasan, West Indies all-rounder Kieron Pollard and Australian duo Marcus Stoinis and Adam Zampa were not selected in the £125,000 category, while Pakistan captain Babar Azam, New Zealand seamer Trent Boult, and West Indies all-rounders Dwayne Bravo and Andre Russell were among those passed on in the £100,000 category.
Elsewhere, England batter Ben Duckett got his wish of moving to Birmingham Phoenix from the Fire on the fourth pick, with the Cardiff franchise selecting his international team-mate Willey with the final pick of the first round.
“Difficult leaving a side I’ve played for, for the past two years, but for me personally it felt it was time to have a fresh start,” Duckett said of his move to Edgbaston.
“Only winning a couple of games in two years, I hope they get on track this year, but three years in a career is a long time and Birmingham is a great ground to play at.
“[Phoenix] seem to have a great team playing against them, some explosive batters – I’ll try and play anchor and get them on strike.”
Among the other England internationals up for grabs, Reece Topley is moving to Northern Superchargers from Oval Invincibles after being chosen in the second round, while fellow fast bowler Olly Stone is set for his Hundred bow this year after being picked up by London Spirit.
Women’s draft: Right to match exercised on Devine, Wyatt | Kaur picked by Rockets
The afternoon began with the historic first women’s player draft in UK professional sport and Sophie Devine was the first name selected, being chosen by the Fire.
However, the Phoenix opted to exercise their ‘right to match’ to retain the services of the New Zealander who scored 102 runs and took two wickets for the Edgbaston-based franchise in 2022.
The Hundred women’s draft first-round picks
Birmingham Phoenix: Sophie Devine (right to match).
Southern Brave: Danni Wyatt (right to match).
Welsh Fire: Sophia Dunkley.
London Spirit: Grace Harris.
Manchester Originals: Laura Wolvaardt.
Northern Superchargers: Kate Cross.
Trent Rockets: Harmanpreet Kaur.
Oval Invincibles: Suzie Bates.
Meanwhile, India captain Harmanpreet Kaur, who topped the women’s batting averages playing for the Manchester Originals in the first year of The Hundred, went to the Trent Rockets with the seventh pick of the draft.
Another big overseas name to go in the first round was South African Laura Wolvaardt, who was chosen by the Originals, while compatriots Chloe Tryon and Lizelle Lee were chosen by the Southern Brave and Rockets respectively in the later rounds.
Of the England internationals to go in the first round, Danni Wyatt remained with the Brave after they exercised their right to match and blocked the Fire again on the second pick.
The Welsh franchise were eventually able to get Sophia Dunkley with the third pick of the draft, while the Northern Superchargers brought in Kate Cross.
“Absolutely delighted to be back, I can’t wait to get going again in the summer,” Wyatt told Sky Sports after her return to the Brave was confirmed.
“We maybe need another bowler, another all-rounder is really handy, I’ve seen we’ve got Chloe Tryon and Anya [Shrubsole] back which is great news.”
Sky Sports will show all 68 games in The Hundred live this summer. Trent Rockets face Southern Brave in opening game of the 2023 Hundred on August 1, live on Sky Sports Cricket.