Joe Root not surprised to be overlooked for Ben Stokes as The Hundred shapes up
Ben Stokes edged out Joe Root for the right to head up The Hundred’s Leeds-based franchise, with the England captain admitting he never stood a chance against cricket’s man of the moment.
The England and Wales Cricket Board’s new 100-ball franchise was launched on Thursday in an explosion of colourful shirts and jazzy new identities, with some of the country’s biggest names snapped up ahead of the full player draft on October 20.
Each of the eight teams announced five signings, one centrally-contracted Test player and two ‘local icons’ for the men’s sides and the first two members of their women’s roster.
Northern Superchargers, who represent Yorkshire and Durham, were forced to choose between White Rose favourites Root and Jonny Bairstow and Stokes – whose heroics in the World Cup and the Ashes made him the sport’s leading man in recent months.
They opted for Stokes, whose unforgettable match-winning century at Headingley is sure to ingratiate him to the locals, leaving Nottingham-based Trent Rockets to pick up Root, while Bairstow will head to Cardiff with Welsh Fire.
Root insisted there were no hard feelings about being overlooked and agreed Stokes was too tempting a proposition to turn down.
“I think anyone that had Stokesy at their disposal, especially off the back of this summer, was on to a winner really,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re Virat Kohli, you’d have struggled to get first choice over Ben. It will be nice to see him back at Headingley and I’m sure some fond memories will flood back for him when he’s playing there again.
“It will feel a little bit strange for me, I’ve never had to think about signing for anyone else in county cricket, but I’m excited to be at Trent Bridge – it’s a great ground, a fantastic wicket and there’s short boundaries!”
Bairstow enjoyed the “red hair, red kit” combination when he was assigned his new shirt and is embracing the change of scene.
There is no Welsh in the Bairstow lineage but he is friends with rugby union internationals Liam Williams and Jonathan Davies.
“I just messaged a couple of the Wales lads over at the World Cup in Japan and sent them a picture of the kit,” he said.
“It will feel weird going to Headingley and being in the away dressing room, but it’s an amazing honour to be one of the guys to figurehead a team. It’s a new competition and a new format. I enjoy Cardiff, I made my England debut there and it’s an amazing place, with the passion the fans show down there.”
Southern Brave, who represent Hampshire and Sussex, have Jofra Archer as their main attraction, Jos Buttler heads up the Manchester Originals, Chris Woakes will take the field for Birmingham Phoenix and Sam Curran joins brother Tom and Jason Roy at the Oval Invincibles.
World Cup-winning captains Eoin Morgan and Heather Knight will both play for London Spirit at Lord’s, with Surrey captain Rory Burns also crossing the capital divide to play at the home of cricket.
England two most prolific Test wicket-takers – James Anderson and Stuart Broad – will not feature in the competition as they focus on red-ball cricket but have been nominated in a mentorship capacity to Manchester Originals and Trent Rockets respectively.
At the moment 100-ball cricket is exclusively for the English domestic market but Woakes has already suggested it could find its way across the world and even into the international arena.
“No one thought international Twenty20 would happen years ago so for me it’s no different,” he said.
“If, and in my opinion when, this goes big I think the ICC will be keen to get a part of it.”
The men’s and women’s sides will be more unified than ever before and Anya Shrubsole, who will be leading the attack at Southern Brave, believes the relationship will be more than just a cosmetic one.
“It’s one team, one kit, one training ground and we’re excited to to see how that can develop,” she said.
“We can work together and share tactics: it’s a real partnership.”
Birmingham Phoenix: Chris Woakes, Moeen Ali, Pat Brown, Amy Jones, Kirstie Gordon; London Spirit: Rory Burns, Dan Lawrence, Eoin Morgan, Heather Knight, Freya Davies; Manchester Originals: Jos Buttler: Saqid Mahmood, Matt Parkinson, Kate Cross, Sophie Ecclestone; Northern Superchargers: Ben Stokes, Adil Rashid, David Willey, Lauren Winfield, Linsey Smith; Oval Invincibles: Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Jason Roy, Laura Marsh, Fran Wilson; Southern Brave: Jofra Archer, Chris Jordan, James Vince, Anya Shrubsole, Danni Wyatt; Trent Rockets: Joe Root, Harry Gurney, Alex Hales, Nat Sciver, Katherine Brunt; Welsh Fire: Jonny Bairstow, Tom Banton, Colin Ingram, Katie George, Bryony Smith.