The new era of The Hundred will begin without three of Twenty20 cricket’s most decorated veterans after Chris Gayle, Lasith Malinga and Dwayne Bravo went unsold at the competition’s inaugural draft.
Next year’s debut edition of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s 100-ball tournament took its biggest step yet towards becoming a reality on Sunday, with the eight city-based franchises signing the bulk of their squads in a live televised event in a neon-lit London studio.
With one England Test star and two ‘local icons’ already allocated, the teams picked up 12 players apiece including three overseas names.
But while Trent Rockets made 21-year-old Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan the coveted number one pick and six Australians including Steve Smith and David Warner also landed the maximum £125,000 payday, the overlooked trio represented a changing of the guard.
Gayle is the leading run-scorer in all T20 cricket, while Bravo and Malinga are the format’s top two wicket-takers, but all three franchise regulars were passed over as coaches looked elsewhere for their big-money selections.
Just 96 players were selected from a field of 571, with Lancashire all-rounder Liam Livingstone the only Englishman cashing in during the first round.
Lewis Gregory, Liam Dawson, Sam Billings, Tom Abell and Phil Salt were next up in the £100,000 bracket.
Manchester Originals, coached by Simon Katich, drew raised eyebrows when they went for the relatively unheralded Dane Vilas at the maximum reserve, whereas two of England’s World Cup-winning XI were picked up at seemingly bargain prices, Mark Wood heading to Lord’s-based London Spirit on a £75,000 deal and Liam Plunkett making £50,000 with Welsh Fire.
On a domestic level the competition for places left a handful of notable white-ball cricketers on the outside, including Olly Stone, Samit Patel, Jamie Overton, Sam Hain, Ian Bell, Rikki Clarke and Steven Finn.
The likes of Luke Wright, Craig Overton, Laurie Evans, Jade Dernbach, Riki Wessels and Luke Fletcher – all experienced short-form campaigners – must have been fearing the same fate but were chosen in the final round at the minimum £30,000 bracket.
Shane Warne, head coach of London Spirit, suggested Gayle and Malinga were left in the cold because they had over-reached.
“I think they priced themselves wrong,” he said.
“If they’d gone in at £100,000 and not £125,000, I think they’d have been picked up.”
Northern Superchargers counterpart Darren Lehmann added: “It was a tough one, they’ve been superstars for so long but then the next generation is knocking on the door…you’ve only got two picks at £125,000.”
England’s man of the moment, Ben Stokes, who previously edged Test captain Joe Root as the landmark pick of the Headingley side, believes the competition represents a step up for the domestic calendar.
He said: “Oh yes, 100 per cent.
“Every game will be a big game, with so many people watching and playing against the very best in the world.
“It makes you a better cricketer when you’re exposed to better players and I’m really looking forward to playing for the franchise.
“I think we look like the best team on paper as we’ve got all bases covered: power, spin and Ben Foakes as keeper – he’s the best in England.”
Smith, who scored runs relentlessly in the recent Ashes series, appeared via video link from Sydney to voice his approval of an enterprise that has been greeted with mixed opinions at home.
“It’s going to be exciting, the first ever 100-ball comp and I’m looking forward to joining Jonny Bairstow and Mitchell Starc at the tournament.
“It’s a bit different and it’ll be a learning curve for the first few games but it’s exciting.”