The key match-ups to watch in the early rounds of The Hundred

The England and Wales Cricket Board has announced its male Test stars will be available to take part in the first two rounds of The Hundred, lending their star power to the launch of the new format.

Organisers and fans would probably have liked to have the best-known players around for even longer, but the demands of the forthcoming India Test series mean they must quickly refocus on red-ball cricket.

A statement read: “Players selected in the squad for the first two Tests will be available to play in The Hundred for each team’s first two matches. Those players will then leave their respective Hundred teams to join up with the Test squad.”

With the women’s competition also pitting international stars against each other, PA Media picks out some of the most enticing head-to-heads from those early fixtures.

Round 1:

Jason Roy (Oval Invincibles) v Jos Buttler (Manchester Originals)

Jos Buttler will hope to shine in the new competition
Jos Buttler will hope to shine in the new competition (David Davies/PA)

Two of England’s big-hitting World Cup stars clash in a mouth-watering opening men’s fixture at the Kia Oval. The pair are undoubtedly two of the biggest draws in the competition.

Shafali Verma (Birmingham Phoenix) v Heather Knight (London Spirit)

England’s Heather Knight will captain London Spirit
England’s Heather Knight will captain London Spirit (Steven Paston/PA)

India opener Verma, 17, is a fearless, clean-hitting batter that could have the crowd on the edge of their seats. It will be interesting to see how Knight, captain of England and the Spirit, deals with her.

Round 2:

Sophie Ecclestone (Manchester Originals) v Issy Wong (Birmingham Phoenix)

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Ball could have the edge over bat in this encounter with Ecclestone, the left-arm England spinner, on one side and the pace of Wong on the other. Ecclestone is regarded as one of the world’s best bowlers and has previously excelled in the T20 format while Wong’s speed captures the imagination.

Joe Root (Trent Rockets) v Ben Stokes (Northern Superchargers)

England’s Ben Stokes (left) and Joe Root (right) will be on opposite sides in The Hundred
England’s Ben Stokes (left) and Joe Root (right) will be on opposite sides in The Hundred (Nick Potts/PA)

The presence of two of England’s senior and most inspirational figures on opposite sides adds plenty of stardust to this fixture. Root’s brilliance in all forms of the game and Stokes’ talismanic flair almost guarantee excitement.

Jonny Bairstow (Welsh Fire) v Jofra Archer (Southern Brave)

Jonny Bairstow will hope to provide the spark for Welsh Fire
Jonny Bairstow will hope to provide the spark for Welsh Fire (Nigel French/PA)

Two more England stars meet at Sophia Gardens. Archer has endured an injury-hit start to the season but fans will hope he can crank up the pace as he comes up against Bairstow.