Fixture congestion puts home-grown players in high demand for Hundred draft

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Joe Clarke among English players expected to attract top-bracket £125,000 price tag

Teams in the Hundred are expected to prioritise signing domestic players with their big-money picks in next week’s draft, with doubts over the availability of leading overseas stars due to clashes with international cricket.

ESPNcricinfo revealed last week that David Warner will be the star attraction after registering for the draft, which will be held behind closed doors on Monday before the ECB announce picks on Tuesday afternoon.

But the majority of men’s international teams have series scheduled during the Hundred, which runs from August 3 until September 3. While some teams may take punts on players whose availability is unclear, several of the 17 overseas picks due to be made at the draft will be filled by players who are not regulars for their national teams.

London Spirit, who finished bottom last year, will make the first of the 42 picks at the draft, with Welsh Fire due to make the most picks (seven). All eight teams need to fill at least four spots in their squads following the close of the retention window last month and there are 11 top-bracket £125,000 contracts available,

Eight players (Babar Azam, Chris Gayle, Mitchell Marsh, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Nicholas Pooran, Tabraiz Shamsi and Warner) have registered for the draft with a £125,000 reserve price, but all eight could miss games due to clashes elsewhere. One leading agent told ESPNcricinfo that several players had only been registered in case of last-minute changes which would enable them to sign deals as replacements, or in the unlikely case that teams are willing to cope with severely limited availability in 2022 in order to retain a player for 2023.

Pakistan are due to tour Sri Lanka from July until early August before the Asia Cup starts in late August; Cricket Australia are expected to schedule an ODI series against Zimbabwe for the start of September which could rule players out of the knockout stages; South Africa play two T20Is against Ireland at the start of August and a Test series against England from mid-August; and West Indies will play home white-ball series against New Zealand in August before the Caribbean Premier League starts on August 30.

Trent Rockets, who were beaten in the eliminator by eventual champions Southern Brave last year, will make the sixth pick in the draft and are expecting teams to sign leading domestic players like Joe Clarke, Tom Banton and Liam Dawson for high salaries in the early rounds. They already have two out of their three overseas slots filled by Rashid Khan – retained despite limited availability due to Afghanistan’s T20I series against Ireland – and Marchant de Lange, but anticipate that some Englishmen will be signed before they get their turn.

“There will be some English domestic players who will probably benefit a lot from this year’s draft because of the lack of availability and confusion around the FTP [Future Tours Programme],” Mick Newell, the Rockets’ general manager, told ESPNcricinfo. “Then the CPL starts before the Hundred finishes so there’s a lot going on but I think good-quality English players will find themselves in demand next week.

“Everyone would love a window for their competition but there’s only one competition that gets a window and we know where that is [the IPL]. To get player availability is crucial for the Hundred – men’s and women’s – and I think it’s really important that we try and create as much space as we can. But that’s with the knowledge that lots of countries have got lots of fixtures to fulfil.

“With the World Cup Super League, games that might have been moved aside in the past are going to be hard to move. Big star names are great but it might be different this year – the Aussies are more available this year but might be less available next year. There’s always going to be that mix. For us [Trent Rockets], we had the ability to keep someone like Rashid Khan and have him in our team for as many games as possible this year. But he’s also got that commitment from us that we want him to stay the year after, when we hope he’s available more.”

Availability is significantly better in the women’s Hundred, with the tournament due to start four days after the final of the Commonwealth Games at Edgbaston. Leading internationals including Alyssa Healy, Sophie Devine, Smriti Mandhana and Marizanne Kapp have already confirmed their involvement, while further big names – including Australia’s breakout star Tahlia McGrath – are expected to be unveiled next week.

The full list of players who have registered for the men’s draft is available on the Hundred’s website.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98

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