The Hundred - Draft analysis
The draft for the 2022 edition of the Hundred took place a couple of Mondays ago (April 4th), with the selections announced publicly the next day. In total, 42 places were up for grabs, including 17 overseas spots. What should’ve been an interesting event, ended up being a bit of a damp squib. The decision against live streaming or televising the draft was frustrating, logistically it would’ve been difficult but for a tournament that wants to be among the best, it should’ve been a non-negotiable. Likewise, the quality of overseas players picked left a lot to be desired, from an individual franchise point of view it was understandable, with lots of availability issues surrounding the bigger names, again though, it’s something The Hundred will need to find a solution to if it wants to be one of the best tournaments.
Before taking a look at the picks, it’s worth reminding ourselves of what happened last year:
Birmingham Phoenix topped the table after the group stages and thus went straight through to the final. Southern Brave thumped Trent Rockets in the eliminator and then went on to win in the final against Birmingham Phoenix. The pre-tournament favourites peaked at the right time after not always convincing in the group stages, where Birmingham Phoenix had clearly been the best side. Other than that, the final standings were fairly predictable, Welsh Fire and London Spirit looked like the two weakest sides on paper and they both ended up in the bottom two. Perhaps, the only surprise for me was that Oval Invincibles didn’t finish in the top three, with the domestic core they had, I expected them to finish above Trent Rockets but a loss in their final group game against Southern Brave meant they finished fourth.
It’s worth noting that in this competition only 3/8 teams qualify for the ‘play offs’, which makes it much more difficult than certain competitions like the PSL/CPL where it’s 4/6. This is a good thing in my opinion, it means there’s less chance of rewarding mediocrity - if you finish in the bottom half of a competition, you shouldn’t have the opportunity to win said competition, which is a possibility if your team finishes fourth in the PSL/CPL or 5th in the BBL for example. One change I would like to see occur, is that 1st/2nd should play each other, with the winner going through to the final and the loser playing third place in an ‘eliminator’, rather than first place going straight through tot he final.
With a brief re-cap of last year’s tournament completed, here is the full draft list from earlier this week:
As a result of limited overseas ability, many of the top picks went to domestic players, with only 12 of the top 32 slots being used on overseas players, probably not what tournament organisers had in mind for their vision of the Hundred, heading into its second year. Nevertheless, there’s still some quality players involved and a few of the teams boast some really impressive domestic talent, as always, some teams have recruited much better than others.
It’s probably worthwhile discussing the general availability issues before looking at each individual squad. The start date for the Hundred this year is August 3rd, with the group stages ending on August 31st, before the eliminator & the final will take place on the 2nd & 3rd of September respectively. A slightly later tournament this year (roughly two weeks), owing to the re-jigged domestic schedule for this season.
General availability issues
- Test players - England have a test series against South Africa, starting on August 17th and concluding on 12th September, this effectively rules England test players out of the majority of the Hundred. Most players will be available for the first 2–3 games for their franchises and will then join up with the England squad. There is a bigger gap between the 2nd & 3rd test, ECB’s plan is that this should allow test players to be involved in the knockout rounds but I expect that’ll depend on how England are fairing in the series against South Africa.
- Asia Cup - This will limit the availability of players from four nations (Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan & Pakistan) plus India but they don’t allow their players to play in franchise tournaments outside of the IPL anyway. The tournament itself starts on August 27th, however, many of the aforementioned nations already have pre-organised tours and/or warm up games taking place before that. In particular, Sri Lanka & Pakistan players will be scarcely involved in this season of the Hundred.
- CPL Clash - The 2022 edition of the CPL is set to start on August 30th, if we assume that Windies players would want to arrive in the Caribbean a few days prior to start, it means they’re ruled out of the final 1–2 group stage games & the knockout rounds in the Hundred. This one is particularly frustrating, as you’d have to think it would’ve been easily avoidable had there been better communication between the two leagues.
- South Arica - Have a two match T20 series against Ireland in early August and then the test series against England. Non-test playing South Africans (like David Miller & De Kock) will be available for the majority of the Hundred.
- Australia - The details for this are yet to be fully arranged but Zimbabwe are supposedly touring Australia for an ODI series in early September, which could rule Australian players out of the knockout rounds. It’s unknown whether cricket Australia would pick a full strength squad for this series but it was enough to deter franchises from drafting players like David Warner.
- Sri Lanka/Pakistan - Pakistan will travel to Sri Lanka for a three match Odi/two match test series in July/August, with dates yet to be confirmed. Given the multi-format nature of this series and the fact that Pakistan are also rumoured to be playing a three match ODI series with Netherlands in July, I think it’s safe to say the Sri Lanka/Pakistan series would start in late July at the earliest. With the Asia cup also taking place in late August, this severely impacts the availability of Sri Lanka & Pakistan players.
- West Indies - A home t20 & ODI series against India in late July/August, followed by the CPL would restrict multi-format West Indies players to only a couple of games. Which is perhaps why only one Windies player that regularly features in the maroon was picked - Kieron Pollard.
- Afghanistan - Play a five match t20 series with Ireland in the middle of August, meaning Rashid Khan could be available for a couple of games at best.
- Test duty - There’s a good chance that Zak Crawley, Dan Lawrence and Mark Wood will all be in the test squad for the series against South Africa. So each of these players will likely only be available for 2–3 group games, potentially knockout matches, though that’s unconfirmed.
- Kieron Pollard - Availability likely to be very limited. Could be available for 10–14 days in mid August, which would see him play 3–4 matches if they’re lucky.
- Glenn Maxwell - If Australia select a full strength squad for the Zimbabwe series, there’s a good chance Maxwell will miss the knockout rounds for the Hundred, if London Spirit made it that far.
The squad definitely looks a bit more positive than last year, though there were still some strange picks, particularly their high end picks. Kieron Pollard and Liam Dawson in the 125k category were questionable decisions, considering Pollard’s limited availability and Liam Dawson is far from a top end player in shorter formats. The other picks were mostly okay and they did well to retain promising fast bowlers Brad Wheal and Blake Cullen in the 30k price band.
Full strength XI:
On paper, this certainly looks like a decent XI, at least, one that shouldn’t be close to the bottom of the table. However, we’re unlikely to see this exact XI at any point, with Pollard’s availability at the start of the tournament uncertain and as many as three players could be on England duty by the time he arrives.
Once again, this isn’t even a completely realistic XI, due to the fact Pollard won’t be available for the full tournament. I’ve included him in the team because they don’t really have a replacement for him right now and it’s something they’ll need to focus on in the wild card draft.
Pace bowling options - London Spirt have plenty of pace bowling options with Mark Wood, Riley Meredith, Chris Wood, Blake Cullen & Brad Wheal all being part of the squad, they also have Jordan Thompson, though he’s more of a ‘sixth bowler.’ Two high pace options in Mark Wood & Meredith & an enforcer style bowler in Blake Cullen, plus a more powerplay-orientated option in Chris Wood, the Spirit look to have most bases covered.
Batting depth - A batting line up with Jordan Thompson & Liam Dawson likely to feature at 7 & 8 is more than enough depth for a 100 ball competition. I don’t really rate Dawson’s limited overs batting but he’s capable of a hitting a boundary in the last few overs if needed, if he’s used higher up the order, it becomes more of a concern.
Availability - Potentially missing three crucial players to test duty is more than most teams will have to deal with. While the availability of Pollard is far from guaranteed and Maxwell could also miss later group stage games/knockout rounds.
Top order - An opening partnership of Bell-Drummond and Rossington is oay but it isn’t exactly top-notch. Many teams in the competition will have a far better opening partnership than this.
Possible wildcard pick(s) - Azam Khan & Arron Lilley.
Three of their first choice top six (Crawley, Lawrence & Pollard) are likely to be missing for large parts of the season and they’ve only got two replacements for these players (Bell-Drummond & Bopara), it certainly looks like they need at least one more batting option.
Unless there is a surprise change, Azam Khan is likely to have good availability for the Hundred, due to his absence from most of the recent Pakistan squads, with only a potential CPL stint emerging as a possible issue. He has genuine quality and is one of the best players of spin around, he could act as a backup to Pollard and take his place when he’s unavailable and there’s also a chance he could force his way into the starting XI regardless, as I don’t see Riley Meredith as undroppable.
I would double down on the batting and go for Arron Lilley as a domestic option. Lilley has gone from a pinch-hitter role to becoming a genuine t20 batting option in recent seasons for Leicestershire, his performances probably warrant a contract in the Hundred, especially when you consider he can bowl some part-time off spin if needed.
- Test duty - Welsh Fire will almost certainly be missing two players, with Bairstow and Pope both highly likely to be involved in the test series against South Africa. There are also a few names that have an outside chance of selection, particularly if this review of English cricket that Andrew Strauss is conducting leads to any major selection changes. Players like Joe Clarke, Sam Hain, Ben Duckett, David Payne and Ryan Higgins could all have half a chance at being selected.
- Naseem Shah - There’s every chance that given his recent exploits, in addition to his county stint with Gloucestershire this summer, if he impresses there, he could be selected in the Pakistan squad for the series against Sri Lanka and then the Asia Cup. Although Pakistan do some a little hesitant to utilise his white ball skillset.
- David Miller - Will most likely miss one match due to the South Africa t20 series against Ireland.
- Adam Zampa - Possbile ODI series against Zimbabwe in early September, which Zampa would be involved in, if Australia selected a full strength XI. Would miss the knockout rounds if Welsh Fire made it that far.
My initial thoughts are that the squad looks much more exciting than last season, where overseas availability and the last-minute selection of Bairstow for the England team, which came out of the blue, really hampered the quality of their squad. There looks to have been a clear emphasis on youth this time around, all of the domestic players they signed at the draft are aged 26 or under.
Full strength XI:
This is what I think they’ll do when at full strength, personally, I’d probably try to get Bethell into the XI, who looks like an excellent prospect. The potential top three could be in any order but I think Bairstow is probably the most reliable player of quality spin, so I’d go with him at 3.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there’s room for Ollie Pope in the XI - a player that really needs to get more white ball games under his belt. Unless Welsh Fire choose to go with only five bowling options, which would be a risk, given they’d only have Higgins or Critchley as a fifth bowling option.
I’ve still included Naseem Shah in this XI because he isn’t certain to be involved in either of the Pakistan series’ that will take place during the Hundred. However, it’s likely and in order to replace his quality, they’d have to use their overseas wildcard on another pace bowler.
Leus du Plooy and Sam Hain will be fighting for the same position in the team, I don’t see a way in which both could play. On the basis that they’ve already got two LHB’s in the middle order, with Duckett & Miller at 3 & 5 respectively, I think the right-handed Hain will get the nod and than number 4 role, is one that he has played a lot more frequently for Birmingham in the t20 blast in the last couple of seasons.
Top order batting - Tom Banton & Joe Clarke are two of the best boundary hitters in domestic cricket, while Bairstow’s qualities are well-known and he has demonstrated them consistently, at much higher levels. In a brief return to domestic cricket last summer, Bairstow scored 423 in six innings across his games in the t20 blast/the hundred, at a strike rate of almost 175. Even if he only plays a limited amount of games for Welsh Fire this summer, it would still be a welcome boost. With Ben Duckett added to this trio, they’ve also got one of the best players of spin in domestic cricket, Duckett has been the fastest scoring player against spin in the t20 blast over the last three seasons:
Powerplay bowling - I’m a massive fan of Naseem Shah’ new ball ability and I think he’ll develop into one of the best powerplay bowlers in the world. In addition to Naseem, they’ve also got David Payne & Jake Ball, who have been two of the more reliable t20 new ball bowlers in domestic cricket.
Pace bowling depth - It’s just Naseem Shah, David Payne, Jake Ball and then a big drop off to someone like Ryan Higgins, in terms of t20 bowling ability. They don’t really have any back up options at all and an injury/availability problem for one of their main trio could cause big issues.
Squad structure - An overload of batting options, which has resulted in the point above but also an overload of top order batting options and none of these really offer a bowling option. Leus du Plooy is perhaps the only player that does and he isn’t likely to play. The lack of bowling options in the top five means they have to compromise on player quality at 6 & 7, in order to balance the side.
Batting depth - Critchley and Higgins at 6 & 7 are definitely both capable batters but in comparison to a few other teams it looks a little underwhelming. In addition to this, the batting quality after that is limited, with four bowlers to come.
Possible wildcard pick(s) - Overseas pace bowler and Pat Brown.
Pat Brown has had a difficult couple of years since his breakthrough blast campaigns in 2018 & 19, which subsequently earned him an England call-up. Since then, a combination of injuries and poor performances have seen him fall out of favour, though I’m still a bit surprised he didn’t earn a contract for this competition. At 23, his talent is worth backing and Welsh Fire need a more death overs-orientated bowler, this could be a good fit for both parties.
As for the overseas pace bowler I’m not going to suggest a name because it depends on availability and which players are willing to be selected as ‘wildcards’ but this is definitely where I think Welsh Fire need to use their fourth overseas pick.
- Test duty - It looks like Jos Buttler is out of test reckoning for now, at least, this is a huge boost for Manchester, if Buttler will be available for the full season. There are a couple of potential absentees for Manchester though, with Ollie Robinson likely to be in the squad (if he proves his fitness) and there’s also a chance Matt Parkinson could be. However, if England don’t really consider him an option, you’d hope common sense prevails and he plays in the Hundred, rather than carrying drinks for England - something he has done a lot of in recent months.
- Wanindu Hasaranga - The series against Pakistan and the Asia cup leaves Hasaranga’s availability looking very limited, might play a couple of games at best. Looks like a pick to the future, with venue dynamics at Old Trafford in mind.
- Andre Russell - Will be involved in the CPL starting on August 30th. The Manchester Originals penultimate group game takes place on the 28th, so Russell will likely miss that, as well as the final group game + knockouts if they make it that far.
Their original retentions were okay, without being spectacular. They possibly retained 1–2 more players than they should’ve, for example, I didn’t really see the need to retain both Wayne Madsen & Colin Ackermann and you could argue they didn’t need to retain either of them. So there was certainly work to do for them heading into the draft and they got off to a good start, because of the drip feed nature of the revealing of the player picks, we knew of the top three picks for Manchester Originals before the final two were revealed.
As you can see from the screenshot above, securing Andre Russell, Laurie Evans and Wanindu Hasaranga as their top three picks was brilliant work, even if the latter is unavailable for most of this season, with future tournaments in mind, it’s a great pick. Considering the quality of this trio, if they got their final couple of picks right we could’ve been looking at a title-challenging team, however, I’m not sure they’ve given themselves a great chance of doing that by picking Dan Worrall & Sean Abbott - two picks that could’ve been better in my opinion.
Full strength XI:
I have Hasaranga carded at 5, mainly as a floater against spin, Lammonby or Overton would come in ahead of him if it was nearer the death overs.
The need (or lack of) to retain both of Madsen/Ackermann is encapsulated here, despite both being decent players, I’m not sure either gets into a first choice XI for Manchester, if everyone is available. Luckily for at least one of them, that won’t be the case for the majority of this season:
With Hasaranga missing, one of the two should come into the side and how they use their fourth overseas selection could be up for debate but I’d use it on a pace bowler, given the options they currently have. A secondary overseas pace bowler could come into the team, either directly for Worrall or one of Lammonby/Overton.
Spin bowling - It’s more of a necessity at Old Trafford but Manchester Originals have made sure they’ve recruited as many spin bowlers as possible. When at full strength, they’re likely to field three front-line spinners (Parkinson, Hartley & Hasaranga) as well as also having Calvin Harrison (leg spinner) in the squad and part-time off spin options from Madsen & Ackermann.
Pace hitters - The Originals have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to pace hitting:
Obviously Dre Russ is the standout but Lammonby & Overton have shown glimpses of being extremely valuable lower order hitters at domestic level. Phil Salt is also fast-scoring against non-spin, you know what you’re going to get with him anyway, he’ll take on anything in the powerplay. All in all, they have a lot of fast-scoring options and players that are relatively secure against non-spin. However, does this fit with the venue they’re playing at?
Pace Attack - They’ve got quite a few options; Abbott, Worrall, Klaassen, Russell, Overton & Robinson (when available) but they’re lacking quality. They’ve possibly got the weakest pace attack in the tournament in my opinion.
Left-handed batting options - This isn’t necessarily essential, if you’ve got good players of spin, Manchester have a couple, even still, it would be nice to have more than one LH batting option in the squad. As things stand, it’s only Tom Lammonby at the moment and he currently averages 12 against spin in his t20 career. I’m worried they’ll promote him up the order, by virtue of him being the only LH batting option they have and that wouldn’t suit his strengths at all.
Possible wildcard pick(s) - Josh Boyden & overseas pace bowler.
Boyden would be a useful addition, even if he is yet to debut in professional cricket. However, he did very well at the u19 WC, taking fifteen wickets in six games at an economy of 3.2 rpo and his powerplay threat was particularly impressive, something that should carry over to senior cricket, despite not being the quickest bowler around.
I suggested an overseas pace bowler as the second wildcard pick, however, if Hetmyer/Rajapaksa haven’t made up with their respective national sides, I’d sacrifice the extra bowler to get a high quality LHB in the middle order, if either are available for the majority of the tournament.
- Test duty - Unless there are surprise call ups, Ben Stokes should be the only player missing from the Superchargers squad, who they should get at least three games out of. Players with slim chances of being selected for England test duty would include Brydon Carse & Harry Brook.
- Dwayne Bravo - CPL duty so he will miss the knockout matches but they should get at least six, possibly seven games out of him before he leaves.
There has been a change off the field between seasons at the Superchargers, with James Foster taking over as head coach, from Darren Lehmann, who resigned from the role earlier this year. Foster will be able to call upon the services of Hassan Cheema, who has been given the role of team analayst. This is a positive move from the franchise, Cheema has worked for Islamabad United in the PSL as strategy manager for many years and has helped build one of the more exciting teams in t20 cricket.
On initial viewing the squad certainly looks capable of challenging, it’s on the older side but I think they’ve still recruited well and a lot of the older players they’ve picked will still have a positive impact on the team.
Full strength XI:
I think Faf du Plessis is likely to be named captain, taking over from David Willey who had the role last season. There could be a potential debate surrounding Faf’s potential opening partner, with Adam Lyth and Luke Wright both in the squad and also Ben Stokes is a potential candidate when he’s available. I’d always lean towards a left hander to pair with Faf, as long as you aren’t sacrificing quality for the sake of having a LH/RH combination and with Lyth I don’t think you’re doing that. Faf & Lyth opening, with Stokes at 3 would be my first choice top 3.
When Stokes departs, the Superchargers can either replace him by picking Luke Wright or promoting someone from the full strength XI. Personally, I’d go with the latter and David Willey looks to be the ideal candidate, having performed a top order role for Yorkshire on many occasions. By going with Willey, it would also allow them to keep six bowling options in the team and the remaining slot could either be filled by Van der Merwe/Parkinson or Potts depending on which direction they want to go.
Availability - The Superchargers look to have focused on availability as much as any other team in the competition. They’re only likely to miss Stokes and Bravo (for a couple of games), on this front, they look like they’re in a better position than most teams.
Batting depth - Genuine batting options until 9/10, depending on how highly you rate Wahab with the bat these days. Brydon Carse is likely to bat at 9 and he has a t20 strike rate of almost 150. Their batting depth should cover the absence of a natural ‘finisher’ in the XI.
Bowling variety - They’ve got some really nice variety in their bowling attack. The three key bowlers in each phase will be Willey (Powerplay), Rashid (middle overs) & Bravo (death), all of these bowlers are well above average in each of these phases. In addition to this, they also have Carse to play the enforcer role and Wahab to bowl in all phases, who is still capable of match-winning spells. The only thing they’re lacking is an orthodox spin option, which makes me think one of the SLA bowlers will play when Stokes departs.
Older squad - I don’t necessarily think this is an issue immediately but it could be in the future. Northern Superchargers comfortably have the highest average of any team in the tournament:
As you can see, with an average age of over 32 years old, Northern Superchargers have the oldest team in the competition, they’re one of only two sides with an average age of over 30. They look less prepared for the future than a lot of teams. Their strategy could be to win straight away, which is difficult to criticise in newly-created competition, winning, while playing good cricket is probably the easiest way to build a fanbase.
Conservative bowling - This is me being very critical, I just feel like the bowling line up is built to restrict, rather than take wickets. It seems like it’s closer to the T10 style of bowling line up we see - limited spin/death overs-orientated bowlers, instead of a more attacking bowling unit. In my opinion they could do with having another bowler with powerplay threat in the XI to pair with Willey. You never know, Wahab is capable of doing this, as he showed bowling with the new ball in t10’s but can he do it regularly over a full tournament? Again, this is me being hyper-critical, I think they’ve covered a lot of bases with this bowling line up.
Lacking a finisher - They’ve got players that are capable of being extremely destructive at the death when they bat through, particularly Faf du Plessis & Harry Brook and this should minimise the damage not having a natural ‘finisher’ will cause. Having said that, John Simpson at 6 isn’t ideal but I don’t really see any other role for him, the players above him are higher quality, this is problematic because Simpson typically isn’t very good at the death:
Despite one very good knock in the Hundred I’m still not convinced, his boundary percentage is low for this role and looks more suited to batting in the middle order. He might have improved, so it’ll be interesting to see how he goes in the t20 blast, which takes place prior to the Hundred.
The Superchargers have nice batting depth but you wouldn’t want to be relying on the likes of Bravo/Willey/Carse to be your consistent finishers.
Possible wildcard pick(s) - Will Fraine or Chris Cooke.
Fraine has shown glimpses of having immense death overs hitting potential in the last couple of blast seasons, especially in 2020 and perhaps hasn't played as many games as he should’ve. His death overs strike rate is almost 200, despite limited experience in the role.
Chris Cooke is another middle/lower order option and would also give them a backup keeping option to Simpson, from what I can see, this is something they’re currently lacking, unless one of their domestic batters can do a bit of keeping on the side, which is entirely possible given how common it is in England.
- Test duty - Rory Burns didn’t feature in the recent test series against West Indies but it wouldn’t surprise me if he was back in contention for the test sqaud by the end of this summer. Sam Curran and Saqib Mahmood are possibilities, perhaps Mahmood is more likely after impressing in his debut series in the Caribbean. Losing either of these would be a big blow.
- Sunil Narine - CPL clash, likely available for six games.
Like I said earlier, the Oval Invincibles would’ve been disappointed to miss out on the plays offs last, considering the domestic core they established, especially from a bowling side of things. A similar core should once again stand them in good stead for the coming season, having managed to retain most of them. The biggest loss for them is probably Laurie Evans, who moved to Manchester Originals for £125k. Jack Leaning will most likely be his replacement in the team, he looks like an astute buy and I’m surprised they managed to get him in round 6.
It’s a squad that’s dominated by Surrey & Kent players, with 10 of the 13 domestic players coming from those two teams. Nathan Sowter (Middlesex), Danny Briggs (Warwickshire) & Saqib Mahmood (Lancashire) are the odd ones out in this case. Two of the three domestic players they signed at the draft were Kent players (Leaning & Milnes), which is also where skipper Sam Billings plays his club cricket, so, you’d think he had a fair bit on influence in those signings.
Full strength XI:
The overseas signings aren’t exactly big names, with the exception of Sunil Narine but I think they’re still good bits of business. I’m often hesitant about Rossouw because of the lack of cricket he has played in the last 2–3 years, however, he does seem to be playing more recently of late and if he hits it like he did in the PSL, he’ll represent a bargain. Regardless of how he does, he’ll surely be an upgrade on Colin Ingram, who really struggled last season, apart from one knock of 81, in his other six innings he could only manage 39 runs and finished the tournament with a mediocre average and strike rate of 20 & 130.
As for Cartwright, he’s a much-improved player and deserves an opportunity outside of the BBL. In particular, his numbers against spin have improved noticeably:
A clear improvement and given that overseas spinners are fairly common in the BBL, this represents a good effort. If he can maintain that scoring rate against spin in other franchise competitions, he’ll surely have more deals coming his way.
Another interesting thing about Cartwright is his six-hitting prowess:
No player that’s faced at least 300 deliveries in the last two seasons of BBL has hit sixes more regularly than him, an impressive feat considering his home matches are played at the MCG - a notoriously big venue. Despite that, his boundary percentage is only just above average, which could suggest if he attacked more deliveries, there’s further potential for improvement upon his current numbers, that are already pretty good.
In terms of a realistic XI, it’s difficult to judge because Oval Invincibles could potentially have their first choice XI for the majority of the tournament if England selections go their way. I should say that in their first choice XI they could potentially play another bowling option instead of Leaning, with Narine & Curran moving up a place in the order, which is still plenty of depth. Any of Milnes, Briggs or Sowter could come in, though I’d expect they’d lean towards another spin option in the XI. It’ll be interesting to see what route they go down, as we know bowling performance tends to have a stronger correlation with win percentage than batting performance but four main bowlers, plus Sam Curran & Will Jacks/Leaning as a match up bowler could be seen as enough options when they’re at full strength.
Domestic core - This was a key focus for the Invincibles heading into the initial draft a couple of years ago and it certainly paid off. I’d argue that the level of recruitment has increased significantly amongst UK-based teams, even in the last 18–24 months, to the point where it would be very difficult/almost impossible to recruit a team with the domestic strength they have if there was a complete re-draft. The decision to focus on this in previous drafts has paid dividends, with them having six players that have played white ball cricket for England in the last 12 months in their starting XI and another in Will Jacks, who probably isn’t far away. The age profiles of these players is also a reason to be positive, three of them are 25 or under and only Billings & Roy are aged 30+.
Destructive top order - With an opening partnership of Jason Roy & Will Jacks, Oval Invincibles look like one of the best placed teams to utilise the powerplay. Only Alex Hales & Adam Lyth strike at a faster rate than Will Jacks during this phase in the last three seasons of t20 blast and if the recent PSL is anything to go by, Jason Roy is looking as destructive as ever on good quality pitches. If they want to they’ve also got the ability to have a powerplay pinch hitter, if an early wicket falls, through either Sam Curran or Narine, which they did experiment with last season.
Flexible middle order - With two floaters (Curran and Narine), plus a middle order of Cartwright, Rossouw & Billings, it gives them plenty of different options to go with depending on the scenario, making them a difficult team to plan for.
Death overs bowling - They’ve got a lot of bases covered but this does look to be an area of weakness. Sam Curran, Tom Curran and Saqib Mahmood all go at above 10.5 rpo in this phase since the start of 2019 and while Topley has better numbers (roughly 9rpo), that’s over a smaller sample size and I’m not sure you can fully count on him in this phase yet.
Availability - They don’t have massive availability issues, however, missing Sunil Narine and/or Sam Curran for games would be big losses and would definitely impact the balance of the side. Especially Narine, it looks difficult to replace his bowling ability with the current options they have.
Possible wildcard pick(s) - Delray Rawlins & overseas spin option.
They don’t necessarily need a SLA option because they already have Briggs, though I feel Rawlins would be a nice addition to this squad, given his batting ability and variety of roles he could potentially play. There’s a chance of losing Sam Curran to England duty and we already know that Narine won’t be available for the entire tournament, which could potentially leave them without both of their LH ‘floating’ options. Rawlins is a possible solution to this, having batted from postions 3–6 in t20 cricket and he also strikes at over 160 against SLA/leg spin, so could be used to target opposition spinners. I mentioned his bowling wouldn’t be a necessity but it would be a nice option to have, his overall economy rate is under 7.5rpo for Sussex but despite that he bowls less than five balls per game on average. I’d argue he should be utilised more and playing red ball cricket, like he seems to be doing this season, should only help his game develop.
As for the overseas spin option, there would be many options but it all depends on availability and which players would be willing to be selected as a wildcard pick. I would suggest Mark Deyal as a Narine back up but that would be pointless, considering he’ll be playing in the CPL as well. My pick for this role would be Noor Ahmad but more outside the box options could be someone like Adithya Ashok, Tanveer Sangha or Peter Hatzoglou.
- Test duty - Joe Root will obviously miss the majority of the season, though Dawid Malan’s involvement looks less certain, so he should be available for them. Joe Root is likely to be the only player they lose to the England squad.
- Rashid Khan - His participation in this competition, with their series against Ireland taking place from 9–17th of August and then the Asia Cup following that. Knowing what Rashid Khan is like, he’ll try his best to cram in some games for the Trent Rockets but it’s difficult to see him featuring in more than 1–2 games this season.
This Trent Rockets squad looks to have prioritised familiarity with home conditions even more so than other teams. Six of the domestic players in the squad currently play for Nottinghamshire and Luke Wood also used to play there, before moving to Lancashire.
Trent Rockets only had four signings to make at the draft, which was the joint-lowest (with Southern Brave) and most of their picks were top order batters. Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Colin Munro and Ian Cockbain were the three most expensive picks for them at the draft, before adding Luke Fletcher as their final selection.
Full strength XI:
Tom Kohler-Cadmore will likely take the gloves for Trent Rockets this season, which should give them a bit more flexibility with their playing XI. Joe Root probably wouldn’t make the XI, though he played in the games he was available last season. Would the ECB indicate to Trent Rockets that he needs to play in the games he is available?
I’d expect they’d use their final overseas pick to sign a spin option as a back up to Rashid Khan, in the unlikely event that they don’t, Sam Cook would probably come into the team, he had a good year in white ball cricket in 2021, taking 24 wickets in 17 games across his game in the t20 Blast & Hundred.
Spin attack - Assuming they sign an overseas spinner to play when Rashid Khan isn’t available, this will leave them always having three spin options in the XI, all offering something different. Wrist spin from the overseas bowler, SLA from Samit and off spin from Matt Carter. The conditions at Trent Bridge have been more receptive to spin in recent seasons and the Trent Rockets look well-placed to exploit this. Indeed last season they bowled more spin than any other team and by quite a significant margin:
A strength can sometimes be your weakness though and they do run the risk of teams being better prepared to face their onslaught of spin bowling this season, after it was perhaps a surprise that they bowled so much spin last season.
Opening partnership - A possible opening partnership of Hales & Munro (if they decide to go with it) has the potential to be both explosive and fairly reliable. Hales has been one of the best powerplay batters in the world over the past few years and while Munro has been less explosive, he has generally done well in higher scoring competitions like the PSL.
Pace attack - Limited options and the quality isn’t exactly spectacular. Lewis Gregory can’t really be relied on with the ball and he only bowled 25 deliveries last season, this could potentially leave De Lange and Luke Wood as the only pace options. A bit underwhelming in my opinion.
Away form - This ties in with the point above but have Trent Rockets gone too far in terms of building a team to exploit home conditions? Given it’s only an eight game league season, with four home & away matches and the variance of this format, even if you feel you’ve covered all the bases in terms of home performance, you can’t guarantee wins. I feel that they’ll have to alter their team balance more frequently than they did last season if they want to be successful at home & away from home. It’s only a small sample size but last season they won 3/4 at home and 2/5 away from home.
Clunky batting order - With Kohler-Cadmore and Cockbain likely to bat at 4 & 5, these probably aren’t their best-suited batting positions. They could adapt well but in an ideal world, you’d say they should each be batting one place higher. Kohler-Cadmore has mainly batted in the top 3 in his t20 career and likewise, Cockbain has mainly batted at 3 & 4, considering some of these players were picked at top-price points you’d think they would have targetted players a little more certain for each role.
Possible wildcard pick(s) - Dan Douthwaite & overseas spinner.
Douthwaite would give them another ‘finishing’ option, with Gregory currently looking like the only option in the team and he hasn’t exactly been firing of late in t20’s. He’s also probably got more use as a bowler in t20’s than Gregory. Could act as a backup to Gregory or play alongside him.
As for the overseas spinner, I think they’ll go for a more experienced option. Given the link with Trent Rockets head coach - Andy Flower, Imran Tahir would possibly be one of the top options if he is willing to be selected as a wildcard. Usman Qadir could be another option, depending on his selection status for Pakistan.
- Test duty - Almost certain to lose Chris Woakes to the test squad but other than that, they shouldn't have any other availability problems, after Moeen has retired from test cricket and Olly Stone won’t be playing any red ball cricket until later this year.
- Australia series - There’s a slim chance that Kane Richardson could be involved in the ODI series against Zimbabwe that takes place and even slimmer chance that Wade will be involved. Birmingham will be hoping to have both available for the entire tournament.
Birmingham were the dominant force in last season’s competition but couldn’t quite get over the line in the final, as they lost to a strong Southern Brave side, they weren’t helped by Finn Allen missing that game.
Their pace ace bowling, with the exception of Adam Milne, was the main issue for Phoenix last season, with their domestic trio of Pat Brown, Tom Helm and Dillon Pennington really struggling:
They don’t come out that badly on this graph but that’s because it includes Benny Howell, who had a great tournament, however, he isn’t really a pace bowler. If you remove him things look a lot worse:
That trio of Pennington, Brown and Helm went at almost 12rpo, which was over 0.6rpo higher than the next worst and over 2rpo worse than the tournament average. To be fair, this looked like an issue for them heading into last season, unless Chris Woakes was available or Pat Brown could re-discover his form, neither of those things happened and as a result, the pace bowling was their main issue.
It’s certainly something they’ve looked to address at the draft this year, three of their five signings were pace bowlers; Olly Stone, Kane Richardson and Matthew Fisher. Are any of these guys genuine difference makers as individuals? Probably not but crucially, they’re an upgrade on what they had last season and that should keep them competitive again this season.
Full strength XI:
I’m unsure if the lack of wrist spin option in the starting XI, was planned, a mistake or they just couldn’t get one of their preferred options at the draft. Maybe they see Livingstone (Leg spin/off spin), Moeen and Benny Howell as enough options for slower bowlers. Personally, I’d prefer to have a proper wrist spin option in the XI and I think it’s something they need to address with their wildcard picks, at least having an option beyond Livi in the squad is important in my opinion.
Chris Woakes is the only player that’s certain to miss games for Birmingham Phoenix, I’d expect they’d bring in another spin option when he departs. Currently, Graeme van Buuren would seem like the most likely choice, however, if they pick up a domestic wrist spinner at the wildcard draft, then they could go down that route. They do have other pace options to go with (Fisher & Brookes) but I’m not sure they’re required, with three pace bowlers already in the XI, plus Benny Howell.
Batting against spin - A middle order of Moeen, Livingstone and Abell is probably the best in the tournament and look to have no issues against spin. Moeen’ fast scoring against spin is well-documented but Abell is also a fantastic player of spin and can score all around the ground and Livingstone is no slouch against it either. Possibly the best 3–5 in the tournament.
Boundary hitters/batting team - This isn’t exactly surprising, considering the Phoenix are a Weston-influenced team but the sheer number of above average hitters they could have in the XI this year, should allow them to replicate what they’d consider to be their ideal batting template:
The above average boundary hitters just keep coming and you don’t get any rest from it until you get into the bowlers at 8/9. All of them are good six hitters as well, with Moeen and Livingstone standing out over large sample sizes and Benny Howell has improved a lot in this regard, during recent seasons. Tom Abell is the only ‘poor’ six hitter in the top 7/8 but he makes up for that relative weakness, with absurdly good strike rotation - a non-boundary strike rate of just under 84, which is one of the highest.
Death overs bowling - With Adam Milne and Kane Richardson, Birmingham have two decent options for this phase. They look to have one of the better death overs bowling attacks in the tournament.
No primary wrist spin option - I’m fairly certain this will be addressed at the wildcard draft, whether that’s down the domestic or overseas route, I’m less certain. However, it’s not ideal and they’ve probably missed out on a lot of the better options in this regard. Middle overs bowling, with Tahir & Howell was one of their main strengths as a bowling unit, so I’m surprised they’ve gone away from that thus far.
Powerplay bowling - Milne did very well in this regard last season but that was about it for the Phoenix. He looks to have potentially overperformed, based on his career/recent stats in that phase and given the other pace bowler signings, they don’t necessarily fully address the powerplay issue either. Birmingham could potentially look a little light in the powerplay in games where Woakes isn’t available, which is likely to be quite a few.
Possible wildcard pick(s): Wrist spin option & opening/top order batter.
Whether they go down the domestic or overseas route here doesn’t matter, it should be their first objective at the wildcard draft. For domestic options they could go for either Max Waller or Archie Lenham. Waller had always performed admirably in favourable batting conditions at Taunton and also offers the ability to bowl in powerplays, while Lenham is a young spinner that had a breakthrough year at Sussex last season and was also part of the Southern Brave squad.
For overseas options, it’s similar to the players I mentioned for other teams. Once again, Tahir could definitely be a possibility for them if he’s willing to be picked as a wildcard player, as he was part of the Birmingham Phoenix squad last season.
For their other wildcard pick I’d expect a top order player. Potential domestic options could be Chris Dent, Ed Pollock or David Lloyd, while Josh Inglis would be my top choice as an overseas player.
- Test duty - The only centrally contracted player that Southern Brave have is Jofra Archer, who’s on the comeback trail, after a long injury and the Hundred will likely be his first full tournament back - he should be available for them. There are no certain misses for Brave, though Vince and Craig Overton are possibilities.
- Quinton de Kock - Will miss one match due to the South Africa t20 series against Ireland. There is a seven day gap between Southern Brave’s first and second fixture, barring an injury, QDK will be available for that second game.
- Marcus Stoinis - Could possibly be involved in the Australia/Zimbabwe series if that goes ahead.
Unsurprisingly there weren’t massive changes to the squad that won the title last season. A strong bowling line up was crucial to that success and it looks to be no different this time around, with the potential added bonus of having Jofra Archer for the full tournament, who didn’t bowl a single ball for them last season.
In terms of the business they actually did at the draft, the Brave used their RTM on Quinton de Kock and then picked up Rehan Ahmed, Joe Weatherley and Daniel Moriarty in lower-priced slots. Although the signing of Rehan Ahmed at £50k may surprise a few, given he hasn’t even made his t20 debut for Leicestershire yet but after impressing at the u19 WC, it always seemed likely he’d be recruited by one of the smarter franchises. Joe Weatherley had a breakthrough season for Hampshire in the Blast least season and impressed at Finals day, while the addition of Moriarty gives them a SLA option, after losing Danny Briggs, Liam Dawson & Delray Rawlins between seasons.
Full strength XI:
Marcus Stoinis should open when they’re at full strength, though they do have other options if they wanted to switch things up, with both Alex Davies and James Vince having experience at the top of the order in t20’s. It’s an XI that features five frontline bowling options, however, batting depth doesn’t seem to be an issue as Garton, Jordan, Archer and even Lintott are all capable hitters and with Garton they’d have the option to promote him up the order as well. What’s less ideal is the lack of spin bowlers in the XI, with only Lintott as a genuine spin option. Their home venue (Ageas Bowl) has one of the biggest playing surfaces in the country and spinners generally do well, so, they may look to exploit that, it wouldn’t surprise me if Moriarty came in for some of those games, although, it’s difficult to suggest who it would be for.
Southern Brave *should* have their full strength XI available to them for the majority of the season, there’s a possibility that QDK missing their season opener could be the only availability issue they face all season. If that’s the case, then you’d assume they’ll be tough to beat, once again. I’d expect Weatherley to come into the side for the solitary game that QDK will miss & bat at 3/4, with one of Vince/Davies moving up to open (more likely Vince).
Bowling line up - It’s a fairly obvious one but this Southern Brave bowling unit is very good and it’s become even better with the likely addition of Jofra Archer. They’ve got the best domestic powerplay bowler (Archer) and the best domestic death overs bowler (Mills), as well as one of the better domestic wrist spin options (Lintott), who has been impressive in the last couple of seasons of the t20 blast and translated those performances to the first season of the Hundred. With five main bowling options, there isn’t an obvious weakness from a bowling perspective and they’ll certainly be a harder bowling unit to take down than most. They had the best pace attack in the competition last season and that was without Jofra Archer.
Opening partnership - If they go with the double overseas partnership of Quinton de Kock & Marcus Stoinis, it looks well-placed to go after pace early on. Although it could come unstuck against high quality wrist spin, it will be interesting to see if any opposing teams gamble on that early in the game.
Batting depth - Southern Brave have hitting ability from almost all of their bowlers, with Lintott, who is likely to come in a 10 and he is a capable of hitter. This depth helps cover up some of the issues with their batting line up.
Middle order batting - It’s just a bit reliant on Tim David firing, isn’t it? Otherwise a middle order of Vince, Davies and Whiteley isn’t exactly convincing. All are decent enough players but you wouldn’t say any of them are ideally suited to a 100 ball competition. Vince and Davies both struck at below 135 last season, while Whiteley faired better at 144, his blast numbers haven’t been all that impressive in recent seasons. It looks like a batting order that’s mostly built to chase below par/par totals that their bowling will likely provide but if they don’t, this batting unit could struggle.
Pace bowling depth - With the fitness of Jofra Archer far from certain, given his recent injury record and the possibility of Craig Overton being involved in the England test squad, Southern Brave look a bit short in the pace department and it’s something I’d look to address at the wildcard draft.
Possible wildcard pick(s) - Overseas pace bowler.
Personally, I’d prefer if they went after a more powerplay orientated pace bowler but it wouldn't surprise me if they considered Nathan Ellis, who will be playing for Hampshire in the t20 blast, who also play at the Ageas bowl (where Southern Brave play their home matches). Jason Behrendorff could be a good powerplay option and his availability should be fine for the entire tournament.
I would also look to add a domestic middle order player, although there aren’t exactly too many standouts. Someone like Joe Cracknell could be an option if he continues his progression. I’m sure there will also be a few names that will emerge during the upcoming t20 blast season.
With all eight teams covered, that concludes this summary of the 2022 retention/draft phase for The Hundred.
Thanks for reading!