Ollie Pope has switched to Welsh Fire as the first batch of players to feature in The Hundred next year were revealed, with London Spirit selecting Zak Crawley ahead of Rory Burns, who is on his way to Oval Invincibles.
The inaugural edition of the 100-ball competition was postponed by 12 months because of the coronavirus pandemic but the deferral does not mean last year’s deals automatically transfer to the summer of 2021.
England last week updating who holds a men’s central contract had an impact as all eight teams are guaranteed at least one individual who holds a Test deal, and six of the eight franchises stuck with their initial selection.
However, Jonny Bairstow dropping off the England and Wales Cricket Board list of red-ball contracts left the Cardiff-based franchise needing a replacement for him – and they have plumped for Pope.
The middle-order batsman was initially signed by Southern Brave at last year’s televised draft.
“I’m incredibly excited to be joining Welsh Fire. The side had a really strong squad lined up and I’m sure they’ll be working hard to retain some of the star names and further strengthen the side in the upcoming draft,” Pope said.
“We have all experienced a year none of us could have predicted but The Hundred promises to be a hugely exciting competition next year and I can’t wait to take part.”
The Lord’s-based London Spirit decided to keep hold of Crawley, who was added to the squad through last year’s draft, so Burns is therefore heading across London to join Sam Curran at The Oval.
England opener Dom Sibley, who alongside Crawley and Pope were handed a red-ball deal for the first time in their careers last week, will link up with Chris Woakes at Birmingham Phoenix.
The announcement marks the start of a three-month window running until the end of January in which the teams can retain their players from their original squad. Another draft will be held in early 2021 for the remaining players.
The women’s competition has a simpler process as players can roll over their deals on their existing terms or enter into market negotiations – and eight high-profile internationals have chosen the former option.
Heather Knight is conspicuous by her absence on the list – with West Indies opener Deandra Dottin the player agreeing to be retained by London Spirit – although that is no indicator of the England captain’s intentions.
Windies captain Stafanie Taylor is being kept by Southern Brave, Birmingham have kept Amy Jones, Kate Cross stays with Manchester Originals and Lauren Winfield-Hill will remain with Northern Superchargers.
Fran Wilson has been retained with the Invincibles, Trent Rockets have held on to Nat Sciver and Katie George is staying at Welsh Fire.
Retained players: Birmingham Phoenix – Amy Jones, Dom Sibley and Chris Woakes. London Spirit – Zak Crawley and Deandra Dottin. Manchester Originals – Jos Buttler and Kate Cross. Northern Superchargers – Ben Stokes and Lauren Winfield-Hill. Oval Invincibles – Rory Burns, Sam Curran and Fran Wilson. Southern Brave – Jofra Archer and Stafanie Taylor. Trent Rockets – Joe Root and Nat Sciver. Welsh Fire – Katie George and Ollie Pope.