Head­in­g­ley side pick Stokes ahead of Test cap­tain

Root and Bairstow are ig­nored by ‘home’ team Each of eight fran­chises pick an Eng­land player

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Front Page - Nick Hoult CRICKET NEWS COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow will have to be­come ac­cus­tomed to life away from York­shire af­ter North­ern Su­per­charg­ers, the new Hun­dred fran­chise based at Head­in­g­ley, chose Ben Stokes as their one pick from Eng­land’s Test-con­tracted play­ers.

In­stead, Test cap­tain Root has been drafted by the Trent Rock­ets in Not­ting­ham and Bairstow will play for the Welsh Fire in Cardiff.

Eng­land’s World Cup win­ners lined up to sup­port the Hun­dred yes­ter­day as the first con­firmed de­tails of the com­pe­ti­tion were fi­nally an­nounced.

Each of the eight teams were al­lowed to pick one cen­trally-con­tracted Test player and two “lo­cal” icons from Eng­land’s white-ball play­ers. The women’s teams could pick two Eng­land play­ers. The names of the fran­chises were also con­firmed and the kits made pub­lic. The tour­na­ment is be­ing spon­sored by KP Snacks and each team bear the logo of one of its brands, with KP Nuts on the shirts of the Oval In­vin­ci­bles, which should keep Kevin Pi­etersen happy, and Hula Hoops on the Western Fire.

Chris Woakes was wear­ing a redand-pink shirt with But­terk­ist pop­corn em­bla­zoned across the front as the icon player for the Birm­ing­ham Phoenix, while Eng­land cap­tains Eoin Mor­gan and Heather Knight will play at the Lord’s fran­chise, the Lon­don Spirit, spon­sored by Tyrrells crisps, the suit­ably up­mar­ket brand in the KP sta­ble.

Root said: “I have never had to think about sign­ing for any­one else in terms of county cricket, but I’m very ex­cited to be in­volved at Trent Bridge. I think any­one who had Stokesy at their dis­posal on the back of this sum­mer were on to a win­ner. Even if you were Vi­rat Kohli, you would still have strug­gled to be picked ahead of Ben.”

Bairstow texted his friends in the Wales rugby team play­ing at the World Cup in Japan to tell them he would be in Cardiff next sum­mer. “There is loy­alty in county cricket to York­shire, but when it comes to a new league with new fran­chises, it is a new start. But it will feel weird go­ing to Head­in­g­ley and be­ing in the away dress­ing room,” he said.

Eng­land’s Test play­ers will be avail­able for around four matches, in­clud­ing the fi­nals week­end, and the women’s com­pe­ti­tion will run along­side the men’s. The men’s matches will take place at the eight Test grounds, which will host some women’s games as dou­ble head­ers, with oth­ers at smaller venues such as Northamp­ton (Lon­don Spirit) and Taun­ton (Welsh Fire).

“Hope­fully, it will put us on level peg­ging with the men and make cricket a gen­der-neu­tral sport,” said Knight. “It will be great for the women’s game. There is a dan­ger our games could get lost, so it is im­por­tant we make sure they are pushed for­ward and the play­ers put on ex­cit­ing cricket, em­brace the tour­na­ment and put on a show.”

The Hun­dred has been be­set with prob­lems and po­lit­i­cal wran­gling. Pre­dictably, there were teething is­sues yes­ter­day, with the big -screen graph­ics ac­com­pa­ny­ing the an­nounce­ment of the Eng­land player sign­ings mal­func­tion­ing.

But it is the play­ers who will make the tour­na­ment work and they are start­ing to come around to think­ing about the tac­tics in­volved.

Bowlers will be able to bowl up to 10 balls in a row, pro­vid­ing a new strate­gic headache for cap­tains, but bats­men be­lieve it will just be Twenty20 with 100 balls in­stead of 120. Bairstow said teams would aim to score two runs a ball, mak­ing “180 to 200” a tar­get, while Jofra Archer shrugged and said “why not” when asked if he could bowl 10 balls in a row at 90mph.

“I think it could im­prove death bowl­ing in the short for­mats,” Root said.

Many ex­ist­ing sup­port­ers ap­pear to have made up their minds about the com­pe­ti­tion, and tribal loy­al­ties in British sport are why it has been so hard in the past to build fran­chise teams from noth­ing.

But with play­ers such as AB de Vil­liers, David Warner, Mitchell Starc and Steve Smith in the draft, which will be held on Oct 20, the con­cen­tra­tion of tal­ent should help and the might of Sky Sports and the BBC, which will show its first live cricket con­tent for 20 years, will ben­e­fit the Eng­land and Wales Cricket Board enor­mously.

Stu­art Broad and James An­der­son were not drafted and will be used for pro­mo­tional pur­poses only, with both ex­pected to work for BBC and Sky when not play­ing Test cricket for Eng­land.

Spon­sor­ship outcry: News P5

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