So that’s the Local Icons picked up in the 100 ball draft. Now it’s on to the arguably the most exciting part which will see teams look to assemble their squad from a pool of local and international talent. What will be interesting to see if franchises follow their own personal needs or if they follow the big names. Here we will go through what the franchises already have, what they may need and who they should go for.
Local Icons: Chris Woakes, Moeen Ali and Pat Brown
The Pheonix’s Local Icon selectors seemed pretty obvious from the get-go and does set them up nicely for the draft. In signing Chris Woakes and Pat Brown, they have two very good death bowlers as well as the advantage of Woakes with the new ball as well.
The selection of Moeen was a no brainer, an off-spinning, top order batting allrounder who may well be a shoe in for the captaincy just seemed to tick so many boxes for the Pheonix and they wasted no time in selecting him.
From looking at the Local Icon picks – you would guess that a top-order batter and wicket keeper would be the next two priorities on the hierarchy of the Pheonix. With Moeen having the capability to bat anywhere in the top 5 – it also gives the Pheonix freedom to go after who they see fit as the draft unfolds.
One man that is surely on their radar is Quinton de Kock. The South African wicket keeper would tick both the top-order batter and wicket keeper role and is coming off a pretty good year in T20 which saw him win the IPL whilst scoring 529 runs in the process, making him the 3rd top run scorer in the tournament.
One sticking point with de Kock is that he would cost the highest bracket which is a base price of £125,000. A cheaper alternative may be Nicolas Pooran (£60,000 base) or Alex Carey (£40,000 base) although with both excelling on English shores this summer – those prices may rise.
Pooran’s strike rate across the three matches he played in the Blast was 187.7 and his career strike rate is 143.8. Whilst he has had a quiet CPL thus far, bar a match winning 54* from 35 against the Trinbago Knight Riders – it should be noted that thus far, the top four of his franchise, Guyana Amazon Warriors, have all passed 200 runs which has seen Pooran bat just 7 times in the tournament. Carey had a solid stint in England in which he scored 264 runs whilst striking at 152.6. The Australian brings some versatility to any side he plays for – he opens for the Adelaide Strikers in the BBL, batted 4 for Sussex and has been used as a finisher by Australia.
Should the Pheonix look to stay English in their hunt for a top order batter/wicket keeper, they shouldn’t look much further than Alex Davies of Lancashire. Since 2017, Davies has 841 runs in the Blast where he has often deputised for Jos Buttler. This has seen him top the run scoring charts for his club in the past two seasons and could be a real bargain.
Another candidate for the Pheonix may be Sam Billings who has scored 807 runs at a strike rate of 145.7 since 2017 – though with injury hampering him through much of the 2019 season, the unfortunate timing may deter the Pheonix.
Local Icons: Jonny Bairstow, Tom Banton and Colin Ingram
With their local icon picks, Western Fire seemed to pick their top order in Bairstow, Banton and Ingram and managed to sort out their wicket-keeper in the process. The priority of the draft will surely be to go and get a bowler in the form of express pace or wrist spin.
With the short straight boundaries at Cardiff, which will be the Fire’s home ground – the emphasis will surely be on prioritising a rapid, seam bowler. At the top of the tree would be Mitchell Starc and Kasigo Rabada who would both come in at a minimum base price of £125,000.
The ideal of Starc is a brilliant one in terms of building a successful limited overs bowling attack but the actual reality of Starc could be a real squeaky bum moment for the franchise in the build up to the 100. That is purely because of the fitness concerns that have surrounded Starc for the last 18 months to 2 years which has seen the player’s workload managed extensively by either the player’s management or Cricket Australia (he actually hasn’t played a T20 since November 2018).
With that said, in his latest exploit in England saw him really showcase his talent. His 27 wickets in the World Cup saw him finish as the top wicket taker of the tournament. In 10 innings, he took 4 or more wickets on four occasions. His ability is not in question, Starc can swing a white ball, bowl rockets and take wickets.
Rabada was no where near as impressive at Starc at the World Cup (11 wickets at 36.09), but he did have a wonderful IPL. The South African’s 25 wickets in the IPL saw him as the most effective seamer in the tournament where he struck every 11 balls and surely this would hold him in good stead for the 100.
Keeping on the topic of impressive World Cups should keep Lockie Ferguson in the discussion for the Fire. I actually have no idea if Ferguson has even entered the draft – I have googled and I cannot find a list of any of the other overseas players who have entered under the £100,000 bracket unless Cricinfo have put it in their listings.
Ferguson took 21 wickets in the World Cup and he could be a cheaper alternative to both Starc and Rabada. This will also be helped by a lackluster IPL where he only took 2 wickets across the 17 overs he bowled in the tournament whilst going at over 10 an over.
The Fire should not be deterred from Ferguson who had personal success in the Blast through the 2018 season. The New Zealander took 10 wickets at 13.7 whilst maintaining an economy rate of 6.66.
These overseas options really have express pace and whilst Mark Wood and Olly Stone may be suitable options – however with the left arm factor proving key in T20, the Fire may take a gamble on Tymal Mills of Sussex.
I think the obvious risk with Mills would be his fitness and that has shown with injuries restricting his availability through out career – he has appeared for Sussex 20 times out of a possible 43 matches however there is no doubting the X factor that he can bring to any side with the ball.
With the concerns about his fitness, I think it should be taken into consideration that Mills has bowled more deliveries (405) in the last 3 years than the other obvious 90 mph+ options, Mark Wood (76) and Olly Stone (317). Both Wood and Stone have missed parts of the domestic summer with injury and it feels that some franchises may have to take the rough with the smooth in terms of picking up the very quick bowlers.
In the last three years, what really stands out is that there is a genuine fear of not just Mills’ pace but also his variations which are as effective. He has maintained a run rate of 6.58 between 2017 and 2019 whilst taking 19 wickets at 21.31 which shows if he is on the park, he can be a real asset.
Local Icons: Ben Stokes, Adil Rashid and David Willey
I won’t lie, I had no idea how the original Local Icons was going to work and when it seemed that the Superchargers would have to pick between Stokes and Bairstow, you couldn’t help but feel sorry for the hierarchy who had to make that decision.
Stokes is an absolute no brainer, especially given the summer he has had and the talent he possesses but you can’t help but feel that Bairstow will be a loss considering his evolution in the white ball formats in the last 18 month – 2 year period.
In picking Rashid and Willey as their next two icons – the Superchargers have addressed the wrist spin and the left arm options in their franchise. Willey is a double threat as well when you consider his batting. Here, people will rubbish that point and look at his Blast record in 2019 (136 runs at an average of 15.11) but if the overall picture is observed, the Superchargers have picked up someone who has racked up 968 runs whilst striking at 149.8 in the last 3 seasons.
However, with Willey proving himself as more than capable to bat in the top 3 in the tournament – I still feel that the Superchargers will look to prioritise a real quality top order batter.
There is an embarrassment of options when it comes to this position, both David Warner and Steve Smith will come in at a minimum £125,000 base price. Aaron Finch and Kane Williamson will be in the next bracket of £100,000 and both players have a former association with Yorkshire which may see another move for either player.
Finch will surely be a man in demand for this 100 ball draft purely based on his bullying of domestic bowlers within the Blast across the last 3 seasons. He has smashed 1476 runs whilst striking at 173.4 in the last 3 seasons. It isn’t just in England that he dominates, his career average is 35.48 across 261 innings and these numbers will see teams queuing up to secure his services.
Kane Williamson also has an association with Yorkshire which could extend to the Superchargers. The New Zealander may also bring leadership qualities to the side which would be an added bonus as he showed at the World Cup where he ended as his side’s top run scorer (578 @ 82.57) whilst leading his troops.
His IPL was hampered by the sensational form of Jonny Bairstow and David Warner at his franchise, Sunrisers Hydrabad though 2018 saw him end as the tournament’s top run scorer with 735 runs. Williamson also had a good Blast tournament in 2018 which saw him amass 280 runs at an average of 40.00 in 10 innings.
The Local Option that the Superchargers may be looking at could be Dawid Malan. The former Middlesex captain is linked with a potential move to Yorkshire and this could well double up as a pick up for the Superchargers as well.
The London Spirit’s decision not to pick him up also raised questions when they decided to pick up Essex’s Dan Lawrence instead.
Malan’s 490 runs saw him finish as the third top run scorer in the Blast and recalled to the English T20 squad for the tour of New Zealand. The timing off his form could not have come at a better time given the fact that he had only played 12 domestic Blast matches in 2017 and 18 combined. The franchises can also look to his relatively short England career where thus far he averages 50.00 in 5 matches, showing a great amount of potential. His class is obvious and he will be another sought out player in this draft purely because there is no fear of the unknown when it comes to whether he will score runs or not.
Local Icons: Rory Burns, Eoin Morgan and Dan Lawrence
In their Local Icon picks, the Spirit seemed to amass 3 players who can all specialise in batting four or five in T20 cricket.
In T20, Rory Burns has 1 fifty in 38 innings which would suggest that his England Test central contract earned him a place on the London Spirit roster instead of his actual T20 ability. Dan Lawrence’s strike rate of 152.0 across the last 3 seasons puts him in a better position than Burns despite it still being a surprise that he was selected over the likes of Dawid Malan or Ravi Bopara.
Eoin Morgan’s skill set speaks for itself but his status as the English white ball revolutionist brings valuable experience to the Spirit.
What should be the next priority for this team is getting a bowler to suit their home conditions at Lords, especially in using the slope to their advantage with swing/seam bowling.
Trent Boult may well be the man they look too, the New Zealander is a key exponent of swing which may be vital in English conditions. His ability in England was shown in the World Cup in which he took 17 wickets on New Zealand’s route to the final.
The argument against Boult would be his lack of T20 exposure in the last 18 months. Apart from the IPL, it is hard to recall when Boult has played a real meaningful game of T20 cricket. He last played for New Zealand in February 2018 which probably shows that his nation have chosen a different route for now.
How the 100 works for Boult could be vital not just for the franchise he represents, but as he claws his way back into his nations T20 side. He has the big game mentality as shown at the World Cup – he just needs the platform and conditions to expose his skillset.
If Boult doesn’t appeal and an English option does, then the Spirit may look at different options such as David Payne and Chris Wood but one name that stands out is Reece Topley.
Topley took 17 wickets in 10 innings for Sussex last season after a sensational return following a back injury lay off and he could well be what the Spirit need if they are looking for a left arm swing bowler. He averaged 17.94 and struck at 12.8.
Out of his 17 wickets in 2019, Topley took 8 in the PowerPlay and 9 among the last 3 overs (17-20) which proves his ability in different stages of the innings. Should he be able to maintain his fitness, there is no doubt that Topley is a quality prospect for the 100 ball draft.
Local Icons: Sam Curran, Tom Curran and Jason Roy
Kent have been totally bypasses in the Oval Invincibles’ Local Icon picks as all three play their cricket for Surrey.
In picking Jason Roy and Tom Curran, they Invincibles have bought in key players in key positions and in picking up Sam Curran – there is an effective all rounder who has improved a huge amount with the bat in the last 12 months,
What the Invincibles should now look for is a spinner in order to balance out their bowling attack. The best options in terms of overseas spinners would surely be either bringing Imran Tahir back to the Oval like he was in 2019 or to go out and get Afghanistan captain, Rashid Khan.
Tahir has taken 52 wickets for various sides across the last 3 seasons of Blast cricket which proves his prowess in England but he has also shown himself to be so valuable anywhere he goes which was shown as he finished top wicket taker in the IPL with 26 wickets.
The South African has also shown his versatility, especially in the PowerPlay throughout the IPL, World Cup and Blast. This is highlighted by the fact he only bowled 36 balls in the PowerPlay of Blast games between 2017 and 18 but in 2019, he bowled 85 balls. At 40 years of age, Tahir is still evolving his game and could be a major asset on familiar territory in the Blast.
A potential cheaper option who has been doing a similar role to Tahir in the Blast is Max Waller. The role that Waller has been doing for Somerset has been bowling in the PowerPlay and then filling in the middle overs and he has been doing a strong job of it.
The only spinners that have taken more wickets than Waller’s 48 in the last 3 years of the Blast are Matt Parkinson, of Manchester Originals and Tahir, himself.
In the process of this time period, Waller has conceded his runs at 7.07 per over which may be vital in terms of building pressure within the new format. It seems a long shot to bring Waller to the Oval from the West Country but it may be a really shrewd move should the opportunity present itself.
Local Icons: Jos Buttler, Matt Parkinson and Saqib Mahmood
The Originals covered alot of bases in their local icons by picking up a world class keeper batter, a wrist spinner and a quick bowler.
Jos Buttler can bat anywhere from at the top of the order right until the back end of the innings as a finisher which will give the Old Trafford based side real versatility when it comes to the draft, although the obvious option for using Buttler would be for him to bat at the top of the order.
What this will leave is a position in the middle order to fill and with Lancashire being the sole contributor to this side, it may mean a return for Glenn Maxwell who was the Roses second top run scorer in the 2019 Blast with 305 runs.
But with Maxwell coming in at a base price of £100,000, the Originals may take it up a notch and look to secure the services of the Australian hero of the summer, Steve Smith.
There is no doubting the ability that Smith can compile runs, he averages 30.11 in his T20 career and had a good IPL in terms of run getting where he scored 319 runs at 39.87 (the highest average in his Rajastan Royals side).
Where the issue potentially lies is with his strike rates, Smith strikes at 124.2 throughout his career and in the IPL he struck at 116.0. In contrast, Maxwell struck in the Blast this year at 151.0 which matches his career average at 154.4. Furthermore, in the last five overs of the 2019 Blast – Maxwell struck at 193.3 – something that may prove to be key in a shortened format of cricket.
If the Originals go for Smith, they have secured a batter who can take the 3 or 4 spot in the order. If Maxwell is their choice, they fill in number 5 and 6 in their order. The finisher is a really important role within the short formats of the game and the English options look really interesting for this spot as well.
Ross Whiteley, Lewis Gregory and Ryan Higgins could all be options for this role, but with the slow deck at Old Trafford – I couldn’t help but think that Ravi Bopara could be the man with his late hitting and tricky bowling.
Throughout the 2019 Blast, Bopara proved himself to be a real match winner on a slow pitch in the final and a move to Old Trafford could prove to be a very good move for both the player and the franchise.
Bopara managed to score 291 runs from mainly batting at number 6 and struck at 164.4, all during the 2019 Blast. 260 of these runs were scored from over 14-20 which showed his ability as a finisher, in this time he scored his runs at a strike rate of 187.1.
All this is before you look at his bowling, which returned 12 wickets in 36.2 overs whilst going at 7.02 runs per over. It would be safe to say Bopara has peaked at the right time, especially given his performance in the final of the Blast which was pivotal to getting his team over the line – an experience which may prove valuable to the Originals in the 100.
Local Icons: Joe Root, Alex Hales and Harry Gurney
With their Icon picks the Trent Rockets certainly sorted out 2 of their top 3 for the 100 with Hales and Root providing World Class options at the top of the order.
I could even see this pair being an opening partnership with Root playing an anchor role through the innings and Hales blasting it from ball one – however, it will be interesting to see if Root is reverted to his more common role at number 3.
In picking up Gurney, the Rockets also pick up a bowler who managed to pick up 18 from 27 wickets at the death in the 2019 Blast – further cementing his status as one of the best death bowlers in worldwide franchise competition following impressive stints in the Big Bash and IPL then most recently the CPL (he averaged 15.11 and kept an economy of 5.91 in the tournament).
The Rockets may look for a spinner to enhance their bowling attack and with Gurney being a great option in the last 5 overs, there may be an onus on bringing in a bowler that can bowl earlier in the innings which may open the door for Sunil Narine.
In recent times, Narine seemed to have been found out but still managed to take 10 wickets in the IPL at an average of 34.70 – this was concluded after his economy was 7.82. However, with this said – in the CPL he has taken 7 wickets at 20.42 and an economy of 5.95.
Narine comes in at an £100,000 base price, but a cheaper option could be Mujeeb ur Rahman. Since he made his Blast debute, Mujeeb has taken 19 wickets whilst going at an economy rate of 6.02. He has bowled 44% of his deliveries in this period in the PowerPlay and could be a genuine option with the new ball.
Should the emphasis here be on getting a spinner who can bowl in any period of the game, the Rockets may look at their own Nottinghamshire based spinner and bring in Matt Carter who had a strong Blast campaign, especially at the start of the innings.
Carter averaged 19.50 with the ball and went at an economy of 6.15 in the PowerPlay. He took a total of 14 wickets in the tournament and was key in their route to the final. His knowledge of Trent Bridge and how to bowl there may be the deciding factor in bringing him into the set up.
However, the Coach of the Rockets, Stephen Fleming, does like experience and there would be the option of picking up Danny Briggs who is the top wicket taker of all time in the Blast.
Briggs is able to bowl across the innings and his ability to build pressure way well be a valuable skill in the 100 – he didn’t match his standards in 2019 but was vital in Sussex’s route to Finals Day in 2018 which saw him take 20 wickets and concede his runs at a rate of 6.91.
Local Icons: Jofra Archer, James Vince and Chris Jordan
I think that the selection of Jofra Archer was an absolute no brainer for the Southern Brave and the additions of James Vince and Chris Jordan mean that the Brave have solid, experienced domestic T20 cricketers in their ranks which can surely act as a strength as they progress in the tournament.
As I said in the last blog post, the Brave had access to two handy middle order all rounders in Liam Dawson and David Wiese but now there is the option to go a bit more expansive and take a really strong middle order batter.
Depending on the needs, the Brave would be wise to look at either Mohammed Nabi or Andre Russell to fill this role. Russell is a world class option in franchise cricket and proved this with his IPL form where he tended to score late runs at a quick rate. Overall in the tournament, he scored 510 runs whilst striking at 204.8 which is incredible and ideal for the hundred format.
Whilst Russell brings a seam bowling all rounder option, Nabi brings a spin bowling all rounder option. He was able to strike at 153.1 in the Blast for Kent this year and although his strike rate doesn’t reach the height of Russell – his bowling could be vital on a low scoring deck which it has historically been at the Ageas Bowl. Nabi has taken 19 wickets in the last 2 years of the Blast whilst maintaining an economy of 6.95 and will be a real asset with the ball.
Of course, in terms of local options – I am going to bang the Liam Dawson drum again, his batting numbers are not unbelievable having struck at 116.9 in the last 3 seasons of the Blast. However from over 17-20 in this period, he hasn’t struck under 145.8 in any of these four overs making him a very good candidate as a finisher. His left arm spin is also very useful which has seen him take 36 wickets in the last 3 seasons whilst going at 6.89 per over.
Seam bowling options could be David Wiese and Ryan Higgins but someone who really did get injured at the wrong time is Benny Howell and I genuinely feel he will be a shrewd pick if teams want a bowling allrounder. A career bowling average of 19.20 and economy of 6.89 is sensational given that he’s taken the field in 98 innings. If franchises remember about Howell – he could really be a strong signing for someone and in this case, a golden decision for the Brave.
Again, I’ll say the picks I think align with these sides Local Icons – obviously the draft is a long process but I think that it becomes vital that these franchises go out and fill these roles with the best possible option. I will chose an overseas option and a local option but obviously, they could always go for both…
Birmingham Pheonix: de Kock (overseas option) or Davies (local option)
Western Fire: Starc (overseas option) or Mills (local option)
Northern Superchargers: Finch (overseas option) or Malan (local option)
London Spirit: Boult (overseas option) or Topley (local option)
Oval Invincibles: Tahir (overseas option) or Waller (local option)
Manchester Thunder: Maxwell (overseas option) or Bopara (local option)
Trent Rockets: Narine (overseas option) or Carter (local option)
Southern Brave: Russell (overseas option) or Dawson (local option)
Special mention: Benny Howell, Sam Billings, Mark Wood, Lewis Gregory, Ryan Higgins