With the 100 draft fast approaching, teams will not only be looking to make a decision on which players to take as ‘local icons’ but also on which strategy to use in the draft. Here is a look at the decisions that teams may take in making up the core of their team.
With Chris Woakes seemingly the obvious option as a first icon pick, Andrew McDonald and his backroom staff will surely be looking over to Worcestershire to make his next two choices for their local icons.
Moeen Ali scored 365 runs whilst striking at 173.8 across the Blast this season which must be taken into account in this reduced (by 20 balls) format. His bowling is obviously an asset as well, his economy of 6.81 in the Blast this year could be vital in building pressure – especially when taken into consideration that his balls could be bowled in a set of 10.
Then there is the obvious talent which is Pat Brown. Now, take the brilliance of Brown’s last two seasons in the Blast aside and see the marketing potential of this local icon. The criticism of the 100 by fans is that they cannot connect with their ‘local’ team – the 21 year old Brown could be a permanent fixture of this Birmingham Pheonix side in years to come thus creating the connection with the franchise across time.
I haven’t even touched on his stats across the last 2 seasons either, Brown has taken 57 wickets in near 110 overs. This has resulted in an call up to the national T20 side on the tour to NZ – that tour could really put Brown on the map, not just for the 100 but also the other franchise tournaments around the world. Which gives the added bonus that Birmingham could be rewarded further with a more experienced bowler come the start of the 100.
With Glamorgan, Gloucestershire and Somerset making up the Cardiff based, Western Fire. The first thing to note is that there are no England Test Central Contracted players associated with these three counties.
It had been romatacised that Jos Buttler could make a sensational return to Somerset at the end of the season, but these were quashed when the England wicket keeper signed a new deal with Lancashire who also confirmed that he would represent the Manchester Originals.
What this does is open up the possibility of signing a player who may be in a club with multiple options as their English player – the most exciting option here could be taking one of Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root or Ben Stokes from the Northern Supercharges who are made out of Yorkshire and Durham.
The choice of who is taken from the central contract pool could well depend on who is chosen as a local icon player. Tom Banton seems the obvious choice and it may be the same reasoning as for Pat Brown initially where there is a potential to really market a strong, young English talent who can create a relationship with the new fan base of the franchise.
Banton’s numbers in the Blast this year have been incredible whilst he struck 549 runs at a strike rate of 162.9. His keeping is also a bonus and fills an ever evolving role in the shorter formats of the game.
The last icon place is a real toss up but whilst the players available may have small reputations – there are strong options there.
Position 5 or 6 (or the finisher) in the order could be vital in the 100 especially with momentum being vital. Western Fire have two players currently in their reach who have proven that they can fill this role. Ryan Higgins would be the best option purely due to his ability to finish an innings, since 2016 he particularly excels in the 17th (SR: 183.3), 19th (SR: 216.2) and 20th (SR: 220.7) overs.
This could well be the easiest/hardest franchise to choose from, purely because there are so many strong local talents available. As mentioned previously, they would have Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root and Ben Stokes to chose as their central contracted players. There is also the options of Mark Wood, David Willey, Adil Rashid to name a few.
The obvious option would be to take Bairstow and Stokes as the first two local icon players. Bairstow averaged 55.62 in the last edition of the IPL which topped of a strong 18 months in white ball cricket for the wicket-keeper batsman. I don’t think Stokes needs any introduction however his T20 numbers are not groundbreaking as he averages 15.46 with the bat and 32.51 with the ball, whilst going at 8.48 per over. The conundrum with Stokes is that if the Superchargers choose not to take him, then it may well come back to bite them.
Joe Root’s T20 reputation has seemed to have dipped in the last 12 months which seemed to come to ahead with an underwhelming performance in the Big Bash where he amassed 93 runs in 7 innings at an average of 15.50. You cannot fault his class, and he has done performed well on the big occasion – his 83 from 44 balls against South Africa in the 2016 T20 World Cup comes to mind but with Bairstow and Stokes available = it may be the franchises’ best interest to look at a bowling option.
That bowling option could go down one of two routes. On one hand, there is the raw pace of Mark Wood. Where Wood may have a problem is that he has not made any notable T20 appearances in the last 12 months. He has bowled just 76 balls in the Blast since 2018 but in that time, he has gone at 5.67 runs per over.
The second route is the mystery of Adil Rashid. The leg=spinner seems to be gold-dust in the 100 and there is no doubting Rashid’s quality but like Wood, he hasn’t really been exposed to the biggest stages of T20 cricket in the last year which may go against him. He has taken 20 wickets in the Blast since 2018, at a strike rate of 17.5 and going at 7.19 runs an over. It could really prove to be a toss up for the Superchargers to who they feel they can get in the draft.
Another team who do not seem to have any players in the central contract pool. London Spirit could well make some interesting coups when they go to pick their local icons.
Eoin Morgan is surely a done deal, the England white ball captain has a solid summer since lifting the World Cup by scoring 341 runs in the Blast whilst striking at 169.7. His leadership will also be something that could be seen as valuable and of course, the draw of his marketing power could be vital in Londoners choosing the Spirit over the other London Franchise, the Oval Invincibles.
As mentioned in the last two teams, the Northern Superchargers have an embarrassment of riches which could see Ben Stokes omitted and picked up by one of his IPL mentors, Shane Warne – the Head Coach of the spirit.
The challenger to Stokes’ moving over to the Spirit could be Ravi Bopara. On the back of a sensational performance in the Blast final, the former England international could have timed his run perfectly to get himself into the frame for the 100. Bopara doesn’t strike below 174.1 in the last 5 overs of domestic T20 since 2016 which could be a major asset. His bowling as well is vital, having played a key role in the middle and at the death for Essex in recent seasons.
The last icon place may go to Dawid Malan – the third top run scorer of the Blast would seemingly be a no-brainer but it could be seen that top order batters are so popular in the limited format, that it may be worth cementing other positions in the team. Malan’s 490 runs should not go unnoticed in this draft and in gaining him, Middlesex will get a player who knows their home venue inside out and comes with a wealth of experience.
Whilst Surrey and Kent have a pool of solid T20 players – their recent Blast campaigns could really have the Oval Invincibles second guessing themselves when it comes to the draft.
Sam Curran will surely be the pick from the central contract pool. Curran showed some promise in this years IPL without setting the tournament alight. The main points taken from the IPL was a tournament batting strike rate of 172.7 and a bowling strike rate of 19.8.
The second drawing factor of Curran is something I have banged on about in this blog and it is the fact that he will draw a connection to the franchise for the next 10 years of this tournament. He has endeared himself to fans at every level he has played at and the 100 should be no different in front of his home Oval audience.
The next two icon players should be obvious, the first being Jason Roy. Roy strikes at 167.1 since 2016 and adds a wealth of white ball experience – since January 2018, his game seems to have taken on a different level and it was justified by the turnaround by England at the World Cup when Roy recovered from injury.
The Invincibles are also blessed with two wonderful wicket-keepers and the importance of good glovework comes to mind when thinking about Wayne Parnell v Ben Duckett in the first semi final of the Blast this year – that is what makes a case for Ben Foakes. A batting average of 9.00 in this years Blast would not have helped his case and in the modern day, the Invincibles may well be looking for more from their keeper.
This may open the door for Sam Billings. despite missing the most of this years Blast with injury. Billings brings a wealth of experience of various T20 leagues and it may be felt that this is the platform needed to get the best out of the Kent captain.
For marketing reasons, it may be said that James Anderson will become an icon player for the Manchester Originals but not actually take up a roster spot for the 100. It is hard to imagine that Anderson will represent another team but it is also hard to imagine that he will be deemed a leading option in the 100.
This will leave Jos Buttler to become the main pick from the pool of central contracted players. Buttler’s reputation proceeds him every year – and the Manchester Originals will surely learn from the 2018 T20 Finals Day when they batted him at 4 and send him in at the top of the order for the tournament.
Whilst Buttler is a no brainer, the other two icons are not so much. For me, it is a toss up between a top order batter (Liam Livingstone), a quick seam bowler (Saqib Mahmood) and a tricky leg-spinner (Matt Parkinson).
At Old Trafford, Parkinson has to be a no brainer – the pitch is a bunsen burner and the Lancashire spinner has been sensational with 47 wickets in the last two seasons. Although he has an England call up this winter, the 100 could really put Parkinson on the international scene and genuinely may open so many franchise doors for the man who was desperately unlucky to miss last years Big Bash with injury.
A year ago, even at the start of the season, Livingstone was a shoe in for the Originals in the 100. A brilliant strike rate of 190.4 in 2018 saw him get a call up to the IPL and seemed perfect to earn him a gig in the 100. However his strike rate has dipped to 136.5 in 2019 which may be put down to an injury picked up. As I’ve previously mentioned, the Originals may see that they can easily pick up a top order batter as opposed to other dimensions of their squad.
The other dimension of their squad could be to pick up raw pace. I’ve mentioned Saqib Mahmood but Richard Gleeson may also be an option. Mahmood would be purely picked on potential – he has 8 wickets in the last two seasons of the Blast and hasn’t always made it into the Lancashire team. Gleeson has 19 wickets and an economy 6.93 which should put him ahead of Mahmood who goes at 8.57 per over. It is a situation where Mahmood’s reputation and potential could get him over the line against the seemingly stronger numbers of Gleeson. Both should be considered due to their pace.
I will literally be repeating myself and say, Stuart Broad may be used like Jimmy Anderson for the Manchester Originals – however, I feel Broad is more likely to play than Anderson and it wouldn’t be shocking to see Broad turn out for the Rockets in the 100.
Derbyshire and Leicestershire make up the rest of the franchise and although the later may find it struggle to present any playing options. Derbyshire making the Blast Finals Day did throw the cat among the pigeons in terms of selection.
Alex Hales is surely going to be the first local icon picked up by the franchise and he wasn’t far from the top of the tree in this years Blast with 418 runs whilst striking at 142.2. Hales is a global gun and he will be seem as one of the best top order batters avaliable, meaning that he should be a sure pick for the Trent Rockets.
I think the seam bowling spot could be a real toss up but only depending on the Kolpak rules. Harry Gurney is the standout option for the Rockets with his left arm seam and the change ups he offers. Gurney has 48 wickets in the last 2 seasons and has been a major part of Nottinghamshire’s recent white ball success.
However, Ravi Rampaul could really make a case, especially given that he has the top wicket taker in the Blast this year. His got 26 wickets this season and has 41 across 2018 and 2019 – the Trinidadian has really been the man for Derby which does create the unlikely argument that he could be selected.
The last option is anyone’s guess but I would like to make a case for an unlikely option in Wayne Madsen. The Derbyshire batter has scored 464 runs this season and has been a consistent performer for years – you could make cases for Joe Clarke, Ben Duckett, Matt Critchley etc but if you want to consistent performer, you would be looking at Madsen to add balance to a batting line up.
I don’t think that it will be any wonder who the Southern Brave pick up. They have the hottest cricketing property in the world at their disposal and I will bet my imaginary mortgage that they will pick him up. His name? Jofra Archer.
Archer has 41 domestic wickets since 2017, seeing that he only played 2 games in 2019 – that is pretty good going. The experience he has in the pressure moments will make him an unbelievable addition alongside his electric pace and the theater that brings.
Alongside Archer, it will be interesting to see who the Brave pick up because they certainly aren’t short of T20 experience. As I’ve noted with both Ryan Higgins and Ravi Bopara in this blog, I think the finisher is such a hard position in T20 cricket and the Brave have two very good finishers at their disposal.
On one hand, there is Liam Dawson. Dawson’s 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.
The direct competition would seem to be David Wiese, although I am not sure what happens with Kolpak registered players. Wiese has 530 runs whilst striking at 137.7 in the last 3 seasons, this is impressive seeing that he has managed to move himself from 7 up to 5 in the batting order in this time frame. His bowling is not as handy as Dawson but he has still picked up 21 wickets in the last 3 seasons from the role as a ‘spare bowler’ however his economy in this time period is 8.63.
The last icon pick for the Brave is anyone’s guess. Whilst Chris Jordan is an obvious choice with his experience, would the pick up of Archer mean that Jordan is overlooked. Jordan’s 41 wickets in the last 3 seasons also puts him up there with the highest wicket taker in this time frame and his obvious death skills could make him a very strong candidate alongside his fielding credentials. His main competition would seem to be Tymal Mills or Reece Topley, however their fitness concerns which have been experienced by both Sussex and Hampshire may work against them.
The other option could be to go for a batter but I have said through out this blog that teams will feel they can pick up gun top order batters which may mean bad news for the likes of James Vince, Luke Wright and Phil Salt despite their strong performances across the last 3 seasons.
I’m gonna stick my neck on the line and try and predict who will go where in terms of icon picks:
Birmingham Pheonix: Woakes, Moeen, Brown
Western Fire: Root, Banton, Higgins
Northern Supercharges: Bairstow, Stokes, Rashid
London Spirit: Morgan, Malan, Bopara
Oval Invincibles: S. Curran, Roy, Billings
Manchester Originals: Buttler, Parkinson, Mahmood
Trent Rockets: Hales, Gurney, Madsen
Southern Brave: Archer, Dawson, Jordan