The England and Wales Cricket Board staged the first draft for The Hundred on Sunday, which saw the eight franchise teams select their 15-man squads for the first year of the competition.
Eight England centrally contracted Test players were already assigned specific teams. Captain Joe Root will play his cricket in Nottingham for the Trent Rockets, while Ben Stokes will represent the Northern Superchargers at their home at Headingley.
Rashid Khan became the first-overall pick in the Draft when he was selected by the Rockets. The Afghanistan captain has impressed in T20 competitions around the world and will now turn his attention to mastering the 100-ball game.
Andre Russell, Aaron Finch, Mitchell Starc, Sunil Narine, Imran Tahir, Glenn Maxwell and Liam Livingstone were also picked in the first round. There were a number of players that have lit up the Indian Premier League and Big Bash as well as on the international stage present in the ranks of the eight teams.
However, there were also a number of surprising picks over the course of the Draft. We’ll now look at some of the most glaring miscues that could affect the success of their respective teams during the competition next year.
Dane Vilas (Manchester Originals)
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More than a few eyebrows were raised when Vilas was selected by the Originals in the first round of the Draft with their second selection. Vilas was not expected to be taken in the opening round, but Simon Katich’s men opted to pluck for him with one of their top selections.
The 34-year-old has a solid record at T20 level, with an average of 30.11 and 11 fifties to his name during his 144-game career. However, he’s not the power-hitter or an explosive player at the top of the order.
Vilas performed well enough in the Vitality Blast for Lancashire last season, producing a solid statistical season although his team were beaten in the quarter-finals by the eventual winners the Essex Eagles. The South Africa has been a solid leader during his time at Old Trafford and was the driving force behind Lancashire’s surge back to County Championship Division One.
Compared to a lot of the other players that were available in the process, selecting Vilas for his leadership skills with your pick worth £125,000 might be the one of the biggest blunders of the Draft. He is a solid player, but there were better ones out there with a more complete skill set.
Adam Lyth (Northern Superchargers)
Superchargers head coach Darren Lehmann went for a home-grown player with one of his selections in the third round with a price of £75,000. Lyth was a surprise to say the least, despite the pedigree that the opener has shown over the course his career, representing England seven times in Test matches.
However, his T20 record is average to say the least, although he did enjoy a fine outing last season in the Blast. The 32-year-old scored three fifties, including a top score of 69, smashing 14 sixes in his 10 matches for Yorkshire.
Lyth also took on more responsibility with the ball, which may have swayed Lehmann’s opinion, bolstering his ranks in the spin department. He took 12 wickets for the Vikings in the Blast, offering a solid complement on pitches that were receptive to spin.
Lyth’s form last season was an outlier and he has not overly effective in T20 matches and does not have experience abroad. There were a lot of good players available down the Draft that could have appealed more to the Superchargers at a value of £75,000. They remained loyal to their Leeds roots, but it may come back to haunt them.
Benny Howell (Birmingham Phoenix)
The Phoenix surprised the audience with their move for Howell in the third round. Much like the Superchargers’ move for Lyth, it was a left field option at a value of £75,000. Howell has a solid reputation in the county game for Gloucestershire and has played abroad in the Bangladesh Premier League for the Khulna Titans.
Those statistics on paper look be impressive, but against elite competition on a regular basis Howell could be exposed. He was Gloucestershire’s leading bowler in the Blast last term with 10 wickets, but for his value he needs to be contributing a lot more to the Phoenix.
Howell’s batting is average to say the least, scoring only four fifties during his T20 career. It might be a savvy move from Andrew McDonald’s men, but they will need performances from the 31-year-old especially considering that could lose England players during the competition.
Chris Gayle (Everyone)
Gayle has been one of the most destructive batsmen in the world throughout his career. He has starred for the West Indies and franchise cricket across the globe. No batsman can hit the ball further than the dominating left-hander at the top of the order.
He would have thrilled spectators in grounds and on television with his performances in The Hundred. Gayle backed himself by placing a reserve on his value for £125,000, which would have to see him selected in the first round. However, all eight teams passed on the 40-year-old twice with their picks.
The Hundred will be a poor competition without one of the most interesting characters in the game even if he has lost a small fraction of his ability. Gayle was not alone as Lasith Malinga also missed out on selection. Teams may come to rue not selecting the West Indian if they’re lacking power at the top of the order.