Welsh Fire seek to spark revival in the Hundred with string of star signings, but lose Ben Duckett to Birmingham Phoenix in the draft… while Laurie Evans rejoins Manchester Originals after his doping ban was lifted
- The Fire lost all eight matches last summer after finishing second bottom in 2021
- England batter Duckett joins Birmingham Phoenix for a top-bracket £125,000
- Evans picked up for £100,000 by Manchester Originals after his ban was lifted
Welsh Fire, whipping boys of the men’s Hundred, have thrown down the gauntlet ahead of the August tournament with a string of big-name signings at this year’s draft.
Despite losing Ben Duckett to Birmingham Phoenix for a top-bracket £125,000, the Fire – who will be coached by Australian Test legend Mike Hussey – picked up England all-rounder David Willey (£125,000), as well as Pakistan fast bowlers Shaheen Shah Afridi (£100,000) and Haris Rauf (£60,000).
And their batting has been bolstered by the signings of Somerset’s Tom Abell (£125,000) and the hard-hitting New Zealander Glenn Phillips (£75,000).
Duckett had already made it clear he wanted to leave Welsh Fire, who lost all eight of their matches last summer, having finished second-bottom in the Hundred’s first edition in 2021.
‘It was time for a fresh start after only winning a couple of games in two years,’ he said. ‘I wish them the best, but three years in your career is a long time.’
Welsh Fire picked up David Willey (above) and Shaheen Shah Afridi in the Hundred draft
Laurie Evans was freed to play following an anti-doping panel appeal hearing on Tuesday
Laurie Evans was picked up for £100,000 by Manchester Originals after his ban for a doping offence was temporarily lifted earlier in the week.
Among batters who scored at least 120 runs in last year’s competition, Evans – then playing for Oval Invincibles – had the highest strike-rate: nearly 185.
Australian all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, meanwhile, was signed for £125,000 by London Spirit, where he will join his compatriot Trevor Bayliss, the former England coach.
In the women’s Hundred, rising England star Sophia Dunkley moved from Southern Brave to Welsh Fire, who – like their male counterparts – finished bottom in 2022. She was signed for £31,250, the highest fee in the women’s event.
England seamer Kate Cross moved from the Originals to Northern Superchargers on the other side of the Pennines, while Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur joined Trent Rockets. Both were in the top bracket.
PAUL NEWMAN: England in a spin! Rehan Ahmed, Liam Dawson and Will Jacks could replace Jack Leach
Joe Root insists he’s ‘ready’ for the Ashes despite lack of IPL action, and hails Stokes as captain
Jack Leach is ruled OUT of England’s Ashes team after he suffered a stress fracture in his back