The Hundred: Welsh Fire pick Steve Smith and Mitchell Starc

Mitchell Starc
Mitchell Starc was a member of the Australia squad at the 2019 Cricket World Cup

Welsh Fire will have Australian stars Steve Smith and Mitchell Starc as part of their squad for the inaugural Hundred competition in 2020.

Paceman Starc, 29, was the first selection from coach Gary Kirsten.

He has 160 appearances for Australia across the three international formats.

Ashes hero Steve Smith was the second pick for the Cardiff-based team, after scoring 774 runs in the series against England.

Former Australia captain Smith is likely to be a major box-office attraction and has played in 30 T20 internationals, although he is not known as a T20 specialist.

The Australian big-name flavour also spread to the Welsh Fire women's side, with Aussie captain Meg Lanning named as a marquee selection.

Meg Lanning
Meg Lanning made her Test debut for Australia against England in 2013

Lanning, who has made 178 international appearances, has scored 12 ODI centuries, more than any other women's player.

The men's franchise had already chosen Glamorgan's Colin Ingram and Somerset's Tom Banton as "local heroes".

England's Jonny Bairstow will represent the Fire when his Test commitments allow.

Bairstow welcomed the chance of playing alongside his Ashes rivals from the summer.

"From the way Smith played this summer, we know what a quality player he is, coming back to England and playing in a new competition he'll be keen to impress again," he said.

"Starc will certainly knock them over at the top, if we score enough runs."

The Fire selectors then went for Notts and England batsman Ben Duckett, 25, and veteran West Indies paceman Ravi Rampaul, who did not count as one of their overseas picks.

Liam Plunkett
Liam Plunkett played in England's World Cup final win over New Zealand

The Welsh franchise will have spin options in Essex and South Africa off-spinner Simon Harmer, 19-year-old Afghan leg-spinner Qais Ahmad and Sussex left-armer Danny Briggs.

The squad features county experience in England paceman Liam Plunkett, all-rounders Ryan ten Doeschate, Leus du Plooy and Ryan Higgins, and seamer David Payne.

Gloucestershire pair Higgins and Payne were the only players from the western counties added during the draft.

"It's going to be exciting to be in the first ever Hundred ball competition. I'm looking forward to joining Jonny, Starcy and the other boys, it looks a strong squad that they've put together," Welsh Fire's Australian batsman Smith said.

"Tom Banton is another good signing, he looks a quality player. It should be a good tournament.

"It's a bit different. I'm sure it'll be a learning curve for the first couple of games for the captains and how they want to go about their tactics but I'm sure it'll be good for cricket. It'll be really exciting."

Glamorgan's Chris Cooke was picked by Birmingham Phoenix and paceman Marchant de Lange by Manchester Originals.

Lewis Gregory, Tom Abell, Roelof van der Merwe, Craig Overton and Ed Byrom will all have to travel from Somerset for their new sides, while Gloucestershire all-rounder Benny Howell was an early Birmingham selection.

Welsh Fire

Salary band
England Test central contractJonny Bairstow
£125,000Mitchell Starc (overseas)
£125,000Steve Smith (overseas)
£100,000Colin Ingram (local icon)
£100,000Tom Banton (local icon)
£75,000Ben Duckett
£75,000Ravi Rampaul
£60,000Simon Harmer
£60,000Qais Ahmed (overseas)
£50,000Liam Plunkett
£50,000Ryan ten Doeschate
£40,000David Payne
£40,000Ryan Higgins
£30,000Danny Briggs
£30,000Leus du Plooy

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