The Hundred: Welsh Fire consider Aussie replacements

Mitchell Starc and Steve Smith
Mitchell Starc and Steve Smith were members of Australia's Ashes squad in 2019

Welsh Fire are preparing to line up replacements for Australian stars Steve Smith and Mitchell Starc if they have to leave the inaugural Hundred competition early.

Australia have moved a one-day series against Zimbabwe from June to August.

Smith and Starc would be available for at least three Welsh Fire home games in Cardiff.

"We've got high quality overseas, and we'd be able to replace them with high quality," said Fire's Mark Wallace.

Batsman Smith and pace bowler Starc were available for the entire Hundred schedule when the draft for overseas stars was held in October 2019,

But the pair are among up to 10 Australians who could be affected by their national team's change of timings, depending on how strong a squad they name.

"It's looking like the Australians will have to go back for the series against Zimbabwe, which I'm guessing Mitch Starc and Steve Smith will likely be required for," the franchise's cricket manager Wallace added.

"That means they'll miss a little bit towards the back end of the Hundred competition, albeit they will be with us for the majority of the group games."

Veteran West Indies big-hitter Chris Gayle, formerly with Somerset, and Sri Lankan paceman Lasith Malinga are among the high-profile players who were not taken in the initial draft, and could be considered for Welsh Fire duty, while South African batsman AB de Villiers may come into the reckoning under coach Gary Kirsten.

Uncertainty over Labuschagne

The Australian fixture switch also affects Wallace in his capacity as Glamorgan director of cricket, with key batsman Marnus Labuschagne likely to be needed for national duties at various stages between June and August, as well as potential domestic season preparations in September.

He is keen to return when possible, after scoring 1,114 Championship runs in 10 matches in his first season with Glamorgan and going on to be the world's leading Test run-scorer in 2019.

"There's a chance that he might come and go from then [June] on, we will be looking to get a replacement in to cover all that period or some of it when Marnus isn't here, but we're lucky to have him even for a short period of time," Wallace told BBC Sport.

"We went for someone whose career is on an upward trajectory again, so there's potential we could go down that route [of a younger international player] again," said Wallace.

He is also in talks with two players for the role of the additional overseas player for the T20 Blast, probably focusing on a fast bowler who is also able to contribute with the bat.

Meanwhile, Glamorgan have confirmed their pre-season schedule, facing Gloucestershire in two T20 encounters and a two-day match in La Manga in March, followed by three-day games away to Somerset and home to Cardiff MCCU in April.

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