Fast starters and spin specialists: domestic batsmen to watch in The Hundred draft

Cameron Delport gets down to reverse-sweep Getty Images

While The Hundred is ultimately short-form cricket, it is subtly different to T20 in its playing conditions. With that in mind and armed with ESPNcricinfo's T20 database, we've dug out the batsmen who might prove to be value for money in Sunday's draft.

Fast starters

With the number of balls squeezed even tighter than in T20, losing wickets should become even more accepted. Aside from the elite handful who can 'catch up' and do so more often than not - think Babar Azam, Moeen Ali, and David Warner - players who eat up balls early in an innings and take a while to get in should largely be avoided: an innings of 30 off 25 will end up being vastly inferior to an innings of 15 off 10. It is a much-worn cliché that certain batsmen 'go hard from ball one', but in practice very few do so. Those that do, therefore, should be snapped up.

Ed Pollock was used poorly by Birmingham Bears in this season's Blast, dropped after five failures in as many innings despite being tasked with the high-variance job of striking at 200 from the get-go. Over the course of the past three seasons, he strikes at 164.61 in the first five balls he faces, and 169.16 in the first ten, making him one of the men who should be able to use the 25-ball Powerplay well.

Counterintuitively, Arron Lilley's reputation as a batsman would almost certainly be greater if he didn't bowl offspin too. He is generally thought of as a bowling allrounder, but as a batsman alone is worth picking up for his destructive hitting early in an innings; his first-five-ball strike-rate of 157.77 over the last three seasons could see him picked up as a bargain option.

Adam Lyth's struggles in the 2015 Ashes still affect his reputation negatively, but he is a massively undervalued T20 batsman. He struck at 178.72 after five balls of an innings this Blast season, and 190.90 after ten. He is a superb hitter of pace in particular.

See also: Delray Rawlins, Scott Steel, Lewis Gregory, Phil Salt, Aneurin Donald

No obvious weakness

Under the competition's regulations, bowlers will be able to stay on for a second set of five balls from the same end. That means that batsmen with an obvious weakness against a particular type of bowling will have nowhere to hide: it will be very easy for them to get tied down.

Therefore, batsmen who score quickly against both pace and spin ought to be particularly valuable.

Wayne Madsen is a superb player, and has a remarkable record over the last three Blast seasons. He averages over 40 against seamers and spinners, and scores similarly quickly against both (142.5 vs pace, 147.7 vs spin). He should be high on a few teams' lists.

Phil Salt was unfortunate not to get picked up as a local icon, and his exceptional fielding and ability to fill in as an occasional wicketkeeper will count in his favour. He bashes both pace (SR 171.2) and spin (SR 146.3) in the Blast - although his struggles in the PSL hint at a potential weakness against top-quality spin - and will add to his T20 experience in the Big Bash this winter. He should be snapped up early.

Almost nobody dared bowl spin to Cameron Delport in the Blast this summer, and with good reason, given he scored at a strike rate of 193.7 against it. But he is almost as destructive against pace, striking at 161.2. With a larger sample size - across all leagues over the last three years, he is almost level-pegging against both bowler types.

See also: Ed Pollock, Tom Abell, Rikki Clarke, Craig Meschede

Death hitters

One of the perennial issues with the Blast as far as England were concerned was that with so many teams, the vast majority of talent ends up batting at the top of the order. That has left a dearth of specialist finishers, though there are still a handful who have demonstrated their worth over the past two seasons.

Lewis Gregory was not far off an IPL deal this year after lighting up the 2018 Blast with his death hitting, and has been thrown into England's T20 squad as a reward. There remains some scepticism over his ability against spin, but the sample size is very small after only one season as a finisher - and will teams hold back their best spinners just to deal with him?

Ravi Bopara was perhaps surprisingly overlooked in the local icon draft, and will be an asset to whichever team signs him. Despite his reluctance to fulfil the role, he is immense as a finisher, striking at over 200 in that phase, and will be in high demand come October 20.

Ross Whiteley is a supreme six-hitter, and would surely have got more of a chance worldwide if his six sixes in a Karl Carver over had been shown on television rather than on a shaky fixed camera. He strikes at 178.0 in the last five overs, and would be a useful pick in a slightly lower salary band.

See also: Alex Blake, Chris Cooke, Sam Billings, Jack Taylor, Rikki Clarke

Middle-over accelerators

The overs immediately after the Powerplay are typically used for consolidation in T20: overs 7-10 see teams tick over, neither losing wickets nor scoring quickly. Generally, that comes about because an opener slows down having made use of the fielding restrictions, or because a middle-order player has come in and is still getting set.

That means that those batsmen who can score quickly in that phase are crucial.

Delray Rawlins should be a perfect signing. He scores quickly right from the start of an innings, is ideally suited to tackling the inefficiencies of the overs immediately after the Powerplay, bowls useful spin, and is a brilliant fielder to boot. He has a base price of £50,000, but it might be worth snapping him up in an earlier round, such is his talent.

Tom Abell has reinvented himself completely as a T20 player in the past two years, adding deft, innovative shots to a solid attacking game against both pace and spin. He goes at 138.3 in overs 7-10, and should be well-placed to keep a team motoring with the field back.

Tom Moores has been around long enough that it is easy to forget he is still only 23, and is an ideal man to keep things moving in the middle in The Hundred. He has scored at a strike rate of 143 in overs 7-10, is unusually strong against spin for an English batsman, and is among the best available options for a domestic wicket-keeper.

See also: Peter Trego, Wayne Madsen, Ollie Pope, Josh Cobb, Adam Hose

Spin specialists

It is often missed that English grounds tend to be more conducive to spin than pace in T20. Host venues include the low-scoring pair of the Ageas Bowl and Old Trafford, and spinners have been cheaper than seamers at each team's ground in the competition over the last three Blast seasons. Domestic batsmen who can play spin will be crucial.

Peter Trego is out of contract at Somerset, but remains a useful player even at 38. He has scored at a strike rate of 174.7 against spin over the last two seasons, and should be available on the cheap.

You'd never guess it after watching his struggles on England's 2016-17 Test tour of India, but Ben Duckett is a great player of spin in T20, with a vast range of shots around the ground including a trademark reverse-sweep. He has scored at 169.8 against slow bowlers over the past two seasons, and would be an asset to most sides.

There is no shortage of English openers in the draft, but Miles Hammond is unusual in his ability against spin. He scores at a strike rate of 157.7 against it, and is a fast starter who will fly in the Powerplay.

See also: Cameron Delport, Dawid Malan, Tom Abell, Tom Moores, Tom Westley