Australian batsman Steven Smith has been named captain of the Welsh Fire ahead of this year's The Hundred – the England and Wales Cricket Board's new limited-overs competition.
Smith will work alongside head coach Gary Kirsten at the Fire, who also have Australian seamer Mitchell Starc and England batsmen Jonny Bairstow and Tom Banton. South African duo Simon Harmer and Colin Ingram are also in the squad, as are Netherlands all-rounder Ryan ten Doeschate and West Indies seamer Ravi Rampaul.
The Fire are offered at 7.00 by bet365 to win the Hundred in 2020. The Southern Brave, Northern Superchargers, Oval Invincibles, Trent Rockets, Birmingham Phoenix, London Spirit and Manchester Originals are the other teams.
“It's an honour to be asked to captain Welsh Fire in the first year of The Hundred. Our squad looks super strong with a great group of players who’ve dominated the international and domestic scenes for the past few years,” said Smith.
“Tom is one of the most exciting young players in the world right now and Starc brings the X-factor with the ball, so we’re looking to put on an amazing show for the fans in Cardiff.”
Kirsten coached the Durban Heat during the 2019 Mzansi Super League in South Africa – and is looking forward to working with Smith in The Hundred.
“Steve's knowledge and experience of leading teams in pressurised situations will definitely help us in this first season of The Hundred. He's got a track record of getting the best out of his players while performing to a very high standard himself, which will be key for us this summer,” added Kirsten.
Smith and Banton in the IPL
Prior to The Hundred, Smith will play for the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League. Banton will be with the Kolkata Knight Riders. Rajasthan won the inaugural IPL in 2018, but have not collected a title since. The Knight Riders have won the IPL twice.
The Mumbai Indians are the reigning champions – and have won four titles. They will meet the Chennai Super Kings in the opening fixture of the 2020 IPL. Chennai have won the the IPL on three occasions. They lost the final to Mumbai in 2019.