The Hundred: Ollie Pope replaces Jonny Bairstow at Welsh Fire

Middle-order batsman Ollie Pope on Friday replaced wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow at the Welsh Fire as the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) reallocated the country’s centrally contracted Test players following the postponement of the inaugural edition of The Hundred.

The ECB announced the names of the first 18 players set to to take part in the tournament after its start was postponed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Opener Rory Burns was the other player who switched teams, moving to Oval Invincibles from London Spirit.

Pope, who received his first red-ball central contract recently, was signed by Southern Brave in last year’s draft. However, the Southampton-based team opted to retain pacer Jofra Archer, letting go of the 22-year-old.

“I’m incredibly excited to be joining Welsh Fire. The side had a really strong squad lined up and I’m sure they’ll be working hard to retain some of the star names and further strengthen the side in the upcoming draft,” Pope said.

“We have all experienced a year none of us could have predicted but The Hundred promises to be a hugely exciting competition next year and I can’t wait to take part,” he added.

According to the rules of the competition, all the eight teams get a contracted England Test player and six of the eight franchises stuck with their initial selection.

Bairstow was allocated to Welsh Fire last year. However, the 31-year-old wicketkeeper has missed out on a central Test contract and thus the side needed a replacement.

Dom Sibley, who was also included in England’s Test central contract list, will join the Birmingham Phoenix, while veteran pacers James Anderson and Stuart Broad have opted out of the tournament.

The announcement marks the start of a three-month men’s retention window meaning until the end of January, the eight men’s teams will be able to retain players from their original 2020 squad for the 2021 season. A men’s draft will be held in early 2021 to select the remaining players.

Eight women’s players, including West Indies’ Deandra Dottin and Stafanie Taylor, have been confirmed for 2021.

All women’s players, who held a contract for the 2020, have the option to roll over their previous deals.

Managing Director for The Hundred, Sanjay Patel, said: “This is a really exciting moment for The Hundred to see where the England Men’s Test Central Contract players will be playing next year and to announce the first wave of re-signed players for the women’s teams.

“Over the next few months we will see world-class players and massive names from around the world committing to The Hundred and we can’t wait to launch the competition in 2021,” he added.

Confirmed players for The Hundred:

Birmingham Phoenix – Amy Jones, Dom Sibley and Chris Woakes

London Spirit – Zak Crawley and Deandra Dottin

Manchester Originals – Jos Buttler and Kate Cross

Northern Superchargers – Ben Stokes and Lauren Winfield-Hill

Oval Invincibles – Rory Burns, Sam Curran and Fran Wilson

Southern Brave – Jofra Archer and Stafanie Taylor

Trent Rockets – Joe Root and Nat Sciver

Welsh Fire – Katie George and Ollie Pope.