Sky Sports Cricket presenter Ian Ward has tipped Rashid Kahn to be the first overall pick in The Hundred Draft live on Sky Sports this Sunday.
The former England international star spoke to RadioTimes.com ahead of the first ever draft for a major UK sports competition, with the Trent Rockets first on the clock to select a player.
Global superstar batsmen Steve Smith and Chris Gayle have put their names in the hat for selection, but Ward believes the key to winning in the 100-ball format lies with the bowlers.
He said: “If I was Trent [Rockets] with the number 1 pick on Sunday night, I’m going for Rashid Khan because of the mystery spin and his record in T20.
“The bowlers are going to be key to winning this game.
“Pick up three wickets in the 20 deliveries you’re allowed to bowl and that’s taking you a long way towards winning the game – Khan would be my number 1 pick.
Ward is ‘fascinated’ to see how coaches approach the inaugural Draft as the eight teams build their 15-man squads, taking turns to select players from the wide pool of overseas and domestic talent.
He said: “Top picks from overseas will surely be people like Khan or Mitchell Starc – they’ve only got 20 deliveries to bowl but they could make a big impact.
“I don’t think we’re going to get too many batsmen who just knock it around, there is a place for that in T20 but The Hundred is so quick, I think it’s power hitters, power all-rounders and wicket-takers to look at.
“Andre Russell would also be a top target, but these [coaches] will have their own ideas, they’ll have been preparing, analysing and it will be fascinating to see how it all comes out in the wash.
“All their best made plans could get ripped up because someone they want has been picked.”
While Ward would be pushing for bowlers to get the nod, he knows plenty of coaches will be looking at explosive hitters in the early rounds.
“Some would say get Chris Gayle, get bums on seats. Others might decide it’s a D’Arcy Short or someone a little bit different.
“The headline acts are people like Steve Smith and Gayle commanding the top whack of £125,000 – but is that actually the best way for you to win The Hundred?
Much-maligned Australian superstar Smith is still expected to be among the first dedicated batsmen to be selected in the Draft.
Ward believes England fans may have developed a new-found sense of respect for him following a series of seismic displays in the 2019 Ashes series.
“I think he justifiably won a lot of people over in The Ashes just because of the way he played,” he reflected.
“His batting was on a different planet, and people still absolutely respect top class cricketers – come the end of The Ashes he was being applauded.
“The boos were there to start with but I think he won them over and let his bat do the talking.
“To have a Steve Smith, a David Warner, a Gayle, a Starc, a Khan going into the Draft wanting to be part of The Hundred is very, very exciting.”
How to watch The Hundred Draft
You can watch the Draft live on Sky Sports Main Event, Cricket and Sky One from 7:00pm on Sunday 20th October 2019.
Live coverage will also be available on the Sky Sports Facebook page and YouTube channel so you can stay up to date wherever you are.
For more details, check out RadioTimes.com’s The Hundred Draft guide.