Spring has still not sprung but thoughts are already turning to the start of The Hundred’s third season on 1st August.
Trent Rockets will get the action going in a double header against Southern Brave at Trent Bridge on that day, but preparations for the campaign are well under way, with the eight teams announcing which players they will be retaining for the men’s and women’s competitions.
Here we take a look at how the selection process works, who has been retained, and who will be taking their chances in the draft.
For the men’s competition, each of the eight teams are permitted to retain 10 players from their previous squads if they can come to an agreement over wages.
Seven of the teams did just that on 16th February, with the exception being Welsh Fire. They have kept six players from last year, including England star Jonny Bairstow and will be selecting the rest of their squad from the draft, which takes place on 23rd March.
As the team that finished bottom, they will have first pick, with last year’s winners Trent Rockets going last. The competition will be televised on Sky Sports and the BBC.
A total of 113 players have been taken at this stage so there are 135 places that will be selected in the draft, from a list of players which will be announced on 28th February.
All of the top performers with both bat and ball in last year’s competition have been retained including England batsman Dawid Malan, who was the tournament’s top runscorer last year with 377 for Trent Rockets.
He will be hoping to boost his confidence for the World Cup, which will be held in India in the autumn. England are 3/1 to win that tournament with the hosts 11/5 favourites and Australia available at 4/1.
Phil Salt scored 353 runs last year and will be staying at Manchester Originals while Adam Lyth, who scored 299 last term, has been retained by the Northern Superchargers.
With the ball, Manchester’s Paul Walter, Birmingham’s Tom Helm and Jordan Thompson for London Spirit, all of whom took 14 wickets, will be staying put.
Of the England stars, Joe Root will remain at Trent Phoenix and captain Ben Stokes will be at the Northern Superchargers once again.
Stokes will be playing for the Chennai Super Kings in the forthcoming Indian Premier League, where his team are 9/1 for glory. Gujarat Titans are 5/1 favourites for the competition, which starts next month.
Eoin Morgan: The retirement of a cricket trailblazer
New Zealand v England first Test preview: McCullum insight can aid England's winning streak
The list of players to be available will be released at the end of the month, but with each team allowed three overseas players, it is notable that Birmingham Phoenix and Trent Rockets are the only two to have used their full allocation.
New Zealand are set to play a white-ball series in England immediately after The Hundred has been completed, so that means players such as Trent Boult and Devon Conway could be in high demand.
Others have failed to agree terms with their teams include Reece Topley, who played for the Oval Invincibles last year and Olly Stone, who has left the Birmingham Phoenix after missing last year’s competition to injury.
One player who could go early is wicketkeeper-batsman Ben Duckett, who was one of Welsh Fire’s most consistent performers in the last two years but was not retained as new coach Mike Hussey looks to initiate a fresh start at the team who finished bottom last year.
This will be the first time when a draft will be used in the Women’s competition. The eight teams were all able to retain four players and everyone except Welsh Fire used their full allocation.
They will then be able to take their total up to eight via the draft and then take seven from the open market.
The Fire kept West Indies Hayley Matthews and Australia’s Annabel Sutherland, which means they will be able to make just one more overseas selection.
India’s Smriti Mandhana will be staying with the Southern Brace, while South African Marizanne Kapp will enjoy another season at Oval Invincibles.