The Professional Cricketers Association has sent its members full details of how to register for The Hundred, with the wheres, whens and wherefores starting to become clear. If you're after the full lowdown on local icons, luxury coach travel, non-playing players, Finals Day details, wildcard picks and fixtures at Sedbergh, you've come to the right place...
On October 3, each team will pick players from the list of those with a Test contract. Each team will be able to select one such player from its catchment area, or in the case of the teams without such a player, from the pool of those left over. Any remaining players will then be automatically allocated according to their catchment area.
One or more men's Test players may be appointed as a 'non-playing player' for The Hundred, seemingly at the ECB's discretion. They will be used in promotional material, but will not train or play. James Anderson is almost certain to have such status, having last played a T20 in 2014, while Stuart Broad and Rory Burns are other candidates.
Each team will be permitted a maximum of three overseas players. As reported by ESPNcricinfo, the ECB have been successful in changing the visa criteria with the Home Office. In addition to the existing criteria regarding international appearances, players will now qualify for a visa if they have played 20 domestic T20s in full-member countries in the past 24 months - though the stipulations were mistakenly omitted from the men's draft FAQs.
Several Australia players are expected to enter the draft. They have no international cricket scheduled between their six white-ball games in England, which finish immediately before the competition starts.
The gap in Australia's schedule also means that some of their Test specialists will hope to secure county deals. Several counties are understood to have enquired about Nathan Lyon's availability, while several of those who had deals this year will plan to extend them into 2020.
Local icon draft:
Also on October 3, each team will be able (but not obliged) to pick up to two 'local icon' players, who have played at a county within the team's catchment area in the 2019 season, at a fee at or above their reserve price. The team will then lose a pick in the actual draft according to the player's salary band. For example, if Southern Brave wanted to sign Liam Dawson, and agreed a fee of £75,000, they would lose a Round Six pick in the main draft.
The 'local icon' draft will only be held this year - effectively in order to increase the number of players signed by their local team - but raises conflict-of-interest issues due to the shared governance between 'stakeholder' counties and new teams. It would be feasible for 'bundling' - the practice allegedly carried out by Western Australia and Perth Scorchers - to take place between counties and Hundred teams.
The ECB have inserted a clause in the draft regulations attempting to outlaw the practice, but it is possible that given the overlap in management between counties and Hundred teams, a county could offer a higher county salary on the agreement that they would sign a less lucrative Hundred deal and thus open up an earlier-round pick.
The ECB maintain such a scenario is unlikely, due to the risk involved, the role of independent head coaches in picking players, and the fact they are funding Hundred salaries.
The PCA have previously flagged the possibility of conflict of interests, and chairman Daryl Mitchell said in a statement that they were "very strong" in pushing for an independent selection structure.
"The ECB have put governance in place where the counties self-police behaviours as part of these team boards," Mitchell said. In response to concerns about the overlap between the governance of Lancashire and Manchester Originals, he added: "Lancashire is a standalone county which has caused concerns which has been raised from the very outset."
Each men's team will pick one 'wildcard' player around ten days before the tournament starts, expected to be based on performances in the T20 Blast. Each wildcard player will be paid £30,000, the lowest men's salary band.
The Blast's group stage will end before The Hundred starts, despite the fact its Finals Day is not scheduled until September 2, more than six weeks later.
Finals Day formats:
Both the men's and women's competitions will mirror the current Kia Super League format for their knockout stages. The team that finishes top of the 32-match group stage will go straight into the final, while the second and third-placed teams will play a semi-final immediately before.
Women's Finals Day will be on Friday, August 14, while the men's version is likely to be on Saturday, August 15.* The venues for both days are yet to be confirmed.
The salary bands for the women's competition have been released. Each squad will comprise players earning: £15,000 (two players), £12,000 (two), £9,000 (two), £7,200 (two), £6,000 (two), £4,800 (two), £3,600 (three), with the captain earning a further £1,200 as a bonus.
While the top salaries are not dissimilar to those on offer in the Women's Big Bash League, each men's team will have two players earning £125,000, while the total budget for an entire women's squad of 15 will be £120,000.
The Manchester Originals' women's venue will be Sedbergh School, in Cumbria. The decision to host a Lancashire men's County Championship game there was unpopular with the club's members due to the school's location (80 miles from Old Trafford). Lancashire Thunder, the KSL team, had hosted its games at Aigburth, Chester, and Blackpool.
As previously reported, each women's team will play at least one double-header at their paired men's venue.
Players have been told to register by 4pm on September 30. It is anticipated that the vast majority of players with county contracts will do so. Players without a first-class contract can apply to enter the draft, and will be entered if a team expresses an interest in them.
All players coming from overseas will be booked on business-class flights, and players will be given a daily allowance of £35 to cover basic expenses like food and drink. "Luxury coach travel" will be provided for away games.
*1715 BST - this piece was updated to amend the likely date of men's Finals Day