Steve Smith has welcomed his recruitment by Welsh Fire as the Cardiff-based team prepare to unleash the Australian run-machine and his countryman Mitchell Starc on their Hundred rivals next summer.
Both Aussies were picked up by the new Welsh team in the draft for the inaugural 100-ball tournament which took place on Sunday night.
Smith – a figure who was roundly booed at grounds around England and Wales this summer until his brilliant batting turned on the mute button – is likely to be the captain of Welsh Fire, ahead of England star Jonny Bairstow, who had been allocated ahead of the draft.
Pace bowler Starc, 29, was the first selection from Welsh Fire coach Gary Kirsten.
He has 160 appearances for Australia across the three international formats.
Ashes hero Steve Smith was the second pick for the Sophia Gardens-located franchise after scoring 774 runs in this year’s Ashes series against England.
Smith is likely to be a major box-office attraction and has played in 30 T20 internationals, although he is not known as a T20 specialist.
The 30-year-old, who was banned for ball-tampering last year, enjoyed a stunning Ashes series over the summer, scoring his 774 runs in seven innings to help Australia draw the series 2-2 and retain the urn.
The Fire had already chosen Glamorgan’s Colin Ingram and Somerset’s Tom Banton as “local heroes”.
They also recruited England pace bowler Liam Plunkett as well as young England and Nottinghamshire batsman Ben Duckett.
“I’m looking forward to joining the Hundred,” said Smith, discussing his deal from Sydney on Sky Sports.
“It’s going to be exciting to be involved in the first 100-ball comp. It’s a good squad they’ve picked up so far. Tom Banton’s another good signing, he looks like a quality player.”
Australia women’s captain Meg Lanning will also be part of the Welsh Fire set-up next season.
She was one of the eight marquee players for the women’s Hundred competition, which also begins in 2020.
Lanning, who led Australia to an Ashes victory in England this summer, will join her international coach Matthew Mott at Welsh Fire.
Lanning said: “I’m absolutely delighted to be joining up with Matthew Mott at Welsh Fire.
“We obviously know each other really well from working together for Australia and hopefully that can give us an edge.”
England Test player: Jonny Bairstow
Local icons: Tom Banton (Somerset, £100k), Colin Ingram (Glamorgan, £100k)
Overseas players: Steve Smith (Australia, £125k), Mitchell Starc (Australia, £125k), Qais Ahmad (Afghanistan, £60k)
Rest of squad: Ravi Rampaul (Derbyshire, £75k), Ben Duckett (Nottinghamshire, £75k), Simon Harmer (Essex, £60k), Liam Plunkett (Surrey, £50k), Ryan ten Doeschate (Essex, £50k), David Payne (Gloucestershire, £40k), Ryan Higgins (Gloucestershire, £40k), Danny Briggs (Sussex, £30k), Leus du Plooy (Derbyshire, £30k)