Thursday will see several details about The Hundred become clearer. After months of speculation, the identities of the eight teams will be confirmed, as will the destination of a handful of players - including those with red-ball central contracts. Here's a guide as to what might happen…
The team names are expected to be as follows:
Ageas Bowl - Southern Brave
Cardiff - Welsh Fire
Edgbaston - Birmingham Phoenix
Headingley - Northern Superchargers
Lord's - London Spirit
Old Trafford - Manchester Originals
The Oval - Oval Invincibles
Trent Bridge - Trent Rockets
There has been some level of discussion over the names of several teams.
As reported by ESPNcricinfo, the ECB considered calling the Cardiff-based team "Western Fire" to reflect the fact that the women's team will play games at Taunton and Bristol, and Somerset and Gloucestershire's status of stakeholder counties; but The Cricketer reported last week that there has been a U-turn, and that "Welsh" is more likely.
The ECB has also registered trademarks for some alternative names. Northern Superchargers were originally planned to be called "Leeds Superchargers", and in the past few weeks "London Invincibles" has also been registered with the Intellectual Property Office as an alternative to Oval Invincibles.
Little is known about the teams' colours. The Evening Standard has reported that the Superchargers will likely play in blue and yellow, while the Times has suggested that Southern Brave will play in green. The kits will be made by New Balance, while New Era have signed up as "official headwear provider".
According to the tournament's draft regulations, each team may - but is not obliged to - select one Test player (ie. a player with a red-ball central contract) from its catchment area. Those teams which do not make a selection of a player from their catchment area will then select one Test player, which the pick order to be decided by drawing lots.
The "catchment areas" might not be entirely obvious, so for the sake of clarity:
Birmingham - Warwickshire, Worcestershire
Cardiff - Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, Somerset
Leeds - Durham, Yorkshire
Lord's - Essex, Middlesex, Northants
Manchester - Lancashire
Nottingham - Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire
The Oval - Kent, Surrey
Southampton - Hampshire, Sussex
Any Test players who haven't been selected after this process will then automatically be allocated to teams in accordance with their catchment area.
Players with a red-ball central contract only will earn £35,000; those with all-format deals will earn £50,000. In practice, that means that something like this will happen:
Southern Brave will sign Jofra Archer, while Oval Invincibles will go for Sam Curran ahead of Rory Burns. Manchester Originals will sign Jos Buttler, while Birmingham Phoenix go for Chris Woakes.
Northern Superchargers will have the hardest choice, picking between Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, and Joe Root.
The Hundred regulations say that "one or more Test players may be appointed as a non-playing player… in which case they shall be selected by [teams] pursuant to the central contract draft, but not participate in any training or matches in The Hundred for the Team that selects them. Teams will be notified accordingly."
James Anderson is almost certain to be one such player, and given Test players' availability is limited to a three-game window before a series against Pakistan, Stuart Broad may well be in a similar situation.
In that case, they will likely go to their catchment-area counties (Manchester and Trent respectively), leaving Welsh Fire, Trent Rockets and London Spirit to choose between the two Leeds-based players and one-Oval based player not selected - likely to be Root, Bairstow, and Burns.
This part of the draft will be performed behind closed doors on Thursday morning.
Each team may, but is not obliged to, select up to two "local icon" players, at a salary band at or above the player's reserve price from their catchment area. Both the team and the player must agree to that selection, and the ECB will assign the lowest available pick number corresponding to the fee which will then not be available to them in the draft.
For example, if Southern Brave decide to pick Liam Dawson as a local icon, and agree a salary of £75,000 with him, then the franchise's turn will be skipped in the sixth round of the draft proper.
To be eligible to be selected in the local icon draft, players must have played for the relevant county in the 2019 season, and the ECB has inserted a clause it hopea will avoid teams "bundling" their lists as per the practice allegedly carried out by Perth Scorchers in the BBL.
Regardless, the Professionals Cricketers' Association has expressed concerns over this part of the draft, and this is the only year that this phase of the draft will occur. That does not mean teams will be without local players in 2021 - they will be able to retain up to 10 players for the competition's second season.
Overseas players are not eligible to be picked up in the local icon draft. By way of example, London Spirit will have no claim to Middlesex's 2019 Blast star AB de Villiers, nor will Welsh Fire be able to pick up Babar Azam before the main draft.
The recruitment process for the women's version of The Hundred is slightly less clear, and will largely rely on negotiation between players and teams.
In the initial "player signing window", which ran September 1-30, each team was required to sign two players from the current central contract list, with no stipulation as to the current county allegiance of a player or their salary.
There are currently 22 players with central contracts, including four on rookie deals, and 16 of them will get Hundred spots at this stage. Those signings are expected to be announced on Thursday.
A "stage two" window will then run October 1-May 30, in which each team will sign their remaining 13 players, out of the remaining centrally contracted players, plus those overseas and domestic player who enter the draft.
The head coaches are in charge of selection, though the Manchester side is yet to announce who its women's coach will be, meaning the team board will manage the process centrally.
Any other business
The main draft will be held at Sky's studios on October 20. Registration for the draft ended on Monday, and the names of those who have entered are expected to be drip-fed out by the ECB over the coming weeks.
The first handful of overseas players in the draft were revealed on Tuesday morning. They are: Steven Smith, Chris Gayle, David Warner, Rashid Khan, Shakib al Hasan, Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada, Babar Azam, Faf du Plessis, Aaron Finch, Kane Williamson, Kieron Pollard, Mitchell Starc and Lasith Malinga.
10.00 BST, October 2 - this story was updated with details of the playing kit manufacturers