Australia's Zampa and Gardner commit to Birmingham for Hundred
Australia duo Adam Zampa and Ashleigh Gardner were among several men's and women's players Thursday to commit to the Birmingham Phoenix franchise for next year's inaugural edition of English cricket's The Hundred.
This year's competition was postponed when it became clear the coronavirus pandemic meant fans would not be allowed into grounds, with one of the key aims of the 100 balls per side format to attract new spectators to cricket.
Zampa had already been signed up by the Phoenix in a televised draft and the leg-spinner is now set to honour that commitment by playing for the Phoenix in 2021, with Gardner joining the franchise women's team.
"I'm over the moon to know that I'm staying with Birmingham Phoenix and to help this new team mount a serious challenge in this first year of The Hundred," Zampa said in an England and Wales Cricket Board statement.
"Birmingham is a fantastic city and I'm really looking forward to calling Edgbaston home. Hopefully we can welcome crowds and our new fans to the ground because, having played against England at Edgbaston, I know that the atmosphere there is awesome."
Gardner added: "We've got the makings of an excellent Birmingham Phoenix squad and I can't wait to get going in next year's competition."
Birmingham-born England all-rounder Moeen Ali is set to captain the men's team in 2021 while New Zealand all-rounder Sophie Devine will skipper the women's team.
Meanwhile the ECB also announced Thursday that 41 professional contracts had been awarded to domestic female cricketers across eight regional teams as part of its £20 million ($27 million) investment into the women's game.
"The introduction of these 41 professional players, in addition to our 17 centrally contracted England Women's players is the most significant step forward for the women's game in recent years," said former England captain Clare Connor, the ECB's managing director of women's cricket.