SOMERSET cricketers Tom Banton, Georgia Hennessy, Lauren Filer, Sophie Luff and Nat Wraith have been retained by Welsh Fire as The Hundred targets a fresh start in 2021.

The new 100-ball competition, which the England & Wales Cricket Board hopes will attract a new audience to the sport, was due to launch in 2020, only for it to be postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Welsh Fire are one of eight new city-based teams based in Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, London, Manchester, Nottingham and Southampton, with the tournament scheduled to run this summer and be broadcast live by the BBC and Sky.

Banton, 22, is joined in the Cardiff-based men's squad by Jonny Bairstow and Ben Duckett, as he looks to further underline his potential as one of England's hottest properties in white-ball cricket.

Somerset women's captain Luff headlines the list of women's stars to have signed for Welsh Fire, having captained Western Storm in the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy last summer.

Luff, who hails from Lympsham, said: "It was an easy decision to stay at Welsh Fire.

"We have a strong West Country contingent in the squad and that is hugely important to me.

"It promises to be a hugely exciting summer of women’s cricket and I can’t wait to be part of it."

Luff's fellow Somerset players Hennessy (from Malvern, Worcestershire), Filer (Weston-super-Mare) and Wraith (Bristol) have all previously been a part of the successful Western Storm side.

Banton's Somerset team-mate Max Waller, meanwhile, has been retained by Southampton-based team Southern Brave.

The full list of team signings is as follows:

Birmingham Phoenix - Emily Arlott, Kirstie Gordon, Tom Helm, Benny Howell, Phoebe Franklin, Abtaha Maqsood

London Spirit - Mohammad Amir, Amara Carr, Aylish Cranstone, Jade Dernbach, Danielle Gibson, Mohammad Nabi, Luis Reece, Adam Rossington, Susie Rowe, Chloe Tryon

Manchester Originals - Joe Clarke, Danielle Collins, Mignon du Preez, Alice Dyson, Cordelia Griffith, Hannah Jones, Lizelle Lee, Phil Salt

Northern Superchargers - Helen Fenby, Bess Heath, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Adam Lyth

Oval Invincibles - Megan Belt, Alex Blake, Eva Gray, Marizanne Kapp, Sunil Narine, Jason Roy, Rhianna Southby, Nathan Sowter

Southern Brave - Lauren Bell, Alex Davies, Sonia Odedra, Max Waller

Trent Rockets - Kathryn Bryce, Matthew Carter, Abbey Freeborn, Dawid Malan, Tom Moores, Steven Mullaney

Welsh Fire - Jonny Bairstow, Tom Banton, Ben Duckett, Alex Griffiths, Georgia Hennessy, Lauren Filer, Sophie Luff, Natasha Wraith

The remaining retained men’s players will be announced on February 4, while the women’s squads will continue to be announced in the coming months.