I’ve had the privilege of playing Twenty20 cricket all over the world and then I was part of the 10-over T10 format in its infancy.
To now be part of The Hundred – the new 100-ball league – as a player for Manchester Originals and as an analyst for the BBC fills me with excitement.
When asked to choose my ‘ones to watch’ it would have been easy to go with Jos Buttler or Ben Stokes.
But I’ve opted for some left field picks, ones that aren’t as respected as their international teammates, rather than going for cliché superstars.
Phil Salt – Manchester Originals
Phil is an explosive opening batsman whose job it is to go out and get the team to a kite.
I just admire the way he handles his cricket and I was so happy he got a chance with England in the recent series against Pakistan.
It’s a thankless job he has, he doesn’t play anchor and just tries to bat for a score; he is fearless and hits the ball so well.
I’ve seen him in the T20 blast, the Australian Big Bash and now internationally and it’s a testament to his character that he sticks to and tries to implement his style.
Phil always plays with a smile on his face whether he fails or succeeds. He doesn’t moan or squint at numbers or records, which is so important in the new format where there are ambiguities about what constitutes a good score.
Off the field he is a funny guy. Some people may not know that he was born in Wales but his formative years have been living in Barbados which I discovered when I first met him in Australia.
We get along so well, whether it’s on the field or at a dinner or a drink. He is light-hearted, does not take himself or life too seriously and is pleasant to deal with.
Lockie Ferguson – Manchester Originals
New Zealand’s Lockie Ferguson has an international pedigree and is someone you want on your team, and luckily for me – like Phil – he will be on my side in The Hundred.
He joins the Originals as a similar replacement for South African Kagiso Rabada, who had to withdraw from the tournament.
Lockie has come a long way in recent years. When he came on the scene, he was raw and fast, but now he’s found a way to use his pace as a weapon.
I stood with Lockie on the shoulder at Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League and have seen how hard he bowls a ball and how he is always looking to learn.
It’s not about bowling every ball at 90 miles per hour, but he’s gotten a lot faster and uses his slower ball a lot better. He can also nail a really good wide yorker.
The Hundred will encourage players to show off their personality and Lockie is a character with a unique sense of humor that will benefit the team’s performance.
As cricketers, when you’re in an environment to express yourself, you really unhing yourself.
When we were kids on the street we just laughed, enjoyed the game and had a passion and love for it, but when it becomes a job sometimes you play for your seat or a contract.
The best franchises and teams are the ones that make you remember what it was like to play on the street as a kid, so you rekindle that passion and love.
Glenn Phillips – Welsh Fire
Hold wicket, bat, bowl – Glenn Phillips can do anything and has an appetite for the game that I’ve seen in many, if any, cricketers.
I played with him in the Caribbean Premier League last year and whenever I was in the gym I saw him in the gym, every time I was on the tennis court I saw him there.
He was always trying something new and even tried hitting left handed in one of the workouts.
When he became the assistant wicketkeeper and then took the ball to bowl off spin, I thought, what are you doing?
It’s difficult to break into the brilliant New Zealand team, which he has done, and for Gloucestershire he has performed with bat, ball and on the field.
He will leave his mark on the competition; whether it’s a fantastic catch or a direct hit, I expect him to get something out of the bag.
Jake Lintott – Southern Brave
Jake Lintott is a name you may not have heard, but he is a player who I think could have a huge impact in The Hundred.
I see him as the Jamie Vardy of cricket.
Like the Leicester City footballer, Jake played at the lower levels and had to fight to make his way in the leagues and in professional sport.
Jake is a left arm wrist spinner, not your ordinary bowler you’d find, which makes him a real challenge to take on.
He is 28 and this year was his first full season in the domestic T20 Blast.
I think The Hundred will be a good platform to show the rest of the country what the Warwickshire guys have seen first hand, and his inexperience could play into his strength.
Guys like him have had to work hard and those are the ones who appreciate the struggle much more.
If given the chance, they will break your hand for the chance because they have had to work hard to reach the level that others may have taken for granted.
Yes, he’s a wildcard, but what’s also exciting for him is that Southern Brave has a plethora of quality bowlers such as Jofra Archer, Chris Jordan, Tymal Mills and Danny Briggs.
It means he won’t be the centerpiece and ask too much of him, he’ll just have to come in, make a shift, collect some wickets and make a name for himself until he becomes the main man in a few years.
As a spinner you can play up to 38, so he probably has 10 years in the game; he could become a hundred-legend.
Saqib Mahmood – Oval Invincibles
My last choice was a tough one, but I’m going with the talented sailor Saqib Mahmood.
He is another player who took his chance with the rescheduled England team against Pakistan and was named Player of the Series after taking nine wickets in three ODIs.
I first saw Saqib in the PSL. I saw his pace of work and the way he talks about cricket shows, he has a genuine love for the game.
He seems like a real real person and he likes to talk about fast bowling and the nuances that come with it.
He will keep an eye on him after the ODI series and big appearances in the Hundred will keep his name on his lips.
There is talk of a possible successor to Stuart Broad in the national team. I don’t know him well enough to say whether he can handle the pressure or not, but someone he looks up to is Chris Jordan, who I know very well.
If there’s one mentor you want in the game, it’s Chris; I also sometimes rely on him for knowledge and advice.
If Saqib can stay close to him, he can develop into a nice person off the field and be ready for any challenges or expectations that are imposed on him.
He can build a great career for himself and has the world at his feet.
Carlos Brathwaite spoke to Kal Sajad from BBC Sport.
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