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The pick of the games in the first rounds of The Hundred

The pick of the games in the first rounds of The Hundred
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Joe Root v Ben Stokes, Jason Roy v Jos Buttler and Jofra Archer v Jonny Bairstow are among the match-ups of England Test players.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has announced its male Test stars will be available to take part in the first two rounds of The Hundred, lending their star power to the launch of the new format.

Organisers and fans would probably have liked to have the best-known players around for even longer, but the demands of the forthcoming India Test series mean they must quickly refocus on red-ball cricket.

A statement read: "Players selected in the squad for the first two Tests will be available to play in The Hundred for each team's first two matches. Those players will then leave their respective Hundred teams to join up with the Test squad."

With the women's competition also pitting international stars against each other, PA Media picks out some of the most enticing head-to-heads from those early fixtures.

Round 1:

Jason Roy (Oval Invincibles) v Jos Buttler (Manchester Originals)

Jos Buttler will hope to shine in the new competition
Jos Buttler will hope to shine in the new competition (David Davies/PA)

Two of England's big-hitting World Cup stars clash in a mouth-watering opening men's fixture at the Kia Oval. The pair are undoubtedly two of the biggest draws in the competition.

Shafali Verma (Birmingham Phoenix) v Heather Knight (London Spirit)

England's Heather Knight will captain London Spirit
England's Heather Knight will captain London Spirit (Steven Paston/PA)

India opener Verma, 17, is a fearless, clean-hitting batter that could have the crowd on the edge of their seats. It will be interesting to see how Knight, captain of England and the Spirit, deals with her.

Round 2:

Sophie Ecclestone (Manchester Originals) v Issy Wong (Birmingham Phoenix)

Ball could have the edge over bat in this encounter with Ecclestone, the left-arm England spinner, on one side and the pace of Wong on the other. Ecclestone is regarded as one of the world's best bowlers and has previously excelled in the T20 format while Wong's speed captures the imagination.

Joe Root (Trent Rockets) v Ben Stokes (Northern Superchargers)

England's Ben Stokes (left) and Joe Root (right) will be on opposite sides in The Hundred
England's Ben Stokes (left) and Joe Root (right) will be on opposite sides in The Hundred (Nick Potts/PA)

The presence of two of England's senior and most inspirational figures on opposite sides adds plenty of stardust to this fixture. Root's brilliance in all forms of the game and Stokes' talismanic flair almost guarantee excitement.

Jonny Bairstow (Welsh Fire) v Jofra Archer (Southern Brave)

Jonny Bairstow will hope to provide the spark for Welsh Fire
Jonny Bairstow will hope to provide the spark for Welsh Fire (Nigel French/PA)

Two more England stars meet at Sophia Gardens. Archer has endured an injury-hit start to the season but fans will hope he can crank up the pace as he comes up against Bairstow.

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England's Chris Woakes celebrates with teammates against Sri Lanka on July 4, 2021
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Today's Olympic highlights header

Thursday's key events


ROWING
· Comeback queen and super-mum Helen Glover goes for her third Olympic gold alongside Polly Swann in the women's pair final (1.30am)
· There is also a medal on offer for GB pair Emily Craig and Imogen Grant in the lightweight women's double scull final (2.10am)

SWIMMING
· As second-fastest qualifier for the final, Team GB's James Wilby is among the medal contenders in the men's 200m breaststroke (2.44am)
· Alys Thomas takes part in the women's 200m butterfly final, although he faces a difficult task to challenge for the medals (3.28am)
· Caeleb Dressel of the USA has been touted by some as the successor to Michael Phelps, and he has the chance to notch up a fourth Olympic gold in the men's 100m freestyle final (3.37am)

RUGBY SEVENS
· After Team GB's men narrowly missed out on a medal, the women get their campaign underway against the Russian Olympic Committee (3am) and New Zealand (10.30am)

HOCKEY
· It is a Great Britain vs. Netherlands double-header, with the men up first in Pool B (4.15am)
· Most eyes will be on the women's showdown between the two nations, though, as Netherlands - the world's best team - look to gain revenge on GB for defeat in the 2016 Olympic final (11am)

CANOE SLALOM
· Mallory Franklin takes part in the women's canoe semi-final, and will hope to do enough to qualify for the final later in the day (6am-8.45am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· With Simone Biles now out of the women's all-around final, the competition has been blown wide open. Team GB twins Jessica and Jennifer Gadirova are among those taking part (11.50am-2.05pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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