WHILE millions of pounds were being shelled out on cricketing superstars during the inaugural player draft of The Hundred – David Payne witnessed the moment he hopes will take his career to the next level.

The Lytchett Matravers-raised star, who came through the youth ranks at Parley before going on to forge a successful professional career with Gloucestershire, saw his name flash up in lights when he was selected to be part of the Welsh Fire squad.

Sat with his wife Millie at team-mate Ryan Higgins’s house, Payne was picked by coach and former South Africa batsman Gary Kirsten to join the same team as internationals Steve Smith, Jonny Bairstow and Mitchell Starc.

“Me and my wife had gone to Ryan Higgins’s house. We were watching it with him and his fiancée,” the left-arm paceman told the Daily Echo.

“We made that plan earlier in the week. I was unsure when we first came up with it because it could have ended up in tears for one or both of us!

“When I got picked. There were so many emotions, I was relieved, overjoyed, overwhelmed – it was everything I wanted to get picked for it.

“But I was also very aware that I had Ryan next to me, who was very congratulatory. We got straight back into watching the draft and luckily, about one minute later, we saw Ryan’s name come up on the same team as well, which was even better.

“It worked out really nicely for all of us.”

Payne was selected for the sum of £40,000 to take part in the franchise 100-ball innings tournament – a pick which had been deserved for his accolades in the domestic T20 Blast.

Nobody has taken more Blast wickets in the powerplay than the Dorset bowler over the past three years.

Payne also memorably held his nerve to dismiss Sam Curran and Gareth Batty in the final over of the 2015 Royal London One Day Cup final, to secure Gloucestershire’s first piece of silverware in 11 years.

“Hopefully it is going to help push my career to the next level,” said the former Lytchett Minster School pupil, when asked what The Hundred meant for him. “When there was a break at the end of that draft round and you looked down the team list – it really put it into context how even more amazing it was to be selected.

“My first thoughts were Steve Smith and Mitchell Starc.

“Starc even more so for me because he’s the best left-armer there has been for a long time.

“And to have Steve Smith, one of the best players to have ever played the game in the same dressing room, is just insane in a way. It’s the next level I really wanted.”

He added: “My phone went wild as soon as I got picked.

“The family were really proud. I had messages from all of them saying congratulations. I think they know how big it is for me.

“I really needed this for my career to get back on an upward path. It’s been going well with Gloucestershire but it’s not managed to get to the next level with England “Hopefully this is a really big stepping stone for me.”

Selection capped off a stellar campaign for the 28-year-old, who had helped Gloucestershire earn promotion to Division One of the County Championship.

“This year was all about staying on the park for me – that was priority number one,” said Payne.

“It had been a really tough couple of seasons. I felt like I had been getting into my prime and got set back with injuries.

“To get through the season was a really big plus for me and the success we had with Gloucestershire to get promoted was amazing. It was something I have been dreaming of since I joined when I was 18.”

And despite his ambitions to impress on some of the world’s biggest stages, the former England under-19 international has never forgotten his roots.

Payne said: “I get the odd message from people I used to play with. Parley tweeted to say congratulations. It just reminds me they still keep track of you.

“I’ll never forget where it all started and I love the idea of getting back down there and seeing them – that’s always nice.”