The Hundred | Birmingham Phoenix, Team Preview: Short format specialists look to compose same tunes in new version

Somya Kapoor

Somya Kapoor

Author| Jul 20, 2:02 PM

Photo Credits: Twitter
Photo Credits: Twitter

The cricket fans are a few hours away from witnessing a new genre of the game, ‘The Hundred’. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has come up with this latest format of the game. 

Recently, former England captain Michael Vaughan had tweeted, “A reminder that The Hundred will be just a game of cricket .. New rules .. A few less deliveries .. but the best players playing against the best .. !!! What's not to like .. It's only cricket .. I don't get all the hatred."

Well, the former right-handed batsman was probably on spot with his observation as the teams do have some of the finest players to have played the game. 

The only couple of tweaks that the tournament would see in comparison to the conventional form of the game will be the new rules and new strategies. While there would be a lesser number of balls, a 25-ball Powerplay, a five-ball over, the captains’ ability will also be put to test. 

For instance, how efficiently he is able to pick up a bowler who can bowl 10 balls on the trot and not give away runs or how he uses the services of his spinners especially in the middle overs. Similarly, the bowlers and the batsmen will also have their work cut out. 

Let’s now take a look at the Birmingham Phoenix team and take a glance at what they have in their kitty. 

Overseas players: Finn Allen (New Zealand), Adam Milne (New Zealand), Imran Tahir (South Africa)

Local icons: Chris Woakes, Moeen Ali, Liam Livingstone

Domestic players: Tom Abell, Daniel Bell-Drummond , Pat Brown, Chris Cooke, Miles Hammond , Tom Helm, Adam Hose , Benny Howell , Dillon Pennington , Dom Sibley , Will Smeed 

Coach: Former New Zealand spinner Daniel Vettori had been appointed as the new coach for the side after Andrew McDonald had pulled out due to issues caused by Covid-19.

Power hitters in the unit

A few days back all-rounder Moeen Ali had praised former India and present CSK skipper MS Dhoni for promoting him up the order while playing in the IPL and showed a lot of faith and confidence in him. 

The left-handed batsman didn’t even disappoint his captain and was in some good form. Moeen took on the bowlers and got runs at brisk pace that helped the Chennai franchise fetch runs quickly in the beginning stages of the game. 

Ali can play the similar role for the Phoenix side in The Hundred of providing them with quick starts especially with the likes of Allen and Livingstone in the ranks. 

Livingstone recently notched up a ton against Pakistan in the first T20I and followed it with 38 runs in the second. The right-handed batsman is in some good form and the Birmingham franchise would want him to continue it as he takes the field for them in the opening encounter against London Spirit on Friday (July 23, 2021). 

Apart from these two, Allen too is in great shape and has been among runs for Lancashire in the recent fixtures in T20s. He is known for his hard-hitting abilities and can be a dangerous customer when it comes to the shorter form of the game. 

Equipped bowling line up

Chris Woakes, Adam Milne, all-rounder Moeen Ali and Imran Tahir are some of the prominent names in the ranks for Birmingham Phoenix’s bowling attack. While both Woakes and Milne would play a crucial role in restricting the batsmen in the initial phase of the innings, Moeen and Tahir’s spin would have an essential role in resisting the opponents from scoring runs in the later stage of the game. 

Tahir who doesn’t seem to get old will be the most important cog in the wheel. Having played all around the world, the kind of experience that the South African spinner brings to the table is priceless. 

His leg spinners and the wrong-un can deceive the batsmen as they have been doing for all these years and the skipper should use his services in the middle overs when the field will be open and the batsmen would be looking to accelerate. 

Experienced campaigners 

While the Birmingham Phoenix have some big guns in the line up, the domestic players too have a lot of experience especially in the shorter format of the game. 

For instance, Daniel James Bell-Drummond has played over 100 T20s having scored more than 3300 runs during the course. Daniel, who generally plays as an opener, can take the onus of holding one end of the innings and keep the scoreboard moving. 

Wicket-keeper batsman Christopher Barry Cooke is another experienced lad in the line up. The right-handed batsman too has played over 120 T20s and has notched up 2002 runs. 

Chances of lifting the title

Birmingham have picked up some skilful players in the line up and can capitalise on the amount of cricket that they have played all around the world. 

The team seems to be a stable one at the moment with some good power-hitters, brilliant fast bowlers and experienced spinners. They now just need to stick to the basics to get positive results. 

Probable XI

Daniel Bell-Drummond, Finn Allen, Liam Livingstone, Tom Abell, Chris Cooke, Moeen Ali, Benny Howell, Chris Woakes, Imran Tahir, Dillon Pennington, Tom Helm

Birmingham Phoenix women’s squad

Amy Jones (captain), Shafali Verma, Ria Fackrell, Marie Kelly, Evelyn Jones, Emily Arlott, Kirstie Gordon, Phoebe Franklin, Abtaha Maqsood, Thea Brookes, Gwen Davies, Isabelle Wong, Georgia Elwiss, Erin Burns, Katie Mack

The Birmingham squad suffered a blow ahead of the start of the tournament after the experienced Australia all-rounder Ellyse Perry had opted out of The Hundred citing personal reasons. 

Earlier, New Zealand’s Sophie Devine too had pulled out of the competition "in order to be in the best position to prepare for international cricket, particularly with the ICC Women's World Cup due to be held in her native New Zealand in February," according to an ECB release. 

"We are obviously very disappointed that Ellyse Perry has had to withdraw from the Hundred due to personal circumstances, but we completely understand her decision and wish her all the best," Beth Barrett-Wild, head of the women's competition, said.

Riding on young talent

Despite the fact that Perry and Devine had opted out of the tournament, the Birmingham franchise has India’s Shafali Verma who is probably one of the finest hitters of the cricket ball in the world at the moment. 

The youngster has stamped authority with the bat in every format that she has featured in and the side would look up to her to give some quick starts. 

Another youngster who could play an important role in Phoenix’s success is Kirstie Louise Gordon. The left-arm spinner has had a brief career with the England’s national side in the T20Is but has been impressive with her bowling. 

Having capped just five times in the T20Is, Gordon has 8 scalps to her name at an average of 12.25 and an economy rate of just over 5. Clearly, the left-handed bowler would play a massive role in restricting the batters from scoring runs at a quick rate. 

Onus on the skipper 

Captain and wicket-keeper batter Amy Ellen Jones is another experienced campaigner in the Birmingham camp. She has played 60 T20Is for the England side and can play an important role in mentoring the youngsters in the ranks. 

Chances of winning the title

If the youngsters go all guns blazing, the Birmingham Phoenix team has a huge chance of lifting the title considering the balanced squad that they have. 

Probable XI

Amy Jones (captain), Shafali Verma, Ria Fackrell, Marie Kelly, Evelyn Jones, Phoebe Franklin, Abtaha Maqsood, Thea Brookes, Georgia Elwiss, Erin Burns, Katie Mack

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