Birmingham Phoenix will be aiming to rise from the disappointing withdrawals of international stars such as Kane Williamson, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Ellyse Perry and Sophie Devine in the maiden edition of the Hundred. All’s not lost for the Phoenix however, with an impressive line-up of county talent including Daniel Bell-Drummond, Benny Howell, Emily Arlott and Thea Brookes amongst many others.
A good balance between youth and experience has been struck in both of the squads, allowing an opportunity for players to present themselves on the biggest of stages. The backing of the faithful during home games at Edgbaston will be key in the Phoenix’s push towards the semi-finals. The ground has a worldwide reputation for its electric atmosphere, which will undoubtedly be continued due to the recent relaxation of the COVID restrictions.
The Phoenix players will be aiming to meet the expectation of the Hundred, by the ECB, of selling cricket to a new audience. It is also a unique opportunity for many of these players to show their skill consistently in front of the TV cameras for the first time in their careers.
It could be argued both squads are light on bowling options, but what they lack in this department is more than accounted for in powerful, exciting batters. Both squads arguably possess the most impressive all-round options out of all eight teams, so varying the bowling options during the game and a long batting line-up will be imperative to any potential success.
Expect a whole host of exciting cricket from this team, with high-scoring games on the cards throughout the tournament for the Phoenix.
Liam Livingstone and captain Moeen Ali were the £125k signings in the 2020 draft, with both aiming to use the competition to exemplify the argument behind their selection in England’s T20 World Cup eleven.
Somerset skipper Tom Abell was a shrewd acquisition in the 2021 draft, with young Pears seamer Dillon Penningtonrounding out the squad as the wildcard pick.
Phoenix Women’s marquee signing Georgia Elwiss will bring her extensive international experience to Edgbaston, contributing with both bat and ball. Another England international Amy Jones will be captaining the side, with the keeper hoping to build on her last innings at Edgbaston; 163* for Central Sparks in May.
The young Kiwi opener is regarded as one of the most promising T20 prospects. He goes about his work in an attacking manner, an approach that has reaped great reward as demonstrated in his stint at Lancashire during this season’s Blast. The Hundred aims to excite the crowds, which plays perfectly into the New Zealander’s strategy.
Arguably the signing of the competition, the young Indian batter demonstrated her destructive nature on English pitches in the recent multi-format series against England. Her positive attitude, regardless of the format, means she is the perfect match for the exciting cricket wanted by the organisers. Her immense range of shots will bring fireworks at the top of the Phoenix order.
How They’ll Fare
Chris Woakes’ absence through injury and potential Test duty will be evident, so the Men’s strong batting line-up will need to deliver to ease the pressure on the bowlers.
The Women’s side will feel the loss of star international players Ellyse Perry and Sophie Devine, but the all-round ability of their homegrown talent has the potential to go the distance.
If the Edgbaston faithful get behind both teams, and produce the electric atmosphere the stadium is renowned for, I can see both sides reaching the Oval for the semi final.
Opening Fixture Details
A double-header against London Spirit at Edgbaston is the first challenge for Birmingham Phoenix.
Birmingham Phoenix v London Spirit, Friday 23 July, 3pm, Edgbaston Stadium
Birmingham Phoenix v London Spirit, Friday 23 July, 6:30pm, Edgbaston Stadium
According to Sky Bet, Birmingham Phoenix are sixth favourites to win the tournament, priced at 7/1.