The Hundred, a format where each innings will consist of 100 balls and there will be a change of ends every 10 balls, is the first of its kind tournament. The inaugural edition of the much anticipated The Hundred is all set to begin on July 21, after it was suspended in 2020 due to COVID-19.
The new format of the game, though unconventional, is anticipated to be a crowd-puller. The eight-team tournament will be taking place for both men and women simultaneously.
Birmingham Phoenix will take on the London Spirit in the opening fixture of the men's competition on 23 July. The Birmingham-based side picked Chris Woakes and Dom Sibley as England's contracted players. Moeen Ali and Pat Brown were drafted as local icons, with the former given the responsibility of leading the side. Adam Milne, Finn Allen and Imran Tahir will come in as replacements for Shaheen Afridi, Kane Williamson and Adam Zampa.
As we near the start of the Hundred, we look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of Birmingham Phoenix:
Birmingham Phoenix Squad:
Moeen Ali (c), Chris Woakes, Dom Sibley, Pat Brown, Imran Tahir, Liam Livingstone, Miles Hammond, Adam Milne, Benny Howell, Adam Hose, Chris Cooke, Finn Allen, Tom Abell, Dillon Pennington, Tom Helm, Will Smeed, Daniel Bell-Drummond
Birmingham Phoenix Strengths:
Birmingham Phoenix are a top-heavy batting unit with a good blend of youth and experience in their top four. Finn Allen, who was signed as a replacement for Kane Williamson, will open the innings alongside either Liam Livingstone, Daniel Bell-Drummons or Miles Hammond. Livingstone has been in terrific form lately and has the experience of playing in the middle order as well as at the top. The likes of Bell-Drummond and Hammond need to be slotted into the top three to get the best out of them.
Skipper Moeen Ali, like Livingstone, is an experienced campaigner with the adaptability to bat at different positions. The major advantage is having a couple of guys who make the batting order flexible.
The spin department looks to be in safe hands with Imran Tahir spearheading the spin attack. Moeen Ali and Liam Livingstone can fill in some overs, with the former being a clever operator on pitches offering little help.
The bowling unit as a whole seems to be versatile and experienced enough to pull the team out of trouble more often than not.
Four of the top seven for Birmingham lack experience on the big stage and at least two of them will have to bat out of position. Having to slot them into the right positions might prove to be counter-productive as that will mean not getting the best out of the likes of Livingstone and Moeen.
Quite clearly Birmingham lack proper finishers with the bat and there will be extra responsibility on skipper Moeen for the same. This vulnerability is something the opposition bowlers can look to take advantage of.
Birmingham Phoenix's pace department comprises of quite a few promising fast bowlers and with the presence of the experienced Chris Woakes and Adam Milne, the young pacers can surely learn a lot. The likes of Tom Helm, Dillon Pennington and Pat Brown will have a great chance to prove themselves on the big stage against international stars.
The likes of Tom Abell, Bell-Drummond and Miles Hammond will have a chance to make it big if they can create an impact amongst the power-packed experienced internationals. Tom Abell will have the huge task of shouldering the middle order as well as finishing off games for Birmingham Phoenix. Getting suited to the roles provided and standing up to the pressure will be key for the youngsters.
The tricky call to distribute the concentration of power in the batting order might prove to be a make-or-break decision for Birmingham Phoenix. Livingstone and Moeen at the top will get the best out of them, but it will make the middle order vulnerable. While batting them lower down the order might mean missing out on some good hitting at the top. Unless the young local batsmen step up and take their game to the next level, the Birmingham management will have a tough task ahead.
Birmingham Phoneix Probable Playing XI:
Finn Allen, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Moeen Ali, Liam Livingstone, Tom Abell, Chris Cooke (wk), Benny Howell, Chris Woakes, Tom Helm, Imran Tahir, Adam Milne