CAPTAINS Mooen Ali and Sophie Devine have been retained by Birmingham Phoenix for the inaugural edition of The Hundred in 2021.
The pair were originally slated for the captaincy roles for this summer’s tournament – which was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic – but have now committed themselves to the Second City side going into next summer.
And for 33-year-old Ali, the honour of skippering his hometown side is something that he will hold in high regard.
“Birmingham is my city and captaining my home team in The Hundred is right up there in terms of my career,” he said.
“I was born, raised and my life is still based in Birmingham, so to be the first-ever men’s captain of Birmingham Phoenix is very special for me. Sports fans across the country and in Birmingham especially will be eager to watch some live cricket.
“Leading Birmingham Phoenix out on to the field at Edgbaston, with the whole community behind me will be an amazing feeling.”
Though the launch of the competition was hit by the major setback of a global pandemic, the England international admits that the preparations for next year are already beginning to take shape.
“I had a chat with Andrew McDonald [head coach] a couple of days ago about what we’re trying to do moving forward and how we start to put some plans in place,” Ali added.
“There’s a lot of work to do before the season starts and we keep in touch regularly. When I see him at grounds when we’re playing in the IPL, we try to have a quick chat about things and we’re both really excited for The Hundred next year.”
Women’s captain Sophie Devine is equally confident about Phoenix’s chances, with both the men’s and women’s tournaments running in tandem.
New Zealander Devine says the new competition can be a breakthrough moment for the women’s game, and cannot wait to get going in front of the New Road crowd in Worcester.
“It’s a huge honour to captain Birmingham Phoenix and I’m really excited to be leading this side,” said the 31-year-old.
“We are putting together an exciting line-up and the international players we are looking to bring in are of the highest quality. I’m really looking forward to playing alongside them.
“With the opportunities that are here at the moment I sometimes have to pinch myself that I do this for a job. Exposing more players to the highest quality cricket is only going to benefit the women’s game globally and The Hundred is going to be a huge moment in women’s sport.”
Devine is no stranger to leading the line on the field, having been named as the New Zealand skipper back in July, also captaining NZ’s team at the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia back in February.
“Everyone is different, but for me being a captain is about leading with actions and leading from the front,” she commented on the extra responsibility.
“If I can inspire my teammates to play a certain way or follow my lead, that will be more powerful than words spoken from the sidelines.
“I’ll try to lead from the front with bat and ball and encourage others to play to their potential and believe in themselves because I’ll be backing them 100%.
“It’s only a hundred balls so you’ve got nothing to lose. That’s what makes it such an exciting competition.”