Ali and Devine were announced as captains of the men’s and women’s sides respectively in the spring, before the tournament’s inaugural season was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. They have both signed contracts for next year, with Ali becoming the first player without a red-ball central contract to officially be retained for the men’s tournament.
The ECB had previously confirmed that Chris Woakes and Amy Jones had both been retained by the Phoenix, while Dom Sibley has been allocated to them after winning his first Test central contract. Women’s players with contracts for the aborted 2020 season can opt to roll their deals over to 2021, while men’s teams can retain as many players as they wish from the squad compiled in last year’s draft.
Devine, who is in Sydney preparing for the WBBL with Perth Scorchers, said that she anticipated the Hundred could have a similar impact in the UK to Australia’s flagship domestic competition. She joins West Indies’ Deandra Dottin and Stafanie Taylor as one of the competition’s three confirmed overseas players to date.
“The Hundred will have a massive impact on developing women’s cricket, especially with the coverage on the BBC,” she said. “We’ve seen the impact of the WBBL – the standard keeps on improving with more and more people playing, and I think the Hundred can play a similar role in the UK.
“I’m really excited to be captaining this side. I’m looking forward to working with and learning from the local talent who can share their knowledge. The international players that are potentially coming over are of the highest quality, and I’m looking forward to testing myself in the Hundred.”
Ali, who has played only once so far this season for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, said that he had been speaking with Andrew McDonald – head coach at both Rajasthan Royals the Phoenix – while in the UAE about possible retention strategies.
“We had a chat 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 said. “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. As players, we’re trying to make it the biggest thing we’ve had in cricket in this country.”
ESPNcricinfo understands that several teams in the Hundred have begun to make contract offers to players for the 2021 season, and are negotiating with agents regarding salaries after bands were cut by 20% due to the financial impact of the pandemic.
Teams are expected to try to hold on to most of the squads they assembled at the draft last year, but with a particular focus on domestic talent due to uncertainty around the Future Tours Programme (FTP) and, as a result, the availability of international players.
Birmingham Phoenix 2021 squads so far:
Men: Moeen Ali (captain), Dom Sibley, Chris Woakes
Women: Sophie Devine (captain), Amy Jones