Moeen Ali will captain Birmingham Phoenix in the inaugural season of the Hundred.
Moeen, a £125,000 ‘local icon’ player for the Phoenix, has been handed the role ahead of a strong set of candidates including Kane Williamson and Liam Livingstone.
He grew up in Sparkhill, just a short distance from Edgbaston, which will host the men’s home matches, and his team will include fellow World Cup-winning Birmingham local, Chris Woakes, as well as Pat Brown, the young England seamer who made his T20I debut this winter.
ALSO READ: The Hundred – full squad lists
Moeen joins Eoin Morgan (London Spirit) and Aaron Finch (Northern Superchargers) as a confirmed captain in the competition, while Dane Vilas (Manchester Originals) and Sam Billings (Oval Invincibles) are likely to follow. Other teams’ decisions over their choice of captain might be affected by availability, with the possibility that Australian leadership candidates miss the latter stages of the tournament to play an ODI series against Zimbabwe.
“Every time that I come to Edgbaston it takes me back to some great first memories of coming here at a very young age,” Moeen said. “I grew up in this area and to be the first-ever men’s captain of Birmingham Phoenix in a new and inclusive competition that will reach out to communities and welcome them in is very special for me.
“We’re a tight-knit city in Birmingham. We have so much around us that brings the people together, no matter who you are or your background. I know how much of a uniting game cricket is and as a leader of the Birmingham Phoenix that is something I definitely want to promote.
“We are lucky to have some of the best players in the country in our squad but also some amazing overseas players, so we know that the cricket is going to be really exciting.”
Moeen’s record as captain has been honed by his stint in charge of Worcestershire Rapids, whom he led to consecutive Vitality Blast finals at Edgbaston, winning in 2018 and finishing as runners-up to Essex in 2019.
“Worcestershire is where I have developed as a player and as a leader and captaining them in high-profile games like at Finals Day will shape the way I will lead the Birmingham Phoenix,” he said.
“It will also help that I’ve got my Rapids team-mate Pat Brown too because he is one of the best young white-ball bowlers in the country and when you add players like Chris Woakes, we have a strong local flavour that I’m sure can bring home the title.”
Andrew McDonald, the men’s head coach, said: “Moeen is a fantastic allrounder and has the experience and temperament to lead the team. He started his cricket journey here at Edgbaston from a young age so it feels fitting that he will captain the men’s Birmingham Phoenix team.
“He’s involved in the local community in Birmingham and I know how much of a popular figure he is at Worcestershire too so I’m sure his efforts on and off the field will help inspire the next generation from our region and beyond to get involved in cricket.”
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Atul Bedade suspended as Baroda women coach
Baroda has indefinitely suspended Atul Bedade, the head coach of the state’s women’s team, pending an inquiry into allegations including those of sexual harassment.
A letter from the Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) to Bedade, which has been viewed by ESPNcricinfo, didn’t list specific allegations against him, but noted their nature: “Personal comments on physicality”, “Comments that discourage the morale of team members”, “Angry outbursts unbecoming of a women’s team coach and using unparliamentary language that is not accepted of a person in-charge”, and “Behaviour oblivious of gender sensitivity”.
Ajit Lele, the BCA secretary, confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that the association’s apex committee would form a probe committee to look into the allegations against Bedade. With the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic putting cricket operations on hold globally, it is not yet certain when the probe committee will be formed.
The 53-year-old Bedade, who played 13 ODIs for India in the 1990s, took over as the Baroda women coach in April 2019.
ESPNcricinfo has reached out to Bedade for comment, and will update this story should he provide one. Meanwhile, Sportstar has quoted him as saying he is “not in a position to comment on the matter. I have just received the suspension letter this evening and it’s surprising.”
PCB takes coronavirus hit, but finances ‘absolutely fine’ for next 12-14 months
The PCB is set to incur an estimated loss of PKR 200 million (USD 1.2 million approx) in term of gate revenues alone following the postponement of the PSL’s semi-finals and final, and a loss of a further USD 3 to 4 million from not staging the remainder of Pakistan’s home series against Bangladesh in April. Despite these blows, the PCB’s financial health is still sustainable for the next 12 to 14 months, according to its CEO Wasim Khan.
Since March 16, all professional cricket in Pakistan has come to a halt in the light of growing concerns around the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic that is sweeping the globe. After the PSL, Pakistan was set for another month of home domestic and international cricket, with the Pakistan One-Day Cup and the final leg of Bangladesh’s tour of Pakistan. Amid all this, Pakistan’s five-year broadcasting deal and the kit sponsorship were about to end with the PCB preparing to seek out new deals; this means the board will not lose anything financially from their existing commercial deals.
Pakistan only had away tours to play in the five months after the scheduled end of their home season, with their next domestic season due to start in October, and their next home international series set for December. This has given the PCB a bit of breathing room. The board has shut down cricketing operations at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Lahore, asking players and coaches to remain at home with all upcoming courses suspended infinitely. The board’s offices are shut as well, with employees working from home.
How long this shutdown will continue is uncertain, but the PCB is hopeful that it will have sufficient funds to survive by the start of its next round of home fixtures.
“For now our financial grounds are fine, and obviously we just had a PSL, and the loses we incurred were from gate receipts and sponsorships,” Wasim said. “I was roughly calculating that it could be around the 200-million-rupee mark in terms of gate receipts that we actually lost on our revenue. This is something we will have definite numbers for in the next couple of weeks, and we will provide the details of where we made the greatest losses.
“So we are in a fortunate position in the fact that the only immediate loss we have is the the Bangladesh series. We lost three to four million dollars because we are not playing the Test and and ODI. Apart from that we have two things: one, our shirt sponsorship is up for taking, so we are not losing money on that, and we are looking for a new sponsor, and secondly, our broadcasting rights are ending and the Bangladesh series was the last of the Ten Sports deal that we currently had.
“We are moving on to negotiate and looking for new deals and we are very fortunate in the fact that we don’t have home cricket and international’s cricket until we move on to the Asia Cup and Zimbabwe in October. Our finances are okay but like any other country if this continues for another 12 or 14 months, then we will start to see a real challenge in our finances. So for time being we are absolutely fine.”
The next domestic season faces significant changes, with the PCB working to decentralise its domestic stakeholders, forming six independent provincial and city associations. It had already implemented the new structure last year with six teams playing every format in the country, abolishing the old structure with departments playing first-class cricket. The PCB is exploring a plan to squeeze in another tournament, allowing departments to return to the fold.
Administratively, the PCB over coming months is likely to implement a constitution for the provincial boards to form their management committee, which will have its own departments – accounts, finance, marketing, HR, audit, selection, coaching staff. The entire model will be detached from the PCB to work independently with the PCB not retaining any direct role in the decision-making of each regional team. Before this, the PCB had been directly involved in funding and running cricket operations in each region, and last season alone had spent over PKR 1 billion (USD 6.3 million approx) in doing so.
‘Focus on your own cricket’ – PCB CEO Wasim Khan pulls up Mohammad Hafeez
In a strongly worded reprimand to Mohammad Hafeez, the PCB chief executive officer Wasim Khan said the batsman should be “focusing on his own cricket” instead of giving opinions on “right and wrong” after Hafeez questioned the return of Sharjeel Khan to competitive cricket.
Sharjeel had received a five-year ban from the PCB for the role he played in the PSL corruption scandal from 2017. The board suspended his sentence following an “unconditional apology” in August 2019, paving way for a sooner-than-expected comeback. Even so, it seemed unlikely that he would play in this year’s PSL until the Karachi Kings bought him at the auction and deployed him as their opening batsman.
Sharjeel could only make 199 runs from 10 matches, which raised questions about whether he was physically fit enough to play at the top level. Hafeez was replying to one such question on Twitter when he said, “Shouldn’t we set Standards of Dignity & Pride Higher than any other “Extra Talent” to represent Pakistan.”
The PCB CEO didn’t take kindly to that. “Current players should not be going up on social media to criticise other players or talk about what policies the cricket board should or shouldn’t have,” Wasim said through a video link from Lahore. “They can have their opinions about various things about world cricket and cricket in general but not about the rights and wrongs of players and the boards and they should leave that to cricket board to answer.
“I will be personally speaking to Mohammad Hafeez about that and I don’t think it’s his place to be doing it. No other player in the world does that so why should our Pakistani players do that? I don’t think they have any space to do that and I don’t think they should be doing that. That’s my personal view. Coming from an English environment, I never saw an English player tweet about policies, procedures, talking about other players’ right or wrong. My view is, he should focus on his own game, focus on the cricketing opinion he can give but don’t give personal opinion about other players.”
This is not the first time Hafeez has questioned a player on his return from a ban. In December 2015, he and current Test captain Azhar Ali stayed away from a training camp ahead of a tour of New Zealand because Mohammad Amir, who was returning from a spot-fixing ban, was picked to be a part of it. Both of them eventually joined training after the PCB intervened and have since played several matches alongside Amir.
Sharjeel was a promising talent for Pakistan before his ban. He played 25 ODIs, 15 T20Is and one Test and in that time cultivated a reputation for being a hard-hitting batsman. PSL 2020 was his first taste of action in over two years. The 30-year-old had to miss the whole of the Pakistan domestic season since he was still undergoing the rehabilitation part of his sentence.
“He has done his time, whatever was set,” Wasim said. “He has carried out that ban. He is back and was picked up by a franchise and he is available to play again. In terms of him getting selected [for Pakistan] going forward, that is up to the selectors. There is a long way for Sharjeel Khan to go before he is considered to play for Pakistan again.
“First of all, there is an importance around fitness. [Head coach] Misbah[-ul-Haq] had said that verbally and he is emphasising the policy on fitness with us as well and [bowling coach] Waqar [Younis] has also spoken about it as well, that we are moving in a different direction.
“One of the things Sharjeel Khan could have done in his time when he wasn’t playing and inactive is that he could have got himself fit. In your life, you have controllables and non-controllables. Fitness is controllable, what goes in you mouth, what you do, how you keep yourself fit, that is all under your control. If you are serious about playing for Pakistan, get yourself fit. There is no excuse.
“I am sorry but I am a stern believer that he turned up playing PSL unfit. He will not get selected for Pakistan as long as he stays the way he is. He now has a few months – get yourself fit, show that you have an ambition to play for Pakistan, show you have commitment and desire to get yourself fit and then you will be considered. I am sure Misbah and the selectors are looking it at that way – they have a policy and it’s important that people abide by that.”
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