Sunday Jul 25, 2021
BIRMINGHAM: Spark Green Park in Birmingham has been transformed to celebrate the Birmingham Phoenix team and its captain, Moeen Ali.
The face of Birmingham-born Ali, who grew up playing cricket in the area, features within the Phoenix's striking orange and black design on the walls of the park.
Speaking to Geo.tv, Ali said this was the same area where he grew up. He played a lot of football and cricket here as his school was nearby, so it means a lot to him.
“To see it transformed completely ahead of our Birmingham Phoenix campaign in [new 100-ball tournament] The Hundred makes me feel very proud and it’s going to be so inspiring to the youngsters who play here each week”.
Ali hoped the mural will inspire the younger kids in the area to take on the game and see that there is a career in playing sports and cricket and it’s easier for them to access than they probably think at times.
“Sometimes, we as British South Asians think that accessibility is very difficult, but actually it’s not as hard as you think”, added Ali who himself is of Pakistani and Kashmiri origin.
Speaking about the difference between more established short-form T20 cricket and this new 100-ball version 'The Hundred', Ali said he thinks the rules are pretty much same but it’s slightly different from T20.
For Ali, to be captain of the Phoenix team in The Hundred is a proud moment. “Being a local guy living 10 minutes away from Edgbaston most of my life, it’s very exciting to lead Birmingham Phoenix."
In recent months, Ali has been in and out of the English squad from all three forms of cricket. He described it as a difficult time as the team is building for the T20I World Cup.
“Obviously, we are building for the World Cup so Eoin Morgan [England captain] wants to have a look at other players, which means either you don’t play or you play but don't bowl much or bat lower down the order — which can be quite frustrating but you also have to look at the bigger picture.”
Birmingham Phoenix faced London Spirits on Friday in the first game for both teams in the The Hundred tournament. Eoin Morgan — England’s captain for ODI and T20I — led the Spirits. The Phoenixes emerged successful from the match up, downing the Spirits comprehensively for a three-wicket win.
Ali was part of England’s 2019 cricket world cup winning squad. He has also featured for Multan Sultans in the 5th edition of Pakistan Super League.