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Hundred team-by-team previews: Southern Brave, Birmingham Phoenix the teams to catch

We take at look at all eight men's squads ahead of the second edition of the competition

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
James Vince holds the Hundred trophy aloft, Birmingham Phoenix vs Southern Brave, Men's Hundred final, Lord's, August 21, 2021

Southern Brave captain James Vince holds the Hundred trophy aloft  •  Getty Images

With the men's Hundred starting on Wednesday evening - the women's competition has been shortened due to a clash with the Commonwealth Games and begins on August 11 - we run through the eight squads and look at who could be challenging to follow in Southern Brave's footsteps as 100-ball champions.

Birmingham Phoenix

Last season: Runners-up
Coach: Daniel Vettori
Captain: Moeen Ali
Overseas players: Matthew Wade, Adam Milne, Kane Richardson, Imran Tahir
Key man: Liam Livingstone was the standout player in the Hundred's first season, in a league of his own in batting statistics: he scored 50% more runs than his nearest contender and hit 27 sixes, a dozen more than anyone else. He comes into the tournament off a quiet white-ball summer for England but his all-round ability and versatility means he remains Phoenix's most important player.
One to watch: Henry Brookes was retained despite missing the first season through injury and bowled with good pace - though mixed returns - in the Blast. Phoenix's English seamers were expensive throughout last season and they will be desperate for Brookes to step up, especially after Olly Stone and Chris Woakes were ruled out through injury.
Verdict: Phoenix fell short in the final last year after topping the group and look just as strong this season - though injuries could be an issue, with Tom Abell (hamstring) ruled out and Adam Milne (Achilles) a doubt. Matthew Wade is an astute signing who should be fully available and will form an eye-catching opening partnership with Will Smeed.
Possible XI: 1 Matthew Wade (wk), 2 Will Smeed, 3 Moeen Ali (capt), 4 Liam Livingstone, 5 Chris Benjamin, 6 Dan Mousley, 7 Benny Howell, 8 Tom Helm, 9 Adam Milne/Kane Richardson, 10 Henry Brookes, 11 Imran Tahir

London Spirit

Last season: 8th
Coach: Trevor Bayliss
Captain: Eoin Morgan
Overseas players: Kieron Pollard, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Nathan Ellis, Josh Inglis (cover for Maxwell)
Key man: After pulling out of last season, Glenn Maxwell is due to play around five group games this year before leaving for Australia's series against Zimbabwe. He will be tasked with invigorating one of the competition's weakest batting line-ups, which made 150 only once last year (and still lost that game).
One to watch: Dan Lawrence impressed during England's Test series in the Caribbean in March but has struggled with injury this year and slipped down the pecking order. His red-ball ambitions have interrupted his development as a T20 batter but he showed glimpses of his form in the Blast and will form part of a powerful middle order alongside Maxwell and Eoin Morgan.
Verdict: Things can only get better for Spirit after a rock-bottom finish in the competition's first season - but exactly how much better they get remains to be seen. Their squad contains a number of experienced names but their fortunes may depend on whether Morgan, Ravi Bopara and Kieron Pollard (who may not start the competition as he returns from injury) can find form from the middle order. There is a Hampshire flavour to their side, thanks to the influence of Dimi Mascarenhas as assistant coach.
Possible XI: 1 Ben McDermott (wk), 2 Zak Crawley, 3 Glenn Maxwell, 4 Dan Lawrence, 5 Eoin Morgan (capt), 6 Ravi Bopara, 7 Jordan Thompson, 8 Liam Dawson, 9 Brad Wheal, 10 Nathan Ellis, 11 Mason Crane

Manchester Originals

Last season: 6th
Coach: Simon Katich
Captain: Jos Buttler
Overseas players: Andre Russell, Wanindu Hasaranga, Sean Abbott, Ashton Turner
Key man: Jos Buttler's absence from England's Test set-up means that he will be available to open the batting, captain and keep wicket for the whole season, a huge boost to Originals' prospects. He will form part of a destructive opening partnership with Phil Salt - one which could be replicated in the T20 World Cup, if Salt can find his feet in the Hundred.
One to watch: He struggled in the Hundred last year and has not had a brilliant season for Somerset, but Tom Lammonby could be an influential player for Original - not least as one of only two left-handers among their main batting options (Essex's Paul Walter is the other). Games at Emirates Old Trafford typically feature a high proportion of overs bowled by spinners and Lammonby will need to address a poor career record against the turning ball.
Verdict: Originals are well-placed to improve on a disappointing first season after some canny recruitment and in Buttler, Wanindu Hasaranga and Andre Russell, they have three world-class T20 players in their ranks, as well as several useful role players. Their bowling attack is spin-heavy and they should thrive at home - if the weather holds. Jamie Overton's injury is a blow.
Possible XI: 1 Jos Buttler (capt/wk), 2 Phil Salt, 3 Wayne Madsen, 4 Laurie Evans, 5 Tom Lammonby, 6 Andre Russell, 7 Wanindu Hasaranga, 8 Sean Abbott, 9 Tom Hartley, 10 Richard Gleeson, 11 Matt Parkinson

Northern Superchargers

Last season: 5th
Coach: James Foster
Captain: Faf du Plessis
Overseas players: Dwayne Bravo, du Plessis, Wahab Riaz, David Wiese
Key man: David Willey is a hugely valuable player at this level: he will take the new ball and the format enables him to bowl the majority of his spell in the powerplay, and Superchargers will look to get the most out of his batting by using him as a floater in the middle order. Deputised as captain last year but will hand back over to his Royal Challengers Bangalore team-mate Faf du Plessis, who missed the first season with concussion.
One to watch: Callum Parkinson only played twice last season but is a reliable T20 operator and should play as the second spinner ahead of Roelof van der Merwe. He mainly bowls in the middle of the innings but has also proved himself in the powerplay for Leicestershire in the Blast, offering du Plessis some flexibility.
Verdict: Old blokes win stuff, according to Dan Christian, and Superchargers have assembled the most experienced squad in the competition. They were the worst death-bowling side last year and have looked to plug that gap by signing Dwayne Bravo and Wahab Riaz, two veterans of the franchise circuit. Ben Stokes' absence - even for a handful of games - is a blow while Harry Brook and Matthew Potts' Test call-ups will test their depth.
Possible XI: 1 Faf du Plessis (capt), 2 Adam Lyth, 3 David Willey, 4 Harry Brook, 5 Adam Hose, 6 John Simpson (wk), 7 Dwayne Bravo, 8 Matthew Potts, 9 Wahab Riaz, 10 Adil Rashid, 11 Callum Parkinson

Oval Invincibles

Last season: 4th
Coach: Tom Moody
Captain: Sam Billings
Overseas players: Sunil Narine, Rilee Rossouw, Hilton Cartwright, Mohammad Hasnain
Key man: Invincibles unexpectedly released Sunil Narine ahead of the draft this year but immediately used their Right-to-Match card on him, suggesting he was always part of their plans for 2022. He had a solid first year in the Hundred, often bowling his final set of five balls at the death, and warmed up for this season by playing 14 Blast games for Surrey, conceding less than a run a ball across the competition.
One to watch: Jordan Cox was Invincibles' wildcard signing and was retained for 2022 despite the fact he did not play a game in the Hundred. He starred in Kent's middle order in their title-winning Blast season last summer, hitting 58 not out off 28 balls in the final, and spent most of this year at No. 3. He should be part of Invincibles' starting XI this year - and might well be one of the best fielders in the competition.
Verdict: Invincibles were in the qualification picture throughout last year but fell at the last hurdle, losing to Brave in their final group game and thereby missing out on the knockout stages. They are well-placed to improve on that this season, but will need Tom Curran to prove his fitness after a long lay-off or the bowling attack may be slightly light.
Possible XI: 1 Jason Roy, 2 Will Jacks, 3 Rilee Rossouw (misses first game), 4 Sam Billings (capt/wk), 5 Jordan Cox, 6 Sunil Narine, 7 Sam Curran, 8 Tom Curran, 9 Danny Briggs, 10 Reece Topley, 11 Mohammad Hasnain

Southern Brave

Last season: Champions
Coach: Mahela Jayawardene
Captain: James Vince
Overseas players: Quinton de Kock, Marcus Stoinis, Tim David, Finn Allen, Paul Stirling (cover for Stoinis)
Key man: James Vince is in the form of his life, leading the Blast's run-scoring charts as he captained Hampshire to the title, and remains an outside shot for England's T20 World Cup squad if a first-choice batter goes down injured. He led Brave well in the inaugural Hundred and took bold selection calls, often picking a solitary spinner even if it meant leaving an established player out.
One to watch: Rehan Ahmed had never played a professional T20 match when Brave spent £50,000 on him at the draft but increasingly looks like a canny pick-up, after 19 wickets for Leicestershire in the Blast and a first England Lions call-up for their 50-over games against South Africa. He is still only 17, but could be Brave's second spinner when conditions dictate.
Verdict: Defending champions relied heavily on their bowling attack last year but Tymal Mills (toe) and George Garton (long Covid) have been struggling with fitness and form. Their batting line-up is full of power - not least Tim David, the competition's best-value player at £50,000 - but retaining their title will not be easy.
Possible XI: 1 Quinton de Kock (wk, misses first game), 2 Marcus Stoinis/Paul Stirling, 3 James Vince, 4 Alex Davies, 5 Tim David, 6 Ross Whiteley, 7 George Garton/James Fuller, 8 Chris Jordan, 9 Craig Overton, 10 Jake Lintott, 11 Tymal Mills

Trent Rockets

Last season: Eliminator
Coach: Andy Flower
Captain: Lewis Gregory
Overseas players: Rashid Khan, Colin Munro, Marchant de Lange, Daniel Sams, Tabraiz Shamsi (cover for Rashid)
Key man: Rockets have made clear that they will look to play in a more attacking style with the bat this year and few batters in the world can set the tone for a white-ball innings like Alex Hales: his powerplay strike rate this year is an eye-watering 175.47. He didn't reach 50 in the Hundred's first season, a record he will be looking to set straight.
One to watch: Tom Kohler-Cadmore was an eye-catching £125,000 signing in the draft but has impressed on the franchise circuit and has an unusually good record against spin for a young English batter who has played extensively in Asia. He has a solid Blast for Yorkshire, scoring half-centuries in both their knockout games, and offers a keeping option.
Verdict: Rockets look like an impressive all-round side on paper, but how will they cope without Rashid Khan? Rashid will only play a handful of games due to clashes with Afghanistan's series against Ireland and the Asia Cup and while Tabraiz Shamsi is a solid option, Rashid is impossible to replace. They should be in knockout contention come the end of August.
Possible XI: 1 Dawid Malan, 2 Alex Hales, 3 Colin Munro, 4 Joe Root, 5 Tom Kohler-Cadmore (wk), 6 Lewis Gregory (capt), 7 Daniel Sams, 8 Samit Patel, 9 Rashid Khan/Tabraiz Shamsi, 10 Matthew Carter, 11 Luke Wood

Welsh Fire

Last season: 7th
Coach: Gary Kirsten
Captain: Josh Cobb
Overseas players: Adam Zampa, David Miller, Naseem Shah, Noor Ahmad
Key man: Bowling spin at Sophia Gardens is often a brutal task but Adam Zampa's method should suit conditions before he leaves for Australia duty. Cardiff's short boundaries are incredibly short but his natural length is relatively short for a legspinner and he will drive the ball into the pitch to force batters to hit towards the long square boundaries.
One to watch: Tom Banton made 96 runs across eight innings in the Hundred's first season and was fortunate that market dynamics - specifically, limited availability for most leading overseas players - saw him re-signed for £125,000 at the draft. He found form towards the end of the Blast after a quiet start and warmed up for the Hundred with a maiden first-class hundred as a concussion replacement.
Verdict: Significantly stronger than last year and should be in the qualification mix but availability of overseas players is a mixed bag (Naseem Shah is yet to arrive) and balancing the side could prove tricky. Fire's batting line-up will be among the most destructive in the competition if it clicks - even after Jonny Bairstow's withdrawal - but their bowling is more vulnerable.
Possible XI: 1 Tom Banton, 2 Joe Clarke (wk), 3 Ben Duckett, 4 Ollie Pope, 5 David Miller (misses first game), 6 Josh Cobb, 7 Ryan Higgins, 8 Adam Zampa, 9 Noor Ahmad, 10 David Payne, 11 Jake Ball

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98