Men's Hundred team previews - Can Southern Brave live up to the hype?

We run the rule over all the teams taking part in the inaugural men's Hundred

Matt Roller
Matt Roller

Birmingham Phoenix

Coach: Daniel Vettori
Captain: Moeen Ali
Overseas players: Imran Tahir (South Africa), Adam Milne, Finn Allen (both New Zealand)
Moeen Ali and Liam Livingstone will hope to transfer their England form into the Hundred, and if Tom Abell is fit after a hamstring injury - the Phoenix expect him to play "a big part" though could not confirm he would be fit for Friday night's opening game - then this is one of the strongest middle orders in the competition. Finn Allen replaces Kane Williamson on the back of an excellent Vitality Blast season with Lancashire and is likely to open with Daniel Bell-Drummond after Adam Hose's late withdrawal. With the ball, Benny Howell has a platform to show off his extensive repertoire of slower balls while the veteran Imran Tahir arrives on the back of an excellent PSL season. Chris Woakes is unlikely to play a part early on due to a bruised heel which leaves them needing young seamers to stand up. Pat Brown may get a chance at some stage after a tough year with injuries.
Verdict: Potential dark horses but bowling attack may be too light.
Possible XI: Finn Allen, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Moeen Ali (capt), Liam Livingstone, Tom Abell/Will Smeed, Chris Cooke (wk), Benny Howell, Tom Helm, Adam Milne, Dillon Pennington/Pat Brown, Imran Tahir

London Spirit

Coach: Shane Warne
Captain: Eoin Morgan
Overseas players: Josh Inglis (Australia), Mohammad Amir (Pakistan), Mohammad Nabi (Afghanistan)
Impressive batting line-up despite Glenn Maxwell's withdrawal, not least after signing leading Blast run-scorer Josh Inglis as his replacement. Starting XI looks strong and is filled with bowling options but depth will be an issue with Zak Crawley, Dan Lawrence and Mark Wood all named in England's Test squad and due to miss the majority of the group stage. Eoin Morgan's form provides an interesting subplot after a quiet patch in T20Is, while Mason Crane - who will work under his idol Shane Warne - could be one of the tournament's breakthrough stars. Mohammad Amir's role as a top-and-tail bowler is crucial.
Verdict: Need to click quickly given looming availability problems.
Possible XI: Zak Crawley, Josh Inglis (wk), Joe Denly, Dan Lawrence, Eoin Morgan (capt), Ravi Bopara, Mohammad Nabi, Roelof van der Merwe/Blake Cullen, Mohammad Amir, Chris Wood, Mason Crane

Manchester Originals

Coach: Simon Katich
Captain: Jos Buttler
Overseas players: Colin Munro, Lockie Ferguson (both New Zealand), Carlos Brathwaite (West Indies)
Complete overhaul since initial draft in October 2019 but squad looks stronger for it. Jos Buttler may start in the middle order to minimise disruption when he leaves on England duty, with Phil Salt, Joe Clarke and Colin Munro a strong top three on paper. Tom Lammonby's return to form is timely and he breaks up a run of right-handers in the middle order while Carlos Brathwaite has been a regular wicket-taker over the last year in the CPL, BBL, PSL and Blast and Lockie Ferguson is among the best fast bowlers in the competition. Last-minute signing Calvin Harrison could play some home games as part of a spin-heavy attack, with the Originals likely to attempt to replicate Lancashire's successful strategy at Emirates Old Trafford.
Verdict: Well-placed to challenge for the top three - particularly if they can exploit home advantage.
Possible XI: Phil Salt, Joe Clarke, Colin Munro, Jos Buttler (capt/wk), Sam Hain/Colin Ackermann, Tom Lammonby, Carlos Brathwaite, Fred Klaassen/Ollie Robinson, Tom Hartley, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Parkinson

Northern Superchargers

Coach: Darren Lehmann
Captain: Faf du Plessis
Overseas players: du Plessis (South Africa), Chris Lynn (Australia), Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Afghanistan)
Strong local core of Yorkshire and Durham's best players from this season's Blast, with Harry Brook, Jordan Thompson, Brydon Carse and Matty Potts all potential breakout stars. Chris Lynn has a point to prove ahead of the T20 World Cup while Faf du Plessis has recovered after a concussion in the PSL. If fit, Tom Kohler-Cadmore offers an alternative with the gloves to John Simpson, allowing them to pick an extra batter. The bowling attack has both variety and quality, with David Willey's left-arm swing, Carse's extra pace, and the world-class spin of Adil Rashid and Mujeeb Ur Rahman. Callum Parkinson offers a third spin option on turning pitches.
Verdict: Every chance of a top-three finish if they find a settled combination early on.
Possible XI: Chris Lynn, Adam Lyth, Faf du Plessis (capt), Ben Stokes, Tom Kohler-Cadmore/John Simpson (wk), Harry Brook, David Willey, Jordan Thompson/Matty Potts, Brydon Carse, Adil Rashid, Mujeeb Ur Rahman

Oval Invincibles

Coach: Tom Moody
Captain: Sam Billings
Overseas players: Sunil Narine (West Indies), Colin Ingram, Tabraiz Shamsi (both South Africa)
Like the Superchargers, Oval Invincibles have recruited a swathe of Surrey players and will not be badly affected by Test call-ups. Jason Roy, Will Jacks and Laurie Evans will form the top three, as they do for Surrey in the Blast, while Colin Ingram, Sam Billings and Sam Curran are dynamic middle-order batters who are strong against spin, with the additional option of Sunil Narine as a floating pinch-hitter. With the ball, Saqib Mahmood is English cricket's coming man after a series of eye-catching limited-overs performances against Pakistan and should play every game, while Reece Topley will want to bowl himself into the T20 World Cup squad when he returns from injury. Tabraiz Shamsi arrives late as Sandeep Lamichhane's replacement - he has been in impressive form but will need to hit the ground running.
Verdict: Impressive batting depth but they need Narine to prove his form and lead the bowling attack.
Possible XI: Jason Roy, Will Jacks, Laurie Evans, Colin Ingram, Sam Billings (capt/wk), Sam Curran, Sunil Narine, Tom Curran, Saqib Mahmood, Reece Topley/Brandon Glover, Tabraiz Shamsi/Nathan Sowter

Southern Brave

Coach: Mahela Jayawardene
Captain: James Vince
Overseas players: Quinton de Kock (South Africa), Devon Conway, Colin de Grandhomme (both New Zealand)
Bookies' favourites suffered big-name overseas withdrawals in David Warner, Marcus Stoinis and Andre Russell but replacements are nearly as strong, with Quinton de Kock lured in by the Mahela Jayawardene factor. Jofra Archer is the trump card, returning from injury but not part of the squad for the first two India Tests meaning he could play every game and form part of an international-standard pace attack with George Garton, Chris Jordan, and T20 World Cup bolter Tymal Mills. Bowling strength should allow a lower-risk batting strategy with Devon Conway the glue holding them together, and they could pick an extra batter in Alex Davies or Ross Whiteley ahead of Danny Briggs on certain pitches (Davies will start as keeper with de Kock on South Africa duty). The only obvious gap is a lack of wristspin in the likely starting XI, though Max Waller and Jake Lintott are options from the bench.
Verdict: Big expectations to live up to but top-three finish should prove straightforward.
Possible XI: Quinton de Kock/Alex Davies (wk), James Vince (capt), Devon Conway, Delray Rawlins, Colin de Grandhomme, Liam Dawson, George Garton, Jofra Archer, Chris Jordan, Danny Briggs, Tymal Mills

Trent Rockets

Coach: Andy Flower
Captain: Lewis Gregory
Overseas players: Rashid Khan (Afghanistan), D'Arcy Short (Australia), Wahab Riaz (Pakistan, arrives late due to visa issues), Marchant de Lange (South Africa, until Wahab arrives)
Four games out of eight at the notoriously high-scoring Trent Bridge, so the big question is whether they have the attack to cope with such short boundaries. Nottinghamshire core - and the canny spin pair Matt Carter and Samit Patel in particular - should help with that but Rashid Khan is their real superstar, retained after being the first pick in the initial draft nearly two years ago. With the bat, all of the top four have something to prove in a T20 World Cup year, with Luke Wright ready to come off the bench when Joe Root leaves on England duty, but they could come unstuck against spin. Seam attack among the lightest in the competition.
Verdict: Some holes in the squad but enough match-winners to stay in contention
Possible XI: Alex Hales, D'Arcy Short, Dawid Malan, Joe Root, Tom Moores (wk), Samit Patel, Lewis Gregory (capt), Rashid Khan, Wahab Riaz/Marchant de Lange, Luke Wood, Matt Carter

Welsh Fire

Coach: Gary Kirsten
Captain: Jonny Bairstow
Overseas players: Glenn Phillips (New Zealand), Qais Ahmad (Afghanistan), Jimmy Neesham (New Zealand, first three games), Lungi Ngidi (South Africa, final five games)
Weakest side on paper with a relatively thin bowling attack, and Jonny Bairstow's surprise Test call-up means they are without their captain and best batter for the majority of the group stage. Liam Plunkett will need to prove his fitness (he has played a single second-team game in the last nine months) and Jake Ball, David Payne and Qais Ahmad will be the key components of the attack, needing to adapt to Cardiff's short straight boundaries. With the bat, Tom Banton and Bairstow form an explosive and complementary opening partnership to start with, and Glenn Phillips - Kieron Pollard's replacement - is one to keep an eye on after a stellar Blast season for Gloucestershire. Ollie Pope is unlikely to play a part, targeting the first Test of the summer for his return from injury.
Verdict: Will have a couple of days out but hard to see them stringing enough wins together for a top-three finish.
Possible XI: Tom Banton (wk), Jonny Bairstow, Ian Cockbain/Josh Cobb, Ben Duckett, Glenn Phillips, Jimmy Neesham, Ryan Higgins/Matt Critchley, Liam Plunkett, Jake Ball, David Payne, Qais Ahmad

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98