Local legend. International star. Here’s an exclusive Q&A with the Birmingham Phoenix captain.
Q: You’re the first men’s captain for Birmingham Phoenix. How much does that mean to you?
MA: “It means a lot. Being from Birmingham in a new tournament, a new way of playing the game, I’m very excited. I can’t wait.”
Q: What are your views on the Birmingham Phoenix men’s team you will captain?
MA: “It is a very exciting side. We have some very good players and we probably have some guys who are the best in the country at the moment so I’m very excited. We’ll probably go under the radar a little bit but I think that’s a great position to be in.”
Q: You must be looking forward to joining up with some familiar faces?
MA: “I have some good friends in the side. Someone like Ravi (Bopara) who I played a lot with when I first played for England. It’s a great side in terms of experience and there’s a lot of youth as well.”
Q: What kind of captain are you and what will you be hoping to bring to the dressing room?
MA: “To keep things simple and to not really have a set way and go with the flow a little bit. I’ll look to read the situation as early as I can and take advice from my team-mates and coaches.”
Q: It must be extra special to captain a team at Edgbaston, which is a ground you grew up so close to?
MA: “Definitely. It takes me back to my memories as a nine-year-old and first coming into the ground. A lot has changed now, it is an amazing stadium. I started at Edgbaston from a very young age and to be captaining a side playing there is amazing. It is the best atmosphere in the country by far and guys love playing there.”
Q: You still live close to the ground and you’re involved in the community where you grew up. What will it mean to you to have that community come and support you just up the road and to get new audiences involved in cricket.
MA: “It will be amazing in terms of support. I know a lot of people in Birmingham and who live close by and who don’t know much about cricket. I think (The Hundred) is a great format for them to come and understand because cricket can be quite a complex and difficult game to explain to people and I think this is an amazing way to break that barrier. It’s very exciting for myself and the fans and family.”
Q: How important is it for communities to be involved in cricket and how can it impact?
MA: “In my opinion cricket can change a lot. It can change people’s lives and give them a vision. I think it can unite a lot of people because it’s such a universal game – anyone can play it no matter where you’re from or who you are.”
Q: What are the values of being brought up in Birmingham?
MA: “You always feel as though you’re in the middle of it. I feel very comfortable in Birmingham. It’s my home and the values are being quite a tight-knit city. I think it is a very uniting city personally.”
Q: You’re building a community centre in Birmingham. What inspired you to do that and what do you hope to achieve?
MA: “Having kids of my own now and looking at the kids around me I think it is a great thing. I wish we had more of that when I was a kid. For me it was about what can I do to try and get more kids into something and to try and inspire them somehow. I feel a community centre is a first step towards trying to do something, just to give them a place where they maybe feel they belong and can express themselves and do what they want.”
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