Even with everyone still trying to feel out the new format of cricket, The Hundred has delivered exactly what it sought to. Matches have been explosive, scores have been close, and players both well-known and lesser-known have put on a show in their eye-catching franchise shirts.
A huge part of The Hundred is to offer an equal stage for the women’s game, but for that to be of any good, the players have to perform. So far, it’s fair to say that every team has put in some exciting innings, even if some have gone without a win.
Early into the inaugural competition, despite how well-padded some of the other teams are, the Southern Brave, Oval Invincibles, and Northern Superchargers emerged as the best of the bunch. All three of these teams have been emphatic on the pitch, either comfortably winning matches or putting up defiant comebacks, with their star players guiding them to the top spot in the rankings.
Setting a very high standard
As noted by Mike Atherton in The Times, The Hundred represents another shape-shift for the sport, and given how well it’s started, the latest competition shows, if nothing else, the sport’s incredible ability to adapt. For the players on the field, though, there isn’t any time to assess the competition on a wider scale, only to quickly adjust to the new format.
Those who selected their teams to be high-octane and capable of switching tactics on the fly have proven to be the most successful so far. Powered primarily by the batters, the Northern Superchargers surged to two victories with hefty run scores.
The Southern Brave have also batted well, but it’s the attack that’s been their true strength. Finally, a well-rounded Oval Invincibles have proven themselves to have characters on both sides of the ball capable of securing a victory regardless of the conditions or what’s required.
As such, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the three teams who were so impressive through the opening couple of matches are now the frontrunners to win the tournament. In the Space Casino odds, the Brave lead at 16/5, with the Superchargers sitting just behind at 4/1, alongside the Invincibles. However, the winless-through-two Manchester Originals are still seen as a contender at 11/2 to bounce back and win The Hundred.
The stars powering through The Hundred
Given the tournament’s emphasis on batting performances and hitting boundaries as often as possible, few would deny that Jemimah Rodrigues stood as the MVP after the first couple of rounds. Standing well atop the batting charts, she hit 152 runs through two games, which includes a six and 27 fours. Of course, Linsey Smith’s four wickets and league-leading 3.90 economy has also been a huge help, but as the Superchargers allowed 122 and 130 runs, it’s clear that the batting has been the driving force.
The Southern Brave, on the other hand, have kept very tight in the attack. Against both the Welsh Fire and Trent Rockets, their almighty bowling corps kept the opposing run score to 110. Smriti Mandhana and Stefanie Taylor both having 60-plus knocks eased the pressure in bat, but the stars of the show have been Anya Shrubsole with four wickets and a 4.97 economy, Lauren Bell’s four wickets and 6.30 economy, and Amanda-Jade Wellington’s leg-break bowling that’s yielded two wickets, a rare maiden over, and a 4.35 economy.
For the Oval Invincibles, a great deal of their success revolves around captain Dane van Niekerk and their ability to perform well as a unit through two innings. After two games, Van Niekerk sat second only to Rodrigues in runs with 85, featured in two of the top four highest-scoring partnerships to date, and had taken three wickets with a 7.88 economy. They’ve certainly shown the most character to date, defying the odds to chase 135 with two balls remaining, and the youngest player in the team powering a convincing win against the London Spirit.
Naturally, there’s a long way to go, with The Hundred Finals taking place on 21 August, but the Brave, Invincibles, and Superchargers have certainly been the ones to watch through the early stages.