Sport editor Oscar Frost reviews both finals of The Hundred, where the Oval Invincibles and Southern Brave emerged victorious
The final day of The Hundred at Lords on Saturday promised to be a fitting conclusion to the highly successful tournament. The first of the finals saw the Oval Invincibles defeating the Southern Brave to be crowned the inaugural women’s victors of The Hundred. Despite the Brave topping the table following the regular-season games, the Invincibles’ bowling attack proved to be the difference-maker, leading to a victory by forty-eight runs.
The standout performer from the Invincibles was undoubtedly Marizane Kapp, who managed to take four wickets for just nine runs – the best bowling figures in the whole competition. The South-African international also managed to score twenty-six runs for the Invincibles, only cementing her case for player of the match.
With the bat, the Invincibles also benefited from a fifty-six run partnership between Dane Van Niekerk and Fran Wilson. After this useful knock from Van Niekerk, she secured her position as the top runs scorer in the competition. Van Niekerk and Kapp’s performances seemed to emphasise the importance of prudent international draft picks for the Invincibles as they were both central to victory.
Another key part of the Invincible’s victory was the stellar performance of youngster Alice Capsey. At only seventeen years old, Capsey showcased immense composure as she supported Kapp’s innings by scoring a useful eighteen runs from twelve balls. She also showed great potential with the ball, taking two wickets. Special mention should also go to Eva Gray, a University of Birmingham student, who was part of the winning Invincibles squad.
The Brave, however, were not completely rolled over in the final. Star bowler Anya Shrubsole took a wicket early on, dismissing Georgia Adams for just four runs. Shrubsole was also backed up by Lauren Bell, who bowled five consecutive dot balls in her first set. Restricting the Invincibles to just five runs from the first ten balls meant the Brave had a fantastic base to take control of the game.
A flat conclusion to the Brave fielding performance meant that the Invincibles were able to chart up 121 runs from their 100 balls. Three quick wickets for the Invincibles in the field ultimately meant that the total was insurmountable for the Brave. They ended up scoring just seventy-three runs before being bowled out. Although this may seem a one-sided result, the Invincibles thoroughly deserved to be the first champions of The Hundred.
All eyes were then on the men’s final, where the Southern Brave men’s team brought some silverware to the Ageas bowl following their disappointing defeat just hours before. Their opponents were Birmingham Phoenix, who topped the table in the regular season.
The Phoenix seemed to be in great shape coming into the final with captain Moeen Ali returning from international duty, and Liam Livingstone coming off the back of an unbeaten ninety-two runs against the Northern Superchargers. Despite this great form, however, an inspired Brave side were led to victory with a great all-round performance.
An early strike for Adam Milne got the Phoenix off to a great start, dismissing the dangerous Quentin de Kock for just seven runs. Unfortunately, Paul Stirling’s wicket was far more difficult to dislodge. The Irishman scored sixty-one runs from just thirty-six balls, putting the Brave firmly in the driver’s seat.
Backing up Stirling’s stellar knock was Ross Whitely, who notched up an unbeaten forty-four runs from nineteen balls. These two highly impressive performances catapulted the Brave to a score of 168 after their allotted balls – a total that Phoenix captain Moeen Ali believed was “fifteen to twenty too many … but still chaseable.”
The loss of Finn Allen before the final seemed to pay dividends immediately for Birmingham as his replacement, David Bedingham, was dismissed without scoring. Ali then attempted to steady the innings, which he partially achieved by scoring thirty-six runs – but this was far from a match-winning performance.
The match seemed to come down to the performance of one player: Liam Livingstone. With the Brave on top after the early dismissals of Will Smeed and Bedingham, Livingstone came to the crease with a huge job to do if the Phoenix were to emerge victorious.
All seemed to be going to plan, with Livingstone seeming set to blast his way to another half-century – potentially his fourth of the competition. Yet, disaster struck for the Phoenix as he was run out by a superb direct-hit runout by Tim David. The mood of the Brave seemed to switch on a sixpence, and the game only slipped further away from the Phoenix from then on.
A useful partnership of thirty-nine from Chris Benjamin and Benny Howell gave some sense of revival, but it was very much too little too late as the Brave secured the victory by thirty-two runs. An electric culmination to The Hundred, a fantastic tournament that we can only hope will continue to grow in the future, especially in its transformation and popularisation of the women’s game.
Like this? Check out more from Redbrick Sport: