OPINION: Alice Capsey – A Star Is Born

Almost exactly four years ago, Alice Capsey was at Lord’s Cricket Ground to watch England beat India in the 2017 World Cup final.

Then aged 12, she had been playing age-group cricket for Surrey for less than 4 years. She could have had little idea that just a few short years later, she would be walking out to open the batting on the very same ground, in a moment that will go down in cricketing history – the first ever competitive women’s domestic match to be played at the Home of Cricket.

Even a week ago, when I interviewed her for The Guardian, she was caveating her answers with the suggestion that she might not even make it into the Oval Invincibles’ starting XI. Having watched her shine for Surrey and South East Stars in 2020 and 2021, I felt pretty sure that she would be. Fortunately, Invincibles coach Jonathan Batty agreed with me.

On Sunday, in front of 13,537 fans at Lord’s, Capsey outshone a host of established international stars – including England captain Heather Knight – in a sparkling, confident innings of 59 from 41 balls that announced her presence to a load of journalists, not to mention the aforementioned fans, who previously didn’t even know her name.

That’s the kind of stage that The Hundred has given her.

“It’s really special, especially to do it at the Home of Cricket,” she said, still dazed as she spoke in the post-match press conference. “At the moment I’m just trying to take it all in. To get a performance like that is mind-blowing.”

“There were a few nerves, but I just wanted to express myself, stay true to how I play, and do a job for the team.”

On the question of her newly-found fame, she displayed the level-headedness that you feel will take her far: “I wasn’t really expecting it! But I’ll take it all in and continue to keep focusing on myself and pushing my game forward.”

Perhaps the most important thing about Capsey’s innings was that it followed on from her premature dismissal in the first match of the tournament, in front of another rollicking crowd at The Oval on Wednesday evening. On that occasion, after slamming her first ball to the boundary, she fell second ball attempting a ramp shot – sending it straight into the hands of the keeper.

Another player might have been cowed – might have gone into her shell second time around. Not Capsey. “I want to keep expressing myself, playing my shots, and get us off to a good start,” she said. “At The Oval it didn’t come off, but on another day it might have come off. And it [the ramp] is one of my strengths, so I’ll keep playing how I’m playing, and try not to get too fazed.”

Capsey is already confident enough to have openly expressed her desire to “open or bat in the top order for England in all formats”. Nothing is certain in cricket (just ask Sophie Luff), but it doesn’t seem a stretch to suggest that this won’t be the last time we see Capsey play an innings like this one.

And if that England cap does come, those 13,537 fans, not to mention the handful of journalists sat up in the Lord’s Media Centre, will be able to look back and say that they were there on the day that a future star was born.