THE HUNDRED: Explaining The Struggles Of Manchester Originals

Sasha Putt reports

Before the tournament began, the Manchester Originals were one of the favourites to make the playoffs of the inaugural Hundred. They boasted a strong spin attack anchored by Sophie Ecclestone, and a batting line-up full of international talent.

But five matches in, the Originals find themselves seventh in the table with the worst Net Run Rate in the competition at -0.391. (This is, at least, something of an improvement – it was considerably worse than that before their first victory against the Southern Brave.)

But why has the team struggled in recent weeks, and what can be done to enable the Old Trafford side to finish the tournament strongly?

A key weakness has been an inability to capitalise on key moments and take control of the game. This was clearly displayed in the first game of the tournament against the Oval Invincibles, where the Originals had put up a good total of 135 and were taking early wickets. The win-predictor had the Invincibles at 7% after 35 balls: surely Manchester’s game to win. Then came a slew of dropped catches and missed opportunities, allowing Dane van Niekerk and Marizanne Kapp to rally and take the game.

Manchester’s first home game saw a similar collapse. Excellent bowling from Ecclestone, Emma Lamb and Laura Jackson reduced the Birmingham Phoenix to 113 from their 100 balls. The Originals proceeded to record the lowest score of the tournament so far, managing 93 in their innings, with only two batters getting into double figures.

These two games have illustrated the problems Manchester have had so far, both with the bat and ball. In the loss to Birmingham, Harmanpreet Kaur was criticised for her slow scoring, making 49 off 47 balls. However, criticism belongs with the rest of the Originals’ top order. Until their game against the Southern Brave, Kaur had three out of five of the top scores for Manchester, and her 49* is the second highest score in a losing effort. The rest of the top five averaged below 20 at that point. Ecclestone has been the standout bowler, with a run-per-ball (rpb) of 0.91. Of the other Manchester bowlers to have played in all four games, nobody else features in the top 30 for the tournament.

Things were looking dire a few days ago. The Originals’ stars were performing, but their supporting cast failed to provide the backup needed to bring them over the line. Then, against the Brave, came the much-needed injection of fresh talent. Hannah Jones bowled excellently, removing Danni Wyatt, Smriti Mandhana and Anya Shrubsole at a rpb of 0.85. With Kaur out of the side for the game, the pressure was on for their top order to perform. As the rain came down, up stepped Lizelle Lee and Emma Lamb, bringing them to 97/1 after 70 balls, well above the D/L target of 81.

Manchester’s win in that game was the blueprint of how the team was expected to perform, but the big question is if this is sustainable for the rest of the tournament. Aside from Ecclestone, the Originals’ usual crop of bowlers haven’t performed as well as they would have liked, which places a lot of pressure on the shoulders of Jones to continue her form. This could partially be the result of a squad dominated by spinners, which may work at Old Trafford but runs into problems when playing away. 

On the batting side, although Lee and Lamb batted well against the Brave, Lamb still averages 10 across four innings, with only two top-six batters averaging above 20. Kaur’s strike-rate of 109.47 is low, but her resilience at the crease should create the platform needed for the more explosive bats to put runs on the board later in the innings – unfortunately it has mostly failed to do so thus far.

There is still a good chance that the Originals can meet expectations in the latter stages of the tournament and give their younger talent some vital experience that they can take into next year’s competition. The final three games will be a good indicator of whether this side is over-hyped or merely suffered a few setbacks and lapses in concentration.

To succeed, the push has to come from the players surrounding Manchester’s top performers, who need to show that they can support an innings when one of their stars is firing. If they do, the Originals can turn a poor season into an average one and finish with four wins.

9 thoughts on “THE HUNDRED: Explaining The Struggles Of Manchester Originals

  1. For Manchester Originals in the Hundred read Lancashire Thunder in the Super League. Seems to be the same issues really with a desire to promote local talent leading to an over-reliance on overseas players to score the runs (and they might have just flown in with little chance to adjust to English conditions) and a one-dimensional spin-dominated attack. It’s all not helping in the quest to get the people of Manchester behind a local women’s team.

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  2. There is plenty of potential in the side but I’m not sure I agree with them being any type of favourites for the competition. As Martin says they are basically Lancs Thunder, plus a couple of Internationals, who have under performed a bit in recent years and that’s continued in The Hundred so far. The biggest single issue has been the batting – a low run scoring rate, with too many dots. The pace attack has actually been OK with Cross and Jackson doing very well. Spinners very good as expected. As you say they have also crumpled under pressure at vital times as well, both with bat and ball. Big game tomorrow for them against a Spirit side who’ve also struggled a bit more than many thought they would. It could be a close game, with the loser certainly out of it (and the winner as well quite possibly) but both sides can still rescue plenty of respectability from the season. Weather looks like it might hold for once (!), so we should have a decent game on our hands.

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  3. These sort of articles are good reads – a forensic examination of a given team’s performance, highlighting the good, the bad and how to improve.
    One down, only another 7 teams to go !

    The Originals do have a silver lining. They play in 2 of the next 3 matches and the result of the one they don’t play in (Brave v Fire) actually makes little difference to the destiny of The Originals. If The Originals win their next two matches the table will look really interesting for them come Thursday night and heap a whole load of pressure on other teams.

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  4. If there are any Net Run Rate enthusiasts out there (one would hope not but still !), there are 4 combinations of results that will leave 6 teams tied for 3rd place.

    2 of these 4 are most equal in terms of points spread as well. For example

    Originals beat Spirit
    Fire beat Brave
    Superchargers beat Originals
    Phoenix beat Rockets
    Spirit beat Invincibles
    Originals beat Rockets
    Brave beat Invincibles
    Superchargers tie/WO Phoenix
    Fire tie/WO Spirit

    which leaves Brave (12pts), Superchargers (10pts) and the other 6 teams on 7pts meaning all teams are “qualify-able”, with those on 7pts have a NRR-fest to sort out 3rd place.

    All 4 combinations rely on Spirit not beating Originals in today’s match.
    All 4 combinations rely on at least 2 ties / washed outs.

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  5. Some of you may have spotted the above is, er, well, garbage ! Apologies.
    Despite today’s result it is still possible to end up with 6 teams all on 8 pts (Brave on 11 and Originals on 5). NRR-dudes can keep smiling.

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  6. Great game today! Originals came so close to pulling off that win, but Spirit just held their nerve at the end! Decent performance by both sides.

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  7. Syd, can you somewhere explain the images you are twittering regarding result outcomes ?
    I am struggling to understand what some of the columns mean (eg “?”, “W/L”,”W/W”) and also the string of upper and lower case Ws, Ds and Ls.
    Apologies to all other readers if I’m the only one with such struggles (or if this has been explained and I’ve missed it)

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    • I need to write a proper explainer at some point!

      The first two sets of columns are the “BEST” and “WORST” case scenarios – the “www” bit is a sequence of results which produces the listed outcome. (W = Home Win; D = Draw/ No Result; w = Away Win. Games in date order.)

      Qualification:

      ? = Are there ANY situations in which this team can qualify – Y/N
      * = Will this team DEFINITELY qualify outright if they win all their remaining games.
      = = Reliant on Draw/ No Result
      W/L = % of scenarios in which the team DEFINITELY qualify
      W/W = % of scenarios in which the team DEFINITELY qualify if they take maximum points from their remaining games

      In all cases, “DEFINITELY” means NOT relying on NRR.

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      • That helps a lot, thanks.

        You’ve used the correct terminology: “% of scenarios”. This percentage of scenarios is also the probability if and only if W,D and L are equally lightly.

        If ones shifts the probability of a W or L to 45% and a D to 10%, the W/L column for Superchargers, Invincibles and Rockets changes by less than 1% but Spirit goes from 18% to 23%. This becomes even more extreme if D’s were to have almost 0% probability (eg in a heatwave) with Spirit probability reaching 27.34%. So Spirit fans should be looking to the skies and hoping the sun shines.

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