“Everyone has a plan,” the boxer Mike Tyson once said… “until they get punched in the mouth by Marizanne Kapp.”
Well… okay… he might not have said the last little bit, but it doesn’t make it any less apt.
Kapp came out to bowl with rain in the air, and Oval Invincibles defending 121. It felt like a good total in the conditions, but not one that Southern Brave would have been massively worried about chasing. But within 6 balls of their reply, the match was basically over – Kapp hanging the ball outside off stump, and a bit of away movement doing the rest.
Danni Wyatt and Sophia Dunkley – who between them had scored almost half of Brave’s runs off the bat (45%, to be precise) – trudged back to the famous pavilion with ducks to their names. Gaby Lewis followed 4 balls later – also for a quacker – but it was already academic: Brave were on the floor, with Kapp having delivered the sucker punch.
It wasn’t meant to be this way. Brave were by far the best side over the group stages – winning 7 games and losing only once. Invincibles, in contrast, won just 4 matches, lost 3, and had 1 washed out. But that’s the deal with finals – what happened in the group stages doesn’t matter any more – you have to put it all behind you, and handle the pressure of the big day; and that’s what Invincibles did.
It feels strange to say, but Brave actually played better overall than the last time they were here at Lords, when they won a terrible game of cricket against London Spirit. They made a good start with the ball, restricting Invincibles to 27 off the first 30 balls. A late partnership between Kapp and Alice Capsey – 34 off 21 balls – swung the pendulum a little way back the other way, but the bell wasn’t tolling yet – not until Kapp stepped up with the opening spell that doomed them.
Allowing bowlers to send down two consecutive “overs” (as the 5-ball “sets” are still officially called, if you read the playing conditions) was hailed as one of the most exciting innovations of The Hundred, because it meant you could keep a bowler on if they were bowling well; but we haven’t seen it that often, especially with quick opening bowlers, whose bodies aren’t used to delivering 10 consecutive balls.
And it certainly didn’t seem like it was the plan today – Shabnim Ismail looked like she was expecting to deliver the second set of 5. But with Kapp having taken the wicket of Wyatt with her 4th ball, and then beaten Dunkley’s edge with the 5th, the dye was cast – Kapp continued, with a second slip ramping up the pressure on Dunkley, who cracked the very next ball.
Despite that, Brave held out until the 98th ball, although their chances of victory were so slim that the TV feed appeared to stop bothering with the “Win Predictor”. A partnership between Fi Morris and Tara Norris adding 33 off 28 balls – a run rate which would have made for an exciting finish under other circumstances – showed that although conditions weren’t great, batting wasn’t impossible… except when facing Kapp, who fittingly came back on right at the end to deliver the crowning moment, bowling Lauren Bell for 4 – the only runs she scored, in her only visit to the crease, in the whole competition.
As her team-mates celebrated, Kapp took a moment to herself – perhaps to say a brief prayer of thanks – before joining them. She’s won stuff before, of course, including the KSL with the Surrey Stars in 2018; but in front of 17,000 people at the Home of Cricket, this was perhaps the biggest win of all. Certainly none came with her name quite so emphatically stamped upon them as it was today.