THE HUNDRED: Where Do Teams Need To Strengthen?

Yesterday’s look at the teams’ remaining budgets and key “free agents” begs the obvious question: where do the different sides need to strengthen?

The tables below map out some of the key metrics, with the colourisation indicating where teams are weak (red) and where they are strong (green). The tables are also ordered by an average of all the different indicators.

Stats aren’t everything, of course – in The Hundred, as with most cricket tournaments, it is also about handling the pressure to win big games, as the Invincibles did so convincingly in the semi-final and final in 2021. But the numbers always tell a tale nonetheless, and it is one the teams should be studying carefully.

The key story that stands out here is that as well as needing a wicket-keeper, the Invincibles desperately need to strengthen their batting – they are 100% a bowling side, topping the bowling table and coming flat-last in the batting table. With no overseas picks remaining, this is going to be tough – for obvious reasons, the other sides have mostly held onto their key local batters. Perhaps they will need to gamble and use the “wildcard” overseas pick? (But that would mean leaving one of Kapp, van Niekerk or Ismail on the bench!) Or is their bowling good enough that they can just rely on blowing everyone else away in key games once again? It is certainly a dilemma for their management to be pondering!

Last year’s group-stage winners, Southern Brave – first in batting, and second in bowling – probably just need to keep doing what they are doing, but get better at winning the big games. The 2021 final was a bitter pill for them, but as their coach Charlotte Edwards says: “There are good days and school days!” so hopefully it was a learning experience their 10 retained players can take into 2022.

Following the retentions announcement, there was some surprise that London Spirit let Tammy Beaumont, Deandra Dottin and Chloe Tryon all go; but the stats bear this out – their batting didn’t really click last season, and they’ve got all 3 overseas picks now to put that right.

A key metric which is not addressed directly by these numbers is fielding, but one possible proxy is the number of twos conceded when bowing. Southern Brave look good on that front, but Manchester Originals really need a gun fielder or two, and letting Mignon du Preez (who is a gun fielder) go unretained was an “interesting” move given that.

Finally, standing back to look more generally at these numbers, we do see clearly that T20 (which The Hundred basically is) is perhaps not the game of superstar batters that we always seem to think it is. It is something that Aussie commentator Chris Brooker (worth following on Twitter) has been saying about the women’s game in particular for some time, and it is one of those where the more you look at the actual numbers, the more it seems to stand out. Oval Invincibles won the trophy with their bowling, despite being the weakest batting side; and although Superchargers had by some distance the outstanding individual batter in the tournament – Jemimah Rodrigues – that wasn’t enough to carry their batting, or for them to reach the knockout stages. Perhaps it is time for a wider re-evaluation of the way we look at the game and select our teams?

Batting Balls Per… Avg Run Rate
Wicket Dot Single Two Four Six 1st Ins 2nd Ins PP
Brave 22 2.88 2.59 15 8 47 8.14 7.42 6.69
Originals 23 2.76 2.68 19 8 57 7.64 7.74 8.07
Phoenix 15 2.92 2.75 13 7 89 7.92 8.13 8.14
Rockets 17 2.72 2.60 23 7 40 8.23 6.98 7.52
Superchargers 18 2.89 2.63 15 6 112 7.51 8.80 6.48
Fire 15 2.88 2.47 16 9 91 6.76 8.10 7.21
Spirit 15 2.72 2.84 16 7 98 6.13 8.11 6.97
Invincibles 18 2.65 2.70 20 8 92 7.34 6.97 6.19
Bowling Balls Per… Avg Run Rate
Wicket Dot Single Two Four Six 1st Ins 2nd Ins PP
Invincibles 15 2.45 2.77 17 8 153 7.03 5.92 5.81
Brave 19 2.65 2.65 23 9 111 6.92 6.98 7.38
Spirit 23 2.60 2.80 22 7 54 7.59 7.03 6.55
Rockets 18 3.04 2.60 16 7 59 7.68 8.25 6.69
Originals 20 2.82 2.77 12 8 51 7.33 8.38 6.07
Phoenix 21 3.12 2.44 14 7 70 7.74 8.00 8.24
Superchargers 22 3.00 2.57 17 7 61 8.39 7.73 8.57
Fire 24 2.97 2.69 17 6 60 8.67 8.21 7.88

THE HUNDRED: Remaining Budgets & Key Free Agents

The 8 Hundred teams this week announced their player retentions for 2022, and there were some big differences. Birmingham Phoenix for example retained almost their entire squad, whereas Trent Rockets let go most of theirs. There are also some substantial variations in remaining budgets – Rockets need to find 10 players, but have (on average) just £15,000 to spend per player. In contrast, Welsh Fire have a whopping £21,000 per player to splash the cash on 7 new faces.

On the overseas front, Oval Invincibles and Northern Superchargers retained all 3 of their overseas players, while Rockets and London Spirit will be looking for a full roster of 3 new overseas stars. (There is also going to be a 4th overseas “wildcard” pick to come for each team, but teams will still only be able to field 3 overseas players.)

Only two England players have not been retained – Lauren Winfield-Hill and Tammy Beaumont. Our guess (and it is only a guess) is that both chose not to remain, and already have other deals informally lined-up. (And 7 days quarantine in New Zealand would have been the perfect opportunity to learn the words to all 3 verses of ‘Land of My Fathers’ – in the original Welsh, of course – we’re just sayin’!!)

Deals may also have effectively been already agreed in the case of a number of the other twenty-odd domestic pros who will be changing colours this summer. Assuming all the overseas spots get filled, there are still 36 spots available for them, and some of the other regional players, up for grabs. Bryony Smith and Sophie Luff look like potential Best Buys, with Fran Wilson and Georgia Adams also likely to be snapped up soon, if not already.

It is also not out of the question that some of the ‘released’ players actually end up remaining with the team that has released them. For example, Invincibles need a wicket keeper, and have no overseas picks left (unless they use their wildcard, which would mean one of Kapp, van Niekerk and Ismail sitting on the bench), meaning there aren’t a lot of options, so they could ultimately turn back to Sarah Bryce, who did the job for them last year. (Though in that particular case, Kira Chathli, who finished last season with the gloves for the South East Stars, could equally well be lined-up for the role too.)

As for the overseas stars, almost everyone who’s anyone will be here for the Commonwealth Games, and there are some attractive salaries remaining. Suzie Bates, Amelia Kerr, Beth Mooney, Shafali Verma, Deandra Dottin – it looks likely to be a case of: take your pick, before someone else does!

Team1 Retained (✈) Open (✈) Budget2
1. Invincibles 9 (3) 6 (0) £12K
2. Brave 10 (2) 5 (1) £11K
3. Phoenix 12 (2) 3 (1) £14K
4. Spirit 8 (0) 7 (3) £18K
5. Originals 9 (1) 6 (2) £14K
6. Superchargers 11 (3) 4 (0) £12K
7. Rockets 5 (0) 10 (3) £15K
8. Fire 8 (1) 7 (2) £21K

1. 2021 Finishing Position
2. Average Budget Remaining / Player (£K)
✈ = Overseas

Key Free Agents


  • Tammy Beaumont
  • Lauren Winfield-Hill

Domestic Pros

  • Georgia Adams
  • Sarah Bryce
  • Amy Campbell
  • Aylish Cranstone
  • Kelly Castle
  • Bethan Ellis
  • Jo Gardner
  • Phoebe Graham
  • Jenny Gunn
  • Alex Hartley
  • Lucy Higham
  • Stere Kalis
  • Marie Kelly
  • Sophie Luff
  • Fi Morris
  • Rachael Slater
  • Bryony Smith
  • Fran Wilson
  • Nat Wraith

The CRICKETher Weekly – Episode 101

This week:

  • We assess the big performances for New Zealand v India… and take some positives for India
  • Will the Curse of Raf™ strike again for New Zealand?
  • We look forward to a big summer of internationals in England – including a TEST (woooop) and an ODI at Lord’s

FEELIN’ 2022: England Host South Africa & India Including Taunton Test & Lord’s ODI

England will host South Africa and India this summer, in a packed schedule in which they will play at least 23 days of cricket including the Commonwealth Games.

The international summer will begin with a Test versus South Africa at Taunton from June 27 – June 30; and finish with the 3rd ODI against India at Lord’s on September 24, the day before the Home of Cricket also hosts the RHF Trophy Final.

The South Africa Test – the Proteas first Test against England since 2003, also played at Taunton – will be followed by 3 ODIs, at Northampton, Bristol and Leicester, and 3 T20s at Chelmsford, Worcester and Derby.

Following the Commonwealth Games in early August, India will then return to England in September, although several of the players will presumably have stayed on for The Hundred. India will play 3 T20s at Durham (in England’s first visit to The Riverside since the 2013 Ashes), Derby and Bristol, and 3 ODIs at Hove, Canterbury, and then finally Lord’s.

All games will be shown on Sky Sports in the UK, with 2 of the T20 matches also being shown on the BBC. This is in addition to the Commonwealth Games matches, which will also be available Free To Air, meaning we could see an unprecedented 11 England games broadcast FTA this summer, if England reach the Commonwealth Games final – more games in a single summer than have ever been shown FTA in the UK before.

This, in combination with the return of live cricket to London and the North for the first time in several years, represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grow the game, and no one is more pleased than us; though shareholders of Premier Inn have allegedly been warned to brace themselves for significant financial losses as Syd books in for 23 all-you-can-eat breakfasts!

England v South Africa


Monday June 27-Thursday June 30 @ Taunton


Monday July 11 @ Northampton
Friday July 15 @ Bristol
Monday July 18 @ Leicester


Thursday July 21 @ Chelmsford
Saturday July 23 @ Worcester
Monday July 25 @ Derby

England v India


Saturday September 10 @ Durham
Tuesday September 13 @ Derby
Thursday September 15 @ Bristol


Sunday September 18 @ Hove
Wednesday September 21 @ Canterbury
Saturday September 24 @ Lord’s

BOOK REVIEW: Fair Game by Alex Blackwell with Megan Maurice

Alex Blackwell’s new book, Fair Game, is not your standard cricket autobiography. Yes, it tells the story of her journey in cricket – from growing up playing in the backyard of her grandparents’ place in Wagga Wagga, to breaking through into the New South Wales team while at university, to her Australian debut in 2003 against England under the great Belinda Clark, to winning multiple World Cups, captaining Australia to glory at the 2010 World Twenty20, and taking home the inaugural WBBL title in 2015/16. It’s also a first-hand insight into the ways in which professionalism transformed the lives of a generation of players overnight. But the most important contribution which this book makes is to lay bare the ways in which cricket has excluded and continues to exclude those who don’t quite fit the mould.

Alex Blackwell batting with Sarah Taylor keeping wicket
Photo courtesy of Don Miles

Blackwell is one such player. An outspoken advocate for increased diversity and equity in cricket, she made history in 2013 as the first international female cricketer ever to publicly come out. Here, it is made clear how much she agonised about that decision – unsurprising when she describes the constant background of casual homophobic remarks which went on, including from Cricket Australia employees and sponsors. “I was not viewed by Cricket Australia to be a good role model for young girls,” she writes. This kind of casualised homophobia did not come as a surprise to me – it is rife within English cricket, too, as my book Ladies and Lords shows – but it is still shocking to read about some of Blackwell’s experiences, and the way in which her experiences in cricket caused deep internal shame about her sexuality, which endured for years.

Relatedly, Blackwell emphasises how CA favoured a particular “image” for female cricketers, which forced gay players permanently into the closet but was equally damaging for non-gay women who did not conform to the favoured “type”. One of the most revealing lines in the book is when Blackwell relays how during her early years playing for Australia, she and her sister Kate toyed with the idea of growing their hair long, in order to market themselves as “the golden twins”. Another damning anecdote relates to the three women chosen by CA in 2013 to receive their first ever “marketing contracts”: Ellyse Perry, Meg Lanning and Holly Ferling – all blonde, attractive and heterosexual. You would have to be blind not to have realised that this was going on – just look at which players were most visible in the marketing of the first WBBL – but Blackwell’s book lays bare the horrendous practice (which, if we’re honest, is still prevalent) of pushing forward players on the basis of their physical attractiveness rather than their cricketing abilities.

Why was Blackwell never chosen to captain Australia on a permanent basis? A convincing public explanation has never been given as to why she was passed over in favour of Lanning in 2014 – a player with no captaincy experience at any level of cricket – nor why Rachael Haynes (then not even an automatic pick in the XI) was handed the reins during the 2017 World Cup, when Lanning was sidelined with a shoulder injury. Blackwell says that she has never been given a reason, other than being told: “Meg had all the attributes they wanted in a captain and I didn’t”. She stops short of saying that those attributes included being heterosexual and taciturn, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to connect the dots.

The irony of all this is that CA’s treatment of Blackwell may well have ultimately cost Australia their chance of winning the 2016 and 2017 World Cups. Blackwell’s most damning critique of an individual comes in the chapters which deal with these two tournaments, in which she describes how Australia’s coach Matthew Mott stuck to a limited, basic tactical approach – “bowl at the stumps” – leaving the players without any Plan B in the 2016 WT20 final against Hayley Matthews and Stafanie Taylor, and more famously against Harmanpreet Kaur at Derby in the 2017 semi-final. Blackwell relays how, as vice-captain, she continually tried to raise concerns; but others simply parroted the party line. It’s a brilliant example of why diversity is needed within organisations: somebody needs to tell you the thing you don’t want to hear, or it becomes all about group-think.

Meanwhile, Blackwell’s alternative views about tactics were “shut down” and she was publicly criticised by Mott in meetings, to the extent that she was left in tears. “That tournament was one of the toughest periods of my cricket career,” Blackwell writes. “Throughout every day of it I felt undervalued and insignificant.” It’s rare to read anything critical of Mott, but this is one of the worst examples of player mismanagement I’ve ever come across. Let’s hope things have changed behind the scenes since then.

It’s rare that we get this kind of book in women’s cricket – an honest, wide-ranging critique – and Blackwell should be awarded for her bravery in writing it (credit too to Megan Maurice, who has done a brilliant job of making this book very readable). The timing is perhaps explained by Blackwell’s recent decision to draw a line under her involvement in elite cricket in Australia:

“Maybe I would feel more inclined to keep holding on and continue volunteering in cricket if I was confident that we were setting a high standard and being bold with our ambitions around female representation, inclusion strategies and the environment. Instead I still feel like raising these issues makes a lot of people uncomfortable.”

This is worrying not just as an indictment of the current culture of cricket in Australia. Part of the problem has always been that those IN the game right now don’t feel they can be open about the ways in which things are going wrong – there is a culture of secrecy, whereby those on the inside close ranks.

It’s important that we remember that this isn’t a book about a dark and distant past – as Blackwell writes, “there are still some barriers to inclusion and equal opportunity that remain unconquered”. Her book is a great first step to exposing some of those issues. The next step is for those within CA (and the ECB, and the other boards around the world) to listen, acknowledge, and act as a result – but will they? That would be the best legacy of this brave and revealing book.

Buy the book.

The CRICKETher Weekly – Episode 100

On our 100th episode:

  • Our Ashes post-mortem
  • How can England win the next Ashes Down Under?
  • Was this a better or worse defeat than the 2019 Ashes?
  • England’s World Cup squad: any surprises?

Remember to share your favourite moments from the last 100 episodes with us below!

STATS: ODI Batting & Bowling Analysis 2018-2022

Batting Balls Per… Avg Run Rate
Wicket Dot Single Two Four Six 1st Ins 2nd Ins PP
Australia 46 1.98 3.21 23 10 113 5.59 5.27 4.80
England 39 1.91 3.24 23 12 203 5.10 4.56 4.51
South Africa 43 1.70 3.88 23 13 186 4.35 4.47 4.20
India 44 1.74 3.67 29 14 234 4.30 4.79 4.08
New Zealand 31 1.81 3.36 23 15 230 4.47 4.47 3.88
West Indies 34 1.63 4.15 23 17 202 4.06 3.97 3.34
Pakistan 32 1.65 4.01 27 16 282 3.96 4.12 3.75
Bangladesh 29 1.44 5.23 30 24 1599 2.59 3.35 2.42
Bowling Balls Per… Avg Run Rate
Wicket Dot Single Two Four Six 1st Ins 2nd Ins PP
South Africa 40 1.67 3.93 26 16 294 4.14 4.15 3.42
England 36 1.68 3.87 33 14 239 4.24 4.28 3.81
Australia 32 1.72 3.68 28 15 199 4.24 4.27 4.22
India 44 1.76 3.50 25 14 198 4.33 4.56 4.09
West Indies 43 1.83 3.45 19 16 229 4.74 4.28 4.15
Pakistan 45 1.78 3.67 23 13 162 4.89 4.40 4.03
New Zealand 44 1.88 3.41 22 12 155 5.01 5.05 4.54
Bangladesh 51 1.71 4.07 19 12 110 4.67 5.02 4.58


  • Based on matches between the World Cup sides, 2018-22
  • Derived from the Ball By Ball data at

NEWS: Lamb & Bell Added To England World Cup Party

England have announced a party of 17 – 15 squad players, plus two travelling reserves – to defend their World Cup crown in New Zealand next month.

Thunder opening batter Emma Lamb, who made her ODI debut in the final match of the Women’s Ashes, is included in the main squad, having been the stand-out performer with the bat on the ‘A’ tour; whilst uncapped fast bowler Lauren Bell, who was the joint-leading wicket-taker for England ‘A’, has been named as one of two travelling reserves, alongside Mady Villiers.

Leg-spinner Sarah Glenn and batter Maia Bouchier are the two to miss out from England’s main Ashes squad. Both played in the T20 leg of the Ashes, but neither did in either the Test or the ODIs.

England’s batting lineup takes care of itself, with Sophia Dunkley certain to return to the order having been left out of the final Ashes ODI to temporarily bring in an extra bowler to allow Nat Sciver a rest from bowling.

England’s key challenge will be managing their fast-bowling unit, especially Katherine Brunt who missed the final two ODIs with a “niggle”, across what they hope will be 9 games – 7 group matches, plus the semi-final and final. Brunt, Anya Shrubsole, who is bowling better than she has for quite some time, and Kate Cross, who has been England’s leading wicket-taker in ODIs over the past two years, look to be the first-choice options, with Freya Davies and Tash Farrant rotating in and out, and Lauren Bell waiting on the sidelines in case of injuries or COVID.

Sophie Ecclestone and Charlie Dean are the only front-line spinners in the squad, although Emma Lamb bowls regularly in domestic cricket, and her off-spin could be an option for England to turn to, especially if they choose to play 3 quicks.

England arrived in New Zealand in the early hours of this morning UK time to begin 10 days of “MIQ” [Managed Isolation and Quarantine] prior to the tournament, which begins on March 4 with the hosts taking on West Indies, with England’s first game versus Australia the following day.

Possible Starting XI

  1. Tammy Beaumont
  2. Emma Lamb
  3. Heather Knight
  4. Nat Sciver
  5. Sophia Dunkley
  6. Amy Jones
  7. Danni Wyatt
  8. Katherine Brunt
  9. Sophie Ecclestone
  10. Anya Shrubsole
  11. Kate Cross

Full Squad

Heather Knight (Western Storm, Captain)
Tammy Beaumont (Lightning)
Katherine Brunt (Northern Diamonds)
Freya Davies (South East Stars)
Charlie Dean (Southern Vipers)
Sophia Dunkley (South East Stars)
Kate Cross (Thunder)
Sophie Ecclestone (Thunder)
Tash Farrant (South East Stars)
Amy Jones (Central Sparks)
Emma Lamb (Thunder)
Nat Sciver (Northern Diamonds, Vice-Captain)
Anya Shrubsole (Western Storm)
Lauren Winfield-Hill (Northern Diamonds)
Danni Wyatt (Southern Vipers)

Travelling Reserves

Lauren Bell (Southern Vipers)
Mady Villiers (Sunrisers)

WOMEN’S ASHES: An England Team for the NEXT Ashes Down Under

The England team that visits Australia for the next Women’s Ashes “Down Under”, in around about 2026, is likely to be very different to the side that has just suffered a comprehensive defeat in 2022.

By 2026, most of the batters who started this series will have retired – Heather Knight and Lauren Winfield-Hill will be 35, Tammy Beaumont and Danni Wyatt 34, Nat Sciver 33 and Amy Jones 32. Of the bowlers, Katherine Brunt will be 40 and Anya Shrubsole 34.

So what might England look like in 2026?

In the spirit of seeking out a “Next Generation”, I’ve deliberately not included anyone who will be 30 (or older) in 4 years time. But this still leaves us with a team with an average age of 25, and plenty of experience behind them, bearing in mind that all of these players are already playing regional cricket and The Hundred.

  1. Emma Lamb (Age 28, in 2026)
  2. Bryony Smith (28)
  3. Grace Scrivens (22) (Vice Captain)
  4. Alice Capsey (21)
  5. Sophia Dunkley (27) (Captain)
  6. Dani Gibson (24)
  7. Bess Heath (24) (Wicket Keeper)
  8. Charlie Dean (25)
  9. Sophie Ecclestone (26)
  10. Emily Arlott (27)
  11. Lauren Bell (25)

Will this be the team in 2026? Almost certainly not – it’s a bit spin-heavy, for starters! And anything could happen. Maybe one of the regional pros currently in their mid-to-late-20s will have a late-career “burst” and step up to international cricket aged 30? Perhaps one of the players listed will be being kept out of the side by a then-18-year-old we’ve currently never head of – the next Alice Capsey, who breaks through in 2024/25? Or, who knows, Katherine Brunt could still be steaming in aged 40, dropping hints about her coming retirement… after one last hurrah at the 2029 World Cup!

But the core of the side is likely to look a lot like this, and the important point is that this isn’t just an academic question – this is where we should be focussing our resources and investment in regional cricket over the next 4 years. In particular, let’s make sure that all these players are given proper opportunities in The Hundred, batting up the order and bowling their full quota of balls; perhaps even by tweaking the playing conditions to prevent sides limiting the opportunities of young players, because they’ve got 3 international all-rounders who bat in the top 4 and bowl 60 balls between them?

Of course this doesn’t guarantee we’ll bring home the Ashes next time we’re over there, but it might help to make it a bit more competitive than it has been this time around.