THE HUNDRED: Spirit v Phoenix – That’s The Spirit!

Grace Scrivens – dropped down the order after having “failed” in the opening role earlier in the tournament – and Naomi Dattani battled through 54 balls to pull London Spirit back from the deepest of deep holes at 26-6, to overhaul Birmingham Phoenix’s 82 all out, with just 3 balls remaining. Never has the old cliché of pulling victory from the jaws of defeat seemed more apt.

Needing a win (or a tie) to qualify for the eliminator, the pressure was all on Phoenix, who decided to push Sophie Molineux up the order to open in place of Eve Jones. It was a classic case of making a decision based on reputation rather than reality – Molineux has opened the batting for Melbourne Renegades in the past, but they were never particularly successful when she did, and last season, when they had their best season ever, she batted down the order. Unsurprisingly then, she didn’t last long today – sending a limp drive off Freya Davies straight to Amelia Kerr on the ring for 3 off 3.

This brought Amy Jones to the middle, who is developing something a reputation for dealing with pressure the same way a bar of Dairy Milk deals with being left in a hot car on a sunny day. Let’s just say… it doesn’t end well for the Dairy Milk, and it didn’t for Amy Jones – cleaned-up by an admittedly beautiful delivery from Megan Schutt. Ellyse Perry lasted just one ball, and suddenly Phoenix were 15-3.

While Sophie Devine was still there hope remained, but it was looking increasingly forlorn, with both Devine and Eve Jones struggling to find the middle of the bat, and the runs drying up to a trickle. They’d reached 32 off 34 balls when Devine looked to take a quick single, realised she wasn’t going to make it, and tried to retrace her steps, but not quite in time to prevent Grace Scrivens removing the bails after a sharp throw from Charlie Dean. 32-4.

Eve Jones and Georgia Elwiss put on 25, making 24 and 14 respectively – the only Phoenix batters to reach double-figures – but their pace was less than a run a ball, and both fell to infield catches are they tried to manufacture something to up the rate; and from there Phoenix imploded to 82 all out – no doubt to the delight of Northern Superchargers, Trent Rockets and Manchester Originals, all of whom needed Phoenix to lose to retain an interest themselves in qualification for Friday’s semi-final eliminator.

But we are rapidly learning that if there’s one thing hundred-ball cricket can do it is turn on a dime, and within 11 balls of the Spirit innings it had done the kind of 180 Tony Hawk would have been proud of in his heyday. First Dani Gibson clonked Sophie Molineux to long on to register her 4th duck of the tournament – it happens, and the important thing in this super-short format is not to waste balls, which was Grace Scrivens’ “crime” when she was opening, so Gibson shouldn’t feel too badly about it.

Beth Mooney however probably should feel a little badly about her dismissal – given how few runs Spirit were chasing, there was no excuse really for the senior player to take on Sophie Devine’s arm, and she got her comeuppance!  Amelia Kerr followed her back to the dugout 2 balls later – chipping into a space, which suddenly wasn’t a space any more, as Eve Jones sprinted in to take the catch on the dive. After Phoenix had been 15-3, Spirit were now 2-3.

But with Sophie Luff and Charlie Dean at the crease, and the ask well under a run a ball, it should still have been an easy chase, and it was set up for Luff and Dean, neither of whom are big hitters, to manage their way to the total, getting them in singles if necessary. And that seemed to be the way things were going, until both were softly dismissed, followed by Alice Monaghan. 26-6, and I suspect some glum faces among the Superchargers, Rockets and Originals players watching on from their homes or hotel rooms.

The batters in the middle: Naomi Dattani – whose greatest moments on a cricket field have tended towards the “see ball/ hit ball out of the ground” end of the spectrum, and Grace Scrivens, demoted down the order having looked puzzlingly out of form in the first few matches of this tournament.

But the required rate was still within reach – it was 50 off 50 at the half-way stage – so all they needed to do was hang in there and they’d give themselves a chance. And that’s exactly what they did. Dattani finished 28 off 29; and Scrivens 26 off 30, scoring just 3 boundaries between them, but they reached the final set with a gettable 7 needed from 5 balls, and Sophie Molineux (who will want to have this game clinically erased from her memory) did the rest – cracking under the pressure, bowling a head-hight no-ball, which effectively cost 5 runs to leave Spirit needing 2 off 4 balls. Scrivens needed just one ball to finish her tournament (and London Spirit’s) on a high which no one who was here will forget in a hurry.

The CRICKETher Weekly – Episode 127

This week:

  • Overseas players in The Hundred: stick or twist?
  • Southern Brave are the new Southern Vipers
  • A punishing schedule for London Spirit
  • Is The Hundred cricket’s Wimbledon?
  • Bigger grounds for the 2023 Women’s Ashes – will the gamble pay off?

THE HUNDRED: Spirit v Invincibles – Truly Mady Deeply

Oval Invincibles thrashed London Spirit by 9 wickets with 42 balls remaining at Lord’s to secure their spot in the finals of The Hundred, sending Spirit crashing out with a round of matches still to play.

Spirit should have been on a high after racking up their first win of the tournament on Wednesday against Welsh Fire. Instead they essentially lost the match within the first 25 balls, facing down 13 dots and losing 3 wickets – including the biggie of Beth Mooney, who sent up a tame catch to Alice Capsey at cover.

For the first time in this year’s tournament, Mady Villiers was tasked with opening the bowing; and after having Dani Gibson caught at mid-off, captain Dane van Niekerk chose to keep her on for a second consecutive set. The wicket of Mooney was her reward.

Before today, Villiers had bowled her full allocation of balls only once in this year’s Hundred. With Sophia Smale launching onto the scene so successfully, and Alice Capsey continuing where she left off last year, Villiers has been somewhat overshadowed: against Trent Rockets she didn’t bowl at all, while in Invincibles’ last match v Phoenix, she bowled just 10 balls – neither set in the powerplay. But she made up for it today, finishing with figures of 4 for 12 and the Match Hero award.

So what did she do differently?

“I just kept it more simple,” she said after the match. “Previously I’ve looked too much at what the other players do and I’ve focused too much on what the other person’s skills are, rather than what my best ball is.”

“I bowled my arm ball today more than I’ve bowled it in the other two games put together.”

Interestingly, her third and fourth wickets – Naomi Dattani and Grace Scrivens – were both bowled, a mode of dismissal which is unusual for Villiers. A lot more of her wickets than “average” come from stumpings (20%, compared with an average in women’s cricket of 7%) – only 15% of her dismissals are bowled (compared with an average of 24%).

Or, as Villiers put it: “I got two bowleds today. I don’t think I’ve got too many bowleds in my life!”

With Invincibles facing Manchester Originals in their final group-stage match – a game which could be important in deciding whether they qualify automatically for the final – a boost of confidence for a spinner who has so far been discarded by England this summer won’t go amiss.

Meanwhile, Spirit limped along to 80 all out, losing wickets regularly along the way and facing down far too many dot balls; leaving Suzie Bates and Lauren Winfield-Hill to come out and show them how it should have been done, smashing 12 boundaries between them (4 more than Invincibles managed in their entire innings).

Despite a revamp of their overseas ranks, with Beth Mooney and Amelia Kerr brought in to replace Chloe Tryon and Deandra Dottin (who were both felt to have underperformed), Spirit’s batting just hasn’t fired this year. Tammy Beaumont’s decision to move to Welsh Fire was a big blow; but of course the loss of Heather Knight just days before the competition started was the real biggie.

“Heather is a great person to have around, such a great leader,” Naomi Dattani said after the match. “Her experience and nous with the bat – we definitely miss having her. She’s around today and it’s been nice to have her in the dressing room and use that experience where we can.”

Dattani added that Spirit’s lop-sided schedule hadn’t helped matters:

“Three games away [to start] – we were on the road for 10, 11 days. We needed to start well. We had a couple of close games and if one of those were a win, it might have got us going.”

“We didn’t get over the line in the first couple of games and then we were on the back foot from there.”

THE HUNDRED: Spirit v Fire – Gibson In, Fire Out

London Spirit officially knocked Welsh Fire out of The Hundred with an 8 wicket win at Lords.

Not that Spirit are really in much position to celebrate either – their chances of making the eliminator are pretty-much zero too, though they could mathematically still sneak in on Net Run Rate – so this was very much a consolation victory; but nonetheless a win at the Home of Cricket is still a win at the Home of Cricket, and for one player in particular, this could be a career-defining game.

Having made good, quick runs coming in lower down the order for London Spirit last season, Dani Gibson would have been looking forward to building on that this year; but things didn’t go quite the way she hoped in the first two matches: a golden duck against Superchargers was followed by another first-baller against Brave.

A 12 off 7 balls against Rockets was more promising, but with Grace Scrivens struggling… of which more in a minute… today was Gibson’s chance – promoted to open the batting alongside Beth Mooney, who has had her own struggles of late, though today’s half-century was her 4th in her past 7 innings, so it’s all relative!

With the help of a small slice of luck – caught off a no ball – Gibson struck 34 off 27 balls, outscoring Mooney 25-10 in the powerplay, to get the Spirit’s chase off to the bright start they needed.

It has become the pattern in The Hundred this summer that teams score strongly in the powerplay, then fall back in the second quarter of the match, before pushing on in the third and final quarters, and today was no exception, with Spirit scoring at 150 in the powerplay, falling back to 120 in the second quarter, before pushing back up to 150+ as they pushed on to the win.

Having made the most of her opportunity, Dani Gibson has presumably got the opening role wrapped up now for the Spirit’s final two games, though they will be tough ones – Invincibles and Phoenix await, both pushing for direct final qualification if Brave slip up.

Gibson’s chance comes at the expense of Grace Scrivens, who has chosen a very bad time to have a terrible run of form. It’s not just the scores – 1, 18 and 8 – but the Strike Rates. The 18 was off 18 balls, which is “okay” (but only really “okay” for an opener in this competition) but the 1 was off 9 balls and the 8 was off 18 – Strike Rates of 11 and 44. It’s not a fair reflection of her talent, but as my dad always told me: life isn’t fair.

Everyone has dips in form – Alice Capsey had a pretty a rough patch in the Charlotte Edwards Cup earlier this summer, while Scrivens was the one putting in Player of the Match performances for Sunrisers – but no one was watching then. Now the eyes of the world are on them, it is Capsey wowing the crowds once again, while Scrivens had ended up dropped down the order, back where she started last season.

Scrivens’ biggest problem is that what’s left of the summer is short and the winter is long – though presumably she’ll go to the Under 19 World Cup in January, quite possibly as captain – but it is a 11 months until The Hundred comes around again, and that’s quite a wait for the next opportunity.

It’s also a long wait for the next opportunity for Welsh Fire, who can’t qualify for the eliminator now even if they win their remaining two games by a million runs! Most of their batters haven’t come to the party this season, while one of those that did (Hayley Matthews) left early, and is no longer available, having returned to the West Indies for their Caribbean Premier League.

Their innings today stuttered rather than flowed, with 5 “sets” – a whole quarter of the innings – producing just 1 or 2 runs.

In a tournament where the average first innings score has been 136, you can’t afford to throw away a quarter of your innings like that, and unsurprisingly Fire ended up well short of where they needed to be.

As Polly and Richard discussed on last week’s Noughtie Child Podcast, some teams develop a winning mentality, but Fire seem to have saddled themselves with a losing one. The cycle can be broken, as Tasmania proved by winning this year’s WNCL, but it takes something special, and Fire aren’t a “young” side either – the average age of today’s team was 27, with just one teenager (Hannah Baker) in the XI. They had a bit of a clear-out this season, retaining only just over half their squad – they look like they need another now, if they want to avoid an early walk through the exit door again next time around.


THE HUNDRED: Invincibles v Phoenix – We Live In Interesting Times

Oval Invincibles pulled off a convincing 8-wicket win against Birmingham Phoenix at The Oval on Tuesday, handing them a first defeat of the season and pulling ahead of them in the race for a spot in the top three.

Invincibles set up the win by restricting table-toppers Phoenix to the lowest score so far in The Hundred this season – 105 for 7 – achieving the feat even with their best bowler Marizanne Kapp sitting out with “quad soreness”.

Just as they did in the 2021 competition, Invincibles are proving the value of a strong bowling unit tasked with clear plans. They are also, again, drawing on young players to achieve success – Alice Capsey, Sophia Smale and Ryana MacDonald-Gay are all ranked in the top 10 bowlers so far in the competition.

Smale was crucial today in the powerplay, helping restrict Phoenix to a score of just 23, and running out towards midwicket to take a catch off her own bowling and get rid of the exceedingly dangerous Sophie Devine. If she isn’t quite going to do a Capsey and launch a full international career within 12 months of the competition, 17-year-old Smale can at least feel fairly confident of bagging a spot in the inaugural U19 World Cup, scheduled for South Africa in January.

Smale’s brilliant diving catch to see off Georgia Elwiss, running around from short third in front of a huge crowd at The Oval, was the kind of thing we wouldn’t have seen domestic players pull off a few years ago – they’d have been overwhelmed by the occasion; and short on the requisite skill. Vive the regional system. As Syd said on Twitter, it typified a fantastic effort in the field from Invincibles, who made it very difficult for Phoenix to score freely.

In response, Invincibles got off to a flyer, helped by the fact that Sophie Devine decided to bowl Phoebe Franklin in the powerplay instead of Emily Arlott (who ended the match as by far the most economical Phoenix bowler, conceding just 8 runs off her 17 balls). Capsey showed her disdain for Franklin, getting off the mark with a huge six over long-on, as Invincibles raced to 41 for 1 in the first 25.

Phoenix did manage to peg them back after Capsey miscued Arlott to short third off the 47th ball, with Dane van Niekerk looking like someone who hasn’t batted in a cricket match for months on end – because, well, she hasn’t. But Lauren Winfield-Hill (now the competition’s third leading run-scorer, behind Wolvaardt and Dottin) eventually brought it home for her new team with 13 balls to spare. Is Winfield-Hill this season’s “best new buy”?

Hopefully van Niekerk’s time in the middle today will have helped restore some of her old confidence, after Phoenix helpfully fluffed a run out chance against her early on, allowing her to go on and make a run-a-ball 21*. Oddly, though, she didn’t bowl; it’s not clear whether that was her choice or coach Jonathan Batty’s.

What role will DvN play in the rest of the competition? An interview by Matt Roller with stand-in skipper Suzie Bates on Cricinfo, published today, is unclear on the answer to that question. Bates describes events so far in The Hundred as an “interesting time”: “It’s just one game at a time at the moment: I’m waiting to be told what the team needs from me,” she says. Hmmmmm. There is something very strange going on inside the Invincibles camp at the moment and I’m not sure we’ve got to the bottom of it yet. Watch this space.

REPORT: Cheshire Women’s League Finals Day 2022

Martin Saxon reports


Senior Knockout Cup

Stockport Trinity Fire 95-6 (20; Carys White 25, Ellie Mason 21)

Nantwich Vipers 97-1 (17.5; Seren Smale 40ret, Grace Michell 20)

Nantwich secured their biggest prize to date in their short history with a commanding victory here. With Bethan Robinson – four overs for seven runs – and Beth Hughes – 11 from three overs – leading the way, the Vipers attack ensured Trinity never really built up any momentum.

Seren Smale’s 40 from 32 balls well and truly broke the back of this run chase, indeed 12 was scored from the opening over, 20 from the first two and 70 from the first ten. Although the scoring slowed down after that, with some tight overs from Lauren O’Reilly, the result was never in serious doubt.


Development Knockout Cup

Hayfield 83-3 (20; Ruth Lomas 25ret)

Greenfield 87-6 (19.5; Abigail Barlow 28*, Zoe Cuthill 22, Bethany Garforth 20, Rosie Bradshaw 2-13)

For the first time, the Development Knockout – the competition for division three and four clubs – occupied the prime middle slot on Finals Day and those watching were rewarded with the closest finish of the day. Hayfield might have won both of the crucial clashes between these teams in Division Three East this year, but Greenfield had the last laugh here, ensuring they have a trophy to mark their first year in the Cheshire League.

Both teams started their innings slowly and there were impressively economical figures for Gracie Wray, Hannah Stewart and Lily Bailey in the first innings and Molly Doody in the second. However, both sides also rallied strongly in the closing overs, and ultimately it would be Greenfield who prevailed, overcoming the loss of two wickets in Rosie Bradshaw’s opening over. Abigail Barlow’s 28 from 22 balls supplied the finishing touch, ensuring the trophy is bound for Tameside.


T20 Divisional Competition

Stockport Trinity Fire 122-7 (20; Ellie Mason 43ret, Lauren O’Reilly 20, Emily Page 2-7, Maddie Lawson 2-12, Abbey Gore 2-24)

Appleton Tigers 126-5 (17.4; Georgia Heath 39ret, Emma Barlow 33, Amy Seddon 23*, Emma Royle 2-11, Kate Harvey 2-16)

Appleton completed the highest successful run chase to date in a CWCL cup final to win this competition for the first time since 2018. It all meant that Stockport Trinity were unable to repeat their T20 double of 2019 and ultimately went home empty-handed.

However, this is one match that the Stockport side appeared to be bossing during the early stages. Ellie Mason had not quite been at her fluent best in the first final of the day, but here her unbeaten 43 set her side on the way to a good total. The total looked even better when Emma Royle struck two early blows in reply, and with Lauren O’Reilly contributing some tight overs at the other end, the Tigers were reduced to 15-2 from six overs. 

However, the next four overs would see the game turned on its head, as some big hitting from Georgia Heath led the way in adding 47 in four overs, firstly cashing in from the final overs bowled by the new ball pair, then dominating the opening overs from the change bowlers. 

Heath ultimately retired with 39 from 26 balls with five fours and two sixes. Trinity also dismissed Emma Barlow short of the retirement score, so had this wicket opened the door for Trinity? The answer proved to be an emphatic No, as Amy Seddon scored nine runs from the remaining balls in that over.

Although further wickets fell, Trinity could not halt Appleton’s momentum, and having been second favourites earlier, the Warrington club ran out winners with all of 16 balls in hand.


THE HUNDRED: Invincibles v Brave – Is Dropping Your Captain A Smart Move?

It’s the age-old question in cricket – should a captain be selected first, and the team put in place around them; or should you select your best XI, and then choose a captain from that? Or, to put it a different way, how much does the wisdom and charisma of a captain matter, over and above their cricketing skills?

The Oval Invincibles management seem pretty clear on the answer to the above. In their match against Southern Brave on Sunday, they were happy to dispense with established skipper Dane van Niekerk, in order to be able to field their three other overseas players Marizanne Kapp, Shabnim Ismail and Suzie Bates. “We have four quality [overseas] players and the management decided that this is the best combination”, stand-in captain Bates said at the toss.

It’s pretty universally acknowledged that van Niekerk’s captaincy created a team environment last year which was conducive to success and ultimately led to Invincibles winning the title. OK, she didn’t have to bat in the opening game on Thursday; but dropping her seemed, well… brave. [Ed: That’s the type of pun I expect from Syd, not you.]

Whether it cost Invincibles the game is (obviously) hard to quantify, but it certainly didn’t help.

Brave had two “big” phases of their innings. The 25-ball powerplay saw Smriti Mandhana having lots of fun smoking boundaries, with Danni Wyatt’s main role at the other end being to get her partner on strike and keep her there.

Invincibles pulled it back well in the middle phases – Brave lost 5 wickets for 40 runs between the 37th and the 72nd balls. Sophia Smale was excellent yet again – a late replacement for the competition in place of the injured Emma Jones, could she be the Hundred’s equivalent of Linsey Smith, who was a last-minute injury replacement in the first year of the KSL (and went on to catch the eye of then-England coach Mark Robinson)?

After Bates put down a simple chance at midwicket off Smale’s first ball of the day, the 17-year-old kept patient, and smart. In her next set, she tempted Wyatt down the track a couple of times, and ultimately had her stumped. She then did for possibly the best T20 batter in the world at the moment, Tahlia McGrath, courtesy of an absolutely brilliant catch from Kirstie White diving forwards at short third. Perhaps most importantly, 10 out of the 20 balls Smale bowled were dots.

But at the back-end, Freya Kemp and Georgia Adams were able to take advantage of Bates’ decision to front-load her best bowlers, adding 47 runs off the final 25 balls.

With Invincibles already light on bowling due to the absence of Alice Capsey (sitting out with “stiffness” after Thursday night’s ankle injury), and Bates unable to turn her arm over due to her long-standing shoulder issues (she hasn’t bowled a ball in anger since the 2020/21 WBBL), it seemed to make even less sense to assume they could do without van Niekerk’s leg-spin.

Invincibles’ efforts at the death were also damaged by the fact that they dropped behind the required over rate, and were therefore only allowed three fielders outside the circle for the final 10 balls of the innings. There seemed to be a LOT of chat going on between balls and “sets” between Bates, Kapp and Ismail – too many captains spoiling the broth? – which certainly didn’t help matters.

In reply, Invincibles got off to a decent start, with Winfield-Hill and Bates adding 38 runs in the 25-ball powerplay. Kapp, too, did her best to jog things along, smashing 16 runs from Amanda-Jade Wellington’s second “set” of the day, including a slog-swept six.

But the “golden arm” of Georgia Adams, who bowled both Winfield-Hill and Kapp in the space of 14 balls, proved ruinous to their run-chase. There were some brave fireworks from Ryana Macdonald-Gay, but a lack of contributions from the Invincibles’ middle-order had essentially already cost them the game by that point.

If only they’d had the player who was the competition’s leading run-scorer in 2021 at their disposal – a specialist in the middle-order, if you will – to stabilise their chase…

One of the reasons why Invincibles were able to win the 2021 Women’s Hundred was their team culture. It makes this decision, which appears to have been imposed on the players with little to no notice, even more bizarre. Let’s hope it’s just a blip, or things could quickly get very difficult indeed for the Oval-based team.

THE HUNDRED: Invincibles v Superchargers – Alice In Wonderland

143-5 is a good score in The Hundred – it would have been the 6th best total in last season’s comp – but Invincibles made it look easy, sailing past it with 16 balls to spare thanks to a late assault from… who else… Alice Capsey. Capsey celebrated her 18th birthday with 25 off 8 balls, at a Strike Rate of 313 – by some distance the highest 25-run-plus innings Strike Rate in the Hundred’s short history, beating Issy Wong’s 27 off 11 balls for Phoenix against Rockets in 2021.

It came after Capsey survived what appeared to be a horrible fall in the field, slipping as she tried to make a stop on the ring, turning her ankle and landing heavily on her knee. The TV slow-motion replay made it look particularly nasty, but after some treatment and a couple of magic pills she was back on her feet, and although she did leave the field briefly later in the first innings, she certainly seemed unaffected walking out to bat with the score on 104-1, with 40 required from 32 balls.

Napoleon Bonaparte once said that he’d “rather have lucky generals than good ones” but in Capsey, Oval Invincibles seem to have both. The “lucky” came first today – dropped first ball by Bess Heath at square leg, though calling it a “drop” is perhaps somewhat unfair on Heath, who did well to get her hand to it. It was soon followed by the “good” – a six driven straight down the ground was followed by four consecutive 4s off Linsey Smith to end the game.

Smith had been going well earlier, conceding just 7 runs from the last 10 balls of the powerplay, bowled consecutively across a change of ends; but she took a beating from Lauren Winfield-Hill in her third set, going for 11, and then the battering from Capsey to finish with somewhat disappointing figures in the end of 34-0 off 19.

Winfield-Hill collected the Player of the Match (or are we still calling it Match Hero?) award for her contribution of 74 off 42 balls, continuing the excellent form she has shown in domestic cricket for Diamonds this season. She’s already looking like the trade of the century, with Invincibles having picked her up for just a 3rd-tier salary, in the hopes of strengthening a batting order that had been surprisingly weak last year (notwithstanding Capsey’s break-out performances), when they definitely proved the old adage that batters win matches but bowlers win tournaments.

With Marizanne Kapp unwell, being able to bring in Suzie Bates at the top of the innings also gave a bit more balance to the Invincibles line-up. Bates added 46 off 34 balls in a first wicket partnership of 104 with Winfield-Hill, and presents Invincibles with a bit of a selection dilemma going forwards – they will clearly want to bring back Kapp asap, and van Niekerk obviously plays, so one of Bates or Shabnim Ismail is going to miss out. Ismail looked good today, delivering 8 dots from her 20 balls, but it could well be her that misses out for the sake of the balance of the team.

Another one who played a quietly significant role for Invincibles today was 17-year-old Sophia Smale, the Welsh left-arm spinner who only came into the squad as a late injury replacement for Emma Jones. There are obvious comparisons to Sophie Ecclestone, another left-arm spinner who bowls a very consistent ball; but the similarities really end there – Smale has an almost slingly action, delivering the ball wide of the crease to angle it across the batter, and she was obviously causing problems which were rewarded with the wicket of Alyssa Healy, which isn’t a bad first scalp to have in your trophy cabinet. Having come late into the team and not only superseded Danni Gregory in the line-up but also snagged a powerplay bowling spot, Smale must have seriously impressed coach Jonathan Batty, and you could see why tonight.

So Invincibles have carried on where they signed off in 2021, with a big win over fancied opposition – Superchargers were good, but just not good enough on the day to match the brilliance (and luck) of Alice Capsey at the death. It really does feel like the bigger the stage for Capsey, the bigger the performance – and the really lucky ones are all of us being here to see it.