Our batting rankings are usually dominated by the big names, but it feels rare to see a list that is quite so monopolised by established internationals. In The Hundred last year, we had 3 uncapped players – Eve Jones (5th), Georgia Redmayne (14th) and Dani Gibson (15th) – in our top 15; this year you have to go down to 19 before you find the first uncapped name – Superchargers captain Holly Armitage – the only player without international recognition in the top 20. (And you have to go as deep as 28th before you find another – Bess Heath.)
There is also a worrying lack of England players in the top 20. At the last WBBL, 12 of the top 20, and 5 of the top 10, were Australians; here, only 8 (or 9 if you count Sarah Bryce) of those in the top 20 are England-qualified players, and just 2 in the top 10 are English; so suggestions that what The Hundred really needs is more overseas players might be considered… er… “ill-considered” in the light of these numbers!
Sheer weight of runs puts Laura Wolvaardt out on top, with two 50s and a highest score of 90* at a strike rate of 184 in Superchargers’ remarkable successful chase versus Originals. The prevailing wisdom that Wolvaardt is really a Test / ODI player trying to shoehorn herself into a role in the T20 game will probably follow her throughout her career, and there remains an element of truth to it: her strike rate of 134 is significantly less than the top 10 average of 149. On the other hand, 134 is hardly terrible, and the real question for teams to address is how to complement what she can bring to a team (runs) with what others can (high strike rate). Arguably Superchargers eventually stumbled upon the answer to this, with a top order of Healy, Wolvaardt and Heath, and it would have been good to see this play out over a longer, WBBL-type season with twice as many games.
Suzie Bates might have been a late addition to the Invincibles squad as their “4th overseas” but she underlined her continuing value in franchise cricket with 229 runs at 151, while also picking up the captaincy when Dane van Niekerk has missed out on selection. Most squads chose their 4th overseas with a very clear role as a “backup plan” – Deepti Sharma at Phoenix didn’t play at all, and Molly Strano at Brave played only one game – but Bates ended up playing every match, and forming a formidable partnership with Lauren Winfield-Hill which has made Invincibles a much more balanced team this season, after their over-reliance on their bowling last year.
Winfield-Hill herself is the top-ranked English player at 4, continuing her outstanding domestic summer, after shining in regional cricket too. Whether she has done enough to force herself back into the England XI as a batter remains an open question (probably not, to be honest), though it was interesting that she insisted on retaining the wicket-keeping gloves even though Invincibles had another keeper on the team, despite an injury concern in the final match, suggesting that maybe she sees this as her route back to international cricket?
Two players we definitely won’t be seeing play internationally again come in at 6 and 7 – Deandra Dottin and Lizelle Lee have both recently retired from internationals to focus on making hay (and… let’s not beat about the bush… money) in franchise cricket, and both had fair starts to their new directions; but it will be interesting to see how long they can continue to stay with the pace, without the extrinsic motivations that come with being part of an international squad. Being your own coach, fitness instructor and nutritionist no doubt sounds appealing; but can it work longer-term? It will be fascinating to watch how that evolves over the next year or so.
|1. Laura Wolvaardt (Superchargers)||6||286||134|
|2. Suzie Bates (Invincibles)||6||229||151|
|3. Beth Mooney (London Spirit)||6||205||155|
|4. Lauren Winfield-Hill (Invincibles)||6||214||139|
|5. Smriti Mandhana (Brave)||6||178||166|
|6. Deandra Dottin (Originals)||4||147||181|
|7. Lizelle Lee (Originals)||6||169||141|
|8. Danni Wyatt (Brave)||6||162||145|
|9. Alyssa Healy (Superchargers)||6||129||152|
|10. Elyse Villani (Rockets)||6||158||122|
|11. Sophia Dunkley (Brave)||6||159||119|
|12. Ellyse Perry (Phoenix)||6||134||137|
|13. Nat Sciver (Rockets)||5||156||104|
|14. Tammy Beaumont (Fire)||6||138||117|
|15. Hayley Matthews (Fire)||3||109||143|
|16. Amy Jones (Phoenix)||6||123||123|
|17. Emma Lamb (Originals)||6||136||109|
|18. Sophie Devine (Phoenix)||6||103||143|
|19. Holly Armitage (Superchargers)||6||119||119|
|20. Sarah Bryce (Fire)||6||120||118|
Batting Ranking = Runs * Strike Rate
Yes, some of the overseas have had a great Hundred! Stats can be deceptive though… Wolvaardt won 2 games, basically with her performances, whilst Heath won 1. However, in all the games where NSC lost, Wolvaardt chewed up a lot of deliveries for her score at less than the overall innings strike rate in each case (whereas Heath usually got out without wasting deliveries otherwise) so the SA player wasn’t as useful on those occasions. Similar for Mooney, a lot of her runs were in losing causes except the Welsh fire game, but I thought Spirit were unlucky not to win more.
Some overseas also had Hundreds to forget – for Welsh Fire in particular, I thought Haynes and Sutherland were a bit of a let-down seeing how good they were in the WBBL. Talia McGrath only so-so. Haynes hasn’t had much luck in English domestic cricket. For Australia, a different story. It’s also been a strange bowler-friendly summer overall which has had a big influence on things. Bates has carried on her great form from the Commonwealths. Whereas I think some of the England players were still suffering from the disappointment of what happened at the Games. Something that needs to be parked before the India series.