It’s the 2021 RHF Trophy final – the defending champions are chasing a modest total, but wickets have been falling and Emily Windsor walks to the crease knowing two things: 1) there isn’t much batting to come; but 2) if she can just stay there, she’ll win the game.
And she does.
A year later… a different team, and a different competition… it’s the 2022 Hundred final – the defending champions are chasing a modest total, but wickets have been falling and Emily Windsor walks to the crease knowing two things: 1) there isn’t much batting to come; but 2) if she can just stay there, she’ll win the game.
And she does.
Marizanne Kapp will of course rightly get the plaudits for winning this game – her second successive Player of the Match performance in the final – but she couldn’t have done it without Windsor keeping her company at the end.
Though Windsor had played 3 group-stage matches in the lead-up to the final, such has been the strength of Invincibles’ batting that this was her first visit to the crease in this year’s tournament. In front of 20,000 people at Lords and hundreds of thousands watching on tv around the world, she could have been overawed by the occasion; and honestly, if she’d got out playing a rash shot… or even no shot at all… no one would have blamed her. But when it really mattered, as she’d done for Vipers in that RHF Trophy final a year before, she stood up tall (well… tall-ish – it is Emily Windsor we’re talking about!) and proud.
Brave found themselves on the losing side once more, but unlike last year there was no dramatic collapse with the bat – they just never really got going. The top 4 – Smriti Mandhana, Danni Wyatt, Sophia Dunkley and Tahlia McGrath – all got starts; all made it to double-figures, but none could push on. Dunkley’s 26 off 23 was as good as it got, as Brave struggled to get out of second gear, maintaining a strike rate of around 100, but never getting to the position where they could start to motor before they lost another wicket.
On 83-3 at the three-quarter mark, they were in a position to strike out towards 125/130, but instead they slumped – losing 4 wickets and hitting just 18 runs at the death.
It didn’t feel like a batting performance that deserved to win the competition; but a good show with the ball could still have got them back into contention. However, Lauren Bell and Anya Shrubsole struggled to make the new ball swing; and though Lauren Winfield-Hill was stumped playing for swing-that-wasn’t, Invincibles made it through the rest of the powerplay otherwise unscathed, with Capsey looking box-office again on 22 off 13 balls.
The wickets of Capsey and Bates falling in quick succession started to make it look interesting again but Kapp asserted herself on the situation, and it was soon clear that if somebody… anybody… stayed with her, Invincibles were going to win the game. Emily Windsor was that somebody; and 40 minutes later, Invincbles were making their way onto the podium once again – champions, and deservedly so.
Both sides played their best but unfortunately there can only be one winner – and Invincibles just came out on top in the crunch moments. It’s difficult not to like Windsor for her spirit in the field and at the crease (aside from the whole commentator thing) and she yet again produced the cameo Oval were looking for to help get over the line.
Late cameos were lacking from the Brave innings which just sort of fizzled out. The turning point for me was when Adams came in and tried to go big too early, that was part of a collapse from 83/2 to 94/7 over the course of about 3 sets (so I don’t agree there was no Brave collapse this time – it just wasn’t at the start?) which prevented them putting on the 120 or so they needed. Wellington didn’t come off this time, Bouchier also missed out on a few runs at the death, but Ismail’s bowling was outstanding. No bowler performed badly, even for Brave – although they weren’t able to use Kemp for more than a single set.
For Invincibles, Capsey was brilliant again, one of the few players along with Kapp and perhaps Dunkley and McGrath who managed to put on some kind of score at above a run a ball. The Sky commentators were a little guilty I thought of some unfair criticism, of Brave batters being slog or block. But the pitch was not conducive to pretty strokeplay at all. Full tosses got hammered as much as ever, but if the bowlers used the facilities, the ball was hard to get away. It turned out that exactly the same thing happened in the men’s match (that was down to good bowling though, of course(!?)). This was a game where the bowlers outperformed the batters, which has happened quite a lot lately.
Let’s face it though – this was another below-par Lord’s pitch that made it difficult to score runs – inconsistent bounce and occasional holding of the ball off the surface meant that few players were able to get going at all. It made for 2 attritional games, big on wickets and low on boundaries. It needs to be looked at whether the final could be held at another ground sporting a better wicket. I think all the Hundred teams bar Welsh Fire host on better pitches than this one.