The inaugural season of The Hundred starts on 21 July with a women’s fixture at The Oval between Oval Invincibles and Manchester Originals. This sees the sport of cricket break new ground at one of the game’s most historic venues.
Organised by the ECB, The Hundred, like its name suggests, sees the competing teams bat and field for 100 balls each. A new form of limited overs cricket, designed with the intention of replicating or even intensifying the excitement of One Day games or T20 run chases, there are some unique rules devised for it.
With The Hundred, a change of ends will occur every ten balls of an innings. Bowler spells can come in either five or ten consecutive deliveries, but no more than 20 per player in total. The powerplay lasts for a quarter of an innings, 25 balls, with only two fielders permitted outside of the circle while it is in effect.
There are eight teams that play each other in a round-robin format plus a bonus game against their geographical nearest opposition. This means each franchise in The Hundred plays four matches at home and as many away. Only the top three in the table after all 32 games are complete go on to the finals.
While the team atop the standings gets an automatic berth into the final, the second and third compete in a playoff eliminator. The Hundred Final then takes place at Lord’s. Squads are made up of 15 players, with only up to three of them being from overseas. There can be up to two women on ECB central contracts per franchise.
Rising like a Phoenix and invoking the Spirit
Both the male and female teams go by the same name. As well as the Oval Invincibles and Manchester Originals, who play home games at Old Trafford, there are six other franchises based at famous cricket grounds around England and Wales. Northern Superchargers call Headingley in Leeds home, while Birmingham Phoenix play at Edgbaston, Trent Rockets at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, Welsh Fire at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff, London Spirit at Lords, and Southern Brave at Southampton’s Ageas Bowl ground.
This new format, with an IPL-style draft and its unique challenge, has attracted some of the best players of either gender in the game to try it. Birmingham Phoenix have prodigious Indian batting talent Shafali Verma with England’s Amy Jones keeping wicket. The spin bowling of Kirstie Gordon could also come in handy here.
London Spirit, meanwhile, will be led on the pitch by England captain Heather Knight. Tammy Beaumont has the gloves, and the franchise-based at the home of cricket boasts some powerful overseas players. Alongside marquee West Indies allrounder Deandra Dottin, Indian counterpart Deepti Sharma and South Africa’s Chloe Tryon can all be considered threats with both bat and ball.
Meanwhile, the pace of Kate Cross and spin of Sophie Ecclestone ensure variety in the Manchester Originals attack. Batting duties can be left to South Africa duo Mignon du Preez and Lizelle Lee, with another Indian allrounder in Harmanpreet Kaur also on an experienced roster of overseas players.
Only the Brave can Fire the Rockets
Northern Superchargers can call upon Lauren Winfield-Hill and Alice Davidson-Richards at the crease, but up-and-coming India batswoman Jemimah Rodrigues may be the one to watch at Headingley. Their attack contains Australia’s Nicola Carey alongside England pair Beth Langston and Linsey Smith.
South Africa’s Dane van Niekerk and Marizanne Kapp have signed up to Oval Invincibles with Fran Wilson and Tash Farrant. Southern Brave have plenty of experience courtesy of England pace bowlers Sonia Odedra and Anya Shrubsole, plus the West Indies’ Stafanie Taylor, India batswoman Smriti Mandhana, and allrounders Danni Wyatt and Sophia Dunkley.
Australia pair Elyse Villani and Sophie Molineux will play for Trent Rockets with Nat Sciver and Katherine Brunt familiar faces for anyone who has followed any of the England women’s cricket teams in recent years. Welsh Fire also have a strong presence from Down Under in their ranks, however, thanks to wicketkeeper Beth Mooney, Australia captain Meghann Lanning and spinner Georgia Wareham. Add in the pace bowling of Katie George and batting of Sarah Taylor, and it’s easy to see why the Fire are 5.00 joint-favourites in the cricket betting with Betway on the Women’s Hundred as of 29 June.
Both the Welsh-based franchise and Birmingham Phoenix head a wide-open outright market before a ball has been bowled. The Hundred should light up this summer with thrills, spills, and never quite knowing what is going to happen next being the only certainties in this rapid-fire cricket competition that the ECB hopes it can pull in new fans through.
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