Coronavirus has affected the cricket calendar severely and put up a lot of series/competitions in jeopardy, this has also affected a lot of major T20 competitions and tournaments around the world including the likes of IPL and the ICC WT20 being postponed. One of its major casualties was the newly launched competition by ECB - The Hundred, which was set to be played in 2020 but the launch was postponed to the summer of 2021 because of the pandemic.
More than a dozen or so overseas players have pulled out of the tournament in recent months due to clashes with international series, quarantine periods and restrictions on international travel, injuries and some positive Covid-19 tests and particularly because it’s in the UK where the cases are rising.
The format might be deemed as divisive, unnecessary, detrimental and guaranteed carnage. However, it is the carnage that might ultimately appeal, particularly to the cricket nerds.
So, let’s get the lowdown on the squads, their strengths and weaknesses to find out who are the runners and riders in the competition.
Oval Invincibles (W)
Best XI: Sarah Bryce (wk), Georgia Adams, Fran Wilson, Dane van Niekerk, Marizanne Kapp, Alice Capsey, Jo Gardner, Mady Villiers, Shabnim Ismail, Tash Farrant, Megan Belt
Coach: Jonathan Batty
Bowling attack: The Invincibles in Ismail, Kapp and Farrant have a brilliant and International quality pace attack with Shabnim Ismail capable of generating pace in the high 80s. In addition to it the Oval Invincibles have a very good spin attack in Van Niekerk and Mady Villiers with Jo Gardner, Megan Belt who can also chip in when required. An all-round bowling attack makes them one of the top bowling sides in the tournament
Batting depth: With a batter as capable as Mady Villiers batting at position 8. The Invincibles team have more than serviceable batting depth to score runs with good intent.
Overdependence on a few batters: While they do have good local batting options like Adams, the Invincibles batting is too dependent on her, Kapp and Wilson. With others just acting as fillers.
Dane van Niekerk: With Van Niekerk being only one of the few power-hitters in the Invincibles squad her average of 18 in 2020 is surely something that’ll be of major concern to the Invincibles side.
MANCHESTER ORIGINALS (W)
Best XI: Lizelle Lee, Emma Lamb, Georgie Boyce, Mignon du Preez, Harmanpreet Kaur, NatalieBrown/ CordeliaGriffith, Ellie Threlkeld (wk), Hannah Jones, Sophie Ecclestone, Alex Hartley, Kate Cross
Coach: Paul Shaw
Spin bowling: In Ecclestone and Hartley have great quality both left arm and right arm spin options, which will be particularly effective on their home ground which is known to assist spinners. Ecclestone is also one of the best options in the world for a 10-ball over.
Experienced Batting: In Lizelle Lee, Harmanpreet and du Preez, the Manchester Originals squad have a good mix of aggression required at the top through Lee and Lamb and stability with Du Preez and Kaur who could play the role of a finisher in the eleven.
Seam bowling: While their main strength is spin bowling particularly in home games, Originals could find themselves in trouble with Kate Cross being the only specialist seam bowler and others being more of support bowlers. This could be particularly concerning for them when they go away from home where there is less assistance for spin bowlers.
Lack of LHBs: The top-4 of the Originals side is full of RHBs and when it assists spin the oppositions could exploit match-ups by deploying SLAs and with only RHBs in top-4 it could make deploying away spinners a bit easy for the opposition