As announced earlier, the star England players left their franchise in the second week of the Hundred to link up with the England Test squad ahead of the Test series against India. It surely took away the glamor value from the tournament but it is still going strong in terms of viewership on both television and on the ground. The atmosphere on the ground has been cracking with most of the matches finding some way to go right down to the wire.
Here are the most notable events from the second week of this unique event:
Doing great things for women’s cricket
Critics may find faults in the format for its similarities with T20 cricket but the tournament is doing great things for women’s cricket. The crowd is making the effort to come to the ground. A big factor has been the fact that both women and men’s teams have played back to back games at the same venue where one ticket gives access to both games. Another factor is the anticipation of something new happening on the field and women’s cricket have more eyes on it than it ever had before outside of international cricket.
The Sunday afternoon game between the London Spirit and Southern Brave at Lord’s saw a crowd of 15,189 spectators which is a record for a domestic women’s cricket game in England.
This is more than thrice the crowd of 5,000 spectators at Lord’s on the MCC Women’s day in 2018. There is no questions that the ladies have provided great cricketing action.
Time running out for a few teams
We are past the ‘early days’ in the tournament and the time is already running out for a few teams. Each team plays eight league games - one each against seven teams and two against their nearest regional rival. Given only three teams go on to contest in the Play-offs, five wins become necessary.
Northern Super Chargers (one win in four games) and London Spirit (no wins in four games) have fallen behind in the race. While Super Chargers can still go through if they win all their remaining games, the Spirit, led by the white-ball skipper of the national team, Eoin Morgan, will need a lot of the other results going their way apart from winning the rest of their games.
In the Women’s league, Harmanpreet Kaur’s Manchester Originals suffer the same fortune as London Spirit in the Men’s version. Birmingham Phoenix and London Spirit have one win in four games and need to pull up their socks.
Ups and downs of the Indian stars
Indian stars had a cracking first week. Smriti Mandhana scored a match-winning 61 while Jemimah Rodrigues played the knock of the tournament - 92* off 43 balls. Harmanpreet Kaur scored a valiant 49*.
It has been a roller-coaster ride for them this week. Mandhana's scores have read 5 and 3. Kaur trudged to a 26 against Welsh Fire. Jemimah, although, had a rare blip on Saturday, but came back with an impactful 57 off 44 balls against London Spirit on Tuesday's women's fixture (August 3). Shafali Verma is yet to fire in the tournament. Her top score is 22 which came against Southern Brave on Friday. She was up against her nemesis Katherine Brunt on Sunday and was done by a brilliant slow ball for 14.
Last but not the least, Deepti Sharma has been good with the ball (spells of 2/10 and 1/124) but is yet to lay an impact with the bat.
Something that actually makes a difference
In a rule that actually makes a difference, the fielding side is penalized a boundary line fielder when they miss the cut-off time to bowl their 100 balls. The situation has unfurled a number of times in the season already. However, the one team which suffered because of this rule was Birmingham Phoenix, against Southern Brave on the Friday night.
Defending 9 runs off the final set of five balls, Chris Jordan thumped Tom Helm through the square-leg for a four. In normal circumstances, a deep square-leg is a generic fielding position to cover in the death overs but the Birmingham captain, Moeen Ali, was forced to put an extra fielder in the ring. Brave won with three balls to spare.
It would be fair to say that captains don’t fret about fines or occasional bans for slow-over rate. Rather, it is much better to punish them within the match itself. Hence, this seems to be the best exercise to punish the fielding side. This rule has been implied in the T20 Blast as well but was never highlighted because of the lack of proper broadcasting.
It might catch up in other leagues too. A wild guess, we reckon the Big Bash League would be the first to pick it up.