Absorbing cricket, glorious weather, a great atmosphere and a thrilling finish. The waiting was worth it for The Hundred when it made its recent debut on the sporting calendar.
The green and pink fireworks (see below) that heralded the opening match of The Hundred were a sign of things to come at the Oval last Wednesday. The highly-anticipated opening match of cricket’s newest format – 100 balls per innings – was a landmark moment in women’s sport and it did not disappoint.
Oval Invincibles against Manchester Originals was played out in front of a crowd of nearly 7,400, a record for a standalone domestic game in women’s cricket. It also marked the first time a women’s fixture had headlined a major sporting UK tournament.
The format may have been new but the players quickly got into their groove for two and half hours on non-stop excitement, interspersed with DJs and music acts. Manchester Originals batted first and set a target of 135. Shortly after the Invincibles had lost three quick wickets in reply, and so faced an uphill battle in the second innings when for long periods the visitors looked to have the match in their grasp.
But cometh the hour and cometh the women: Invincibles captain Dane van Niekerk – ably supported by fellow South African Marizanne Kapp – playing an inspired unbeaten innings of 56 to take her side to victory with two balls to spare, much to the joy of the home crowd.
Takeaways? The game was a hit with a crowd made up predominately of families and children enjoying themselves in a relaxed environment. And doubtless some future stars of the game were inspired by a contest that went right down to the wire. Congratulations to the Invincibles (who lived up to their name!) and Originals for putting on a show to remember.
And so a new sporting format is born. 8 city-based teams (each with a women’s squad and men’s squad) made up of 15 players including up to three overseas stars, go head-to-head over the next month. And there’s plenty of London interest with Oval Invincibles and London Spirit representing the capital and playing their home matches at The Oval and Lord’s respectively.
Matches take place daily until 18 August ahead of an eliminator day at The Oval on 20 August followed by the Grand Finals at Lord’s on Saturday 21 August. Fancy taking in The Hundred experience? There’s still time to get yourself a ticket!