Alice Capsey fires Invincibles to victory over Superchargers on 18th anniversary

The first problem with the brave new world of the second edition of The Hundred, in which the women’s match will (occasionally) occupy prime time, became apparent 30 minutes before the start of the game: 6.00 p.m. they came and went, and the men still had not finished their game, much less left the field. In a sport where men have taken up more than their fair share of resources for more than a century, there was something rather symbolic.

On the other side of the equation, the crowd seemed largely satisfied: Surrey had declared the day sold out, and the vast majority of ticket holders (roughly 16,000 out of 21,339) stayed to watch the women’s game. “I fought on the field because I couldn’t feel anything!” Oval Invincibles’ Suzie Bates said afterwards. “We’ve been there when it was just your mum, dad and the dog. And that’s the norm now – how cool.” More proof, if any were needed, that the ECB have found (if largely by accident) a sweet spot for double headers via The Hundred’s identical team markings.

And finally we got a draw, albeit six minutes later than expected. The Invincibles won and would bowl first, despite the absence of top bowler Marizanne Kapp due to illness. There was time for a crowd chorus of “happy birthday” for Alice Capsey, 18, on Thursday before the game started.

Taking a wicket in the opening powerplay seemed as good a way for Capsey to celebrate as any – Bess Heath caught at backward point attempting the reverse. Minutes later, though, Capsey limped off the field, having twisted his ankle while going backwards. He returned for the last 30 balls of the innings to help take the crucial wicket of top-scorer Jemimah Rodrigues (51 off 32 balls), running from the cover boundary to hold the catch, although he did not bowl again .

Battery? At one point, with Bates (46 off 34) and Lauren Winfield-Hill (74 not out 42) unleashing a flurry of boundaries as they chased down the Superchargers’ target of 144, it looked like the question would be moot: l opening of the Invincibles. The pair added 104 runs in 67 balls before Bates finally got to the hands of the deep midwicket.

Lauren Winfield-Hill on her way to 74 not out from just 42 balls
Lauren Winfield-Hill on her way to 74 not out from just 42 balls. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

But with 40 needed off the last 34 balls, the stage was set for a birthday cameo. Off his third ball, Capsey drove Jenny Gunn for six down the ground. Then came not just one, but two, three and four consecutive boundaries from Linsey Smith and so, with 16 balls remaining in the innings, the job was a good ‘one’.

“The birthday cake is in the fridge and will be eaten later,” Capsey joked at the end of the game. “I’m fine. Lots of straps and ice tonight, and then we’ll evaluate it tomorrow, but I’m sure he’ll be fine.”

Earlier, her absence from the attack had led to Invincibles captain Dane van Niekerk relying heavily on 17-year-old Welsh left-arm spinner Sophia Smale. The teenager was called up to play in the tournament at the eleventh hour, following an injury to Emma Jones, and Van Niekerk admitted she wasn’t even sure how to pronounce her name at the press conference on the eve of match (rhymes with “sale”, in case you’re wondering).

But tasked with playing the second set of the match, Smale delivered. Alyssa Healy, who had celebrated her 100-ball cricket debut by smashing Mady Villiers for six, miscued it at mid-on. Meanwhile, at the other end, Shabnim Ismail, clocked at 78mph during the match, bowled Superchargers captain Hollie Armitage to leave the visitors 38 for three after 26 balls.

It was Rodrigues, fresh from seeing India to victory against England in the Commonwealth Games semi-final, who spearheaded the rescue operation; while South Africa’s Laura Wolvaardt secured a fine finish (27 runs off the last 15 balls), despite being caught at extra cover on the last ball of the innings, one run short of a half-century.

Sam Curran was the match winner while in charge Invincible ovals to a thrilling three-wicket win Northern Superchargersat the Oval.

Curran scored a brilliant 60 to see the Invincibles home with three balls to play, having been dropped for 46 by Adam Lyth in what proved to be a decisive moment.

Lyth himself had earlier fallen in one, before registering the fastest 50 in Hundred history, off just 17 balls. Exceptional bowling from the frugal Sunil Narine (three for 11) restricted the Superchargers to 157 for seven.

Thanks to Sam Curran’s pyrotechnics it wasn’t enough. Jordan Cox (48 off 29) played an outstanding supporting role before Tom Curran (18 off 7) sealed victory for the home side in another breathless encounter in south London.

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Curran shoots Invincibles to beat the Superchargers

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Sam Curran was the match winner while in charge Invincible ovals to a thrilling three-wicket win Northern Superchargers at the Oval.

Curran scored a brilliant 60 to see the Invincibles home with three balls to play, having been dropped for 46 by Adam Lyth in what proved to be a decisive moment.

Lyth himself had earlier fallen in one, before registering the fastest 50 in Hundred history, off just 17 balls. Exceptional bowling from the frugal Sunil Narine (three for 11) restricted the Superchargers to 157 for seven.

Thanks to Sam Curran’s pyrotechnics it wasn’t enough. Jordan Cox (48 off 29) played an outstanding supporting role before Tom Curran (18 off 7) sealed victory for the home side in another breathless encounter in south London.

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If 143 felt like a formidable total (last year, the most successful chase in the women’s competition had been 141), Winfield-Hill hardly cared. “I feel like I’m making up shots I haven’t played in years,” he said. “It was very fun.”

There was some good luck – Katie Levick dropped a simple chance at short third when Bates had acquired just 10 runs – but it was mainly a case of two experienced batsmen, with the full range of shots between them, enjoying his chance to blow the competition open.

With Capsey determined to finish the job herself, Van Niekerk, who was looking forward to playing her first cricket match since the Women’s Big Bash League in November 2021, didn’t even get a chance to bat. No one will care less than her.

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