‘Please, Miss, what’s ‘second slip’?
The child looked up at her headmistress. It was her first day at school.
Miss Newchurch replied: ‘It is a position you adopt on the cricket field for the first time in an entire tournament. You read the situation, make a decision by instinct and alter the field to your advantage.’
The child blinked. She didn’t understand a word, but the Head went on.
‘Marizanne Kapp was bowling huge outswingers; the batters couldn’t lay bat on ball. One slip was already in place – as was the team’s brave policy – but the captain decided to introduce a second slip alongside her. The very next ball finished in her hands.’
That was the beginning of the end.
Southern Brave were the odds-on favourites to win the trophy. They had lost only once, and with the best batting line-up and a formidable array of bowlers looked certain to carry the day.
Anya Shrubsole opted to bowl first; the weather outlook was poor, and it’s always sensible to bat second when you know the target you have to aim at. A DLS result seemed highly likely.
Brave started well, getting Georgia Adams caught on the edge by Danni Wyatt. From there Dane van Niekerk and Fran Wilson (in particular) made heavy weather of the next 50 balls, struggling to reach a run a ball till Wilson was caught off Amanda-Jade Wellington. (61-2)
Kapp and Alice Capsey upped the pace and Mady Villiers, whose role has been reduced to batter-fielder in this team, hit good runs at the end to help post a total of 121-6.
Against Brave’s batting line-up it looked barely adequate, but rain had slowed the outfield, and Invincibles’ bowlers had carried all before them the day before at the Oval.
The second innings began in high drama. As related in the fairy-tale above, Kapp found groping outswing from the Pavilion End. Wyatt lasted four balls, edging behind. Kapp stayed on for a second spell. It was Sophia Dunkley who fell to that slip catch off the sixth ball. Gaby Lewis, playing her second match as a replacement for Smriti Mandhana, swung and was caught at short-fine off Kapp. The three batters had mustered 0, 0 and 0 between them. Shabnim Ismail had Wellington caught by Capsey for the fourth duck of the innings. (11-5)
Van Niekerk brought Capsey on. First ball: Shrubsole caught brilliantly by Kapp. (11-6) Teams recovering from that sort of position tend to appear in fairy stories too.
The experienced Stafanie Taylor (18) stayed at the crease for 51 deliveries but couldn’t take control.
Maia Bouchier was brilliantly run out by Wilson, who normally compensates for any lack of runs with her fielding. Brave were a team having the crock of gold snatched from their fingers.
For the second day running Invincibles’ bowlers looked like a World Eleven line-up. Ismail bowled fast and straight; Tash Farrant continued her outstanding form, Capsey made her off-spinners look like crocodiles, and van Niekerk’s leggers created a different challenge that wasn’t solved.
After Taylor only Fi Morris played a decent innings (23), but she was run out by a fine aim from Grace Gibbs.
The bowlers’ analyses are worth recording;
Kapp 18 balls, 9 runs, 4 wickets – a new tournament best
Ismael 20 balls, 14 runs, 1 wicket
Farrant 20 balls, 12 runs 0 wickets
Capsey 20 balls, 21 runs, 2 wickets
van Niekerk 20 balls, 16 runs, 1 wicket
These are utterly outstanding figures. The ground grew strangely quiet as Brave’s performance subsided. Contrary to all expectations the result was certain long before the close.
And the ground was filled with 17,116 spectators (the figure calculated at the break; the day involved a double-header, of course). This was another record for The Hundred to be proud of.
For Brave this was a massive anti-climax. They had led the chase from the start, but there are consequences to draw from such superiority: when the top order score huge dollops of runs, no-one else gets a proper chance to bat. Bouchier shows the problem in her tournament stats: in six pre-final innings she had scored only 85 runs, despite coming in at No 5. She faced only 64 balls overall. Batters lower down the order had spent even less time in the middle. The dire consequence was the lowest total of the entire campaign.
It’s only a rumour, but Invincibles may be rewarded for their achievement with green caps to match their kit. Pale blue didn’t fit the bill.
Southern Brave 73