After its inaugural, but delayed, season of broken records and minor teething problems, The Hundred returned this year across August – to the continued anger of many traditionalists.
But English cricket’s new format – yet to be adopted elsewhere – has seen impressive, and in some cases record, crowds for women’s games, and exciting cricket throughout culminating in today’s Eliminator and tomorrow’s Finals Day.
The Eliminator is contested between the second and third placed teams after the round robin stage, with the winner facing the table toppers in tomorrow’s Lord’s final.
Top of the men’s tree last year were Edgbaston-based Birmingham Phoenix, with six wins from their eight games. This year that honour, with the same winning rate, goes to Trent Rockets.
Dawid Malan has been not only the star Rocket this year with the bat but the star hitter outright. His 358 runs have come off just 208 balls across his eight innings, and have made him the top scorer in this year’s competition. Team-mates Alex Hales, on 251 runs, and Colin Munro, with 190, also made the top 10.
Bowler Samit Patel has also impressed this year, taking 10 wickets in 125 balls, though Tom Helm’s 14 takes in 142 balls for Phoenix tops the tree.
The Rockets were on fire and finished clear at the top of the men’s table on points – ahead of Manchester Originals, London Spirit and Phoenix on 10 points.
The Originals and Spirit will contest the Eliminator in Southampton today at 6:30pm, with the winner set to play the Rockets tomorrow in north west London.
It’s been a tight race for the men in behind the Rockets and last year’s table toppers will rue missing out on run rate.
As for last year’s champions Southern Brave? They netted three wins but finished seventh, above only winless Welsh Fire.
A huge marketing point of this competition has been how the women’s game is thrown into the spotlight – 2021’s Oval Invincibles victory at a packed Lord’s proved that.
Southern Brave, who finished top last year, will this year take part in the Eliminator, against Trent Rockets, after being pipped to first place by the Invincibles.
Three teams finished the round robin phase of the league tied for third but the Rockets edged out both Phoenix and Superchargers.
The Invincibles held the second and third placed spots for runs scored – Suzie Bates with 229 and Lauren Winfield-Hill with 214 – behind the Superchargers’ Laura Wolvaardt’s 286.
But the London side topped the table largely thanks to their bowling figures – they had two players inside the top five, Mady Villiers and Alice Capsey, and were consistent throughout.
Perhaps inevitably, this year The Hundred has not felt like it has had the same wide reaching impact as in its inaugural season, but for a second consecutive season it went down to the last day to decide who plays in today’s Eliminator in Southampton.
It may remain a competition that divides the public, but records continue to be broken and the cricket continues to be close.