The much-anticipated new-format cricket tournament, The Hundred, gets underway today in London as the Oval Invincibles take on the Manchester Originals. Over the next 32 days, the men’s and women’s competitions will run side-by-side with eight brand new teams, featuring many of the world’s best players, competing to reach the finals on 21 August at Lord’s.
Four Scotland players are in line to feature in the tournament. Scotland women’s captain Kathryn Bryce, wicketkeeper Sarah Bryce and bowler Abtaha Maqsood were selected early on, but Scotland men’s seamer Brad Wheal has been a late addition to the London Spirit side following the withdrawal of Mark Wood.
The biggest change to current forms of cricket is each 100-ball innings is essentially split into 20 five-ball overs. All five balls must be delivered by the same bowler but a captain can choose to continue with the same bowler for 10 consecutive balls.
The Hundred is also bidding to raise the profile of women’s cricket giving women’s matches equal billing. Maqsood will play for the Birmingham Phoenix who start their campaign on Friday against the London Spirit and she’s excited about inspiring more girls to take up the game.
“It makes me so happy that women’s cricket is growing so rapidly. I was completely shocked to get the message that I had been picked, but that’s a moment that I am always going to remember. Being a young Muslim woman, wearing a hijab and playing The Hundred at such a high level will hopefully inspire quite a few other Muslim girls,” said the 22-year-old from Glasgow.
Maqsood’s Scotland skipper Bryce is going to learn as much as possible from the more experienced players in her team. Her Trent Rockets side enter the fray on Saturday against the Southern Brave.
“Because it’s such a short competition, you have to try and learn as much as possible and ask as much as possible. We have experience from all around the world and so it’s a great opportunity to learn from other players and coaches.”
She also hopes that this is the start of more opportunities for women to play the game professionally: “I want to carry on playing cricket and the the way the games is going it’s more of a possibility to play full-time. It’s been difficult in the past to get attention for women’s cricket but it’s growing now.”
She also faces the prospect of lining up against sister Sarah who is in the line-up for the Oval Invincibles.
For Wheal the call to take part came late. He joined up with the London Spirit side on Monday and is delighted to have been given the opportunity to take part. The fast-bowler, who was named in Shane Burger’s 40-man T20 World Cup selection squad last week, has had a busy season with Hampshire but is relishing the opportunity to learn from some experienced names.
“They’ve really gone all out with it,” said Wheal after his first day with the team. “We’ve got Shane Warne as our coach and Dimitri Mascarenhas as bowling coach, so we’ve got some big fire power. Obviously Eoin Morgan’s captain, so it’ll be good fun and a great experience for me having unbelievable players and coaches around.”
We’ll be following the Scots in action throughout the next month and providing updates on social media, but all of the information including live match centres can be found on The Hundred website.