The Oval Invincibles have the honour of kicking off the Hundred at home and will have high hopes of ending the season in the final on the other side of the Thames at Lord’s.
The men’s side will be coached by Tom Moody, who has built up a wealth of experience in various T20 leagues around the world. The Australian led the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL between 2013 and 2019, and helped the franchise to their only title in 2016. Moody has recently been involved with Sri Lanka’s white ball tour of England as a consultant coach.
The women’s side was due to be led by former England international Lydia Greenway but she has been replaced by ex-Surrey wicketkeeper Jonathan Batty. He was in charge of the South East Stars during last year’s Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy.
Both men’s and women’s squads have been built around a core of Surrey players. In the men’s side, the majority of the batting is made up of players who are used to conditions at the Oval.
Jason Roy and Will Jacks are likely to open the batting, while Laurie Evans was Surrey’s leading run scorer in their run to the T20 Blast Final last summer. Rory Burns is also set to be available for the first part of the competition. Sam & Tom Curran, Jordan Clark and Reece Topley complete the Surrey contingent.
There are three representatives from Kent, who have had an excellent Vitality Blast season so far, with Sam Billings and Alex Blake joined by wildcard pick Jordan Cox.
The overseas players are headlined by West Indian all rounder Sunil Narine who is joined by 20-year old leg spinner Sandeep Lamichhane and experienced South African Colin Ingram.
There is a South African feel to the women’s side with Dane Van Niekerk, Shabnim Ismail and Marizanne Kapp all signed up. All three players had previously represented the Surrey Stars in the Kia Super League.
Of the domestic players, Fran Wilson is the centrally contracted player allocated to the side while spinner Mady Villiers has been involved in the recent internationals against India. One player to watch could be 16-year old all rounder Alice Capsey who has impressed in the Charlotte Edwards Cup.
The Invincibles were able to retain Saqib Mahmood from the original draft held in 2019. The 24-year old was named man of the series in the recent ODI series victory against Pakistan and will likely lead the attack.
Georgia Adams was leading run-scorer for the Southern Vipers in their run to the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy last summer, and has an excellent opportunity to boost her England claims in this competition. She has already recorded half centuries in both 50 over and 20 over formats for the Vipers and is likely to be a key member of the Invincibles’ line-up.
In the men’s competition, the Invincibles are joint second favourites with the bookmakers to win the tournament, along with the Trent Rockets & Welsh Fire. That feels a fair enough assessment and they should expect to be competing for one of the three knockout spots.
The bowling does feel light and could be impacted if Saqib Mahmood gets called up to test cricket for the India series.
The South African overseas players will be pretty crucial to the success of the Women’s side. If Van Niekerk and Kapp fire then they will a strong outfit, but they do lack experience compared to some of the other squads and may find it a challenge to break into the knockout phase.
Tournament odds: 11-2 (SkyBet)
Opening Fixture: v Manchester Originals at the Oval. Wednesday 21st July (Women’s); Thursday 22nd July (Men’s)