There are many what-ifs in cricket and, at Trent Bridge, there were a few more to add to the collection as Manchester Originals rocked the Rockets on their home ground, with a win by nine wickets.
The Originals, already out of the mix before today, have found ways of derailing the teams above them. On Thursday, they beat a Northern Superchargers side that were a win away from all but confirming a top-three finish. The Originals trounced them and did the same today, when the Trent Rockets needed a win – albeit reliant on a massive slice of fortune to go their way – to make the eliminator on Friday at The Kia Oval.
Kate Cross, the Manchester Originals skipper, won the toss and chose to bowl. Given that Trent Rockets have preferred to bat first, it was a bit of a gamble, as was bowling Hannah Jones, the left-arm spinner in the power play. However, it worked for the first nine balls. The Rockets could only score two singles from the first nine balls.
The powerplay cost Originals just 20 runs and, although Rockets had lost no wickets, they were playing catch up. It makes it all the more confusing that they have continued with Katherine Brunt at four; while she has averaged 21, it has come at a strike rate of just 88.98.
On a pitch that looked two-paced, the first three wickets were all straight at fielders and to shots that the batters didn’t fully commit to playing. Sammy-Jo Johnson was the only player in the top order to go past 20, with 33 from 20 balls – her highest score since joining the Rockets – and her knock included four sixes.
The Originals bowlers bowled tight lines and gave little away, while their fielding ensured few free runs. As usual, Heather Graham was industrious with the bat, but couldn’t get her scoring above a run a ball before giving Sophie Ecclestone the first of two wickets in two balls, slicing to cover for 21.
It was a late blast from Sarah Glenn, touted as a future top order hitter for England, who sped things along towards a 12 ball 23.
122 for six was never going to be enough for Trent Rockets, and their only hope was to get early wickets in the powerplay before the likes of Lizelle Lee and Emma Lamb got firing. But, unfortunately, it never materialised. The Rockets looked a beaten side long before Lee hit the winnings runs with 13 balls still available.
Lamb and Lee shared an opening stand of 96 from 67 balls before Lamb was caught wonderfully on the boundary by Brunt, to give Georgia Davis a deserved wicket. After that, Lee and Mignon du Preez, her South African teammate, calmly sealed the victory.
Both teams end their part in the first Hundred season with mixed emotions; Manchester Originals will look forward to 2022 with optimism, where Trent Rockets will know they have a lot of work to do.