Friday 20th August 2021 – The Hundred Eliminator at The Oval, London
It was probably not the show-piece event that the organisers had hoped for. After the drama of the Women’s match earlier in the day, where The Invincibles took 8 wickets for just 28 runs to beat Birmingham Phoenix, the Men’s game was decided within 20 minutes of the Southern Braves innings, as they cruised to victory, chasing a sub-hundred score.
Whilst the game may have not lived up to expectations, the atmosphere did. Boisterous rather than rowdy, with none of the shenanigans we saw at Lords in the opening games. There were fans from seven of the eight Hundred sides that I saw – the conspicuous absence of anyone wearing a London Spirit top or hat perhaps down to their poor performance in the competition after the hype before hand. The bars were closed just after the second innings started but the fans didn’t have to wait too long before they would be in the pubs around The Oval.
Southern Brave won the toss and put the Rockets in. Opening with an explosive partnership of Alex Hales and Dawid Malan, they got off to a good start with the Yorkshire player smashing three boundaries off the first eight balls of the innings. And then he was gone, caught behind off the bowling of Garton. Three balls later and Alex Hales fell to the same combination, de Kock bending low to catch the ball. Southern Braves were taking a wicket an over – Mullaney and Short back in the pavilion as well before the end of the fifth set of 5 balls.
Patel, Gregory and Moores all reached double figures but nobody was able to stay long enough to anchor the innings and build a defendable score. When Patel departed for 20, the highest score in the Rockets innings, they were 82-6 with 31 balls still remaining – still time to get a 120+ total. Instead Mills and Jordan cleaned up the tail, bowling them out for just 96 with 9 balls remaining. It was the Rockets lowest score in the competition and one of only four sub-100 innings totals.
Whilst you can knock the Rockets batting performance, Southern Braves didn’t miss a catch, dismissing nine of the ten batsmen in that way whilst Garton’s 3-15 and Mills 3-8 were some of the best bowling figures we had seen.
It looked like being an early finish to the game as the Braves started quickly, with twelve coming off the first five balls. Wicketkeeper de Kock departed in the third over but the Braves were almost a quarter of the way to the target. Stirling and skipper Vince scored quickly, putting on 47 runs in 5 overs and it was almost done and dusted when Davies fell for 7 with the score at 83. Vince, one of the best short-form batsmen in England this summer eyed a fifty but despite scoring the winning runs with a boundary he fell five short.
The Rockets will be disappointed they couldn’t take that final step after demonstrating their batting prowess in the tournament but for the Southern Braves, they would not get to an enjoy a night on the town as they had a final to prepare for at Lords along with their Women counterparts who would be playing Oval Invincibles.
The tournament has been a success – an almost sold out crowd at the Oval with a decent atmosphere. It has a place in the calendar but where exactly and at whose expense is yet to be determined. It certainly shouldn’t be instead of the 50-Over game, which has been so devalued this season, with a final almost forgotten played in front of a small crowd on a midweek in Nottingham.