Will Smeed, Birmingham Phoenix, The Hundred

The Hundred: England places up for grabs as men’s and women’s World Cups loom, says Nasser Hussain

Sky Sports’ Nasser Hussain looks ahead to the second edition of The Hundred and the “world-class, world-beaters” set to take centre stage, as well as how the Lionesses’ Euros win might help and which players might be pushing for England selection…

What you find out with The Hundred – given then sell-out crowds, and the sizeable audience watching from home – is whether people can do it under pressure.

Wednesday 3rd August 6:30pm

What impressed me most, without a doubt, from last year’s tournament was the impact it had on women’s cricket, showing off the skill in the women’s game.

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Let the Minions explain how The Hundred works, with the second edition of the 100-ball tournament getting under way on Wednesday.

That first game – Oval Invincibles versus Manchester Originals – I had my family with me in the crowd. The atmosphere was just phenomenal, and it had different feel about it.

A couple of games later we had Alice Capsey, aged 16, rocking up at Lord’s for the first time and bashing a fifty. It had really good stories.

Lionesses win shows growth of women’s sport

Already, you’re seeing with the England Women’s team, there has been a bit of a change in personnel since, with the likes of Anya Shrubsole retiring but also people like Issy Wong coming in and doing really well.

Alice Capsey hit a maiden international half century for England in their T20 group game against South Africa at the Commonwealth Games
Alice Capsey hit a maiden international half century for England in their T20 group game against South Africa at the Commonwealth Games

Capsey just scored her first fifty in international cricket at the Commonwealth Games. Sophia Dunkley has moved up to open the innings in T20 cricket due to how well she has played in the last year or so.

With what happened this weekend with the Lionesses winning the Euros, women’s sport just continues to enjoy upward growth. You can only imagine that local football clubs are currently being flooded.

England lift the European Championship trophy after beating Germany in the final at Wembley
England lift the European Championship trophy after beating Germany in the final at Wembley

That’s the important stuff. That we make sure we have the coaches, the set-up, the clubs and the space for girls to play these sports.

It’s not just success at the top end, we have to make sure that at the grass-roots level, everything that can be done, is done, so that this new crop of young boys and girls wanting to play, you can cater for them.

I work at a local cricket club, I watch my son and daughter play, see it played at schools, and you just see the impact from things like The Hundred.

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Naomi Dattani and Georgia Adams are both looking forward to the second edition of The Hundred after the positive impact the competition has had on women’s cricket.

England places up for grabs with World Cups looming

As for the men, England have had an average summer in white-ball cricket, but the ones in possession of the shirt who have struggled, like Jason Roy, have a real opportunity in The Hundred to get back into form.

New head coach Matthew Mott was clear, saying the T20 series defeat to South Africa was a “line in the sand” moment. Those defeats weren’t good enough and people are playing for their places.

Jason Roy walks off after being dismissed in the third T20I between England and South Africa at the Ageas Bowl
Jason Roy has the chance to impress in The Hundred after struggling for form during England’s white-ball summer

Roy is a real form player. He is a bit streaky and will go through periods like this, but then suddenly he could have a magnificent tournament in The Hundred and just remind everyone of his talent.

He is the sort of player England desperately want to do well. He epitomises their approach in white-ball cricket, with his attitude.

Will Smeed, Birmingham Phoenix, The Hundred
Will Smeed burst onto the scene as a 19-year-old for the Birmingham Phoenix in The Hundred last year

But there’s also people like Will Smeed – just 20 years old – who absolutely expressed himself and took centre stage in The Hundred last year. It’s a great opportunity for him, if he has another fabulous tournament of smashing it everywhere, as the likes of Mott and Rob Key will be watching on.

It’s an opportunity to either regain form or, if you’re on the periphery, to showcase your skills. It’s the same with the ball, especially given all of the injuries England have – look what has happened to Richard Gleeson recently, coming in to make his debut aged 34.

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Richard Gleeson took three wickets in four deliveries on an England debut to remember at Edgbaston, removing Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant.

There are two World Cups coming up. The men’s T20 World Cup takes place in October and November in Australia, and the Women’s T20 World Cup is in South Africa in February – there are places up for grabs.

‘World-class, world-beaters take centre stage’

I’m excited for the arrival of the Australian women’s side this year. Under Meg Lanning, you could argue, it’s the greatest white-ball cricket side there has been in the women’s game.

A large percentage of that side are over for the tournament. To have Alyssa Healy smashing it around at the top of the order, to have Lanning, Ellyse Perry, Tahlia McGrath, Alana King.

Alyssa Healy (Associated Press)
Australia’s Alyssa Healy is one of the most destructive top-order batters in the women’s game

There’s also a girl at Southern Brave, Amanda Jade-Wellington, who did very well last summer and I think will impress again.

The Aussies are absolutely going to add to the tournament. I’m looking forward to watching the world-class, world-beaters add to The Hundred.

For the men, there’s the big names, your franchise superstars, like Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Tim David – the players who, when you watch them in action, it’s immediately obvious why they travel the world; they belt the ball for six, bowl the speed of light or bowl mystery spin.

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Ahead of this year’s Hundred, check out some of the international stars who will be appearing in the competition.

Wrist spin will be key, in both the men’s and women’s game. If you’re doing your Fantasy League teams, make sure you get some wrist spinners in.

But I’m also keen to see the young players that appear from nowhere – like Smeed and Capsey did last year. I actually prefer those stories.

There was also the lad that came through with Smeed at the Birmingham Phoenix, Chris Benjamin. I remember Kevin Pietersen waxing lyrical about some the reverse-sweeps he played as, under pressure, he won them a game against Oval Invincibles right at the end.

Brave eyeing up the double; Sprit success for Shane?

As for who could win it? I like both of the Southern Brave squads. I liked them last year too and the women were one game away from doing the double.

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Southern Brave’s Chris Jordan says he is looking forward to the second season of The Hundred and defending the title they won last year.

Thy are well led, with two good captains in James Vince and Shrubsole, plus the coaches in Mahela Jayawardena and Charlotte Edwards. Serious names there.

They have a good mixture of pace, wrist spin and batting depth. Maybe this year they can complete the double?

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London Spirit captain Eoin Morgan says that The Hundred presents a huge opportunity for players to force their way into the England T20 World Cup squad.

That said, the one thing I’ve learnt is, the shorter the format, the more unpredictable it will be. Anyone could win it.

One thing I will say; a nice story – after Shane Warne’s sad passing earlier this year – would be if his London Spirit had a good tournament.

They had a bit of a shocker last year. If they were to win it this time round, there may not be a dry eye in the house.

Tickets for The Hundred are selling fast! If you want to be part of the action, go to thehundred.com/tickets

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