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The Hundred - Cricket: Who has done the best business?

The 2022 season of The Hundred gets underway this week, but which teams appear to be in the best shape to challenge for the men's and women's titles?

Southern Brave won the inaugural men's competition 12 months ago, beating Birmingham Phoenix in the final, and they are 10/3 to defend their crown, while women's champions Oval Invincibles are 4/1 to make it back-to-back titles.

What:The Hundred
Where:England and Wales
When:3rd August - 3rd September 2022 
How to watch:Sky Sports Cricket, Sky Sports Mix and BBC
Odds:Men's event - Southern Brave 10/3, Birmingham Phoenix 9/2. Women's event - Southern Brave 7/2, Oval Invincibles 4/1 

Continuity key for Brave

After winning the men's title last year, Southern Brave have been able to largely stick with the same squad that was spearheaded by captain James Vince in 2021.

Vince, Alex Davies and Quinton de Kock were three of the eight leading run scorers in last season's competition and all three will be involved again this year, although the latter may miss parts of the tournament due to his international involvement with South Africa.

The Brave also boasted a fierce bowling attack last year and Tymal Mills and Chris Jordan, who has been impressing in T20I cricket with England this summer, have both opted to stick with the Brave - something that boosts the team especially given the injury absence of Jofra Archer

The defending champions will also benefit from the availability of Australian all-rounder Marcus Stoinis, who was a late withdrawal from last year's competition, but can he help lead the Brave to another title?

Pollard to provide improved Spirit

London Spirit finished bottom of the men's standings in 2021, but that disappointing showing did land them the first overall pick in this year's draft, and they plumped for experienced West Indian all-rounder Kieron Pollard.

Pollard could provide that something extra the Spirit were lacking last season and he also adds to an experienced core within the squad alongside Australian Glenn Maxwell and former England white-ball captain Eoin Morgan, who is 40/1 to finish at the competition's top batter.

The Spirit's bowling attack should also be full of confidence as Messrs Chris Wood, Brad Wheal, Liam Dawson and Mason Crane were all part of Hampshire's T20 Blast winning team last month.

Wheal was the pick of that quartet, taking 22 wickets, and he is 20/1 to follow that up by being the top bowler in The Hundred, while the Spirit are 8/1 to land the title.

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Trio hoping for improved showing

Northern Superchargers, Manchester Originals and Welsh Fire failed to make it through to the knockout stages in the men's competition last season, but all three teams will feel they have improved ahead of this year's edition.

The Superchargers will have to do without talisman Ben Stokes, who is sitting out this year's competition to manage his workload, but they have added all-rounder Dwayne Bravo to their ranks to help fill that void.

Pakistan left-arm paceman Wahib Riaz is an exciting addition to the bowling attack that already contains Adil Rashid, with the Superchargers 8/1 to go on and win the competition.

The Originals have also been busy, with their headline acquisition appearing to be West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell.

Jos Buttler will lead the 13/2 Originals once again and England's new white-ball captain is 9/1 to be the competition's top batter.

Jonny Bairstow is the Fire's skipper and after an impressive summer on the international stage, he will expect to deliver another strong showing.

It is perhaps the bowling attack where the 15/2 Fire look most exciting, however, as they have added 17-year-old Afghanistan spinner Noor Ahmad to their ranks, as well as fellow teenager Naseem Shah and Australia leg-spinner Adam Zampa.

Fire make eye-catching additions

Welsh Fire may well have made the most eye-catching signings ahead of the women's tournament following the acquisitions of England star Tammy Beaumont and Australia's Rachael Haynes.

That duo is expected to open the batting for the Fire, with another international star, West Indies' Hayley Matthews, dropping down to number three to provide plenty of depth.

The Fire propped up the women's standings last year, but expect an improved showing this time around, they are 8/1 to lift the title.

Phoenix squad looking strong

Birmingham Phoenix reached the knockout stages last year and they have added spinner Sophie Molineux to their squad this time around. She may have a point to prove after recently losing her Cricket Australia central contract.

However, it is the availability of two other players rather than new acquisitions that perhaps makes the Phoenix look a shrewd option at 6/1 to win the tournament.

Both New Zealand captain Sophie Devine and Australia's Ellyse Perry, who is regarded as one of the best all-rounders in the world, missed last year's tournament, but they are now set to bolster Birmingham's ranks.

Other notable acquisitions ahead of the women's tournament include Trent Rockets landing Australia skipper Meg Lanning, as well as leg-spinner Alana King, while supporters of Manchester Originals can be excited by the arrival of another Aussie - explosive left-handed batter Beth Mooney.

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