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The Hundred - Cricket: Women's tournament preview

The Hundred certainly delivered a major boost to the women's game last summer and the second season of the competition kicks off on the back of the Commonwealth Games.

With women's Twenty20 cricket having been included in the Games in Birmingham, many of the expected Hundred stars will come into the competition having hopefully honed their skills to their maximum.

Australia claimed Commonwealth gold by beating India in the final, with New Zealand thumping hosts England to claim the bronze medal.

Now the challenge becomes make your mark for your franchise, with the Oval Invincibles the defending champions and 4/1 to retain their title.

What

The Women's Hundred

Where

England and Wales

When

Thursday 11th August - Saturday 3rd September 2022

How to watch

BBC, Sky Sports

OddsSouthern Brave Women 7/2, Oval Invincibles Women 4/1, Birmingham Phoenix Women 6/1

South African influence drives Invincibles

Oval Invincibles were driven to success last summer by the Proteas pair of Dane van Niekerk and Marizanne Kapp, with the former leading the way with 259 runs in the tournament.

Kapp, meanwhile, excelled in the knockout stages as she struck 37 and took 3-21 in the Eliminator win over the Birmingham Phoenix, before backing that up with outstanding figures of 4-9 in the final victory over the Southern Brave.

Add in Shabnim Ismail, Alice Capsey and overseas wildcard Suzie Bates and it's easy to feel that the Invincibles will again be the team to beat, even if they are without Tash Farrant - who took a tournament-leading 18 wickets last season.

Brave expected to contend strongly

However, it is the Brave who are the market leaders to be crowned champions, with Australia leg-spinner Amanda-Jade Wellington a key figure in their plans.

The 25-year-old took 14 wickets in The Hundred in 2021, two more than Lauren Bell claimed with her seamers, while England veteran Anya Shrubsole can always be relied on to contribute well.

With the bat Sophie Dunkley was just a handful of runs behind Van Niekerk last summer, while Danni Wyatt also topped the 200 mark, with the Brave potentially benefitting from having a settled line-up.

Phoenix stronger with Perry presence

The Phoenix had to cope without Australia all-rounder Ellyse Perry last summer, but she is set for her first Hundred campaign this time around and her arrival - along with that of New Zealand batter Sophie Devine - would appear to make the Edgbaston-based side genuine contenders.

Devine should add some extra firepower to an already impressive batting line-up, which was led last season by Eve Jones, who made 233 in nine innings.

Meanwhile, there is sure to be plenty of attention on rising England star Issy Wong - who will want to improve markedly on the six wickets she claimed in 2021.

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Spirit seeking to go one better

London Spirit missed out on a play-off place by virtue of run-rate last season, with the Phoenix claiming third place by the slimmest of margins.

For this season they will have to cope without the injured Heather Knight, who topped their runscoring charts in the inaugural Hundred campaign with 214 at a strike-rate of 130.48.

Her absence leaves a big gap to fill, but the Spirit look to have recruited well in the overseas market to make them stronger even so.

Australia duo Beth Mooney and Megan Schutt will bring plenty of experience and quality, with the former having recently top-scored with 61 as the Aussies won the Commonwealth Games gold medal match with India.

Meanwhile, New Zealand leg-spinner Amelia Kerr could be a massive asset, having taken 46 wickets in 47 WT20Is at an economy rate of a touch under a run a ball.

Dottin adds to Originals options

Manchester Originals were also not far off making the play-off last summer and will hope that the signing of former West Indies ace Deandra Dottin gives them that little bit extra to finish in the top three.

The 31-year-old Dottin featured for the Spirit in 2021 and the right-hander will want to improve on her return of 146 runs at a strike-rate of 117.74 when she pulls on an Originals shirt.

Of the other three sides involved, all will go into the action believing that they have improved their rosters.

Trent Rockets have Aussie superstar Meg Lanning among their ranks, while her international team-mate Alyssa Healy will no doubt bring some extra quality to the Northern Superchargers.

The Headingley-based franchise have also retained India batter Jemimah Rodrigues, whose 249 runs in 2021 were bettered only by Van Niekerk, so they are a team with genuine claims to be play-off contenders.

Welsh Fire finished bottom of the standings last season, but the additions of Tammy Beaumont, Alex Hartley, Rachael Haynes and Annabel Sutherland should make them more competitive this time around and they are 8/1 to turn matters their way and become champions.

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