Southern Brave 159 for 4 (Wyatt 65, Dunkley 34*) beat London Spirit 155 for 4 (Mooney 97*, Kerr 37, Wellington 3-30) by six wickets
In reply, Wyatt and Smriti Mandhana wrestled the momentum back for the home side with Wyatt in particular taking a liking to Freya Davies, striking five boundaries off her two sets of five in the powerplay.
Mooney loves the big occasion. In 2020, she struck 78 off 54 balls in the T20 World Cup final. In 2021, she was named as Wisden’s leading female cricketer in the world. And in 2022, she scored 61 off 41 in the Commonwealth Games gold-medal match.
Five days on from her match-winning antics in one final, she was setting more records in her first appearance in the Hundred, striking the highest score in the history of the women’s competition as she made 97 not out off of just 55 balls. An altogether record-breaking achievement – or, as Mooney calls it, Friday.
Brave tried their best to bowl neither too wide nor too straight at Mooney, with all of Lauren Bell, Anya Shrubsole and Molly Strano starting by bowling over the wicket to the left-hander, with each of their natural actions pushing the ball across her.
The plans, however, didn’t work. When Brave got too straight, Mooney bludgeoned them through the leg side. And when they weren’t erring one way, Mooney was forcing them to err to the other, giving herself space to drive through cover or walking across and pulling or sweeping over to the leg side.
Mooney was forcing Brave to bowl on a tightrope. A thin line of safety, which if missed, led to a fast and ugly demise.
Wyatt wins out
Such was the quality of Mooney’s innings that Wyatt was never likely to steal her thunder, but she did at least ruin her party. The two innings were off contrasting styles but equal in their effectiveness. Where Mooney looked to target the extra-cover boundary, Wyatt hammered and swept the ball over long-on and cow corner.
Wyatt’s 34-ball innings contained 14 boundaries, finding the fence in consecutive deliveries on four occasions. Had she not been run out by her batting partner Dunkley with 45 balls of the innings still remaining, Wyatt may well now be boasting the record of having scored the first-ever century in the women’s Hundred.
Spirit’s fielding needing a prayer
For all the quality of Brave’s batting line-up, Spirit had much of themselves to blame for the flow of runs with a poor showing in the field.
Naomi Dattani dropped a simple chance to get rid of Mandhana off the bowling of Dean, before the following ball went through the legs of cover for four. A series of unfortunate events that at least gave the new skipper the chance to debut her poker face, however unconvincing.
Another simple misfield on the boundary gifted Brave four more not long after, before it looked as if Spirit had managed to save the day for themselves when Amelia Kerr executed a fantastic, diving direct-hit run-out to remove Wyatt and tip the game in their favour.
However, it didn’t prove to be the catalyst that Spirit had hoped, as the otherwise-perfect Mooney wavered. She missed a simple run-out chance that would’ve seen the back of Georgia Adams and seen Brave four down with 49 still required off 35 balls.
Last season’s women’s Hundred featured just six scores north of 140. Just two games into this year and we have already had four, with the hot summer contributing to fast outfields and general misery for those standing in the field. Expect more of the same.
Cameron Ponsonby is a freelance cricket writer in London. @cameronponsonby