Southern Brave captain Anya Shrubsole says she doesn’t feel “any added pressure” ahead of The Hundred final today, despite being many people’s favourites.
The Brave topped the league standings this year, winning seven of their eight games to guarantee a place in today’s title decider at Lord’s.
They face the Oval Invincibles, who recovered from a lacklustre batting display to stun the Birmingham Phoenix and win the eliminator.
The Phoenix were coasting at 66-2, chasing 115, but slumped to 94 all out with Tash Farrant claiming 4-10.
It gives the Invincibles confidence and momentum heading into this game. Yet, it was the Brave who won the earlier meeting between the two teams a week ago and seemingly have the edge on paper.
Speaking to the media ahead of the final, Shrubsole stressed that despite having a “very good” squad that has performed outstandingly so far in the competition, it is still a case of taking each game as it comes.
“It just comes down to who plays best on the day. I think we know that if we play well we’ll give ourselves the best chance but I personally don’t see it as any added pressure and I just want the girls to go out there, enjoy it, and play the way they have the whole way through the competition.”
While the Brave earned the right to qualify for the final automatically, there is an argument to say playing the day before may serve to benefit the Invincibles. Shrubsole is adamant this is not the case though and says this is “absolutely not” an advantage for the opposition.
“To get to the final is something we wanted to do and I don’t think there’s any advantage of playing the day before. It’s not like it’s the same ground or anything like that so [going] straight through to the final is the biggest advantage you can have.”
This year’s tournament has seen record attendances at domestic women’s matches and Brave head coach Charlotte Edwards says that despite believing the competition would elevate the women’s game, she’s been surprised by just how much it’s been embraced by a new audience.
“I always thought it was going to be a game-changer but I actually didn’t expect it was going to have this impact.
“I keep saying to people I have the best seat in the house to watch it all and see the players’ reaction [and] the crowd reaction.
“That’s probably been the most pleasing thing for me that the girls, certainly here at the Ageas Bowl have had unbelievable support.”
Edwards also spoke of her decision to choose Shrubsole as captain –– emphasising the England fast bowler was always her preferred option.
“She [Shrubsole] was the first person I wanted to captain the team. I’ve got a good relationship with her and I know how important that is in terms of being successful from my experience as a captain.”
The most pleasing thing for the Brave has been the performances of their domestic players. While the likes of Smriti Mandhana and Amanda-Jade Wellington have oozed class, youngsters such as Lauren Bell and Maia Bouchier have proven they are names to watch in the future.
“The biggest part for us has been our domestic players have stood up,” Edwards said. “You expect the overseas players to win games [but] we’ve actually had some brilliant performances from our domestic players.”
Indeed, the Brave had richly deserved their spot in the final this year. But there remains one more test. In front of an animated Lord’s crowd, they have 200 balls left to navigate on what promises to be a historic day.News Now - Sport News