By Peter Moore
On Tuesday at Trent Bridge will see the start of this years Hundred competition. A competition that will be heading into it’s third year of existence, and no doubt will once again bring record crowds into cricket grounds up and down the country.
In the men’s event, last season’s winners Trent Rockets will commence their defence of their title with the opening match in the Hundred when they entertain Southern Brave at Trent Bridge on Tuesday 1st August.
Rockets will once again face a stiff challenge from the other seven sides that will be taking part, and it is guaranteed to be a super month of exciting cricket for all ages.
Let’s take a look at the eight sides that will be bidding to become Hundred winners for 2023.
Phoenix will be looking to improve on last seasons campaign, where they finished fourth.
Coach Daniel Vettori has packed his side with five all-rounders. Local boy and Captain Moeen Ali, Liam Livingstone, Shadab Khan, Dan Mousley and Benny Howell.
The Birmingham outfit have also picked four spinners in their squad, which will be a huge help especially at Edgbaston, where tracks should help the spinners.
New signing Ben Duckett has signed up for Phoenix and with fellow England player Chris Woakes included, Phoenix may well be contending come the end of the campaign.
The women’s side will like the men be looking to go close once again after finishing third and fourth in recent seasons.
Ellyse Perry and a fit again Sophie Devine will be leading from the front along with England players Issy Wong and Amy Jones- who surely must be one of the best women behind the stumps in the game- are big names for Phoenix.
As the men’s Hundred has developed, so has London Spirit. After finishing rock bottom in 2021, the London based franchise finished a creditable third last campaign.
After a good start to the campaign, Sprint just fell short, and will be keen to keep their improvement in the Hundred going.
Coach Trevor Bayliss will once again be at the helm with Essex and England Dan Lawrence named captain.
Opening the batting may be a selection headache for Bayliss with Daniel Bell-Drummond, Zac Crawley, Adam Rossington and Australian Matthew Wade all vying for spots at the top of the order.
Replacing the influential Kieron Pollard looks to be a problem for Spirit, but with spinner Liam Dawson available along with Nathan Ellis, Mark Wood and Olly Stone, on paper Spirit look to have a strong squad.
The major concern for Spirit will be the fitness of Wood and Stone, who have yet to feature in the Hundred.
London Spirit Women had a disappointing campaign last term by finishing seventh. This year they have acquired Australian all-rounder Grace Harris for her first taste of Hundred action.
Captain Heather Knight will as always be a strong leader alongside all rounder Danielle Gibson, but Spirit’s trump card looks to be in the spin department where England duo Sarah Glenn and Charlie Dean have the potential to pick up wickets.
Last seasons runners up Thunder will be looking to go one better this time around. The likes of skipper Jos Buttler, Laurie Evans and Wayne Madsen should certainly put runs on the board.
Wanindu Hasaranga will be a big miss, with the Sri Lankan spinner being replaced by Pakistan leg-spinner Usama Mir, who was a big success for Worcestershire in the recent Blast.
Thunder’s women’s team will be keen to have a better tournament than last term where they finished in sixth position.
South African batter Laura Wolvaart has been picked up in the draft and should be a fascinating player to watch along with West Indian Deandra Dottin.
England’s Emma Lamb should be prolific with the bat and with the world’s best women spinner Sophie Ecclestone available along with the Hundred’s leading wicket taker Amanda-Jade Wellington, who has joined from Southern Brave, then Thunder appears to have all bases covered.
A team that has struggled since the introduction of the Hundred have added Matt Short and Tom Bantom to their top order to add extra firepower to assist Adam Lyth.
England’s Harry Brook will be dressed in a Superchargers shirt along with Reece Toley who has slowly recovered from injury, but when fit is an extremely profitable bowler to have in ones side and will have his England team mate Adil Rashid in the side.
The Women’s side have elected to bring in the Australian trio of Alyssa Healy, Heather Graham and Georgia Wareham.
England seamer Kate Cross has switched from the Originals to Superchargers to complement a side that will be looking to push on.
A side who finished fifth with so much talent would have been disappointed with their final finishing position last year.
With batters of the like of Will Jacks and Jason Roy peppering the Oval boards along with Sam Curran in the middle order, putting runs on the board shouldn’t be a problem.
The Kent duo of Sam Billings and Jordan Cox will bring more batting strength to a strong line up which includes Surrey all-rounder Tom Curran.
Spinners Sunil Narine and Adam Zampa will look to tie sides up in knots and the addition of Pakistan’s new fast bowling sensation Ihsanullah will give Invincibles even more depth in an impressive squad.
Bidding for three women’s titles in a row, Invincibles have re-signed Suzie Bates and skipper Dane van Niekerk in the draft, but noticeably have kept together the bulk of the side that have dominated the women’s version of the Hundred, including the young and impressive Alice Capsey.
Champions in the inaugural year of the competition, but a lowly seventh place finish last year has seen a contrasting couple of years for Brave.
Southern Brave have made some big moves in the summer by acquiring overseas batters New Zealander Finn Allen and Leus du Plooy who impressed in an underwhelming Welsh Fire side last term.
Along with the outstanding James Vince who keeps on churning out runs on a consistent basis, putting runs on the board should come easily.
Brave were hampered last year by injuries to key players in the bowling department. Chris Jordan and Tymal Mills return this year after spearheading the Brave attack in 2021.
The question for Southern Brave women is can they go one better at the third time of asking. Finishing runners up since the start of the competition, Brave have the tools to potentially get over the line.
The brilliant Indian superstar batter Smriti Mandhana will lead their batting line up and is a player who thrives under pressure.
She will be once again joined by the prolific Danni Wyatt who is at the peak of her career after an excellent Ashes series.
With the ball it will be down to the experienced Anya Shrubsole to lead by example before she bids goodbye to a sport, she has excelled in.
Last seasons champions have gone with the nucleus of the players used last campaign.
Batting looks extremely strong with Dawid Malan, Colin Munro, and Alex Hales looking to oe again get Rockets off to a flying start.
The likes of the experienced Samit Patel and skipper Lewis Gregory along with the explosive Dan Sams and Rashid Khan will provide further firepower down the order.
The women’s team will have the in-form batter in the world at the moment in Nat Sciver-Brunt. The England all-rounder has excelled this year for both England and her WPL side Mumbai Indians and will be a key figure in a more than useful team.
Seventh in 2001, eighth again in 2022, surely Fire can improve on a poor start to the Hundred.
Fire have added Stephen Eskinazi, Tom Abell and Glenn Phillips to their batting line up to a side that has constantly failed to put enough runs on the board.
Big hitters Jonny Bairstow and Joe Clark at the top of the order will look to get Fire off to a platform they can build on.
On the bowling front, David Willey and Shaheen Afridi look to prove a threat, but overall Fire have got to get used of winning a game of Hundred, which thus far has proved troublesome for the Welsh outfit.
In the women’s draft, Fire picked up England opener Sophia Dunkley after success with the bat for Southern Brave.
Fellow England opener Tammy Beaumont joins Dunkley to hopefully help put on some sort of competitive total on the board.
The fastest bowler in the world at the moment and two-time Hundred winner Shabnim Ismail has made the move from Invincibles to bolster their bowling line up.