Back in March kate cross Was on a pre-season tour of Mumbai to watch the inaugural Women’s Hundred draft with the Thunder. Since the end of last season, he had been strategizing Manchester Originals with his coach Stephen Parry, working on how to recruit a team that would take them to the playoffs.
Teams were only allowed to retain four players prior to the draft, but the Originals thought they had gamed the system. They held Sophie Ecclestone, Deandra Dottin, Emma Lamb and Ellie Threlkeld; After signing Laura Wolvaardt with their top draft pick, they would use their right-to-match (RTM) card if anyone tried to sign Cross in the second round.
Cross recalled, “We were convinced that no one would even think of signing me.” “I was captain of Manchester, and we thought people would assume they’d RTM me – that was the plan. I wasn’t expecting to get into that top bracket so I sat there chatting Alex Hartley In our room – and then my name came up in purple.”
The Originals’ Leeds-based rivals Northern Superchargers signed him as the top-bracket pick for £31,250. With Wolvaardt and Ecclestone already employed on that salary, Origins were powerless to prevent it. Cross, a proud Mancunian, did not know how to react; His Thunder teammates greeted him on the bus the next morning with the chant: “Yorkshire! Yorkshire!”
Five months later, Cross’s fortuitous move across the Pennines could hardly have worked out better. While the Originals missed out on the play-offs for the third consecutive season, the Superchargers won six of their eight group games and will play in the Eliminator at The Oval on Saturday.
She has been pitted against the Originals twice, with the Hundred structured so that the designated ‘opponents’ play each other twice. “It wasn’t too weird, but you see all your team-mates as rivals for the first time: I was suddenly bowling at Emma Lamb and thinking, How am I going to get her out?”
The Superchargers’ opponents on Saturday are Welsh Fire, meaning Cross will come up against his best friend and podcast co-host Hartley, who is retiring from professional cricket at the end of the competition: “If we win, I’ll be there Will be my best friend’s last game; if they beat us, I’ll see him play in the final at Lord’s.”
Having covered the tournament extensively as a broadcaster, as well as playing in it, Cross has seen the Hundred more directly than almost anyone else. She believes it has been “absolutely incredible” for both the profile and standard of women’s cricket, and is baffled by the constant speculation about the future of the tournament.
“I don’t understand it,” says Cross. “I don’t know where these speculations are coming from: it doesn’t sound like the ECB and Sky certainly know anything about it, and they’ve clearly paid the broadcast bill for it. From my point of view , it is just now gaining momentum that has been building since last year.
“Crowds have grown and the standard of cricket has improved: boundaries have been pushed further but average scores have still managed to go up. From my point of view, it doesn’t really matter what the format is, because as long as you have There is that element of men and women playing on the same ground, on the same pitch.
“It’s done so much, so much for the women’s game. That’s what bothers me most about the people who don’t like it. If you actually talk to people who are in the field, A lot of people say what a nice day they went out, but I don’t think it gets reported. The people who don’t go to the games and don’t like it are more likely than the people who are actually there Have strong opinions.
The most familiar argument against the Hundred is that it has relegated men’s county cricket to a secondary status during August. “It’s standard, isn’t it?” Cross says. “The first thought on everyone’s mind is, ‘How will this affect men’s cricket?’ In fact, what it has done for women’s cricket is incredible, preparing players to play on the big stage.
“I don’t understand why anyone would think of getting rid of it. You just want to rattle people who are saying they need to get rid of it… It bothers me. Some people obviously But it’s frustrating, but from my point of view, it’s been great.”
The tournament has also given Cross an opportunity to prove himself in short-form cricket. Four years after her most recent T20I cap for England, she is part of their squad to play Sri Lanka immediately after the Hundred and says she “started to find a bit of rhythm” towards the end of the group stage.
“I haven’t played any T20s for England since 2019 but I feel I’m really close to it. I haven’t bowled as well this summer – even during the Ashes, I haven’t Felt like I was in my position.” Best – but in the last few games for the Chargers, I’ve felt a lot more threatened; I’m back where I was a year ago.”
This should augur well for the Superchargers on Saturday as they look to play the final against Southern Braves at Lord’s after 24 hours. “We’ve been pretty clinical and a Lord’s final is going to be great, isn’t it?” says Cross.