Sam Billings scores 49 before England team-mate Curran curbs his nerves to see Oval Invincibles take a nine point win against Manchester Originals in the first men’s game of the Hundred
- Sam Billings scored the highest score for the Oval Invincibles, but fell short of his fifty
- His runs coupled with a late cameo from Tom Curran helped the hosts after 145-8
- Jos Buttler was cheaply sacked as Manchester Originals struggled in the chase
- Carlos Brathwaite took Invincibles close but didn’t see them at home to win
A powerful 49 from Sam Billings helped the Oval Invincibles men’s team match their female counterparts by beating Manchester Originals by 10 runs on the second night of the Hundred.
If a crowd of 18,126 was treated to less excitement than the night before, it had to do with the pitch, which was used for both games, and got more difficult as the night went on. And that was good news for the home spinners.
West Indian Sunil Narine stunned Jos Buttler, who looked down on his 10-ball eight, while Middlesex leg spinner Nathan Sowter knocked off Tom Lammonby with his first throw, before adding dangerous New Zealander Colin Munro.
Sam Billings came up half a century short but scored the best for Oval Invincibles when they beat Manchester Originals
Sam Curran took two wickets to then help the hosts defend their score of 154 for eight
Jos Buttler (L) was cheaply fired in the answer before Colin Munro (R) was fined 20 . beat
Carlos Brathwaite fought hard, but needing 19 from five balls, he long lifted Sam Curran to Jason Roy to leave for 37 and put an end to the Originals’ hopes. In the end, no one could match Billings’ effort of 30 balls in the total of 145 for eight of the Invincibles, including a late flurry from Tom Curran.
This was a different kind of evening than Wednesday, when a smaller but no less engaged crowd fulfilled the ECB’s hoped-for demographics: more women and children, more ice cream than beer.
On Thursday night, The Oval had a feeling it could easily host Surrey for a game of T20. Groups of young men gathered in local pubs beforehand, and the first rendition of ‘Please don’t take me home’ echoed across the ground early in the second innings.
Carlos Brathwaite hit two fours and a six in his 37, but couldn’t see the originals across the line
Dutch international Fred Klaasen (center) was the favorite of the Originals bowlers in the first innings
England stars Sam Curran (left) and Jason Roy (right) were sacked in the power play
Never mind, the ECB still cherished the ratings of Wednesday’s opener between the Invincibles and Originals women’s teams: a peak audience on the BBC of 1.6 million, plus nearly 350,000 on Sky and 180,000 on BBC iPlayer and Online.
It all came down to the most watched women’s match ever played in the UK. It is striking that almost 35% of the viewers were women.
Those figures confirm the ECB’s decision to postpone the first men’s game until the second night of the tournament. But the question is what kind of coverage the other women’s matches – all double-headers with their male counterparts – will get.
The ambition of the equal exposure organizers may be entering a more testing phase.
And after a stuttering start, Billings helped lead the backlash when the Invincibles 145 . place
Billings fell for 49, but Tom Curran hit an impressive unbeaten 29 to add some valuable runs