3 Aug 2022 | The Hundred - Men's Competition 2022
Southern Brave Men
109 for 1
Welsh Fire Men
107 for 7
Southern Brave Men win by 9 wickets

Words by Alex Smith, ECB Reporters Network

James Vince continued his insane white-ball form as Southern Brave began their Hundred defence with a nine-wicket schooling of Welsh Fire.

Brave captain Vince was the Vitality Blast’s leading scorer with 678 runs and began the second edition of the Hundred with 71 off 41 balls, with opening partner Alex Davies hitting a complementary 26.

Earlier, Fire’s fresher year captain Ben Duckett struck 40 off 31 balls, with the next highest score just 11, as Fire struggled to a below par 107 in their 100 balls.

Craig Overton dominated the top order with two for 21 before Chris Jordan picked up two for 16 before Vince, Davies and Marcus Stonis were all the batters needed to finish the job with 31 balls to spare.

Vince had come off the back of a bombastic Vitality Blast campaign with Hampshire Hawks – where he also captained his county to their third title.

It was imperative not to pass up the opportunity to dismiss him early. Unfortunately, Ryan Higgins fluffed his chance and dropped Vince to the boundary with the fifth ball.

A pair of boundaries through midwicket and point quickly pronounced the error, as Davies struck back-to-back fours off David Payne – the second a stunning straight drive.

Davies swatted a short delivery from Ryan Higgins to fall with 36 runs needed in 51 balls while Vince quickly cut firmly to bring up his half-century in 31 balls.

He waited until he was on 55 before slog-sweeping his first six before Brave quickly scuttled to victory to maintain their perfect Utilita Bowl record - Vince bettering his best of 60 in 2021.

Earlier, Brave won the toss, decided to bowl and cut the Fire top order down to 31 for three in the 25-ball powerplay, after a spectacular firework display had delayed proceedings.

Brave were without lightning quicks Jofra Archer, Tymal Mills and George Garton for various injury and illness-related issues but it mattered little thanks to their depth.

Overton had Joe Clarke stretching to miscue to cover for a four-ball duck and Tom Banton hoicking to deep square leg, either side of 41-year-old Michael Hogan bowling Ollie Pope – who missed a reverse sweep.

Duckett and Sam Hain put on 25, the inning’s highest stand, but wickets continued to fall regularly. Jake Lintott spun his way into the attack and his googly tickled Hain’s glove with his second ball, while 17-year-old leg spinner Rehan Ahmed and James Fuller’s analysis while wicketless went at under a run-a-ball.

Fuller got the final touch to a chaotic run out to see Josh Cobb perish and Quinton de Kock’s stand-in easily held on to Ryan Higgins on the square boundary.

Left-handed Duckett held things together, although he survived a run out and dropped catch but dominated on the sweep and laps as all five of his boundaries came behind the wicket.

He lobbed Chris Jordan to mid-on before seeing the teenage Afghan sensation Noor Ahmad jab the first, and only, six of the innings, although it was never going to be enough.

Words by Jamie Green, Hundred Rising Reporter

Chris Jordan described teammate James Vince as a “class act” after the Southern Brave captain led the defending champions to a comfortable nine-wicket victory over Welsh Fire.

Vince smashed an unbeaten 71 from 41 balls to continue a stunning run of form in white-ball cricket which saw him top the run-scoring charts in the Vitality Blast and has boosted his chances of an England recall ahead of the T20 World Cup in October.

“He must have as good a chance of anyone [breaking into the England T20 World Cup squad],” Jordan said. “He has been in consistent form all summer. 

“I’m not sure if you ask him whether he’ll be thinking about that at the moment as he’s concentrating on Southern Brave but whatever comes on the back of that, comes on the back of it.

“Vincey is a very good leader and a top guy. He’s so easy on the eye, especially when he plays that lovely cover drive.

“He’s always a couple of steps ahead of the game. All the moves he makes seem to land.”

Brave’s comprehensive win maintains their 100% home record across the men’s and women’s Hundred. 

But Jordan isn’t getting carried away by the hopes of back-to-back winner's medals. He said: "It’s a great feeling to start with a home win. Last year the support was amazing and it was great to see people come out in their numbers for the first season and also to put on a decent show for them. Hopefully, we can build some momentum from that.

“Having won it last year having not had a good start, we really wanted to have a good start this year. It is a good benchmark we set tonight.

“We have a lot of belief in our own squad but cricket is still played on the day. We still need to respect our opponents and keep our feet firmly on the ground. We’ll take it a game at a time and see where we get to.”

Ben Duckett, who top scored for Fire with 40, acknowledged that playing the Brave at the Utilita Bowl was an especially tough start to their campaign.

But the former captain pledged that the Cardiff-based side would continue their positive approach with the bat, which saw them lose three wickets in the powerplay, ahead of their first home match against Oval Invincibles on Sunday.

“I’d say we’ll go even harder next time,” Duckett said. “Unfortunately when you do look to take the positive option, you can have results like tonight, but I think in a tournament you can lose more games if you start moving away from what you’re trying to do. 

“I feel like this year we’re an even stronger team. With pace, power and wrist spin, we’ve got all bases covered.

“From start to finish we were beaten by the better team who know the dimensions of this ground very well. Losing regular wickets didn’t allow us to get going on a big ground where it’s hard to hit boundaries. Vincey captains here all year round and it’s a very tough place to come and win games.”