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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Simon Burnton at Lord's

Lewis Gregory fires Trent Rockets past Manchester Originals to win Hundred

Lewis Gregory of Trent Rockets lifts the Hundred trophy after beating Manchester Originals at Lord's
Lewis Gregory of Trent Rockets lifts the Hundred trophy after beating Manchester Originals at Lord's Photograph: Alex Davidson/Getty Images

Across 95 balls Manchester Originals controlled their opponents and their own nerves to stand on the brink of defending what had appeared a hopelessly small target. Chasing 121, Trent Rockets found themselves needing 11 off the final five, with Richard Gleeson to bowl it and Lewis Gregory, their captain, on strike.

The 196th ball of the final saw the contest finally slip off its knife-edge. Gregory brilliantly flicked it over square leg for six, the next went fine for four, and a single saw his side home with two wickets and as many balls to spare. “Our depth has probably been the biggest strength of our squad,” said Sam Cook. “A bloke like that’s got the ability to hit the best bowlers in the world out the park. We’ve chased really well in this competition but when we’ve lost wickets the guys down the order have really contributed.”

That depth has never been more necessary. They had seemed to be motoring gently to victory at 97 for five, but a few minutes later it was 107 for eight and black-clad fielders were cavorting around the outfield savouring another catch in the deep and the faint, delicious but ultimately short-lived scent of glory.

This was not the high-scoring, high-octane, big-thrill run-fest organisers would have hoped for. Instead they got something of a slow burner, or as slow as the format allows. One for the Hundred-following purist, perhaps, if such a beast exists. Only four sixes were scored, nobody managed more than 26 and in the winning team Dawid Malan top-scored with 19.

Having watched the women’s final, in which the team that won the toss chose to bat, struggled on an awkward surface to post a competitive total and convincingly lost, Originals then won the toss, chose to bat, and struggled on an awkward surface to post a competitive total. That, though, is where they managed to supply a plot twist, with their bowlers, inspired perhaps by goings-on at Cape Canaveral, making sure the Rockets had nothing to fuel their much-anticipated launch.

So it was that a match billed as a meeting of the tournament’s two most impressive opening partnerships saw them broken for just 13 and 16. Rockets had the great benefit of knowing their target, and that even a few early stumbles were not a cause for great panic, but as the wickets continued to fall concerns started to grow. It took their captain to settle them.

Having lost their first three games Originals had motored into the final on the back of six successive wins. But if confidence was high so was fatigue, and after coming through Friday night’s eliminator at the Ageas Bowl the rapid turnaround proved a test too many. “Tonight we just looked like we were a little bit tired with our decision-making,” said Simon Katich, their coach. “Credit to Trent Rockets, they were the standout team in the competition. We gave them a great run for their money but when it came to it we were a little short with the bat.”

Originals had been propelled to Lord’s by a flood of top-order runs, but in the final they faltered. They were three down after 23 balls and never recovered, with Cook outstanding in conceding only 18 off his 20 deliveries, 11 of them dots, and taking four wickets. All of the Rockets bowlers impressed except Gregory himself, but his moment was still to come.

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