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Five talking points from the opening night of The Hundred

Five talking points from the opening night of The Hundred
© Reuters
Kate Cross was in scorching form for Manchester Originals.

The Hundred finally began, three years after it was initially mooted, in front of an excited crowd at the Oval.

The hosts Oval Invincibles ran out the winners over the Manchester Originals but all eyes were on cricket's newest format and the controversial innovations that have come with it.

Here, the PA news agency picks out five things that caught the eye on opening night.

Hot Cross fun

Manchester Originals captain Kate Cross was in scorching form, on and off the field. Already one of the game's most engaging talkers, not to mention co-host of the popular No Balls podcast, she laughed, joked and even sang Lionel Richie in a pre-recorded video package, hyped things vibrantly at the toss and found time to smash The Hundred's first ever six during a late first-innings cameo. When her chance came with the ball, she found herself on a hat-trick with two wickets in two balls. The 29-year-old was on the losing side but was beaming at the close about playing in front of her biggest ever home crowd.

Starter for 10

Captains up and down the country have been pondering how, when or if to utilise the option of bowling one bowler for two five-ball blocks in a row. Some believe the innovation favours slow bowlers, some reckon it works best for death specialists and some felt it should only be used in exceptional circumstances. Oval Invincibles skipper Dane van Niekerk wasted no time trying out the new toy, keeping her strike bowler Marizanne Kapp on for the first 10 balls of the game. It proved an inspired decision, with the tournament's first ever wicket coming from delivery number seven.

Give white cards the red card

As if umpires don't already have enough on their plates, they have been asked to raise white cards every five balls. This seemed a puzzling and fussy addition to the playing conditions when it was first announced and gained no real clarity in practice. The broadcasters barely paid attention, the crowd would have struggled to see them and the players surely needed no more than the customary shout from the standing official. This is one gimmick that can easily go.

Ladies first

Oval Invincibles v Manchester Originals – The Hundred Women – Kia Oval
Manchester Originals' Kate Cross (left) celebrates a wicket with Harmanpreet Kaur

Of all the debatable decisions made by the ECB in the creation, promotion and application of the 100-ball franchise idea, the call to kick the whole party off with a women's match perhaps deserves the most credit. It would have been easier to let some of the better-known men go first, guaranteeing a bumper crowd and some instant name recognition. But an equal platform is a central tenet of The Hundred – with men and women side by side in every advert, every pack of trading cards and every media round. The live attendance of 7,395 was possibly on the lower end of expectations but they were engaged, invested and by Cross' estimation, the biggest and best she had ever played in front of on English soil. This was a step forward for a game that has big designs on improving its inclusivity.

Newcomers welcome...but

Commentators have been encouraged to ditch the word 'over' to focus on the simpler concept of balls, while consideration was given to ousting 'wickets' for 'outs' before that was quietly shelved. Meanwhile, many of the intricacies of the scoreboard have been shuffled into the background to emphasise the basics of runs and balls. But it is almost impossible to strip cricket back to these absolute essentials. Despite the best efforts of those behind the microphones a newcomer to the sport would have heard references to economy-rates, left-arm over actions, leg-breaks, DRS referrals and fielding restrictions. Those who are interested enough will stick around to learn, but a few pointers will be needed in this maiden season to help them along.

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Sam Billings pictured on September 11, 2020
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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
ChinaChina32211669
United StatesUnited States25292175
JapanJapan2071239
AustraliaAustralia1541635
Great BritainGreat Britain14181446
Today's Olympic highlights header

Wednesday's key events


SKATEBOARDING
· Team GB starlet Sky Brown - aged just 13 - takes part in the women's park event and has a realistic chance of picking up a medal too. Bombette Martin is Britain's other representative, while hosts Japan are among the favourites for gold (1am)

HOCKEY
· Great Britain's women have more history in their sights heading into their semi-final against Netherlands - the team they beat in the 2016 gold medal match (2.30am)

ATHLETICS
· The men's 400m hurdles final on Tuesday will go down as one of the greatest Olympic races of all time, and the women will attempt to emulate that, with new world record holder Sydney McLaughlin of USA and Netherlands' Femke Bol the favourites for gold (3.30am)
· Nick Miller is Britain's representative in the men's hammer throw final (12.15pm)
· The men's 800m final could be a wide-open affair (1.05pm)
· A thrilling men's 200m final is in store as the likes of Andre de Grasse, Noah Lyles and 17-year-old sensation Erriyon Knighton bid to succeed Usain Bolt as Olympic champion (1.55pm)

SAILING
· After a medal-laden day on the water on Tuesday, Great Britain will be looking for more success, starting with Luke Patience and Chris Grube in the men's 470-class medal race (6.33am)
· Team GB also have medal hopes in the women's event, with defending champion Hannah Mills looking to retain her crown alongside new teammate Eilidh McIntyre (7.33am)

BOXING
· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Great Britain's Frazer Clarke faces Uzbekistan's Bakhodir Jalolov in the men's super heavyweight with a place in the gold medal bout up for grabs (7.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also guaranteed a medal, but will look to ensure that is either gold or silver as he takes on Cuba's Arlen Lopez in the light heavyweight final (7.35am)

CYCLING
· World records have been tumbling in the velodrome, and another could go in the men's team pursuit final as Italy - new world record holders themselves - face Denmark (10.06am)

EQUESTRIAN
· Three Brits have made into into the final of the men's jumping individual final, including fastest qualifier Ben Maher, who will bid to inherit compatriot Nick Skelton's Olympic crown (11am)

> Today's schedule in full
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