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Dane van Niekerk "honoured" to captain Invincibles in Hundred

South Africa captain Van Niekerk will lead Oval Invincibles against Manchester Originals in the competition's first ever fixture on Wednesday.

Dane van Niekerk feels "honoured" to be captaining Oval Invincibles in The Hundred's first ever match, hailing the opportunity as a symbolic step forward for the women's game.

The South Africa skipper will lead the south London-based franchise against visitors Manchester Originals on Wednesday night as three years of turbulent planning and preparation finally gives way to on-field action.

Much is new and controversial about the tournament – from the unfamiliar city-based teams to the abolition of the six-ball over – but the simple decision to hand centre stage to a women's match is breaking fresh ground too.

Dane van Niekerk is captain of South Africa
Dane van Niekerk is captain of South Africa (David Davies/PA)

The Twenty20 circuit is effectively dominated by men's cricket, but the England and Wales Cricket Board has delivered on its promise to give equal billing to both editions in The Hundred.

"It feels pretty special and it shows what The Hundred stands for," Van Niekerk told the PA news agency.

"It's about equality. To give us as females the first game is something really exciting and I'm honoured to be part of it. This is a sport for all and it doesn't matter where you come from, your background, your race or your sexuality. It's an even playing field.

50 Days to the Hundred Women's Competition Handout
The women's game will take centre stage at The Oval on Wednesday night (Tom Shaw/ECB handout)

"People can be hesitant about any change but hopefully we can put up a really good show in the first game and get people around the world really excited about this."

One of Van Niekerk's first decisions should she find her side fielding first at The Oval will be who to offer the new ball to – a prestigious moment with the cricketing world watching.

There are no shortage of options, with her wife Marizanne Kapp, their Proteas team-mate Shabnim Ismail and England international Tash Farrant all eager to take top billing.

"I think I'll let them fight it out. It will be a scrap between Marizanne, Shab and Tash," she said.

"When I'm leading South Africa I usually let them work it out but I don't want to get in the middle of this. It might have to come down to rock, paper, scissors!"

Captains in The Hundred can decide to let bowlers send down sets of five or 10 deliveries, one of the primary tweaks to traditional playing conditions, but Van Niekerk admits she will need to keep her wits about her if she is to take advantage.

Tash Farrant will be hoping to take the new ball (
Tash Farrant will be hoping to take the new ball (John Walton/PA)

"In the warm-up game we had I forgot about the 10-ball rule! It's scary how fast it went by. You look up, 40 balls have gone and you don't know where they went," she said.

"But I think it's a great concept and as a captain I need to figure it out. It's going to be about reading the game and seeing who is bowling really well. If I see a bowler all over a batter and it feels like we've got a chance to take them out I'll probably go for it.

"We talk about a single being a win in T20 cricket, so a dot ball in a hundred is probably as good as wicket."

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Today's Olympic highlights header

Thursday's key events


ROWING
· Comeback queen and super-mum Helen Glover goes for her third Olympic gold alongside Polly Swann in the women's pair final (1.30am)
· There is also a medal on offer for GB pair Emily Craig and Imogen Grant in the lightweight women's double scull final (2.10am)

SWIMMING
· As second-fastest qualifier for the final, Team GB's James Wilby is among the medal contenders in the men's 200m breaststroke (2.44am)
· Alys Thomas takes part in the women's 200m butterfly final, although he faces a difficult task to challenge for the medals (3.28am)
· Caeleb Dressel of the USA has been touted by some as the successor to Michael Phelps, and he has the chance to notch up a fourth Olympic gold in the men's 100m freestyle final (3.37am)

RUGBY SEVENS
· After Team GB's men narrowly missed out on a medal, the women get their campaign underway against the Russian Olympic Committee (3am) and New Zealand (10.30am)

HOCKEY
· It is a Great Britain vs. Netherlands double-header, with the men up first in Pool B (4.15am)
· Most eyes will be on the women's showdown between the two nations, though, as Netherlands - the world's best team - look to gain revenge on GB for defeat in the 2016 Olympic final (11am)

CANOE SLALOM
· Mallory Franklin takes part in the women's canoe semi-final, and will hope to do enough to qualify for the final later in the day (6am-8.45am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· With Simone Biles now out of the women's all-around final, the competition has been blown wide open. Team GB twins Jessica and Jennifer Gadirova are among those taking part (11.50am-2.05pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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