|Men’s Hundred: Ageas Bowl, Southampton
|Welsh Fire 144-5 (100 balls): Banton 36 (20); Briggs 2-17
|Southern Brave 147-2 (87 balls): de Kock 57 (32), Vince 53 (39)
|Southern Brave won by 8 wickets
Half-centuries for James Vince and Quinton de Kock led Southern Brave to a comfortable victory over Welsh Fire, and to the top of the men’s Hundred table.
Welsh Fire, who are eliminated by the defeat, posted 144-5 – a total described as par by Manchester Originals captain Carlos Brathwaite on BBC Two.
However, the total was nowhere near challenging enough for the in-form Brave who won with eight wickets and 13 balls to spare, De Kock starring with 57 not out off 32 balls after Vince set the tone with 53 off 39.
Star-studded Brave finally finding their form
Before The Hundred began, Southern Brave were tipped as pre-tournament favourites by many.
But when they lost their first two games, it looked as if they just weren’t clicking despite the big names in their squad.
Now though, they look like real contenders and they seem to be peaking at the perfect time, with this win against a depleted Welsh Fire – their fifth victory in a row – showing they have got all bases covered.
There was the consistency of the enviable pace pair of Chris Jordan and Tymal Mills, wickets for the canny spin of Jake Lintott and Danny Briggs, and runs for their top three batters.
With Brave’s women already in the final, the men have now climbed to the top of the table and both teams have given themselves a very good chance of going all the way.
Banton’s brilliance too little too late for Fire
Tom Banton has been regarded as one of England’s most exciting young players for a couple of years now, and in Jonny Bairstow’s absence, Welsh Fire needed him to step up.
But it’s been a difficult summer for the 22-year-old – fresh off hitting a century in the T20 Blast, he was called up to England’s white-ball squad, didn’t play and then had to isolate after some members of the team tested positive for Covid-19.
That may have disrupted his batting rhythm and he hasn’t had the impact he would have liked in The Hundred.
But he joined the party against Southern Brave by whacking an entertaining 36 from 20 balls that included three sixes.
It just came too late for Fire, who must be wondering what could’ve been in this competition had Banton found his groove just a few games earlier.