How The Hundred has changed one Sussex cricketing teenager's life

Only after the ride of her life is the next cab off the rank in English cricket old enough to drive, writes Tom Harle.

Wednesday, 29th September 2021, 4:38 pm
Updated Thursday, 30th September 2021, 7:42 am
Alice Capsey was a revelation for Oval Invincibles in The Hundred / Picture: Getty

All-rounder Alice Capsey, just 17, a student at Bede’s School in East Sussex, was the first genuine star to be born in the women’s Hundred, shining with bat and ball to lead Oval Invincibles to the inaugural title.

She became the youngest ever to make a half-century in any official match at Lord’s in July and then steered South East Stars to the domestic Twenty20 title.

It’s England next - according to, well, the teenager herself. “England is definitely at the forefront of my mind,” said Capsey. “I do think that if I got the call-up, I’d be ready. That’s my ambition and this winter I’m going to be working really hard.”

“I’ve just got to make sure that I work really hard to get myself into the best position possible to make a difference when I get the call-up.”

When, you see, rather than if. Capsey is clearly England’s best non-capped player and informed observers already rate her as one of the country’s best, full stop.

With Heather Knight’s side opening their World Cup campaign against Australia on 5 March in New Zealand, she will scrap for a spot with the likes of Mady Villiers and Charlie Dean.

“It would be amazing to get a call-up into one of those tours,” she said

“But there is such a pool in women’s cricket, you’ve got people missing out who have performed this year who deserve to be there. It would be amazing but I’m not really expecting it.”

Just like her devastating cut shots and impudent reverse sweeps, the Dorking-born star’s rise has been timed to perfection.

Capsey wasn’t part of the initial Oval Invincibles squad but when lockdown delayed the Hundred’s launch by a year, she was added after fine 50-over performances for her county.

She has also benefited from a new regional hub structure in the English game, offering 40 professional contracts and a clear pathway into Knight’s team.

“This regional structure, it has grown at the right time with me and with my age,” she said.

“Tash Farrant had a great season last year and is now playing for England. That’s what’s really exciting, it shows that if you perform in the regional stuff then you put your name in for England.

“I wasn’t expecting to play in the Hundred. They gave me the opportunity and the responsibility to open the batting, to bowl in the Powerplay.

“When you get those chances, all you want to do is take them with open arms.”

Like Raducanu, Leylah Fernandez, Sky Brown and other transcendent teenagers, Capsey speaks with impossible maturity.

She lives on a farm with her parents in Surrey, waking up early to help bring the cows in, playing tennis to clear her head, and avoiding TikTok altogether.

“As a teenager, you just want to enjoy it because enjoyment is what will create a long-lasting career,” said Capsey.

“It is that fearlessness. There’s less pressure on us, less expectation because we are the teenagers. All the training in lockdown has obviously benefited us as a generation.

“It just shows our talent, and also the backing we do get at a young age now. What an amazing summer of sport to be a part of.”