The Hundred final: Why Anya Shrubsole would cherish (another) victory at Lord's tomorrow

It takes only a moment in Anya Shrubsole’s company to understand how much winning the first-ever women’s The Hundred final with Southern Brave would mean to her.

Southern Brave captain Anya Shrubsole
Southern Brave captain Anya Shrubsole

“I’m very competitive. I like to win. It would mean a huge amount to win at Lord’s,” she says. “I want to win when I can and I think the team would really deserve it if we did manage to get over the line.”

Luckily the skipper has done this before, and in the most unforgettable fashion. In 2017, when the World Cup final looked to firmly in India’s grasp, Shrubsole triggered a batting collapse with a breath-taking six-wicket haul.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

This time around the stakes are different – not just because f he success the new competition has elicited for the women’s game – but also because she leads out her team as captain.

“I’ve absolutely loved captaining,” she said. “It’s something that brings out the best in me… I try to be quite relaxed and calm because that’s important especially in a competition like this where the ball can be flying around everywhere. I’ve learned throughout the competition how to get the best out of everyone and what’s best for the girls.”

Shrubsole has had the vast experience of coach Charlotte Edwards to lean on. Both have felt the weight of their nation on their shoulders heading into a final and both know what it takes to get over the line. Their approaches to the final are similar – stick to what has got you there.

“Something that’s really important leading into finals and big games is you do everything exactly the same way you’ve done it before otherwise you can make it into a bigger thing than it is,” she said.

“We try to focus a lot on what we do well and making sure we’re backing our strengths regardless of who we’re playing. So we know if we play well and play to our strengths that hopefully will be good enough. One of the things for both teams is they’ll have lots of people who haven’t played in big finals and it’s how you deal with those nerves.

“I’ll be saying to the girls that feeling nervous is completely normal. It’s probably more bizarre if you don’t feel nervous. But we’ve got enough people who have had that sort of experience which helps. It’s about looking at it and being really excited by it, not too scared by it.”

During the group stage no other team in the women’s or men’s competition has come close to Southern Brave’s extraordinary win record. Their top-order has been the envy of every team Sophia Dunkley, Smriti Mandhana and Danni Wyatt floating around the top 10 leading run scorers for much of the competition. Likewise, Amanda-Jade Wellington and Lauren Bell sit in the top 10 leading wicket takers.

Shrubsole emphasised that Southern Brave’s success is down to each player having a clearly defined role which they have all executed brilliantly.

“We’ve been pretty consistent with our selections,” she said. “We haven’t changed our batting order at all. Our bowlers have bowled at the same sort of time, every game. It really helps when players are confident and know what they’re going out to do. We’ve got some really good batters, and some really good bowlers. We feel like we have got all bases covered.”

Brave have already been to Lord’s during the competition when they enjoyed one of the record-breaking crowds that have highlighted the competition. Shrubsole admits it has been a delight to play in front of large crowds and to see the smile on her team-mates’ faces.

“I’ve absolutely loved the competition. It’s been brilliant,” she said. “Having the opportunity to play at Lord’s against London Spirit was incredible. We had about 15,000 people at that game, which was just amazing.

“For lots of girls they’ve never played at Lord’s before and to experience that through the competition is something pretty special.”