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Kate Cross
Kate Cross will captain Manchester Originals in The Hundred
Date: 21 July Venue: Kia Oval Time: 18:30 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Two, commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live and live text commentary with clips on the BBC Sport website and app

With the sun finally deciding to do what it does best I cannot tell you how excited I am for The Hundred to get going.

Obviously with the pandemic, we’ve been waiting a while. I really, really just want to play now. It started to hit home when we joined up as a team at the end of last week, in our new kit on our new branded bus, and headed for the Kia Oval.

Just looking at the ground from the players’ balcony it’s weird to think that tonight we’ll be out there, in front of a big crowd, kicking off an entirely new competition live on BBC and Sky.

It’s pretty special that it’s the women’s competition kicking it all off.

Imagine a young family flicking through the channels and seeing elite women’s domestic sport live on their televisions – and Becky Hill! [British singer-songwriter Hill is performing at the opening game of The Hundred.]

We always say if you can’t see it, you can’t be it – and for a whole generation of girls now there’s a cricket competition on the television where you can be it.

You can’t tell me you’re going to watch Sophie Ecclestone bowl, or Lizelle Lee hit one out of the ground, and not want to get out in the garden in the sun and give it a go.

Soph may potentially bowl the first ball of the whole competition but there’s also a good chance I could – as well as some other options, I’m not giving anything away just yet!

As captain that’ll be up to me – as will remembering the rules! – and it feels like a big call.

At least I know if we win the game I will be, for around 24 hours or so, the most successful captain in the history of The Hundred.

And before that, there’s the team talk. I’m arguably more nervous about that than the game itself. I think I’ll just point to the ground and the crowd and the occasion and remind everyone to enjoy themselves on what is, let’s face it, a groundbreaking occasion.

The Hundred: Manchester Originals’ Kate Cross and Sophie Ecclestone play Out of 100

The whole competition has obviously been a huge discussion point for a long time now and it’s great that we’re all talking about it because so many of us care about cricket and want it to be as good as it can be.

I just look at the whole thing and think it gives such an amazing opportunity to the game. We want kids in school to be talking about cricket, we want more young people turning up to nets or their local club and trying to be Jos Buttler or Tammy Beaumont.

My generation of girls didn’t have that when we were young. I just watched men’s cricket and wanted to be like them – I’d run in like Andrew Flintoff or James Anderson – and I don’t think I was even dreaming of moments like this because I couldn’t even imagine it.

It’s a big step up from club grounds with one person and their dog watching.

The opportunity The Hundred brings extends to the men’s game as well, but just specifically on women’s cricket: we’re always moving forward as a sport and when you’re moving forward you’re really focused on what’s next – what achievement is round the corner? What’s the next big thing for women’s cricket?

It’s so important we retain that mindset because that’s about growth and challenge. We need to keep moving and keep growing and wanting more.

But also, just for a second, when that first ball is bowled tomorrow – that’s a huge reminder of how far women’s cricket has come.

At a major venue, live on the BBC, kicking off a massive few weeks for our sport – the women’s game front and centre. I hope young girls watch it and know that can be them.

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