Australian cricketer Beth Mooney came within touching distance of becoming the first centurion in the Hundred women’s competition on Friday, scoring an unbeaten 97 against last year’s runners-up Southern Brave in Southampton.
Fresh off her triumphant Commonwealth Games campaign, the 28-year-old smacked the highest score in the 100-ball tournament’s short history on her London Spirit debut, guiding the side to 4/155 in front of 9000 spectators at the Ageas Bowl.
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Mooney needed nothing less than a six off the final delivery to reach triple figures, but the left-hander could only muster a two.
Birmingham Phoenix young gun Will Smeed remains the only cricketer to have scored a century in The Hundred, achieving the feat against the Brave in the men’s competition on Wednesday.
Mooney, who passed 50 in just 32 deliveries, struck 17 boundaries in the 55-ball demolition, combining with New Zealand’s Amelia Kerr for an 87-run second-wicket partnership.
But the Queenslander’s heroics weren’t enough for the Spirit to secure victory, with the Brave chasing the 156-run target with six deliveries to spare, courtesy of a 34-ball 65 from Player of the Match Danni Wyatt.
It was the English opener’s third half-century in The Hundred.
“I’m really happy to have contributed to a win and just to get the win on the board is really pleasing,” Wyatt told Sky Sports after the six-wicket win.
“My job at the top is to go out there and be brave and fearless, and if it’s in my area go for it.
“It’s a great start. Beth Mooney batted exceptionally today and we knew it was going to take one of us to go out there and do what she did.”
Australian leg-spinner Amanda Jade-Wellington, the Brave’s highest-wicket taker last year, was the pick of the bowlers on Friday, claiming 3/30 from her 20 deliveries.
Southern Brave captain Anya Shrubsole continued: “Beth Mooney was outstanding, and she makes you feel as a captain and a bowler you don’t have a clue where to put your fielders out. But Danni showed what a good track it was, and I’m really pleased to get a win.
“We go again against Oval on Sunday. It’sa quick turnaround and it’s quite a warm few days as well, but it’s exciting.”
Highest Individual Score in the Hundred women’s competition
97* – Beth Mooney, LS vs. SB (2022)
92* – Jemimah Rodrigues, NS vs. WF (2021)
78 – Smriti Mandhana, SB vs. WF (2021)
76* – Shafali Verma, BP vs. WF (2021)
76 – Rachael Priest, TR vs. LS (2021)
Mooney was a crucial member of the Australian team that won a Commonwealth Games gold medal in Birmingham last week, scoring 61 (41) against India in the final at Edgbaston.
She was the T20 tournament’s highest run-scorer with 179 runs at 44.75 and a strike rate of 133.58.
Mooney currently sits at No. 1 on the ICC Women’s T20I batting rankings, narrowly ahead of Australian teammate Meg Lanning and New Zealand captain Sophie Devine.
The Spirit will next face the Northern Superchargers at Headingley on Sunday, with the first ball scheduled for 8pm AEST.