Manchester Originals coach Simon Katich
has urged the ECB to rethink staging the Hundred eliminator 24 hours before the final.
Speaking after his team lost a nail-biter at Lord's to eventual 2022 champions Trent Rockets, Katich lamented what he saw as a tired performance with the bat and was in no doubt that playing at the Ageas Bowl on Friday night contributed to such a display. Originals posted 120 for 9 in their innings only for Rockets to snatch victory at the death, winning by two wickets with just two balls to spare.
Having lost their first three matches in the group stages, Originals won their remaining five games to finish second and take on London Spirit in the eliminator. After successfully chasing down a target of 151 against Spirit, Originals jumped on the team bus and eventually got to the London Marriott Hotel Regents Park in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Despite not doing themselves justice with the bat, it looked like they were turning things around with the ball until Rockets captain Lewis Gregory struck six, four and then a single to seal victory in the final set. Katich, while full of praise for how his team pulled things around in the second half of the match, was under no illusions that his team were having to rally against the fixture schedule.
"Tonight, it just looked like we were a little bit tired with our decision-making," Katich said. "And that was totally understandable given we had a great win last night at the Rose Bowl and then backed up again tonight.
"I spoke to our board about it last night after our game. I don't think there's any other competition in the world [where a semi-final and final are played so close together at different venues]. Don't get me wrong, this is a great competition. The last two years, I've thoroughly enjoyed it, speaking to the players, all the coaches who have come from overseas. But it's probably something that needs to be looked at.
"It's not an excuse, but our boys just looked tired tonight, particularly with the bat. We didn't string partnerships together and we've done that really well all tournament. It just probably affected our decision-making in the end.
"It is tough because you get in at sort of 1am, 1-30am. It's hard to sleep straight away because the adrenaline is buzzing after a game like we had last night. And then you've got to back up again straightaway.
"Credit to our boys, I thought they were magnificent in what they were able to do, even with that. We gave ourselves a chance to win it. But it's something that probably has to be looked at."
Katich also suggested further tweaks should consider home advantage for the team that finishes top of the group, with second-place hosting the eliminator. In this instance, that would have seen Originals host Spirit at Emirates Old Trafford, with the winner playing Rockets at Trent Bridge.
"Had London Spirit got through last night, they're basically playing at home in a final," Katich said. "Lord's is a very special place to play a final, don't get me wrong. But that's something that might be discussed down the track, whether second place gets to host the eliminator and then whether the top team gets to host at home as well."
ESPNcricinfo understands the Kia Oval will be floated as a potential candidate to host next year's final. That case might be reinforced after this Finals Day, when the men and women had to contend with a tough pitch that was not conducive to engaging cricket, until the very end of the men's final.
Following Oval Invincibles' victory over Southern Brave in the women's Hundred, player of the match Marizanne Kapp described the surface as "really tough". Those sentiments were echoed by Originals captain Laurie Evans: "The pitch wasn't the best for fours and sixes, but it obviously gave a great game of cricket."
Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor for ESPNcricinfo