Teenager Alice Capsey caps historic day as Lord's delivers social karma

Crowd in excess of 13,000 witness remarkable matchwinning display from 16-year-old

Cameron Ponsonby
Alice Capsey drives over the covers during her remarkable innings at Lord's, London Spirit vs Oval Invincibles, Women's Hundred, Lord's, July 25, 2021

Alice Capsey drives over the covers during her remarkable innings at Lord's  •  Getty Images

And so the rain arrived. Just after the first women's Hundred's London derby had ended and just before the men's was due to begin.
A sort of social justice piece of karma delivered by the sky to anyone who thought they'd only turn up to the latter game and skip out on the former. Oh you wanted to watch some cricket? Well you could've and you would have seen possibly the most exciting teenage English talent in the game right now. Tough luck.
Women's cricket, and sport in general, is always going to suffer from lazy comparisons to the men's game. Which has never really made sense. No one should look at Shelley Ann Fraser-Pryce with all her Olympic sprinting medals and think, "cor she's quick...wonder how she'd get on against Usain Bolt?". Because it's a false equivalence. Why bother in the first place?
And yet it'll continue to happen. And I think it's mainly down to how we consume our sport, which is through TV. We're accustomed to watching cricket in the context of 90mph thunderbolts and sixes being launched 100m as we sit on the sofa lazily grunting our approval. The Olympics' (recently updated) motto includes the words 'faster, higher, stronger' and so when things are smaller and slower people can think of it as less. But when you're watching at the ground, the context of TV is removed and the skill of the players comes to the fore.
Today, in the space of five balls, 16-year-old Alice Capsey lofted the spinner over mid-off for four, reverse-swept the next one for four more and then gave herself space to slap Deandra Dottin through point. It was thrilling. And you'd be a fool to miss it.
The women's game is increasingly being dominated by players of the skill level of Capsey. Whilst today was her day to announce her arrival, the likes of Shafali Verma, Sophie Ecclestone and Sophia Dunkley have all had their days in the sun to announce their arrival on the world stage. Young players, each phenomenal in their own right who are no doubt the rule of the women's game moving forward rather than the exception.
Today the attendance for the women's game was measured at 13,537, a figure that grew throughout the match as fans filtered their way into the ground for a Sunday at the cricket.
A record for a domestic women's game in the modern era, which should be celebrated. However, perhaps it's the greed of progress that it still left me wanting more.
It's the gift and the curse of the double header that the women's game is put in front of more people's eyes than ever (good) but only as a curtain-raiser (bad). But, because of the rain today, it took centre stage for the second time this tournament after Wednesday's opening night. And far from it being a warm-up, it hopefully left 13,537 people asking for an encore.
Certainly those who arrived on time for the match action will have left wanting to know and see more of Capsey following her imperious display.
Much has been made of Capsey's age, or lack of. The youngest player in the tournament at 16 and recently embarked on her A levels, it could have been expected, or at least forgiven, had the occasion of playing at Lord's got the better of her.
Or, on the other side of the coin, and as I'm sure many will comment, "she played with the fearlessness of youth."
As a phrase it's one that's always confused me and I can only assume it is only said by those who don't remember being 16 (sorry). Because being 16 is terrifying.
You're constantly being confronted with so many firsts in your life happening at one time. Your first love interest maybe, your first drink perhaps, your first major set of exams for definite. It's just that, unlike us, Capsey has added her first innings at Lord's to that list as well.
To say Capsey's youth made her fearless is to diminish her achievement. She batted brilliantly for 59 off 40 balls on the biggest stage of all. There's no doubt it was a daunting occasion and that's what made it all the more impressive.
Her innings shifted from one of promise to one of certainty in the space of five balls midway through the innings. Consecutive boundaries off the bowling of Dean was followed by a dismissive shot through the off-side against Dottin. Three boundaries in five balls. A drive, a reverse sweep and a cut. Three different shots with the same outcome each time. This was a batter in control of her game and of the occasion.
Further testament to her innings was that she was supported, not led, by South Africa captain and star of the Invincibles opening night win on Wednesday in Van Niekerk.
"It's a special moment. There were a few nerves, but I just wanted to be able to express myself and stay true to how I play," Capsey said afterwards.
"I just wanted to take it in my stride and show I'm not going to be pushed to the side. I want to play how I want to play."
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Cameron Ponsonby is a Hundred Rising Reporter