The Manchester Originals have reshuffled their roster and are in a better position this year to deal with the hostile atmosphere and pressure from the hundreds, says spinner Matt Parkinson
“I’m not sure everyone was able to handle the crowd like they should have,” said the then-captain. Head coach Simon Katich was a little more reluctant, but accepted that his young players had found the din of the hundreds “a challenge”.
The last time Manchester Originals faced Northern Superchargers was described by Carlos Brathwaite as an “embarrassing performance” that saw his side “collapse”.
The Originals men’s team will start their 2022 season against the same opponents, but this time on their own pitch at Old Trafford. Last year Headingley’s Western Terrace captured the atmosphere of a Roses match and it was the first real rivalry of the new competition – but it also resulted in Originals becoming the first team to concede 200 runs in this format with four drop catches.
“The guys that were there last year will be better equipped for the terrain we play on, the crowds, the abuse,” says Originals leg spinner Matt Parkinson I. “I think we didn’t actually have that many Northern players so when they played Headingley they said ‘Oh god, that’s not very comfortable’. Whilst I’m used to that for Lancashire every time we go there.
“I think the squad we have this year is probably a bit older than the squad we had last year; I think we had 10 substitutes last year, we were hit hard by injuries, all three of our foreign players were substitutes too.”
When The Hundred was in its infancy, Parkinson admitted there was very little to do in terms of stats. “The first game last year was absolute chaos,” he says. “We knew the rules, but we didn’t know tactics or anything like that. I got away without knowing if I had bowled well or not. I took 27 balls out of 20 and found after a few days that that’s actually fine.
“I think the players have a better understanding of the game now and there are more stats, things like ‘How many runs does it take for a power play?’
“Last year we played cricket but you really didn’t know if you did a good job or not.”
The England international, who made his Test debut against New Zealand at Lord’s earlier this year, was indeed one of the most promising bowlers in the first hundred, taking nine wickets by 2.11pm.
That’s not the only ray of hope for the Originals, as Jos Buttler’s absence from the test setup means he’s consistently available. Sarah Taylor has joined as an assistant coach, her death bowling attack has matched the pace of Richard Gleeson, and Andre Russell, Wanindu Hasaranga, Sean Abbott and Ashton Turner have all signed as foreign players.
“To sign the caliber of players like Russell, Hasaranga and Abbott is fantastic,” adds Parkinson. “They fit a little more into the mold of cricket we want to play – especially at home – than the team we had last year.
“A little more firepower with the bat, a little more depth. We struggled last year, we probably didn’t have the lower punching power that most teams had. So if we lost a couple of wickets, we were done.”
Friday’s encounter with the Superchargers will also be another chance for Parkinson to play twin brother Callum, a process Matt believes will get easier as they progress in their careers.
“We’re not competitive when we play against each other,” he says. “It’s getting better because we’ve been playing each other for five, six seasons. One of us might be having a good day, one of us might not. Thankfully, we’ve both done fairly well in the past.
“That’s the kind of day I want him to do well but my team wins. It’s not a great day, I’m glad we don’t play each other often in red ball cricket because it was one of the worst weeks ever so it gets easier as the years go by. When you are younger you are unsure whether you will get another contract or stay with the team but you also hope that your twin brother will stay with the team. But now we’re a little more settled, a little bit older, we’re better at dealing with it.”
The Hundred is the latest cricket competition, blending blockbuster entertainment with world-class cricket. It starts on August 3rd when last year’s men’s winners Southern Brave take on Welsh Fire. Find out more and secure your tickets at www.thehundred.com