Mignon du Preez talks The Hundred, Manchester Originals and Sophie Ecclestone

Mignon du Preez has been an international cricketer for over a decade, playing 249 matches for South Africa and scoring more than 5,000 runs. She is currently playing in The Hundred.

Metro.co.uk caught up with the Manchester Originals star to discuss the new cricket competition, the team’s start to the tournament and what it all means for the women’s game.

Hi Mignon! How have you enjoyed the first couple of weeks of The Hundred and how’s Manchester? Settled in well?

It’s been fantastic – the girls have been great. It’s like a second family already. We’ve got a really nice squad together, a nice mix of youth and experience. The management staff have treated us like royalty so we’ve been having a really good time.

And what are your early impressions of The Hundred?

I’ve loved every moment of it. Almost every game as been a nail-biter and gone down to the wire. I think it’s got everyone on the edge of their seats. In T20 cricket the momentum can switch really quickly and that’s been happening even more in The Hundred. It’s been really amazing and the feedback we’ve received from fans has been really positive. It seems like everyone is loving it.

The key thing for me and something that has really stood out is the number of families at the grounds. When we’re on the field we can see the youngsters and the young girls on the big screens and that’s a great thing.

It’s 100 balls and bowlers can bowl ten in a row, but how different have you found it from T20 cricket?

It’s actually not that different. It’s bat versus ball, you know? But I think it just simplifies the game. If you’re watching on the TV, you can quickly see it’s runs and balls, counting up or counting down. That’s how simple it can be. We can overcomplicate the game sometimes when you look at scoreboard and there’s run-rates and all of that, you can get caught up. At the end of the day it’s bat versus ball.

The big difference is that option to bowl ten balls in a row. It’s been quite hard on the captains I think who have had to think on their feet. It seems like 140 is a competitive score in the women’s game but I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a couple of 160s in there. I hear the men are talking about seeing a 200, there’s going to be a game where everything just clicks. With us [Manchester Originals], we’ve either done well with the bat and then not bowled too well or bowled nicely but then struggled with the bat.

The first game of the tournament between Manchester Originals and Oval Invincibles was the most-watched women’s cricket match ever televised, with a terrestrial audience of 1.6 million tuning in. There was another 7,000 fans at the ground. Even though you lost, that must have been a special night?

It was really special. I think a few of us said after the game that it was one of the only times you’re not too disappointed to lose because it was just such a special occasion. It was so amazing. It’s never nice to lose but the bigger picture is we want to make cricket more accessible and we saw the game broke a few records which is amazing. To see those kind of crowds for women’s domestic cricket is fantastic.

A lot of people are talking about the impact The Hundred can have on women’s cricket. Are you hopeful the tournament can help make the women’s game bigger and better?

Definitely, I think the ECB is doing a fantastic job and showed their commitment to the women’s game by making the first match a women’s one. That took guts and I’m glad it was such an exciting game and everyone got value for their money. Overall I think it’s been a huge success so far and hopefully it’s going to keep on exploding over the next few years and we see more girls taking up the sport and watching the sport. That’s what we all want.

You’ve lost your two completed matches so far, but it’s still very early days and you must feel there was positives to take from both matches…

Yeah, absolutely. In the team meetings we’ve been talking about the small margins that are letting us down at the moment. We’re not far off, we just haven’t quite clicked. But looking at the way the girls have been training and how pumped everyone is, I reckon that win is just around the corner.

England bowler Sophie Ecclestone is already up and running in The Hundred with a few wickets. How good is she?

She’s fantastic, it’s actually nice to be on her team for once and not have to face her out in the middle! She’s fantastic, not just on the field but off it too. She’s a great character, a great person to be around. She’s been really good around the group. I think she has some exciting games ahead of her.

And what about your captain, Kate Cross, and her podcast buddy Alex Hartley (Cross and Hartley host No Balls: The Cricket Podcast)?

Oh they’ve been fantastic. It’s such a fun group of girls to be around. They really make us feel at home and go out of their way to make sure we’re comfortable and ready to play. Especially with those two, they’re just fantastic girls. I think myself and Lizelle [South Africa teammate Lizelle Lee] might be going on the podcast at some point so that’s exciting too! They’ve both been fantastic but it’s not just them, it’s the whole squad. It’s a great group and once everything clicks I think we can get on a roll.

Manchester Orginals’ Mignon Du Preez and KP Snacks – the Official Team Partner of The Hundred – is calling on families to check out www.everyonein.co.uk for fun, simple and free ways for families to get active this summer through cricket, alongside lots of fun video content with the stars of The Hundred.

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