When Alice Capsey’s name went under the hammer at the first Women’s Premier League player auction in mid-February, Mumbai Indians were the first to raise their paddle for an opening bid of INR 30 lakh. Head coach Charlotte Edwards had obviously been paying close attention to the all-around prodigy’s career since she was 18 years old.
Jonathan Batty, the head coach of Capsey’s team, Oval Invincibles, was at the table of Delhi Capitals when Capsey jumped in. In a short but intense bidding war, Capitals had enough money to outbid MI and sign the teenager for INR 75 Lakh, which was the hammer-down price.
At the same time, about 5100 miles away in Paarl, South Africa, Capsey was breaking the record for the fastest T20I century by an England Women’s team (21 balls) in a World Cup group game against Ireland.
In four of Capsey’s six times at bat in the WPL 2023, the Meg Lanning-led think tank backed her naturally aggressive style of play and used it as a counterattack when she lost wickets early in the powerplay. It’s a job that’s similar to the one she was given in England.
Capsey famously came in on the third ball of the 155-run chase against RCB in the rematch, hit a bunch of fours, and quickly changed the tone of the batting powerplay for DC. Her 19-minute cameo was worth 34 runs, and she left the scene at 45/2 in the fifth over.
Then, in the most recent game, DC sent her in as a pinch hitter even though they only needed to score 110 runs. Capsey’s 17-ball unbeaten knock of 38, which included five sixes, helped the team beat Mumbai Indians by nine wickets in just nine overs, beating them to the top of the points table with a better NRR.
MI had gone back up in less than 24 hours. But Delhi started their chase of 139 against UP Warriorz knowing they had almost their full number of overs (19.4) to do it in. The outfield was wet because it was raining out of season, and the pitch wasn’t exactly good for smooth strokeplay. Another 50-run stand by Lanning and Shafali Verma got them close to their goal, but Shabnim Ismail got rid of Lanning and Jemimah Rodrigues in the same over.
By the end of the seventh over, DC’s innings was a little shaky at 70/3. Capsey came in her usual way. After hitting a couple of singles to get a feel for the field, she eased the pressure in the middle with two lofted shots down the ground on either side of the strip. She finished off Sophie Ecclestone’s over with a cheeky reverse sweep for a third boundary that made her English teammate laugh.
In the next over, she scared off Parshavi Chopra, who was only a teenager, by skipping down and hitting a wide delivery from the legspinner over wide long-on for a six. Deepti Sharma threw one up, and Capsey went down on one knee to slog-sweep it hard into the midwicket ropes. This got him to 27 in just 16 deliveries.
This little counterattack gave Marizanne Kapp, whose strike rate was just a bit over 40, a little more time to adjust to how slow the pitch was. Once the South African got her groove back, Capsey made sure to keep the strike going.
After a short but entertaining battle with the returning Ecclestone, she ended up with 34 runs off 31 balls. Capsey defended three out of four good length balls from the World No. 1 T20 bowler in an excellent 14th over before being stumped by a thrown-up ball that got her out of her crease.
Still, the fourth-wicket pair put DC on the verge of a direct path to the WPL final with a 60-run stand that wasn’t typical of them but was very important given the conditions and the quality of the opposition.
“I found a little bit more responsibility on myself to stay in and take us through, take it deep. Because we knew that if we – me and Kappie – formed a partnership, we [had] pretty good chances to win it,” Capsey, who earlier picked a three-fer, said.
“It was definitely up there and obviously I started off pretty quickly but then the UP Warriorz bowled really well. Their spinners started to turn and it got quite tricky. So no, it was definitely a grinder instead of yesterday where the ball was coming on a little nicer and that was just a bit of fun. All of these things [roles] are pleasing if you can put in a match-winning performance for the team,” she added.
“The way I play, it’s risk or reward. I’m a very aggressive kind of player and I like to put pressure on the bowlers. It’s not necessarily hitting all the fours and sixes it’s just about getting myself in a position where I can get the team in the best position possible as quick as possible. And I’ve been used in a lot of different roles, so changing the mindset around when I go in, that changes things… it’s just about making that percentage of the times it comes off higher, which I’m learning.
“I’m learning how to develop an innings, and that’s why an experience like this has been really crucial, just being around Meg Lanning and people like that has been brilliant,” she signed off.
Capsey may not have the most runs in the WPL, but the fact that an 18-year-old is in the starting XI ahead of an experienced player like Laura Harris shows how much faith the team’s management has in her potential. Even at such a young age, Capsey has done a great job of getting the job done.