Alice Capsey: Why England and Oval Invincibles all-rounder is destined for the very top

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It starts with two slow, careful taps of the bat on the crease.

The bat then waves gently up and down in hand as the bowler runs in before crack – ball meets willow to the sound of gunfire.

Sometimes it only takes the first glimpse of a young sportsperson to know they are destined for the top – think back to a teenage Wayne Rooney or Serena Williams.

Last year Alice Capsey announced herself as a 16-year-old by scoring 59 at Lord’s in The Hundred and 12 months on, now old enough to drive and vote, she continues to steal the show.

Watching her is like viewing an experienced pro.

Against Birmingham Phoenix on Tuesday, the Oval Invincibles all-rounder dismissively drilled a four off spinner Abtaha Maqsood and turned to scratch at the ground before the ball had reached the boundary rope.

Moments later she just casually leant on her bat, one foot crossed in front of the other after hitting another four. It’s all in a day’s work.

Capsey’s introduction to the Oval crowd earlier in the afternoon had resulted in one of the loudest cheers of the day.

A year ago people may not have known her name but now she is one of those they come to see – an England international at 18.

“I thrive on the big moments,” she said, having been dragged from signing autographs after the Invincibles’ win. “It narrows my focus a bit more and I actually concentrate.”

Against the Phoenix, Capsey began by taking three wickets for 15 runs with her off-spin. She dismissed three of the Phoenix’s top five.

Then, even in an innings lasting just 18 balls and worth only 20 runs, she displayed her enormous talent once again.

Capsey got off the mark by hitting her third ball for six. She burst into laughter with batting partner Lauren Winfield-Hill, but soon the eyes refocused.

After a punch of gloves, she turned to face the bowling again.

“Lauren came down to me and said ‘you did some gardening but I knew you were going to go for the big shot’,” Capsey explained.

“People can read me more than I can read myself at times.”

Capsey rise has continued unchecked this summer.

On her England debut in July she took a wicket with her second ball.

Three games later she scored her first international fifty at the Commonwealth Games, where she played in all of England’s matches despite a nasty blow which left her with a painful black eye.

She has looked at home at every turn, ever since being invited to train with Surrey Stars as a 14-year-old

“She is quite quiet and shy off the pitch but as soon as she gets on the pitch you wouldn’t know that,” says Invincibles bowler Eva Gray, who was part of the Surrey squad that day and has become friends with Capsey since.

“Everyone says she is so confident.

“Part of being so young and getting fame so young is she has no fear.”

Earlier in this year’s tournament, Capsey celebrated her 18th birthday by taking a wicket and scoring 25 not out against Northern Superchargers.

She was given a birthday cake live on BBC TV before a section of the crowd was encouraged to sing Happy Birthday to her. It made the introvert in Capsey squirm.

“Alice said standing there answering questions while holding a cake was quite difficult,” Gray says.

“I don’t think she is massive fan of being the centre of attention. She loves the gym, loves running but is quite quiet.”

But the more she plays the harder it is becoming for Capsey to stay out of the limelight.

“She’ll go down as one of the best England will ever have,” her captain Dane van Niekerk said after Tuesday’s win.

“[She] is such a talented cricketer. Just the freedom, the fearlessness.”

Of course talent is only half the story but it seems Capsey is destined to follow that path from teenage star to the very top.

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