NEWS: Dunkley, Gordon & Linsey Smith In For England

KSL break-outs Sophia Dunkley, Kirstie Gordon and Linsey Smith have been called up to the England squad for the Women’s World T20 in the West Indies next month. All are selected on form but the inclusion of three debutantes in the 15-player squad is nevertheless a massive surprise for a major tournament, and a departure from England’s usual policy of safety first, with big names and World Cup winners axed to make way for the new faces.

Middle-order batsman Sophia Dunkley won the County T20 Cup this season with Middlesex, after having had an outstanding winter with the England Academy; and then followed that up by impressing in the opening round of the Kia Super League for Surrey Stars – scoring 66 off 43 balls versus the Vipers at Guildford.

Kirstie Gordon – a left-arm orthodox spinner – is a former Scotland player from Aberdeenshire, who made the decision 2 years ago to pursue her cricketing career in England when she accepted a place at Loughborough University. She was the leading wicket-taker in both the Women’s County Championship for Notts and the KSL for Loughborough Lightning this year.

Linsey Smith – another left-armer – also had a good KSL season. One of the leading wicket-takers in KSL01 for the Vipers, despite only being drafted in late as an injury replacement, this year Smith transferred to the Lightning, where she took 11 wickets at an Economy Rate of 6.4.

The only other semi-surprise in the squad is Tash Farrant, who has made a swifter recovery than might initially have been expected from the broken collar-bone she sustained fielding in a KSL match at Loughborough this summer – she makes the squad as fast bowling cover for Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole.

Missing out are World Cup winners Alex Hartley, Laura Marsh and Fran Wilson, as well as all three of England’s 2017 debutantes – Alice Davidson-Richards, Katie George and Bryony Smith; plus four others from the contracted squad – Georgia Elwiss, Kate Cross, Freya Davies and Beth Langston.

With Sarah Taylor not travelling to the West Indies, Amy Jones will take the gloves for England, with Tammy Beaumont as backup.

Possible 1st Choice XI

  1. Danni Wyatt
  2. Tammy Beaumont
  3. Amy Jones (wk)
  4. Nat Sciver
  5. Heather Knight
  6. Lauren Winfield
  7. Katherine Brunt
  8. Dani Hazell
  9. Anya Shrubsole
  10. Sophie Ecclestone
  11. Kirstie Gordon

Full Squad

  • Heather Knight
  • Tammy Beaumont
  • Katherine Brunt
  • Sophia Dunkley
  • Sophie Ecclestone
  • Tash Farrant
  • Kirstie Gordon
  • Jenny Gunn
  • Dani Hazell
  • Amy Jones
  • Nat Sciver
  • Linsey Smith
  • Anya Shrubsole
  • Lauren Winfield
  • Danni Wyatt
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NEWS: 2018 Cheshire Women’s Cricket League Awards & Wrap-Up

Martin Saxon Reports

TEAM HONOURS

WINNERS RUNNERS-UP
Division 1 (League Championship) Oakmere Appleton
Division 2 Stockport Trinity Leigh
Division 3 West Upton Nantwich
Division 3 East Appleton 2nd XI Woodley
T20 Divisional Competition Appleton Tigers* Stockport Trinity Fire*
Knockout Cup Appleton Tigers Stockport Trinity Fire
Development Knockout Cup Upton Nantwich Vipers

* Both clubs awarded trophies as winners of the respective Western and Eastern Divisions

Other Team Award

Tea Cup (Best matchday catering): Ashton-on-Mersey

Oakmere retained the Cheshire Women’s League Championship after losing just one league match. Curiously, their only reverse came in a cross-divisional fixture against second division Stockport Trinity – Oakmere were victorious in all matches against teams in their own division. Appleton maintained a strong challenge for a long time and hit the top spot as late as early August, but crucially they then lost to Oakmere for the second time. Ultimately though it was Oakmere who prevailed thanks to their wealth of bowling options and their ever-reliable key batters. Many of Oakmere’s wins were by large margins, and their second win over Chester Boughton Hall in early September was perhaps their most eye-catching performance, however Oakmere also had to rely on their winning knack in other closer fixtures, such as their first games against both Chester and runners-up Appleton.

Stockport Trinity were convincing winners of the second division and will be back in the top flight in 2019. Their dominance was such that not only did they have little difficulty with the opposition from their own division, they also won their cross-divisional fixture against division one champions Oakmere. Their only defeat came against Appleton on the final day, when the trophy had long since been secured. After a difficult start, Leigh finished strongly to finish second, in a season where all the sides in this division, bar Trinity, appeared to be fairly evenly matched.

Upton won Division Three West, ahead of Nantwich. In what was their first season of competitive cricket for both, the two clubs can look back with pride on what they achieved. Both clubs scored convincing wins on the opening day and went on to dominate this division throughout. However, thanks to two wins over Nantwich by margins of six runs and three wickets, it was Upton who finished in top spot.
Fielding a second team for the first time, Appleton’s second string held off Woodley’s challenge to finish as champions of Division Three East. Appleton did the league double over Woodley, but Woodley remained in contention until the very end, given that they beat Upton and Nantwich in cross-divisional matches, while Appleton’s seconds were beaten by both of these clubs.

Stockport Trinity and Appleton were undoubtedly the strongest teams in the shorter form of the game this year. The two clubs were unbeaten champions of the Western and Eastern divisions respectively, and also progressed largely untroubled through the Knockout Cup, although Trinity were pushed all the way by Didsbury in the semi-final. This all meant that Appleton and Trinity would meet twice on Finals Day, and it was Appleton who prevailed on both occasions – by margins of four and eight wickets – and who went home with both the Knockout Cup and the T20 Divisional trophy.

Upton and Nantwich not only dominated Division Three West, but also made it through to the final of the Development Knockout Cup, the cup competition for Division Three clubs. Upton beat their rivals once again, this time by 17 runs, to complete their own double.

INDIVIDUAL HONOURS

BATTING AWARD (MOST RUNS) BOWLING AWARD (MOST WICKETS) FIELDING AWARD (MOST CATCHES & RUN OUTS AS OUTFIELDER) WICKETKEEPING AWARD (MOST CATCHES & STUMPINGS AS WICKETKEEPER)
DIVISION 1 Emma Barlow (Appleton) 438 runs Lorna Starkey (Chester Boughton Hall) 22 wickets Emma Barlow (Appleton) 9 dismissals Eloise Jackson (Appleton) 6 dismissals
DIVISION 2 Megan Cureton (Oxton) 298 Liv Bell (Stockport Georgians) 17 Megan Cureton (Oxton) 7 Gaby McKeever (Stockport Trinity) 9
DIVISION 3 WEST Lily Scudder (Upton) 322 Charlie Scudder (Upton) 19 Charlie Scudder (Upton) & Izzi Pearson (Nantwich) 6 Flo Seymour (Nantwich) 3
DIVISION 3 EAST Abby Barlow (Woodley) 287 Georgie Morton (Woodley) 12 Kate Scott-Griffiths (Didsbury 2nd XI) 6 Judith Barnes (Appleton 2nd XI) 5
T20 COMPETITIONS Carys White (Stockport Trinity Fire) 204 Emma Royle (Stockport Trinity Fire) & Nathalie Long (Appleton Tigers) 18 Georgia Heath (Appleton Tigers) 7 Gaby McKeever (Stockport Trinity Fire) 8

Other Individual Awards

Cheshire Women’s County Club Players’ Player of the Year: Kate Coppack
Cheshire Women’s County Club Coach’s Player of the Year: Dawn Prestidge
President’s Award (Outstanding Contribution to Women’s Cricket in Cheshire): Ray Bell (Stockport Georgians)

Emma Barlow had another consistent season at the top of Appleton’s order, and duly won the Division 1 Batting Award for the leading run-scorer for the sixth year in the last 10. She also took home a fielding award, indeed the number of fielding and wicketkeeping awards won by members of the Appleton first and second teams suggests that it was not just their batsmen and bowlers who contributed to their successes this year.

Perhaps the most convincing winner of any of these awards was Lily Scudder, who made five half-centuries and finished with almost twice the runs total of her nearest rival in Division Three West. Her twin sister Charlie won the bowling award in the same division, also with something to spare over the chasing pack.

The following were all league records broken this season:

  • Wickets taken in division 1 (Lorna Starkey, 22)
  • Wickets taken in all competitions (Nathalie Long, 33)
  • Fielding dismissals in league matches (Emma Barlow, 9) – previous record equalled

OTHER SEASON HIGHLIGHTS

Didsbury reached the regional final of the National Club T20 and were only three runs away from a place in the national Finals Day.

The League XI beat MCC for the first time:

MCC 178 (Annie Rashid 3-21, Molly Price 3-33, Liv Bell 2-32)
Cheshire Women’s League XI 179-9 (Carys White 86*, Ali Cutler 26, Roshini Prince-Navaratnam 24)

“MCC Is Changing”: MCC Members Saba Nasim And Danni Warren On 20 Year Anniversary Of Club’s Vote To Accept Women

This is a companion piece to Raf’s feature piece for The Cricket Monthly, ‘When women stormed the citadel’.

20 years ago this week, on 27 September 1998, MCC members took part in the most important vote in the club’s history. At last, after a campaign that had lasted a decade, the necessary two-thirds majority in favour of accepting women as members was achieved.

Two decades down the line, I spoke to two of the MCC’s female members to find out what has changed in the interim period: Saba Nasim, a Chance to Shine cricket coach from East London and currently a Probationary Member, and Danni Warren, MCC and Middlesex Head of Women’s Cricket.

Q: When and why did you decide to apply for MCC membership?

“I heard about being a member a few years ago, but just never got round to filling in the form. It wasn’t until about 2 years ago, I think it was 2016, I found out that one of the guys at my club [Wanstead] was actually a committee member. I asked him the process and he said ‘yeah I can nominate you if you want’. I’ve played at quite a lot of clubs anyway and I enjoy meeting new people, playing different levels of cricket.” [Saba Nasim]

“I’ve been a member for about 8 years. I first joined when I was playing a bit more cricket. I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed playing MCC cricket. You get to play some very different cricket: I’ve played some two-day games against the Young Cricketers in the past, down to playing against a school who really hadn’t played much cricket up until 6 weeks before we played them. You get some very good experiences playing against different players. I spend a lot of my time now trying to convince other people trying to do the same!” [Danni Warren]

Q: Do you feel accepted as a woman within MCC?

“Yes, definitely. The matches I’ve played and the people I’ve met, they’ve always been for the idea that women should be part of MCC. Everyone’s been very welcoming and we had a lot of fun on the recent MCC Women Belgium tour – I can’t wait to go on the next one. MCC matches are really fun games, they’re competitive but they’re also all about the Spirit of Cricket which I really enjoy. I’m a coach as well so I always try to get that in the kids, you should play hard but you should play fair and enjoy yourself, so I really enjoy those games. They’re a little bit different to the club games and the county games I play, in that they’re a little more fun and there’s a social aspect to it as well.” [SN]

“I never really felt at all daunted, or as if it was something that was that big a deal when somebody gave me a form. It was just another opportunity to play more cricket. I knew a lot of members and therefore I wanted to play a bit more cricket with them. Part of my job now as MCC and Middlesex head of women’s cricket is about membership growth – trying to encourage more female members, especially playing members. The MCC men will play 500-odd matches a year, versus the 25 that the women play. Fewer people will find themselves on the receiving end of an MCC match than would do in the men’s game and therefore we’re trying to increase the exposure that we can get. The more members we get, the more games we can play.” [DW]

Q: Can more be done to promote female membership?

“At the moment MCC is quite a white club, but people are starting to realise it doesn’t have to be. If you have someone in each club that knows how to join, we’ll definitely get many more members from diverse backgrounds. It’s still quite a lot of white women playing, but it’s definitely changing. Women’s cricket as a whole has changed, we’re getting different communities involved in the sport now, we’re making women’s cricket accessible for them.” [SN]

“From what I’ve found, speaking to people in the last year or so, it’s awareness of the role that MCC play as a club. Women that play cricket aren’t necessarily aware of it, whereas men tend to grow up with it in the background, or they’ve been part of a game where MCC have played their club or played their county side or something that they’ve been able to see. In the women’s game there’s not that awareness – we’re trying to increase that.

Part of my job is running the new women’s Academy based at Lord’s – the idea is to bring talented players that are in or close to first team cricket through, and give them opportunities to progress up the pathway. It’s been really successful, with a large number of the players playing first team cricket or getting into KSL sides. They are encouraged to and have already played in some MCC matches. A number of them have signed off membership application already or have played as guests in matches. Very much a by-product of it is we want more players who are in the county system at present being able to play as playing members to join the club, to play our matches against schools and clubs and leagues, and to be able to help grow the game.” [DW]

NEWS: Sarah Taylor To Miss Forthcoming World Twenty20

Sarah Taylor will miss the forthcoming Women’s World Twenty20 in the Caribbean, the ECB have revealed.

A mutual decision was made by both the player and the management staff with the welfare of the player the top priority.

Taylor missed England’s tour of India earlier this year, as well as one Super League group-stage game for her side Surrey Stars, as the ECB have sought to manage her ongoing anxiety issues.

Coach Mark Robinson said: “Since the end of the summer Sarah hasn’t been able to train fully with the squad due to not being as fit as she would want to be from a psychological point of view.”

“At the moment she isn’t in a place where we would all be comfortable that the demanding training, playing and travel schedule wouldn’t potentially put her backwards and make her road to full recovery longer.”

“It’s important we see mental health in a similar way to a player with a physical injury. You wouldn’t risk a player if you felt that playing them with an injury would increase the chances of them being out for a long time or the issue even becoming career-threatening.”

Taylor will continue to train at Loughborough during the tournament.

The full England squad is due to be announced next Thursday at Lord’s. This news suggests that Amy Jones, as second choice keeper, will now definitely be in the side, with presumably Tammy Beaumont as back-up.

DEBRIEF: WNCL – Double Brucie Bonus Puts New South Wales Top

Team Played Won Lost Points NRR
1. New South Wales Breakers 2 1 1 6 1.51
2. Victoria 2 1 1 5 0.15
3. Queensland Fire 2 1 1 4 0.20
4. ACT Meteors 2 1 1 4 -0.01
5. Western Fury 2 1 1 4 -0.03
6. South Australian Scorpions 2 1 1 4 -0.09
7. Tasmania 2 1 1 4 -1.66

With 2 rounds played this weekend, perennial champions New South Wales sit at the top of the WNCL ladder, despite a dramatic opening-day loss to Queensland. Queensland put themselves in a great position, bowling NSW out for 149, only for Rene Farrell to knock-over their entire top order in a remarkable 5-wicket opening spell which left Queensland 18-6. But Queensland recovered thanks to 50s from Sammy-Jo Johnson and Josie Dooley to win the match with just one wicket remaining!

Normal service was restored for NSW the following day, as they smashed Tasmania for 344 – Rachel Haynes and Alyssa Healy both hitting 80s – and then bowled them out for 158 to grab a double-dose of bonus points.

This was after Tasmania, under new coach Salliann Briggs, had got their first points on the board in almost 2 years on Day 1, thanks to Player of the Match Corinne Hall, who hit 86 off 98 balls as Tasmania successfully chased ACT’s 218 all out to win by 5 wickets.

For South Australia, Tahlia McGrath hit 105 as they posted 251 versus Victoria, but McGrath’s efforts were trumped by Meg Lanning’s 120* as Victoria chased the runs in under 40 overs for the bonus-point win that puts them 2nd.

There was better luck for South Australia the following day, as Bridget Patterson became their second centurion of the weekend, hitting 109 against Western Australia, who were then bowled out for 205, with 3 wickets apiece for Megan Schutt and Amanda Wellington.

With everyone getting a win on the opening weekend, it’s all to play for when WNCL resumes in… er… November – yes, you read that right – without the internationals, who will be in the West Indies (along with us!) for the Women’s World T20. Then we have to wait until February for the final round of games, prior to the top two playing off in the final on February 9.

OPINION: The 100 Is Still Nonsense… But It’s All The Nonsense We’ve Got

Perhaps unsurprisingly, we weren’t invited to the trials for The 100 that took place this week at Loughborough and Trent Bridge; but enough information has dripped out to get a good idea of where things are going with the ECB’s new competition.

As the ECB are discovering, cheap slogans and simple promises don’t necessarily translate easily into actual workable solutions. The problems begin with the very concept of “100” – a number of balls which it turns out isn’t divisible by 6, and so can’t be slotted neatly into traditional 6-ball overs! So… let’s have 5 ball overs… but that means more changes of end… okay, so let’s have 10 ball overs… but that would lead to fast bowlers getting injured… okay so let’s have 5 or 10 ball overs, according to whether the batsman’s mother’s maiden name ends in a “Y”?

Not quite as simple as it sounded in the blue-sky marketing meeting, is it?

Other ideas floated around – cutting the “red tape” of LBWs and/or PowerPlays – have gone nowhere, because it turns out there were actually quite good reasons for these laws after all, and scrapping them would have a lot of negative externalities – scrap LBW and I’d give it 5 minutes before batsmen started taking advantage and using their pads deliberately to protect the stumps; scrap the PowerPlay and you’d have 9 men on the boundary before you could say “Howzat?”!

So it looks like what we will end up with is exactly like cricket… but with a more complicated “overs” system (possibly not even called “overs” but “fives”) which they will try to mask by having a big scoreboard count down from 100 – even though they HAVE to keep some concept of overs (/ fives) to control how many balls each bowler can bowl and from which end they will be bowled, because counting actual balls would obviously be a nightmare!

What a farce!

And yet… for all the nonsense… there will be an upside – the fillip in visibility that will come as the media latch on to Something New™, as they did with the KSL; the Free-To-Air TV numbers that will dwarf those that have sat behind Sky’s paywall for a generation; the families that will come for the fireworks in the sky and stay for the fireworks on the field.

There will be more opportunities for players too – especially the fringe players, with two additional rosters to fill. So the players are on-board, because it offers them more – more cricket, more visibility, more fame… and more money!

And at the end of the day… as I’m not the first to say… it’s still cricket – swingers will still swing; spinners will still spin; and batsmen will still bat.

And we’ll be there to watch, like we always are.

Because it might be nonsense.

But it’s all the nonsense we’ve got.

NEWS: Bates Quits New Zealand Captaincy

Suzie Bates has resigned as New Zealand captain after six years in the role.

But 30-year-old Bates will continue to play for the White Ferns, saying:

“I still have a lot to contribute to the White Ferns and international cricket and that the best way for me to do that is by concentrating more energy into my performances on the field.”

Bates has led New Zealand at a time of great change, with the professionalisation of the women’s game adding new challenges for the smaller nations, as they try to keep up with the pace set by Australia and England, but without the same resources.

Bates responded by burning the candle at all 3 ends to try to maintain the pace – playing domestic cricket at home in New Zealand and in Australia during the antipodian summer, literally shuttling between the two; then spending her winters in England playing county cricket for Kent and latterly Hampshire, and KSL for Southern Vipers.

It was a schedule that was perhaps starting to take its toll, as she began to look a slightly tired shawdow of her usual self towards the end of this season in England.

Bates will be succeeded as New Zealand captain by Amy Satterthwaite who will take charge for the upcoming T20 series versus Australia.

This is clearly not an appointment for the future – Satterthwaite is a year older than Bates – but she has the experience that New Zealand need right now to keep the seat warm for a couple of years until Amelia Kerr – the only realistic long term candidate – can perhaps take over after the 2021 World Cup.

MATCH REPORT: The West win the Beyond Boundaries Women’s T20 Scottish Cup Final

Jake Perry reports

——

The West 112-3 (E Watson 55*, E Talbot 1 for 21) beat Edinburgh South-Stewart’s Melville 111-4 (K White 60*, C Dalton 3 for 19) by seven wickets

It was a tale of two openers at New Williamfield as The West claimed the 2018 Beyond Boundaries Women’s T20 Scottish Cup with a pulsating seven wicket win over Edinburgh South/Stewart’s Melville. Although ESSM’s Kathryn White carried her bat for an unbeaten half-century, The West’s Ellen Watson matched the feat with 55 not out as her quick-fire partnership of 60 with captain Charlotte Dalton confirmed a maiden cup win for their young team.

After the loss of Catherine Holland (7) and Kathryn Fraser (0) reduced ESSM to 42 for 2 within the first nine overs of the first innings, the experience of former Scotland international White had proved telling as she and captain Hannah Short (21) led their side’s recovery with a fourth wicket partnership of 59. White’s powerful hitting was a constant threat, and, despite being given a life on 53 after she turned a no-ball into the hands of Lois Wilkinson, the forty-year-old’s belligerent 60 had put her side into a good position as the innings came to an end.

Charlotte Dalton’s three wickets had kept The West in touch, however, and with tight bowling from Naimh Robertson-Jack (three overs for 5), Moon Mughis (two overs for 11) and Lois Wilkinson (four overs for 12), too, the game was tantalisingly poised.

The West’s chase got away to a shaky start as Neyma Shaikh (0) and Abtaha Maqsood (2) fell within the first four overs, and when the dangerous Wilkinson (16) followed in the tenth to leave the score on 52 for 3 the fate of the innings, and the match, rested on the partnership between Ellen Watson and the incoming Charlotte Dalton.

Any potential nerves were settled quickly, however, as the two calmly led their side to victory. The in-form Dalton found the rope twice in consecutive deliveries from Chloe Keily, first pulling a high full toss through backward square before skipping down to plant a lofted drive over mid-on. Watson followed suit off the first ball of the next over, too, as she played a neat turn off her pads through fine leg before bringing up her fifty as the target loomed ever closer. Fittingly, it was left to the Scotland player to seal the win in the 17th over with her sixth boundary in what had been a well-paced knock.

“We’re absolutely delighted,” said Charlotte Dalton. “We lost our quarter-final last week but got through because another team wasn’t able to field a team today so we were quite fortunate, but I think that our performance today has vindicated us. We put in a really strong team performance in the semi-final against Carlton which was really pleasing. We come from a variety of clubs, we don’t train together, so for us to be able to come together and play like that has done everybody proud.

“We had lost to ESSM in the quarter-final last weekend so we felt we had something to prove against them today. We maybe gave them a few too many runs at the top of the innings but our bowlers and fielders really pulled it back and then our batters put on a really awesome performance. There was a bit of squeaky bum time in overs twelve to fourteen, I was doing the maths in my head and it was almost a run a ball needed and it was getting tense, but what a time for Ellen Watson to score her maiden fifty. She made it look easy and really steadied the ship to take us to the win.”

In the two semi-finals earlier in the day, a partnership of 55 between Abtaha Maqsood (28*) and Lois Wilkinson (24) was decisive as The West chased down Carlton’s 83 for 7 within fifteen overs, whilst Kathryn White (41), Chloe Keily (3 for 5), Kathryn Fraser (2 for 5) and Emma Phipps (2 for 10) were the stand-out performers in ES-SM’s 71 run win over George Watson’s College.

The play-off between the two capital sides saw Carlton claim third-place after an eight-wicket win against outgoing cup-holders GWC. Scotland U21s Charis Scott (3 for 5) and Ikra Farooq (2 for 2) restricted GWC to 49 for 7, leaving Carlton’s top order to put the finishing touches onto a comfortable victory by chasing down the target with more than ten overs to spare.

——

Jake Perry is a cricket writer based in Scotland.

Twitter: @jperry_cricket / Facebook: Jake Perry Cricket

MATCH REPORT: Worcestershire v Cornwall WCC Division 3 Play-Off

By Richard Clark with quotes from Worcestershire Vice-Captain & Wicketkeeper Chloe Hill

We didn’t get very much of the Bank Holiday sunshine that had been hinted at, but we did get a victory to celebrate, and with it promotion, and for Worcestershire’s Women’s Rapids that would do very nicely, thank you.

In the end it was comfortable – 97 runs the margin – although there were times during the afternoon when the odd doubt may have crept in, as Worcestershire did their best to undermine an excellent start with the bat.

There are many ways to reach a total of 227 for 9 off 50 overs, and this was probably among the more unlikely ones. Opting to bat after winning the toss, the Rapids could hardly have been better-placed at 147 without loss, and rattling along at five-an-over, only for a flurry of wickets to derail their progress and leave them a little way short of where they might have expected to be.

The innings was founded on half-centuries from Chloe Hill (78 from 86 balls) and Beth Ellis (69 from 118).  As the numbers suggest, Hill played the aggressor with eight boundaries, whilst Ellis was happy in a largely supporting role, turning over the strike and collecting singles at every opportunity.  The Rapids could hardly have wished for better.

And yet… attempting to turn the second ball of the match from Emily Geach to leg, Hill’s leading edge had looped up to midwicket where the fielder appeared to misjudge it, coming in a couple of steps before having to back-track in a vain attempt to take the catch. Fine margins…

*   *   *

“My heart was in my mouth. The biggest match of the year, all that build-up, so much at stake, and I’d stuffed it up right at the start!  I can’t describe the relief when I saw she wasn’t going to get to it.  But I guess it woke me up a lot!!”

*   *   *

The partnership wasn’t chanceless.  Hill was perhaps fortunate to survive a huge stumping appeal, and rode her luck again when a fierce pull went straight through the hands of Kellie Williams, striking the Cornish skipper a blow on the eye that forced her off the field for a while and left her with a handsome black eye to remember Hill by.

More than once, a fumble at the stumps allowed the batters to escape a run-out and the edge of the bat was beaten a good few times.  But Hill and Ellis ploughed on for the best part of 30 overs until Ellie Mitchell deceived and bowled Hill as she gave the leg-spinner the charge.

*   *   *

“Oh, there was a massive amount of frustration!  Everyone who was there would have seen my face when I walked off!  Who wouldn’t love a century on their home ground?!  But from the team perspective we couldn’t have dreamed of a better position to be in.  Runs on the board and plenty of batting to come.  I thought, ‘I’ve done my job and the rest of the team can chip in nicely to reach a big score.’”

*   *   *

Mitchell waited politely for Ellis to collect the two runs she needed to complete her own half-century at the other end, and then took up the attack again to great effect.  Within five balls she ripped out the “engine room” of the Worcestershire order, doing to the experienced Clare Boycott and Lauren Rowles exactly what she had done to Hill, but this time without either of them troubling the scorers.  147 for none had become 149 for 3.  Not so comfortable now…

Ellis and Rachael Howells steadied things for a while, adding 27 for the fourth wicket before Howells was caught behind chasing a wide one, and thereafter arrivals and departures came and went at a rate that would have alarmed the Stationmaster at nearby Foregate Street.  It wasn’t long before the Rapids found themselves 199 for 8, with Ellis among those to go, bowled by Charlotte Phillips.

*   *   *

“This 100% wasn’t in the plan!  You always expect to have a sticky spell during an innings but we couldn’t get ourselves going – although the strip was the same one used two days earlier for the Men’s T20 Blast quarter-final, a low-scoring match itself.  But with the positive start we thought we had a big total coming at the end of 50 overs.”

“I think we got caught between the need to push on and the need for new batters to just take an over or two.”

“But credit to Cornwall too.  They kept at us, there was a lot of ‘pace off the ball’ and not much that was there to hit.  They took the initiative away from us as much as we surrendered it.  We definitely needed a few runs from the lower order as I know we can bat right through.”

*   *   *

Those few runs came – 28 of them in the last seven overs – with the relatively experienced Jess Humby marshalling youngsters Ellie Fleck (the only player other than Hill or Ellis to reach double-figures) and Philippa Bray though.  It was “one of those” totals – a match that perhaps should have been out of reach… wasn’t.

Cornwall began with a flourish, Boycott’s opening over going for 14 with the help of five wides, but thereafter she and Issy Wong applied the brakes, albeit without being able to make inroads.  Mitchell (if anybody should know about opening at New Road, it’s a Mitchell…) and Caitlin Burnett looked largely unhurried.

At 34 without loss after eight overs, neither team had put themselves in the ascendency until Emily Arlott rattled Burnett’s stumps in her first over, and almost immediately Wong did likewise to Mitchell from the other end next over.

Rapids on top, and more so when the same bowlers repeated the dose to Amber Cummins (LBW to Arlott) and Sophie Richards (bowled by Wong).  Cornwall 44 for 4 and badly holed below the waterline…

*   *   *

“We didn’t start as well as we would have liked, but we knew a couple of wickets would change things.  Em and Issy are both pretty quick and I would back their bowling to take wickets.  For a 16-year old Issy gets some real pace, hits the gloves very hard which is pleasing to see at her age. Once Issy found her length and her rhythm she was on fire!”

“Em’s got so much experience now.  She knows exactly what she’s doing. She trains extremely hard to hit her areas.  Having seen Cornwall use their slower bowlers well we weren’t sure how pace would go.  Everyone knows it can fly off the bat and runs can come quickly.  But Em and Issy just didn’t give anything away in that spell.  With hindsight, that was the period that won us the match.”

*   *   *

For a while, Rebecca Odgers and Joleigh Roberts defied the home side.  Odgers in particular played beautifully, hitting 11 fours in her 56 from 57 balls, most of them textbook drives through the off side, and keeping Cornwall up with the rate.

They were undone by the curse of the drinks break, though, Roberts just failing to beat Boycott’s throw from backward point after an untimely mid-wicket “debate” about the possibility of pinching a single, and Charlotte Williams was snaffled by Rowles at midwicket soon afterwards, leaving the visitors 81 for 6.

Geach held firm in a stand of 40 as Odgers continued to carve away at the other end but the final nail came when Ellis had Odgers stumped by Hill.  Odgers couldn’t have moved her foot very far, or for very long, but Hill’s hands were fast, and she knew…

*   *   *

“When someone’s batting like that there’s always something in the back of your mind that thinks she could do it all on her own.  You know deep down it’s unlikely but it’s that little voice of doubt that nags away.  You get anxious, you try a bit too hard for a wicket and it doesn’t come, so you get a bit more anxious, and so on. But as soon as I saw her foot lift and drag out slightly I knew I’d got her, and let’s just say it was definitely a massive relief when that finger went up!”

*   *   *

The final two wickets fell quickly – fittingly one each for Wong and Arlott, who finished with 4 for 22, and 3 for 21 respectively.  Ellis deserves a mention too, her ten overs quietly yielding 1 for 29.  Job done.

Cornwall will be disappointed but looking down their team sheet I recognised at least five names who have played age-group cricket against my 15-year old daughter.  They include Odgers and Geach, who took 2 for 29 off her ten overs and – Odgers excepted – faced more balls than anybody else.  There should be encouragement for them in the performances of those youngsters.  They can only continue to improve.

For Worcestershire, Division 2 awaits after a single season away.  It will be a challenge but one the Rapids will hope to meet head on.

*   *   *

“What a day!  It’s always fun to play at New Road but to do so with something real at stake, and to win in front of your own supporters – not much beats that!  And to be back in Division 2 where we knew we should have been last season is great!”

“There were celebrations and it was great that we could do that with our teammates, friends and families.  And personally, I just want to say a massive ‘Thank You’ to all our supporters this season, and to our home ground Kidderminster CC and New Road.  Hopefully all these positives can go into next season.  As we all say,  #UPTHERAPIDS!🍐🌊”

——–

Follow Richard Clark on Twitter @glassboy68

STATS: KSL2018 Non-International Rankings

As we observed when looking at the overall Batting and Bowling Rankings, the tendency of sides to prioritise the recruitment of big-hitting batsmen when selecting their overseas players has meant that young English talent has had more opportunities with the ball than with the bat – non-internationals (who are by definition English-qualified – the rules essentially require this) bowled 35% of the overs in KSL2018 but batted just 15%.

Especially regarding the batting therefore, these stats are then very much a reflection of the opportunities a player had, rather than necessarily how “good” she is.

Topping the Non-International Batting Rankings is Thea Brookes, who was a consistent performer for the Diamonds in the middle order with 4 scores over 20, including an impressive 45 off 36 balls v the Vipers.

At No. 2 in the Batting Rankings Eve Jones scored more runs than Brookes, but the unfortunate truth is that Jones seems to have been left-behind by professionalism – a Strike Rate of just 85 just doesn’t cut it these days, in this age of power hitting.

Of the England prospects, batting-wise Sophia Dunkley is probably the closest – popping up in both the Batting and Bowling Rankings, though she was probably one big score short of booking a ticket to the West Indies for the World T20.

At the top of the Non-International Bowling Rankings is of course Kirstie Gordon, who topped the overall Bowling Rankings with 17 wickets. Gordon’s route to England representation is currently blocked by Sophie Ecclestone and Alex Hartley – a classic case of why we really need professionalism at the next level down, so she can stay in the game full time and develop, rather than slipping behind as the likes of Eve Jones have done.

Batting

Player Played Runs SR
1. Thea Brookes (Diamonds) [21] 9 139 121
2. Eve Jones (Thunder) [24] 9 168 85
3. Ellie Threlkeld (Thunder) [26] 10 138 99
4. Sophia Dunkley (Stars) [32] 11 98 120
5. Georgie Boyce (Thunder) [34] 9 98 88
6. Georgia Adams (Lightning) [36] 11 69 93
7. Paige Scholfield (Vipers) [40] 8 36 129
8. Natalie Brown (Thunder) [42] 5 34 117
9. Maia Bouchier (Vipers) [43] 4 40 93
10. Sophie Luff (Storm) [44] 11 36 97

Batting Ranking = Runs * Strike Rate; [X] = Overall Rank

Bowling

Player Played Wickets Economy
1. Kirstie Gordon (Lightning) [1] 11 17 6.05
2. Linsey Smith (Lightning) [8] 11 11 6.40
3. Katie Levick (Diamonds) [9] 9 11 7.00
4. Emma Lamb (Thunder) [11] 10 11 8.06
5. Freya Davies (Storm) [19] 11 8 7.72
6. Claire Nicholas (Storm) [20] 10 7 7.03
7. Fi Morris (Vipers) [23] 7 7 8.01
8. Sophia Dunkley (Stars) [27] 11 6 8.00
9. Maddy Villiers (Stars) [29] 11 5 6.92
10. Danielle Gibson (Storm) [30] 11 5 7.41

Bowling Ranking = Wickets / Economy