MATCH REPORT: Finty Makes Minty As Hampshire Beat Sussex

Hampshire rebounded from a brace of defeats to Middlesex on the opening day of the county season with two wins against Sussex at the Aldridge Academy in Brighton, thanks to 7 wickets from 17-year-old newcomer Finty Trussler, and 50 runs from the bat of opener Ella Chandler.

Afterwards, Hampshire skipper Charlie Dean told CRICKETher:

“It was a tough start last weekend, but it is good to bounce back with a couple of really good wins.”

“It was a touch pitch to play on, and I think that showed from the scores that were set, but we managed to adapt to it slightly better and ended up on top.”

“Ella was brilliant – it’s good that she can bat through, and she’s really using that role at the top of the order.”

“Finty debuted against Middlesex last weekend – she’s a really exciting leg-spinner, and I think that showed with her figures.”

Having won the toss and elected to bat in the opening game, Chandler and Maia Bouchier got Hampshire off to a racing start. Vipers pro Tara Norris appears to have put on a yard of pace over the winter, but Chandler and Bouchier turned it to their advantage to hit her opening over for 9; and by the end of the powerplay Hampshire had reached 43-2, going at over 7 an over.

Hampshire couldn’t quite keep up that scoring rate, losing wickets periodically through the middle overs; but with Chandler playing the anchor role, batting through to the 18th over for 41 off 50 balls, they finished up on a respectable 114-8.

In reply, Sussex lost Georgia Adams early, bowled by Gemma Lane; but this brought Sarah Taylor to the crease. Taylor reached a characteristically effortless 28 off 24 balls, and looked to be threatening to take the game away from Hampshire, until she was bowled by Charlie Dean with one that kept low.

This opened things up for Trussler to come on and rip through the lower order, taking 4-12 from her 4 overs, including a magnificent low running catch at deep mid on from Western Storm pro Fi Morris to dismiss Millie Taylor – one of no less than four Taylors involved in the match – Millie, twin sister Mary, Southern Viper Charlotte and former England wicket keeper Sarah.

Sussex were eventually bowled out for just 67 from 18 overs, Hampshire winning by a massive 47 runs.

After winning her second toss of the day, Charlie Dean invited Sussex to keep batting, and they made a slightly better fist of things the second time around, reaching 90-5 – Sarah Taylor making 29* off 28, and Georgia Adams 29 off 44, as Trussler picked up another 3 wickets for 13 runs.

In the chase, Ella Chandler was soon into her stride again, but her innings was cut short after she was hit on the helmet by a bouncer that didn’t bounce from Tara Norris, leading her to sensibly retire not out for 9, due to the possibility of concussion.

This left it to Charlie Dean and Fi Morris to scamper home, which they did with 5 overs to spare, for the loss of just 1 wicket – Dean finishing 26* and Morris 47* off 41, to give Hampshire their second win of the day.

LIVE BLOG: Hampshire v Sussex

11.00 – Welcome to the Battle of the Vipers! We are at Brighton to watch Hampshire take on Sussex in two T20 matches. EXCITING NEWS that Sarah Taylor will be keeping wicket today for Sussex as part of her domestic comeback. Her first competitive cricket since 2019. Her quality endures!

11.02 – Ella Chandler and Maia Bouchier are opening the batting after Hampshire won the toss – Chandler fresh from helping her club side Aldershot to a big win against Hursley Park yesterday. Chandler edges Tara Norris’s first ball over the head of first slip – it’s all happening here! They take 9 off it – 9-0 after the first over.

11.10 – WICKET! After a couple of lovely shots, Bouchier miscues a pull shot and is caught at deep square leg. Good low catch from Cassidy McCarthy. New pro Tara Norris looks to have gained a bit of pace over the summer! Hampshire 17-1.

11.22 – WICKET! Chiara Green turns one into Charlie Dean and bowls her. 42-2 in the 6th.

11.39 – WICKET! Sarah Taylor is in the action and whips off the bails to have Fi Morris stumped off a wide – her trademark! At the halfway stage, Hampshire are 61-3 – Chandler 30*.

11.57 – WICKET! Sussex finally break the Chandler-Ariana Dowse partnership – Dowse falls LBW to Mary Taylor. The pair added 32 for that wicket – 88-4 in the 16th.

12.01 – WICKET! Some scrambling going on here – Abbie Whybrow has been dropped twice and had to dive to get home on the first occasion after ball-watching, but she is hanging on out there… Finally Tara Norris hangs onto a c&b and Whybrow goes. Hampshire 97-5 with 3 overs to come.

12.06 – WICKET! Mary Taylor picks up her second – Alice Monaghan clean bowled for a duck.

12.11 – WICKET! Chandler has been holding it together for Hampshire, but falls 9 runs short of her half-century – run out by a direct hit from cover. She’s looked in very good touch today so Charlotte Edwards (who is here watching) will be pleased!

12.18 – Hampshire finish on 114-8. Innings tailed off a bit towards the end, and Sarah Taylor picked up another stumping in the final over. Sussex probably favourites here.

12.35 – WICKET! That’s a big one. Last year’s star of the RHF Georgia Adams is bowled by Gemma Lane and trudges off for just 1. Sussex 1-1… and that brings Sarah Taylor to the crease. Looking forward to this!

12.48 – Alice Monaghan making Sarah Taylor duck and dive a bit in her opening over! Sussex 14-1 after 5 overs.

13.02 – WICKET! That is HUGE for Hampshire. Just as Taylor looked to be getting into her stride, Charlie Dean comes on and fools her with some uneven bounce – she is bowled for 28. Sussex are 42-2 in the 9th and behind the rate – could that be the tipping point?

13.08 – WICKET! Ella Mac never quite got going today and Fi Morris finally puts her out of her misery – she goes caught behind for 10 off 25 balls.

13.16 – WICKET! Dean gets her second – Norris tries to reverse her but is caught at short third man. Great running catch from Finty Trussler (who we’ve never seen before but what a brilliant name!)

13.22 – WICKET! Trussler chimes in with the ball now. Chiara Green mistimed a drive to Fi Morris at long on – well held by Morris. Sussex 57-5 after 14 overs. This game is definitely heading in Hampshire’s direction.

13.27 – WICKET! Monaghan beats Emily Spooner for pace, and she is bowled. Identical twins Taylor and Taylor now at the crease. Pity the poor scorer because no one can tell them apart!

13.32 – WICKETS! Trussler takes two in two! One of the Taylors (don’t ask me which) falls caught behind and then Cassidy McCarthy skies one. Sussex 64-8 after 15 overs.

13.35 – WICKET. Poor running from Sussex – Beth Harvey is run out for 1.

13.38 – Hat trick ball for Trussler! Taylor gets an edge but it flies over the keeper’s head.

13.39 – HAMPSHIRE WIN (by a lot). Fi Morris takes a brilliant catch in the deep and Sussex are bowled out for 67 in 18 overs. Finty Trussler finishes with excellent figures of 4-12.


14.40 – Play underway here in the second T20 at Brighton. Sussex batting first this time. They’ve been allowed to start a bit earlier than 3pm as both sides have agreed, as it’s “only” a friendly.

14.57 – Sussex 18-0 at the end of a very sedate powerplay.

15.05 – WICKET! Ella Mac swings and misses and is bowled by Fi Morris. Sussex 36-1 off 8 overs.

15.12 – After 10 overs, Sussex are 47-1 – have picked up the pace somewhat. Gads 25*.

15.18 – WICKET! Fi Morris gets another and it’s Adams this time, who is given out LBW. Got in a muddle with that one and didn’t seem to move her feet. 54-2 after 12.

15.20 – New batter Tara Norris is batting in short sleeves. It’s about minus 5 degrees. Brave, or stupid? 😁

15.24 – WICKET! Norris can go and put a jumper on now. Slashed wildly outside off stump and caught behind. Finty Trussler has another!

15.34 – Syd says that if this over was a spy novel it would be called “Taylor Taylor Taylor Spy”. (Charlotte bowling to Sarah and Mary.) Sussex 75-3 after 17.

15.46 – WICKETS! Mary Taylor stumped and Chiara Green bowled in the last over – two more scalps in the bag for Trussler, who has picked up 7 wickets in total today. Sarah Taylor stranded on 29*, while Sussex finish on 90-5, which Hampshire should really be able to chase… if the weather holds!

16.03 – Hampshire’s chase begins with an early WICKET – Bouchier holes out to deep square leg in the first over. 6-1.

16.15 – Ella Chandler has retired hurt. She was hit on the side of her helmet and the concern is obviously a possible concussion. Essential to take these things seriously so she is quite rightly coming off.

16.31 – Hampshire 40-1 after 7. Charlie Dean and Fi Morris making good progress.

16.48 – Hampshire 72-1 after 12. Dean 20* off 24 and Morris 34* off 34. They really are making short work of this.

16.59 – HAMPSHIRE WIN BY 9 WICKETS. Dean 26*, Morris 47*. A good day for Hampshire who finish 2 from 2 – both easy wins.

MATCH REPORT: Rowe Makes Case For Regionals As Kent Draw First Blood In London Championship

An aggressive 65-ball 63 from Susie Rowe made the difference, as Kent beat Essex in the opening round of the 2021 London Championship by 46 runs.

Rowe, who staged a comeback in competitive cricket last summer representing South East Stars in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, was by far the top-scorer from both sides on a pitch that was so green it looked like it wouldn’t know what a mower was if it ran it over.

“It didn’t come on that well,” Rowe said after the match. “There wasn’t much pace in it. You had to really wait for it and watch it. It meant you had to be quite aggressive and quite bold to get runs.”

“It was a tricky one but we got a score that we were able to defend. Essex got off to a good start but we were able to pull it back and come away with a decent victory.”

Essex had finished the 2020 mini-season winless, but came back fighting to turn their match against reigning 50-over County Champions Kent into a real contest – bowling the Horses out for 203.

Essex’s line-up were buoyed by the addition of Sunrisers’ Jo Gardner and Lissy Macleod, more usually found sporting Warwickshire and Berkshire shirts respectively.

However, both were keen to get some 50-over cricket under their belts before the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy begins later this month, and both made crucial interventions for Essex.

With the ball, Jo Gardner (3-37) took out the middle stump of Kent openers Megan Sturge and Sarah Bryce in successive overs, after Kent had reached 65 without loss.

Macleod, after bagging a couple of wickets with her off-spin, then led the charge at the top of the batting order, as Essex raced to 58-0 in their first 15 overs.

But 17-year-old Kalea Moore made the crucial breakthrough, trapping Macleod LBW for 28, while two run outs in quick succession dented Essex’s progress to the target still further.

It was the second spell from England left-armer Kirstie Gordon which really tore the heart out of their chase, though. Gordon – playing in just her third match for Kent after being handed her county cap in the T20 Cup last weekend – struck immediately to see off both Hayley Brown and Katherine Speed LBW, finishing with 4-23 as Essex were bowled out for 157 in 40 overs.

“It was a very green pitch, so we always knew that if we got a wicket there was a chance to get into them and take a cluster of wickets, and that’s exactly what Kirstie did,” said Rowe. “It was needed because at that stage the game could have gone either way.”

This year’s South East Stars squad is yet to be announced, but after today’s performance it would seem to be a no-brainer that Rowe’s name should be firmly on the team sheet when Stars play their opening fixture of the trophy against Sunrisers on 29 May.

LIVE BLOG: Essex v Kent

11.00 – We’ve arrived at Chigwell for the opening encounter of the 2021 London Championship – Essex v Kent. Essex are sporting their new kit (Top Secret ™️) and a few new faces including Sunrisers Lissy Macleod and Jo Gardner. A good way for them to get some 50-over practice in ahead of this year’s RHF! Trevor Griffin is obviously setting some store by this game as he has braved the cold to be here and watch in person.

11.20 – HYGIENE BREAK! Essex won the toss and chose to bat. Kent are opening with Sarah Bryce, who looks in beautiful touch, and Megan Sturge. They’ve put on 24-0 in the opening 6 overs (Bryce 17*). The weather can’t quite make up its mind so we are alternately freezing and too hot!

11.51 – WICKET! Essex make their first breakthrough. New pro Jo Gardner, in her second over of the day, clean bowls Megan Sturge with a straight one. Kent 57-1 after 15 overs.

12.01 – WICKET! That’s the big one. Sarah Bryce departs for 33 and Jo Gardner picks up her second. The ball hit top of middle stump – perfect! Kent 61-2 and ex-England batter Susie Rowe walks to the crease. PS It’s cold.

12.05 – There is a live stream of the Vipers warm-up match on the Isle of Wight available here:

Personally we don’t think they should be able to use the term “warm-up” when it’s 3 degrees outside.

12.35 – At the halfway stage, Kent have just brought up 3 figures – 102-2 after 25 overs. Susie Rowe is adding some much-needed impetus – she’s on 26 off 25 balls and has already played the shot of the day, a beautiful cut behind square for four. Kent look to be on top at the moment.

12.47 – WICKET! Maxine Blythin feather edges Kelly Castle behind the stumps. Kent 117-3 in the 29th.

13.01 – WICKET! Scarlett Hughes stumps Kalea Moore and Kent lose their fourth. 131-4 in the 32nd.

13.10 – FIFTY FOR SUSIE ROWE! Rowe brings up her half-century in the 35th over with a boundary – she’s got there off just 51 balls, at a crucial time for Kent. Kirstie Gordon is at the other end now, and crunches a boundary to wrap up the over. Kent 150-4 after 35.

13.25 – WICKET! Rowe skies one to Beth Harmer at point. Harmer has been on fire in the field today – this time, the ball hangs in the air ominously but she takes it successfully. Important to get rid of Rowe, who looked pretty set on 63. Kent now 165-5 with 11 overs remaining of the innings.

13.30 – WICKET! Kent 167-6. Gordon falls cutting lavishly and is caught at backward point. Lissy Macleod has her second victim of the day. Kent falling apart a bit here!

13.35 – WICKET! Megan Belt drives straight to the extra cover fielder and Kent are 168-6.

13.53 – Kent are pushing on here – 194-7 after 46 overs. Essex are getting a bit sloppy in the field – Macleod has just had two relatively straightforward catches put down off her bowling. It looks like Kent will get to 200, which is always an important signifier in this format and (we THINK!) will mean they get maximum batting bonus points.

13.55 – WICKET! Jelfs goes, belting it to deep midwicket. She did well with a handy run-a-ball 19 there. Kent 194-8.

14.00 – WICKET! Kent’s 9th wicket falls with the score on 197. Esmae MacGregor takes out the middle stump!

14.03 – WICKET! Underdogs Essex have bowled Kent out for 203 in the 48th over. That’s a bit of a turn up! MacGregor finishes with 3-for.

15.05 – Play has resumed here at Chigwell! Essex going along nicely – 23-0 after 7 overs, with Macleod and Harmer opening up. We’ve just recorded our weekly vodcast and it will be going up on the site tomorrow, so be sure to keep an eye out for it!


15.40 – WICKET(S)! After a good start, Essex have now lost 2 wickets in the space of 2 overs – Macleod LBW to Kalea Moore, and now Jessica Bird disastrously run out trying to scamper a single, but sent back by partner Harmer. Essex 65-2 after 17 overs.

15.54 – WICKET! Oh no – disaster for Essex as ANOTHER player falls to a run out. Beth Harmer pushed the ball out to extra cover, then went for the single but Kelly Castle was having none of it and sent her straight back. Out by a fair way. Kent 85-3.

16:10 – After 25 overs, Essex are 103-3 – ever so slightly ahead of the rate – the game is finely poised.

16:20 – WICKET! Kelly Castle comes down the track to Megan Belt, misses, and is stumped by Sarah Bryce for 27. 108-4 now, after 28.

16:23 – WICKET! Kirstie Gordon comes back and takes a wicket LBW with the first ball of her new spell – gave the appeal 120% and the umpire just couldn’t turn it down. 108-5.

16:27 – WICKET! Rinse and repeat – Gordon has another LBW as Katherine Speed tries to play around her pads and is trapped right in front. 109-6.

16:31 – WICKET! Would you Adam’n’Eve it? Gordon’s got another – Jo Gardner bowled by one that kept low; and Essex are sinking towards defeat.

16:50 – WICKET! Cath Dalton has been leading some resistance for Essex, but she is bowled for 18 by Kalea Moore. 137-8 after 36 overs.

17:00 – WICKET! Play of the day – Hannah Jelfs takes a brilliant diving catch at midwicket to give Kirstie Gordon a 4th wicket. 151-9.

17:05 – And that… as the Americans say… is the ball game – Essex bowled out for 157; so Kent win by 46 runs.

MATCH REPORT: Milly Hits Home Runs As Worcestershire Double-Up On Berkshire

Central Spark Milly Home was the star as Worcestershire beat Berkshire twice on the opening day of the county season at Falkland CC.

On a breezy day in West Berkshire, Home, whose ability to swing a stick has already earned her age group international honours with England on the lacrosse field, hit an aggregate 132 runs across two T20s, to lead the Rapids to a pear* of victories.

Speaking to CRICKETher afterwards, Home reflected:

“We got two wins, which is what we wanted. The first game we batted second, the second game we batted first, so it’s nice to know we can set and chase.”

“Because of COVID this winter we haven’t been able to train together, so we’ve had one-to-ones with the coaches. We’ve been working on hitting the ball straight with a lot of power – being forceful, using your feet, and backing yourself. I got lots of hitting in, so it was really nice to come to the middle and feel ready for the season.”

“I’m on loan from Warwickshire, so it was nice to open the batting – that gave me a bit of freedom to be able to bat for the 20 overs, and it was a good wicket, so it was nice to get a few runs.”

In the first match, Berkshire set off with some real intent, as Emily Cunningham – on her first day out of quarantine following her flight back from New Zealand – hit a quick 12 off 8 balls, using the pace of Emily Arlott to find the boundary twice in the first over. Mia Rogers (30 off 37) and Ash Muttitt (17 off 21) built on that start; but Berkshire were undone by a spell of 4-15 in just 3 overs from loopy offspinner Flora Bertwhistle, eventually limping to 102-7.

In reply, Milly Home (44) and Georgie Macey (nee Adcock) (33)** set off at a rate of knots, putting on 87 for the first wicket to take Worcestershire within touching distance; and although a mini-collapse followed, with Amanda ‘Steamer’ Potgieter taking 3-6 in two overs, the final result was never really in doubt by that stage.

Batting first in the second game, Worcestershire lost Macey for a first baller, LBW to Freya Johnson; but from then on it was all about Home, who carried her bat for a smashing 88* off 63 balls, supported at the other end by captain Chloe Hill (34). A slightly frantic run-a-ball 16 from Clare Boycott at the death helped set Berkshire an imposing 156 to chase.

Given the first result, it felt like a long shot; but perhaps freed by that knowledge, Ashley Muttitt and Amanda Potgieter, who came together in the 3rd over, kept up with the rate for the bulk of the innings, only falling behind when Worcestershire eventually brought on England Academy fast bowler Arlott towards the end. Muttitt and Potgieter both passed 50 – Muttitt making 51* (her highest ever score in a competitive county match) and Potgieter 61*, as Berkshire finished on 149-2 – just 7 runs short.

* Sic!
** At the time of writing, the scorecard on Play Cricket has Home and Macey the wrong way around in the first game.

EXCLUSIVE: England Players To Miss County T20 Cup

The ECB have confirmed to CRICKETher that the contracted England players will miss the first competitive matches of the 2021 season, the County T20 Cup, due to concerns about the lack of Covid-secure measures in the county game.

The Cup begins this Sunday 25 April, and will run for four weekends in April and May. England players including Tammy Beaumont had previously expressed a strong wish to participate, with many having represented their counties for years.

However, an ECB spokesperson told CRICKETher:

“County T20 cricket is classed as Recreational Cricket and therefore is covered by less stringent COVID-19 guidelines, which in turn creates a higher risk due to the lack of daily monitoring, testing and general adherence to protocols.

The risk of playing recreational cricket is that you have more people coming together from a multitude of different environments – without those elite sport protocols in place – and therefore more complex ‘contacts’ with the public.

Regional warm-up fixtures are played with elite protocols in place so England players are able to play in them.”

The ECB are naturally keen to avoid the risk of any of their players coming into contact with anyone who tests positive for COVID, as this would mean the player would have to be placed in “hard isolation”, and render them unable to train for 10 days.

Interestingly, Kirstie Gordon participated in Kent’s warm-up matches against Surrey last weekend, suggesting that she is not expected to train with the England squad ahead of the India series, and may be facing the imminent loss of her central contract.

The withdrawal of England players from the county game also raises questions about its future status in the domestic structure. In a press conference earlier this month, Heather Knight admitted that regional cricket would remain the priority for her and her side, despite her own sentimental commitment to Berkshire, who she has represented since 2010.

“The county stuff has a slightly different role in the full fixture list now,” Knight said. “The main domestic cricket that we play, and the best standard that’s going to prepare us for England, is going to be the Rachael Heyhoe Flint stuff, so that’s going to be the priority. In terms of playing for Berkshire, as a sentimental thing potentially, but the reality is I’ve got to pick and choose the cricket that’s going to help me best perform for England.”

OPINION: Marketing, The Hundred… And Why The Aussies REALLY Got Katy Perry To Play At The G

Having watched a game of The Hundred for the first time this weekend, we have a confession to make: it really was a lot more like cricket than we expected.

To be fair, our friends at the ECB had repeatedly told us this (waves at Beth Barrett-Wild) but we’d been sceptical, partly because all the initial marketing had beaten into our heads that it WASN’T like cricket – it was completely new and different – that’s what all the Facebook ads and Instagram posts were telling us… and we believed them!

The fact that The Hundred is actually “just cricket” is both a blessing and a problem for the ECB.

It is a blessing, because I now think that “normal” fans will come around to it as a game pretty fast; but it is a problem because the rest of the world – the “mums and kids” who “don’t like cricket” – will also realise quite quickly that it is just cricket… and… well… they don’t really like cricket!

To help get over this, the ECB have a huge entertainment push on the cards – they are planning to make the game a spectacle around the field, even if it isn’t quite so entertaining on it.

Which brings us to Katy Perry, and the real reason why the Aussies paid what I believe the kids call “serious coin” to have her at The MCG last year for the T20 World Cup Final. Put simply, Katy Perry was an insurance policy – and one that, like many insurance policies, they didn’t actually need in the end.

Perry’s presence was insurance against Australia NOT making the final. The main concert was scheduled for AFTER the game, so that local fans, 99% of whom were of course Australian, would come (and crucially STAY) in the event of (say) an India v South Africa final.

But the point is, in order to do this, they needed KATY FREAKIN’ PERRY – one of the biggest stars in the world! Getting Ella Henderson* would just not have cut it; and the tournament organisers knew it.

(* No, I’ve no idea who Ella Henderson is either – I just googled who is currently top of the pops!)

Now back to The Hundred, which of course won’t have Katy Perry… or even Ella Henderson. And here’s the bad news: I’m just not convinced that even pulling out all the stops short of that – the juggles, the acrobats, the guys with bats on stilts – is going to make much difference to only thing that really matters – the cricket on the field.

But here’s the good news: the cricket on the field will be good. It will be the best players in the world, and they’ll be playing CRICKET. And the ads can scream all they want that The Hundred “Not Just Cricket”; but they will be wrong – it is “just” cricket; and as far as I’m concerned, that’s just fine.

PREVIEW: County T20 Cup – Why County Cricket Still Matters (Plus Full Fixture List)

Across the next four weekends, the first “official” (i.e. ECB-supported) women’s county cricket since 2019 will take place. This year’s County T20 Cup has a different look to previous seasons – it’s being played on a purely regional basis, and there will be no overall winner. The T20 Cup seems destined, for now, to remain in the hands of Warwickshire’s trophy cabinet, after the Bears won it two years ago.

Since the last official county fixtures were played, the ECB has introduced an entirely new level of cricket between the counties and England – the regional “Centres of Excellence”, who competed in the successful Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy last season.

Where does that leave county cricket? We spoke to four figures who are integral to the current domestic structure to find out…

Richard Bedbrook (Regional Director, South East Stars):

“The two counties in our region [Surrey and Kent] are very proud of their women’s teams and the women’s cricket programmes that they can provide. The regional structure still only offers seven games of 50-over cricket and six games of 20-over cricket, with finals on top of that – so county cricket adds to the cricket our senior players get to play.

It’s all part of helping the Academy players too – they need to be playing more cricket. County cricket for them is a really, really big stage for them to move through. For a young academy girl to play with players like Tash [Farrant], ADR, Bryony [Smith], Sophia [Dunkley] and Aylish [Cranstone], there’s big learnings there.

The county games will certainly provide a massive opportunity for us to observe players. They’re going to be hugely significant for every region, to see players playing the game. Depending on the timing, it might influence narrowing down the squad for the start of the season, or it might be broader and help us see how players have progressed through training and help us identify those that we think are ready to to be in the starting Stars XI .”

Laura Macleod (Regional Director, Central Sparks):

“County cricket plays a really important part in the whole pathway. Within the West Midlands we view county cricket as really important, because it gives the players some competition. We’re going to see some of our players being pitted up against one another [for Worcestershire and Warwickshire], so that will be a real test of applying what they’ve been doing over the winter and where they want to get to.

It gives us the opportunity to have a look at them in a competitive environment. And because the club game is not quite perhaps where it is for the men’s game, the county game still plays an important part in the development of a player.”

Dave Hathrill (Kent Women’s Head Coach):

“Our role as Kent Cricket can fit alongside all of the new additions to the pathway. From a county perspective, the changes are really welcome. Myself, Johann Myburgh [SE Stars Head Coach] and Richard Bedbrook are in conversation regularly.

Having the girls have the ability to get away and train properly throughout the summer with the new regional centres has actually brought more cricketing opportunities around, which as a county we’re definitely benefiting from. The girls have been excellent, they’ve really embraced the challenge of a full professional winter.

We’re looking forward to seeing how the summer plays out, and the effect that the new structure will have [on county cricket] going forward.”

Aylish Cranstone (Professional Cricketer, South East Stars and Surrey):

“County cricket is massive. I’ve been fortunate enough to work within the county age group programme for the last 5 or 6 years, and it’s always been really tough stopping at under-17s. We lose so many girls at that age group who are really good cricketers but haven’t played enough or haven’t been fortunate enough to reach the senior side. Keeping a senior Surrey side is really important for them because they can keep playing.”

“It keeps that enthusiasm for the club cricketers as well. They’ll still be aiming to look to push into those county sides, and if you can be training in and around county stuff then obviously you will be getting the opportunity to be seen by the regional coaches and it can go from there. If you dropped county cricket, you’re focusing everything on the higher level players but you might not have as many players coming through, because they might just think it’s a bit of a difficult goal to achieve. So it’s important to keep county cricket going.”

“It’s also nice for regional players. The regional stuff is going to be very intense, so it will be nice to go back to our counties at different points in the season, regroup, play with a different team again. It’s got a bit of a different vibe, and different coaches.”

Full T20 Cup Fixtures (all teams to play each other twice, at 11am and 3pm):

Sunday 25th April

North Group: Cumbria v Yorkshire (Arnside CC), North Representative XI v Scotland A (TBC), North East Warriors v Lancashire (Burnopfield CC)

East Midlands Group: Derbyshire v Shropshire (Denby CC), Leicestershire v Lincolnshire (Barkby United CC), Nottinghamshire v Northamptonshire (Worksop College)

West Midlands Group: Berkshire v Worcestershire (Falkland CC), Warwickshire v Wales (Edgbaston Foundation Ground), Staffordshire v Somerset (Fordhouses CC)

East Group: Cambridgeshire v Buckinghamshire (Exning Park), Herfordshire v Norfolk (Harlow CC), Huntingdonshire v Suffolk (TBC)

South East Group: Middlesex v Hampshire (Mill Hill School), Surrey v Kent (Chipstead CC), Sussex v Essex (Sir Rod Aldridge Cricket Centre, Brighton) 

South West Group: Devon v Oxfordshire (Braunton CC), Dorset v Wiltshire (TBC), Gloucestershire v Cornwall (Cheltenham College)

Monday 3rd May

North Group: Cumbria v North Representative XI (tbc), Lancashire v Scotland ‘A’ (Carnforth CC), Yorkshire v North East Warriors (Harrogate CC) 

East Midlands Group: Derbyshire v Leicestershire (Spondon CC), Lincolnshire v Nottinghamshire (Sleaford CC), Shropshire v Northamptonshire (Worfield CC) 

West Midlands Group: Somerset v Wales (Weston-Super-Mare CC), Warwickshire v Berkshire (Edgbaston Foundation Ground), Worcestershire v Staffordshire (Bromsgrove CC) 

East Group: Buckinghamshire v Norfolk (Dinton CC), Huntingdonshire v Hertfordshire (Ramsey CC), Suffolk v Cambridgeshire (Woolpit CC) 

South East Group: Essex v Surrey (Old Southendian & Southchurch CC), Kent v Middlesex (Kent CCC, Beckenham), Sussex v Hampshire (Sir Rod Aldridge Cricket Centre, Brighton) 

South West Group: Cornwall v Dorset (Boconnoc CC), Gloucestershire v Oxfordshire (Cheltenham College), Wiltshire v Devon (Corsham CC)

Sunday 9th May

North Group: Cumbria v Scotland ‘A’ (Lanercost CC), North East Warriors v North Representative XI (tbc), Yorkshire v Lancashire (Harrogate CC) 

East Midlands Group: Leicestershire v Nottinghamshire (Market Overton CC), Lincolnshire v Shropshire (Spalding Town CC), Northamptonshire v Derbyshire (Desborough Town CC) 

West Midlands Group: Somerset v Berkshire (Bath CC), Wales v Staffordshire (Newport CC), Warwickshire v Worcestershire (Edgbaston Foundation Ground) 

East Group: Buckinghamshire v Huntingdonshire (tbc), Norfolk v Cambridgeshire (North Runcton CC), Suffolk v Hertfordshire (Woolpit CC) 

South East Group: Essex v Kent (tbc), Hampshire v Surrey (Totton & Eling CC), Middlesex v Sussex (Mill Hill School) 

South West Group: Devon v Gloucestershire (Sidmouth CC), Dorset v Oxfordshire (Sherborne CC), Wiltshire v Cornwall (Sherston Magna CC)

Sunday 16th May

North Group: Lancashire v Cumbria (Widnes CC), North East Warriors v Scotland ‘A’ (Alnmouth & Lesbury CC), Yorkshire v North Representative XI (Harrogate CC) 

East Midlands Group: Northamptonshire v Lincolnshire (tbc), Nottinghamshire v Derbyshire (Collingham CC), Shropshire v Leicestershire (Whitchurch CC) 

West Midlands Group: Berkshire v Wales (Falkland CC), Staffordshire v Warwickshire (Oulton CC), Worcestershire v Somerset (Bromsgrove CC) 

East Group: Cambridgeshire v Huntingdonshire (Exning Park), Hertfordshire v Buckinghamshire (Boxmoor CC), Norfolk v Suffolk (Cromer CC) 

South East Group: Hampshire v Essex (Totton & Eling CC), Kent v Sussex (The Mote CC), Surrey v Middlesex (Old Whitgiftians CC) 

South West Group: Cornwall v Devon (Launceston CC), Gloucestershire v Dorset (Cheltenham College), Oxfordshire v Wiltshire (Bicester & North Oxford CC).