INTERVIEW: Scotland’s Kathryn and Sarah Bryce Head to WBBL

Jake Perry Reports

Two of the brightest stars in the Scottish game will be rubbing shoulders with the best in the world as participants in the 2017/18 Rebel Women’s Big Bash League Rookie Placement Programme. Sisters Kathryn and Sarah Bryce will head to Australia to take up two-week placements with WBBL franchises Adelaide Strikers and Hobart Hurricanes in the third edition of the innovative joint venture between Cricket Australia and the ICC.

Each of the eight nominees is given the opportunity to experience women’s cricket at its very highest level, and with the added possibility of being called into the tournament itself in the event of an injury to a contracted player, too, the initiative opens up a unique window onto the elite world.

Both Kathryn and Sarah are looking forward to the experience.

“It was so exciting to get everything confirmed,” said Sarah. “It was unexpected for me at least and the family are very proud to have us both involved.”

“I’m really looking forward to visiting Tasmania,” she continued. “Being around such high-quality players and getting to see how they go about their training and everything else is really exciting.”

Whilst Sarah has been selected for the first time it will be a second trip in two years for Scotland vice-captain Kathryn, and the twenty year-old all-rounder is relishing the opportunity to be part of the programme once again.

“Having as much exposure as possible to that professional set-up helps my game a lot,” she said. “It is experience that I take back into my training and tournament play with Scotland.”

“[Last year] gave me an insight into the preparation and hard work that goes into cricket at this level. It’s not just what happens in games and in training, it’s the whole thought process that goes into it as well.”

Kathryn was placed with Melbourne Stars during the last campaign.

“I was given a bit of time to settle in then I fitted into all the training and gym schedules,” she said. “Last year I went along to watch some of the other WBBL games in Melbourne, too. The Renegades were playing as well as the Stars so I went and watched them and got to know a few of the girls, went out to dinner with them and so on.”

“I was living in the same hotel as other international players so I got to spend a lot of time with them as well. Just being in that environment and the routine of training, gym and everything else taught me a lot.”

“I had a couple of training sessions out on the MCG, too, which was fantastic. That outfield and the indoor nets are something else.”

“In Adelaide there is the main Adelaide Oval but I’m not entirely sure what facilities we’ll be using,” continued Kathryn. “But wherever it is it’ll just be good to be playing some outdoor cricket at this time of year!”

“I don’t know a huge amount about what it’s going to be like but I know the facilities and the coaches are going to be of a great standard,” added Sarah. “It will be interesting to see what resources they have and how they use them.”

The news crowns a memorable year for both players. As well as winning her fiftieth Scotland cap Kathryn scored 241 runs at 30.13 for Warwickshire in her first season in the Women’s County Championship, adding a 49-ball 73* in the T20 Championship for good measure.

Seventeen year-old Sarah also made great strides after taking over from Lorna Jack behind the stumps as both players helped Scotland to the ICC Women’s World T20 Global Qualifier.

“It’s been a really good season,” said Sarah. “Going to Sri Lanka at the beginning of the year for the [ICC Women’s World Cup] Qualifier and playing against teams like South Africa was incredible. Putting yourself up against those sorts of players was a challenge we all relished.”

“I think that having both Kathryn and me at the WBBL shows that the women’s game in Scotland is really on the up. In the past a couple of players were relied upon a lot whereas that’s definitely changing now. These days the whole team is contributing which says a lot about how we have progressed.”

“Speaking personally taking over the gloves has been great for me,” Sarah continued. “I’m just trying to keep improving all aspects of my game. Having Kathryn doing so well [has been an inspiration] and it’s nice to be able to follow in her footsteps to the WBBL this year.”

The end of the placement will not be the last Sarah sees of Australia this winter, either.

“I’ll be spending three months at the Perth Cricket Academy after the Big Bash so that will get me into a good routine of how to go about training and fitness and so on too.”

“The whole winter is going to be a great experience and both of us will be looking to bring back as much knowledge to Scotland as we can.”

—–

Jake Perry writes on Scottish cricket for Cricket Scotland and Cricket 365 and has contributed to ESPNcricinfo and All Out Cricket.
Twitter: @jperry_cricket
Facebook: Jake Perry Cricket

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NEWS: KSL 2018 Fixtures Announced

The ECB have announced the fixture list for the new “Super-Sized” Kia Super League, with sides playing each other both home and away in 2018, extending the season to 32 matches, compared with just 17 this year.

The competition begins at the County Ground in Taunton, with the Western Storm playing the Yorkshire Diamonds on Sunday July 22nd; and concludes just over a month later, on Bank Holiday Monday August 27th, at the County Ground in Hove with the now-familiar 3-team Finals Day.

The season will feature 8 double-headers with men’s T20 Blast matches, at venues including Headingly, Old Trafford and (for the first time) Edgbaston, which will host Loughborough Lighting v Western Storm, on same bill as Birmingham Bears v Lancashire Lightning.

The TV schedules on Sky are “TBA” but we’d assume that it will be at least the 8 double-headers, plus the opening fixture and Finals Day.

Double Headers

Friday July 27 @ Headingley – Yorkshire Diamonds v Lancashire Thunder & Yorkshire Vikings v Birmingham Bears

Sunday July 29 @ Taunton – Western Storm v Loughborough Lightning & Somerset v Middlesex

Tuesday July 31 @ The Oval – Surrey Stars v Lancashire Thunder & Surrey v Glamorgan

Friday August 3 @ Old Trafford – Lancashire Thunder v Western Storm & Lancashire Lightning v Leicestershire Foxes

Tuesday August 7 @ Old Trafford – Lancashire Thunder v Surrey Stars & Lancashire Lightning v Durham Jets

Wednesday August 8 @ The Ageas Bowl – Southern Vipers v Yorkshire Diamonds & Hampshire v Somerset

Tuesday August 14 @ Hove – Southern Vipers v Surrey Stars & Sussex Sharks v Glamorgan

Wednesday August 15 @ Edgbaston – Loughborough Lightning v Western Storm & Birmingham Bears v Lancashire Lightning

WNCL Round-Up – Big-Hitting Breakers Top The Table In Australia

Australia’s 50-over WNCL goes into the WBBL “break” with 17-times champions the New South Wales Breakers atop the table and already looking odds-on to make a 22nd consecutive final.

WNCL Played Won Points
NSW Breakers 4 4 20
Western Fury 4 3 13
Queensland Fire 4 2 11
SA Scorpions 4 2 10
ACT Meteors 4 2 9
Vic Spirit 4 1 4
Tasmania Roar 4 0 0

The Breakers opened their season with a 6-wicket victory over the Queensland Fire, powered by a 93-ball century from Rachel Haynes; and Haynes was in the runs again, top scoring with 83 in a 90-run win over the Vic Spirit.

Following the Women’s Ashes it was Alyssa Healy who led the charge for the Breakers with 99 off 89 balls in a 7-wicket smackdown of the Western Fury; and then it was Ellyse Perry who stood up with 127 in a 97-run thumping of ACT Meteors, despite 4-24 off 10 overs bowled by the Meteors overseas star, South Africa’s Marizanne Kapp.

Second-placed Western Fury were run close in the opening game against the South Australia Scorpions – after the Fury posted 323-4, with centuries from Elyse Villani and Nicole Bolton, it looked to be all over for the Scorpions at 168-5, before a century partnership from Amanda Wellington (116) and Tabatha Saville (53) took the Scorpions close… but not quite close enough, as they were bowled-out in the 49th over, just 21 runs short.

The Fury had a rather more straightforward win over the Tasmania Roar, easily chasing 222 with 11 overs to spare; but were again run close by the ACT Meteors – Kate Cross the hero for the Fury that day, taking 3-22 as the Meteors were bowled out 23 short of a 237 run target.

In third place, the Queensland Fire may have one less win than the Fury, but sit just 2-points adrift of final qualification, after picking up 3 bonus points with big wins against the Roar and the Scorpions – Jemma Barsby taking 4-7 as the Scorpions were bowled out for just 104, chasing 163.

The Scorpions and Meteors, also with 2 wins each, will still believe they have a chance too if they can win both their remaining games and other results go their way; but it is probably game-over for the Vic Spirit already, as it is for the winless Roar.

The competition now takes a break whilst the players go off to their WBBL teams – not resuming until mid-February, when we have the last two rounds, with the final on February 24th.

STATS: Women’s Ashes Bowling Rankings

There is no doubt in our mind as to who should have been Player of the Series in this Women’s Ashes instead of Heather Knight. Not that Knight had a BAD series, of course – she scored four fifties, and played two particularly crucial innings – batting out for the draw in the Test and backing up centurion Danni Wyatt in the remarkable last T20.

But for us, the outstanding performer over the series was Aussie quick Megan Schutt, with 18 wickets – a full third of the “bowling” wickets taken by Australia across the 7 games – in conditions where England’s celebrated pace duopoly of Shrubsole and Brunt could muster just 10 wickets between them.

England’s leading bowler was Sophie Ecclestone, with 9 wickets at an Economy Rate of 4.35. Jenny Gunn took more wickets (11) but was the most expensive front-line bowler on either side over the course of the series – going for 6.37 an over.

Ellyse Perry underlined her status as the world’s leading all-rounder, coming in 3rd in the bowling rankings in addition to her 4th-place in the batting rankings.

The only other player to make both “Top 10s” is Katherine Brunt, who is looking like an increasingly key player in England’s line-up. It is difficult to see Brunt carrying on to the next World Cup, when she’ll be 36, but maybe it is possible if England can manage her more as a batting than a bowling all-rounder going forwards, hints of which emerged when she came on 1st change in the 2nd and 3rd T20s. (She opened in the 1st, but presumably only because Anya Shrubsole wasn’t playing.)

Player Matches Wickets Economy
1. Megan Schutt 7 18 3.6
2. Jess Jonassen 7 10 3.2
3. Ellyse Perry 7 10 3.9
4. Sophie Ecclestone 6 9 4.4
5. Jenny Gunn 6 11 6.4
6. Katherine Brunt 7 7 4.5
7. Tahlia McGrath 4 4 2.9
8. Alex Hartley 4 7 5.3
9. Laura Marsh 2 3 2.8
10. Amanda Wellington 6 3 3.4

Bowling Ranking = Wickets / Economy

STATS: Women’s Ashes Batting Rankings

On reading the table below, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that our rankings system doesn’t really work in a mulit-format series. Difficult… but not impossible! The other way of looking at it is that Danni Wyatt and Beth Mooney “hacked the system” with their remarkable innings in that unprecedented final T20, and that is what has landed them at the top of the list. Wyatt and Mooney’s huge Strike Rates in those innings propelled them ahead of both Ellyse Perry – 200 in the Test – and Heather Knight – four 50s in the series – both of whom scored far more runs over the 7 games.

In the battle of the ‘keepers, Alyssa Healy just pips Sarah Taylor – interestingly they ended the series with exactly the same Strike Rate, but the Aussie scored 43 more runs, despite actually batting one less innings.

Another player whose ranking is boosted by maintaining a good Strike Rate is Katherine Brunt. Brunt’s Strike Rate of 97 is by far the highest of any player on either side who played in all 7 games (the next highest is Rachel Haynes’ 84) and means she edges ahead of Nat Sciver in the rankings, as she continues to push her claim for all-rounder status at international as well as domestic level.

Player Matches Runs Strike Rate
1. Danni Wyatt 3 169 155
2. Beth Mooney 4 247 101
3. Ellyse Perry 7 351 63
4. Heather Knight 7 335 62
5. Alyssa Healy 7 238 81
6. Sarah Taylor 7 195 81
7. Rachel Haynes 7 187 84
8. Tammy Beaumont 7 227 53
9. Katherine Brunt 7 113 97
10. Nat Sciver 7 139 72

Batting Ranking = Runs * Strike Rate

Random Thoughts – Women’s Ashes 3rd T20

Live Wyatt

Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote that Danni Wyatt was Mark Robinson’s Biggest Challenge Yet – she had just come off the back of a poor series against Sri Lanka, making scores of 4, 4 and 0 against the weakest of the “top” sides in the women’s international game, and was surely heading (again) for the last-chance saloon.

But just as he did with Tammy Beaumont, Mark Robinson kept believing in her, and today he got his reward. It wasn’t “just” 100 off 57 balls – a Strike Rate of 175 – it was the pressure she did it under: England were 30-3 at the end of the PowerPlay – their own mums wouldn’t have given them a prayer, staring down the barrel of a Required Rate of over 10-an-over at that stage in the game; but what followed was quite literally history, as England recorded the highest ever successful run-chase in a women’s T20 international.

What’s Next To The Mooney

[I think that’s enough AC/DC song title puns now – Ed.]

Spare a thought though for Beth Mooney – she played the innings of her career – the highest women’s international T20 score ever against a “top” side – and in some ways a better “cricket” innings than Wyatt, who took her usual share of risks; but then saw it eclipsed by Wyatt, as (if we are honest) her team mates threw it away with a hat-full of awful-looking dropped catches – yes, the lights were clearly a factor; but at a professional level, that shouldn’t really be an excuse these days.

Powerage?

[Ok… that’s it – you’re grounded – Ed.]

It will be interesting to see if this game, and indeed this T20 series, marks the start of a new dawn for women’s international T20 cricket, where the “power game” comes to the fore? We are going to be watching a lot of T20 cricket in the next year or so, leading up to the World T20 in the West Indies next autumn, with England playing not one but two T20 Tri-Series – v South Africa & New Zealand and v Australia & India; and you can bet some other sides will be playing even more as they ramp-up to WWT20.

Before today, we only had four centuries scored in nearly 400 women’s T20Is – we’ve just added another two to make it six – how many will it be this time next year? My guess is as good as yours; but if it is still six this time next year, I’ll be very surprised!

Random Thoughts: Women’s Ashes 2nd T20

Brunt Bounces Back

Something Mark Robinson’s England have in spades is resilience. To bounce back after throwing away the Ashes in the space of a few overs on Friday can’t have been easy, but the way they came out today, to not just win but wipe out their opponents, made an important statement about the way this side want to play their cricket.

No one epitomised that attitude more than Katherine Brunt. In tears after the loss on Friday, she somehow channelled all her disappointment and frustration into a sparkling innings of 32* – including the only 2 sixes of England’s innings – and then followed it up with a pace bowling T20 masterclass, conceding just 10 runs from her 4 overs. Sarah Taylor’s stumping of Elyse Villani was itself a masterclass, of course, but it was Brunt’s 3 dot balls up top in the over that forced Villani’s hand.

Basically, don’t upset Katherine Brunt. It’ll come back to bite you in the end.

Gunn Earns Her Spot

There have been question marks over Jenny Gunn’s inclusion in this T20 team, given that it’s Georgia Elwiss – the star of Day 4 at North Sydney – who appears to have given way for her. But Gunn’s bowling in T20 is incredibly precious – she is economical AND takes wickets – and today she really did provide the turning point for England, with her direct hit run out of Beth Mooney; plus that little matter of 4 wickets to boot.

Two Differing Approaches

There were times when you felt today that Matthew Mott had sat the Aussies down before their innings and told them they needed to hit all the runs in boundaries – far too many reckless shots were played, with Healy, Gardner and Haynes all caught trying to hit big. England were much more content to rack up singles and twos, leaving them with wickets in the bank for the crucial final 5 overs.

Nonetheless, the attacking approach has served Australia well over the years, and England might want to consider taking a leaf out of their book. The stats that Syd put out on Twitter earlier about Nat Sciver v Alyssa Healy provide a good point of comparison:

It’s not that Sciver isn’t capable of hitting big, more that she hasn’t often done so in a T20 situation for England – something that needs to change.

So England may have won this match, but there is no room for complacency: their batting, and power hitting in particular, has to be a key area of focus ahead of next year’s WWT20.

Wyatt Up Top

It’s still a bit of a mystery why Heather Knight opened in the first T20 of the series given that she has repeatedly said she doesn’t want to open while captaining – perhaps Robinson felt it was the best option, or perhaps it was just an experiment gone wrong. Either way, it was great to see Danni Wyatt rewarded for her 50 on Friday with a boost to the top of the order; and she certainly did the job required of her today, with quick runs up top to get England off to a positive start. She’s opened before in T20 – the last time was in Cardiff against Australia in 2015 – but has never had a sustained run at it, so maybe that time is now.

A Dead Rubber?

Some will argue that Australia took their foot off the gas today, relaxed about the whole endeavour now they have secured the Ashes trophy. If there’s any truth in that, it’s pretty poor – England could still go on and draw the series on points. They could also still win the T20 leg of the series; and a T20 series win in the year before a T20 World Cup is not to be sniffed at. In short, it’s all to play for come Tuesday.

Random Thoughts: Women’s Ashes 1st T20

Knightmare

England have lost the Women’s Ashes, and there can’t be any excuses; but the gods were not on their side today. Heather Knight’s wicket was a nightmare for all concerned, not least the umpires who gave her out, then not out, and then out again. Yes it is complicated but they are paid to know the laws, and Law 27.3 is pretty clear:

“The wicket-keeper shall remain wholly behind the wicket at the striker’s end from the moment the ball comes into play until a ball delivered by the bowler touches the bat or person of the striker or passes the wicket at the striker’s end or the striker attempts a run.”

“In the event of the wicket-keeper contravening this Law, the striker’s end umpire shall call and signal No ball as soon as applicable after the delivery of the ball.”

Zooming-in on the moment the ball hit the bat, it is pretty clear that Healy’s gloves are marginally ahead of the wicket.

Yes, it is “marginal” but the 3rd umpire has a high-definition camera perfectly positioned to make these kinds of decisions, so you can only assume he didn’t know the law, which is… not great, to be honest.

Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp – the romanticised hero of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral – was in real-life a reckless gambler who was always looking to make a fast buck. Danni Wyatt on the other hand… Well, joking aside, she can actually play big, sensible innings – we’ve seen it at county. But for England in the T20 format her role has always been to chase fast runs; and a career strike rate of over 100 attests that she has actually been quite successful in that regard – never more so than today when her 50 off 36 balls got England to a position where the game was defendable.

Bark At The Mooney

It was a defendable target, but ultimately not even the Prince of Darkness himself could have stopped Beth Mooney today – she pushed on well past 50, maintaining a Strike Rate of 150 which saw Australia win the game by a country mile. Of course, Meg Lanning will be straight back into the team as soon as she is fit again, but with so many different Aussie batsmen standing up at different times in this series, it might be a close call if she wasn’t the captain!

Heather Is Human

Heather Knight’s “game-face” never slips in front of the media, but it did today in the post-match interviews – for once you could see how much it really mattered to her, and I don’t think it will do too much harm for people to know that there really is a human under that implacable mask. It hasn’t been the Women’s Ashes result she (or we) wanted, but she’ll be back… and so will England!

OPINION: Women’s Ashes Test – England Beaten By Perry, Not The Pitch

Following the drawn Women’s Ashes Test in Sydney, England coach Mark Robinson talked a lot about the pitch in his post-match interviews:

“We want to play on better wickets,” he said. “It wasn’t a fresh wicket [and] fresh wickets make such a difference.” He then went on to draw a contrast between Coffs Harbour, where England won the 3rd ODI – “a great wicket [with] bounce and carry” – and North Sydney Oval where “the bowlers ran in hard [but] in the end, the wicket beat us.”

His comments have been echoed by many in the media, with for example Charlotte Edwards tweeting “pitches need to be looked at moving forward”.

But was the pitch that bad? Or was it just that one batsman was that good?

Ellyse Perry’s monumental innings – which Robinson rightly praised as “something special” – was 213 off 374 balls. If Perry had “only” scored a hundred, rather than a double, this would still have been by some way the biggest innings in the game. But Australia would have posted a lead of only around 50 and there would also have been an additional 70-odd overs in the match, if you include the overs “lost” in the final session when they called it quits.

Under those circumstances, England could (and likely would) have taken a few more risks to bat themselves into a position where they could have declared, with either result then still a genuine possibility.

It’s all “ifs and buts” of course – it is true that there have been better pitches, and maybe we need to also look at having more “new balls” in pink-ball Tests; but in all honestly England were not beaten by the pitch – they were of course not beaten at all – but if they were beaten by anything, they were beaten by Ellyse Perry, not the pitch.

Pink Ball Review: Did England Find Any Answers?

Last week I posed four big questions ahead of the Ashes Test match. Now that Test cricket is – sadly – behind them for another two years, did England find any answers?

1. What is their best Test XI?

Mark Robinson’s big call was to not only select Georgia Elwiss ahead of Jenny Gunn, but to bat her at 4, a position she’s never before occupied in her England career. At a crucial time for England, she came good. Her unbeaten 41 was, in my book, even more impressive than Knight’s own stoic effort – Elwiss was under more pressure (she must have known she was playing for her place in the side), and much rustier, having played no international cricket at all over the past 12 months. It’s perhaps too early to say whether she’s done enough to retain her place for the foreseeable future, but you’d have to conclude that she’s put herself back in strong contention.

Would having Gunn in the side have made any difference to the result? Probably not. Her great talent is bowling for long periods very economically, but that wasn’t really the issue here – England managed to restrict the Australian run rate reasonably successfully. What they really needed was wickets, and it’s difficult on this pitch to see Gunn having been much more successful than her counterparts there.

2. Can anyone “do a Heather Knight”?

Yes – sadly her name is Ellyse Perry, and she plays for the opposition (despite my job share suggestion!)

England lost this match by not batting long enough in the first innings. Though Tammy Beaumont and Heather Knight both passed 50, once again none of the England batting line-up could push on to 3 figures. Last week I said that at least two England players would have to get their heads down and dig in, if they were to have any chance of winning this match – that didn’t happen.

Somehow, with the limited opportunities available for multi-day practice before the next Test comes around, England need to resolve this. If they can’t, they aren’t going to win very many Tests!

3. Can they stop Australia batting them out of the game?

Yes, but it was perhaps more down to luck than judgement! England were fortunate enough to win the toss, which prevented the somewhat nightmare scenario of the follow-on rearing its ugly head. Australia then essentially ran out of time to bowl England out. Had Perry arrived at the crease on day one, who knows what might have happened?

4. Can they avoid a draw?

No. Obviously.

Of course, a draw actually looks like a good result, given what might have happened at the start of day 4! Even better, England have got the Canterbury 2015 monkey off their backs – they didn’t fold, they fought, and there’s no shame at all in the way that they dug in today.

Having said that, I still stick by my belief that it isn’t a good enough result for England. Above all else, it’s going to be very tough mentally for them to go into the T20 leg of the series knowing they have to win all 3 games.

Let’s hope they can prove me wrong!