POST-MATCH INTERVIEW: New Zealand Coach Haidee Tiffen On Batting Selections & Looking Short & Long Term

New Zealand finally pulled off a win against England this summer, at the 6th time of asking, as a gutsy run-a-ball hundred from Sophie Devine saw them chase a slightly under-par 219, after England were bowled out batting first at Leicester.

We’ve been saying all along in this series that with New Zealand if you get Bates and Devine, you’ve won the game; but we saw the other side of that coin today: if you don’t get Bates and Devine, you’ve probably lost it!

Nevertheless, the questions remain – do New Zealand have enough batting going into the World Twenty20 in November?

Haidee Tiffen, speaking to CRICKETher post-match, is confident:

“I absolutely believe in our batting order,” she says “We’ve got Suzie Bates and Sophie Devine who have been outstanding; Amy Satterthwaite who has been the ICC One Day Player of the Year not so long ago; Maddy Green, who has been our domestic batter of the year this summer been; Katey Martin, who was Player of the Series in our previous series; Leigh Kasperek who has scored a lot of runs domestically; and then Amelia Kerr gets 230 [v Ireland].”

“So we’ve got the batters there – it is just a question of keeping to our cricket smarts and our game plan – building those partnerships!”

The challenge for New Zealand, as it is for any side to be fair, is to find the balance between looking short-term, at the World T20; and long-term at the World Cup, which is being played in New Zealand in 2021.

“We identified that the last couple of series have been ones we wanted to look long term and short term; whereas this was a bit more of a focus on the T20 – we’ve exposed players that have shown that they can be there in the T20 but also be there in 2021.”

“It is an art – sometimes you get it right, sometimes you don’t; but what we’ve found out about our younger players is really promising, and we’ve just got to keep working hard and developing those players and the balance of the experience as well as the youth has been really positive.”

“Our experienced players probably haven’t had the performances we would have liked in this series but Sophie today showed what they are capable of doing; and we are looking forward to that T20 World Cup.”

One player who has arguably been badly missed when New Zealand have struggled for runs this summer has been Rachel Priest, but Tiffen insists that she isn’t out of the picture in terms of WWT20:

“The door is not closed on Rachel – we’ve given clear feedback about the areas she needs to work on; but I don’t shut the door on anyone – it is just who is doing the work and who is improving their game.”

We’ve seen today that when Devine and / or Bates really turn it on, they are forces of nature who can win any game of cricket you put in front of them – even on a tricky pitch at the end of a long, draining tour, when all bets were against them. If they can do that at WWT20, or longer term in 2021, then the world trophy that Suzie Bates wants so desperately to cap her brilliant career with could still be within reach.

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POST-MATCH: New Zealand v England – Oh Dear!

When my son was a toddler, the very first phrase he learned was “Oh dear!” and for several weeks everything was “Oh dear!” this and “Oh dear!” that!

I could have hired-him out to the BBC to commentate on New Zealand’s innings today.

It began with a “Double-Oh Dear!” as “Oh Dear! No. 1” – a rank wide full toss from Katie George – was slapped not to the boundary but straight into the hands of Amy Jones by Sophie Devine for “Oh Dear No. 2”. (George at least had the self-awareness to face-palm as Devine walked back to the pavilion!)

George’s next wicket was a demonstration of what she is capable of when she isn’t spraying it for wides – Amy Satterthwaite the victim of an unplayable delivery which took out her off stump.

But the “Oh Dears!” soon continued as Katey Martin – perhaps starting to look like she is a bit out of her era in the professional age – was trapped in front by Katherine Brunt; and it was downhill from there for New Zealand.

Laura Marsh got some big turn to dismiss Suzie Bates, but Bates will feel she should have played it better – she has been out a couple of times cutting this summer – and the “Oh Dear” was then written all over her face as she had to watch her team collapse in epic style, from 75-3 to 83-8, and thence to 118 all out – a sheen of respectability added to the scorecard as Kate Ebrahim and Holly Huddlestone put on 26 for the final wicket as the White Ferns at least staggered to 3-figures.

Earlier in the day Tammy Beaumont and Nat Sciver had shown that it was possible to bat on this pitch, if you did it slowly and patiently; and although it is true that the pitch appeared to deteriorate a bit, it didn’t do it to the tune of the 123 runs New Zealand lost by!

So… where now for New Zealand? Well… Leicester on Friday for starters, where they will try to dust themselves down for a consolation win after a disappointing “winter”.

And then as they fly home, they might do well to remember one thing:

Until a couple of years ago, England used to do these kind of collapses so regularly that we started referring to it as “Doing An England” – now they are World Champions!

However bad it looks now, come 2021 New Zealand could yet be World Champions too.

POST-MATCH: England Coast To Win… And Meanwhile At Headingley

A short while into New Zealand’s innings at Headingley a huge cheer went up amongst the crowd – 2,638 miles away England had scored in their World Cup quarter-final against Sweden in Samara, and with the TVs in the hospitality boxes (and the press box) tuned to the BBC, many of the 2,000-strong crowd in Leeds obviously had half an eye on the action in both of the day’s big games!

The players out in the middle were definitely not unaware of what was going on – “We got goose bumps on the pitch hearing that!” said Nat Sciver afterwards.

Another goal followed for England’s footballers and as they coasted towards what turned out to be a fairly straightforward win, England’s women were doing very much the same. Sciver diplomatically said that New Zealand are “by no means a two-batsman team” but it does rather look that way nonetheless.

Sophie Devine and Suzie Bates put on 70 for the first wicket – the sort of score you’d generally call a “strong platform” – but for New Zealand the platform is built on a middle-order made of sand, and they proceeded to lose 4 wickets for 5 runs in 3 overs, losing not only Devine and Bates, but also Amy Satthertwaite, whose purple patch in 2016-17 – when she scored 4 consecutive centuries – is starting to look like ancient history.

New Zealand’s eventual collapse to 148 all out had a horrible feeling of inevitability about it from the moment Sophie Ecclestone held  a very good running catch to dismiss Devine; and once Katie George had caught Bates off Sciver and Elwiss had trapped Satterthwaite LBW, it was time to start the crane.

This was after England had posted a score of 290-5, which felt slightly under-par at the half-way mark, for which much credit has to go to Amelia Kerr, who was the pick of the New Zealand bowlers, taking 2 big wickets (Amy Jones and Sarah Taylor) and perhaps more importantly going for just 36 runs in 10 overs.

Sciver admitted that England were wary of Kerr:

“Amelia was probably their most attacking bowler, so we were making sure that we took the easy ones against her and cashing in at the other end.”

Kerr was really the difference that meant England didn’t get past that 300 mark; but mention also must go to Katherine Brunt who produced the goods again with the bat to at least get them close – it wasn’t the prettiest cricket, but it was pretty effective, and meant Nat Sciver had more freedom to play her improvisations at the other end, knowing that there were runs coming from both ends.

In the end it was one of those improvisations that did for Sciver – LBW trying to play the “Natmeg” – but with some big boundaries and a wicket that was a bit slow, it was probably the right way to play and after going on to take 3 wickets as well, Sciver was awarded Player of the Match.

As for the White Ferns… unlike Sweden they can’t go home yet – there are still two matches more to play; and they are going to have to play a lot better than they did today or it is going to be a very long plane trip back to New Zealand at the end of next week.

NEWS: England Women Trade Up To Trading Cards

Top England Women cricketers, including Heather Knight, Katherine Brunt and Nat Sciver are set to feature in a new set of collectable cricket trading cards, officially licensed by the ECB.

Heather Knight

Heather Knight

There are over 200 cards to collect in total, showcasing players from both the men’s and women’s games. The limited-edition Trading Cards will be available at Tesco, Sainsbury’s and other stores across the UK.

Katherine Brunt

Katherine Brunt

They are produced by Australian sports trading cards specialist Tap’N’Play, who also produce a set of BBL trading cards, which this year will feature 40% women players from the WBBL.

Nat Sciver

Nat Sciver

Premium cricket Trading Card sets have been popular in Australia and India for many years, but this is the first time cards featuring our top women players have appeared on general release in the UK.

THE QUESTION: Are Wickets Always Worth It?

Cricket is a simple game… right? The batting side’s job is to score runs; the fielding side’s job is to take wickets!

Well, imagine the scene:

It is the World T20 Final, and there are 3 overs left: the batting side need 30 off 18 balls, with Annie Accumulator at the crease, currently on 15 off 25 balls.

The bowling side bring back their star bowler, who bowls 5 dots in a row – now they need 30 off 13 balls, and Annie is now on 15 off 30 – a Strike Rate of just 50.

In desperation, Annie takes a big heave at the final ball of the over. It skies up towards the bowling side’s skipper, Rachel Reliable, at extra cover – it is going straight to her – the easiest catch she’ll ever take!

But…

Rachel knows that the next batsman in is Briana Basher – probably the only batter in the world who could hit the now-required 30 off 12 balls. So she takes a step backwards, allowing the ball to bounce in front of her, before hurling it in to the ‘keeper to save the second run.

In the post-match press-conference, after the batting side have fallen 20 short with Annie Accumulator not out on 17 off 35, Rachel Reliable holds the trophy in front of the media.

“What about that catch?” they ask.

“I just misjudged it,” she replies innocently.

And maybe she did (!) but it raises an interesting question.

These circumstances are clearly rather contrived; but there is a situation we do actually see quite often, where a fielder in the deep will chose not to go for a diving catch because if they miss it, it will go for 4 – so they prioritise saving the 4 over (possibly) taking the wicket.

The question is somewhat analogous to a play in baseball called a “Walk”, where the pitcher will deliberately bowl four consecutive “wides” to a batter, in order to prevent them hitting a home run, at which point they have to “walk” to first base – a play so normal in baseball, there are stats on it!

But would it “be cricket” if it happened in cricket?

PREVIEW: Scotland Hunting Another Piece of History as the WWT20 Qualifier Begins

Ahead of the ICC Women’s World T20 Global Qualifier in the Netherlands, Jake Perry talks to Kathryn Bryce, Sarah Bryce and Head Coach Steve Knox as they look to take Scotland to the final stages of a major tournament for the first time.

Eleven months after winning the ICC Europe/Americas Qualifier in Stirling, Scotland’s Women will begin the last round of their bid to reach the 2018 ICC Women’s World T20 at Amstelveen’s VRA Cricket Ground on Saturday. The group match against Uganda will be the first of three in the initial stages of the Global Qualifier as the national team looks to improve on the fourth-place finish they recorded in Thailand three years ago and reach the finals of a major ICC tournament for the first time in their history.

Steve Knox’s side goes into the competition in the best possible position having just completed the T20 leg of their domestic summer. Although promotion to Division One of the Vitality Women’s Twenty20 Cup was to ultimately prove elusive, the Scotland Head Coach is pleased to have had the opportunity to focus on the format for an extended period of time.

“It’s been a busy six weeks down in England but it’s been great in terms of getting time in the middle,” he said. “With the weather we’ve been having we’ve played every single game, too, so we couldn’t have wished for a better preparation.”

“T20 is a very tactical game. It’s about getting the right people into the right positions and that’s why the past few weeks have been so important. The girls are in form and everyone knows their role within the team, so now it’s just a case of performing on the day.”

With several regulars unavailable for the Netherlands, Scotland’s squad includes a number of international rookies alongside experienced campaigners.

“The senior players have really important role to play,” said Steve. “There are seven guys in the squad who have played fifty games or more and people like Abbi [Aitken] and Jacko [Lorna Jack] will be very important, especially with the new faces in the squad.”

“We know we’re still a work-in-progress but we’re definitely improving and we’re certainly [further on than we were] twelve months ago. But regardless of what happens over the next two weeks we’re moving in the right direction, and with it being such an inexperienced squad that’s going to continue [beyond this tournament].”

The Global Qualifier will also be the first major assignment for Kathryn Bryce as captain, and the twenty-year-old all-rounder is looking forward to the challenge that the next fortnight will bring.

“I’m really excited and a bit nervous but I’m taking it as it comes,” she said. “Putting together tournament performances is a bit different from going game-to-game so it will be a different challenge, playing [against Uganda] then resetting and going again the day after [against Ireland].”

“It’s quite a new squad compared to what we’ve had in global competitions before but we’ve been together since the end of last summer and we’re starting to see solid performances from a lot of people,” continued Kathryn. “Over the past few years we hadn’t really scored 120 many times before whereas this year we’ve been consistently doing that, especially over the last few weekends.”

With 203 runs at 40.6 in domestic T20 wicketkeeping all-rounder Sarah Bryce has been central to that success and the eighteen-year-old is keen to carry that form into the Qualifier.

“It’s been a pretty good season for me so far, I’ve had a couple of fifties and a really good opening partnership with Jacko,” she said. “But the whole of the top order has been chipping in with runs. We haven’t been relying on any one player in particular and that’s really important for us going into the tournament.”

“We won seven out of eight games down in England so we’ve got some momentum to build on.”

The Global Qualifier will be Scotland’s third in succession after appearances in Thailand and Sri Lanka, and the team will look to take advantage of what will be more familiar playing conditions this time around.

“Hopefully we can make the most of the conditions especially playing against teams like Bangladesh who we’ve previously played in conditions which are more familiar to them,” said Sarah. “All being well we can use that to our benefit.”

“It’s a bit strange to be playing the Qualifier in Europe because we were almost expecting to be somewhere like Sri Lanka or Thailand,” added Kathryn. “The conditions there are so different with the heat and everything like that, so it’s nice knowing that that we won’t be facing that this time.”

“We don’t know exactly what it will be like but it’s good to be going somewhere that will maybe give us a little bit of an advantage. Hopefully the ball is going to move around a bit early on and then the spinners will play a big role I think.”

The side will find inspiration in the achievements of their male counterparts, too, as they look to crown what has already been an historic summer for Scottish cricket with what would arguably be the greatest achievement of all.

“We were on our way back from Hampshire when the game against England was going on and the girls were absolutely buzzing,” said Steve Knox. “When the Channel Five highlights came on we stopped and had dinner and watched them on about six tablets and it was brilliant. You could see the girls almost puff their chests out a little bit more seeing what was possible and we’ll certainly be using that over the next two weeks, absolutely.”

And with recent results demonstrating the closing gap within the women’s game, too, Scotland will begin their campaign knowing that anything is possible.

“[Uganda’s win over Zimbabwe and Thailand beating Sri Lanka] shows how much women’s cricket has grown,” said Kathryn. “Two or three years ago those teams wouldn’t have dreamed of beating the others.”

“It also shows how a T20 game can go either way if you have a good day or a bad day, and I think that could be an advantage for us especially going up against Bangladesh and Ireland who are ranked above us.”

“Anyone is beatable and qualification is not out of reach at all.”

 

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Jake Perry is a cricket writer based in Scotland.

Twitter: @jperry_cricket / Facebook: Jake Perry Cricket

STATS: T20 Tri-Series Bowling Rankings

Sophie Ecclestone was named Player of the Series for the T20 Tri-Series between England, New Zealand and South Africa and unsurprisingly she tops our bowling rankings, with 10 wickets at 7.05.

Although Suzie Bates slightly damned Ecclestone with faint praise after she took 4-18 against New Zealand in the group stages, saying “when you are chasing over 10 [runs/ over] it makes any bowler look better” Ecclestone got her own back in the final with a perfect arm-ball to dismiss Bates and essentially end New Zealand’s hopes in that match. You can watch the wicket here, and although it is easy to dis the arm-ball as “one that doesn’t spin” in fact it does spin – the application of top-spin means the ball shoots on much quicker than Bates is expecting, so that before she has even got into the cut she is trying to play, it has hit her off stump – magic bowling!

In Twenty20 cricket there is always the question of wickets versus economy – in a tight match (which only 2 out of 7 in this Tri-Series really were) an Economy Rate of 5.4 can easily be the difference between victory and defeat, so England will be very happy with the performances of No.2 ranked Anya Shrubsole this summer – with the World T20 coming up in November, she will be a key player as she looks to recreate the form which won her the Player of the Tournament at the WWT20 in Bangladesh back in 2014.

New Zealand’s leading bowler was teenage leg-spinner Amelia Kerr. Fresh from scoring her world-record double-century against Ireland, she didn’t look entirely convincing with the bat, with scores of 2, 5 and 12*; but with the ball in her hand she can do things that ought to be illegal, and while the commentators in the Sky box might be able to pick her googly, we discovered on Sunday that Sarah Taylor sure can’t and we doubt she is the only one!

Finally, it is worth noting one player who did not make the Top 10 – Marizanne Kapp had a pretty indifferent series, taking just 2 wickets and leaking runs at over 10 an over. Of course, “Form is Temporary…” and all that – less than 6 months ago Kapp was by far the most economical bowler in WBBL – but if South Africa are to compete at the World T20 they will need that Marizanne Kapp to turn up in the West Indies, not this one!

Bowling Played Wickets Economy
1. Sophie Ecclestone (ENG) 5 10 7.05
2. Anya Shrubsole (ENG) 5 6 5.41
3. Katherine Brunt (ENG) 5 6 6.36
4. Danni Hazell (ENG) 5 6 6.94
5. Amelia Kerr (NZ) 5 5 6.26
6. Hayley Jensen (NZ) 5 6 8.05
7. Leigh Kasperek (NZ) 4 4 8.81
8. Heather Knight (ENG) 5 2 5.6
9. Sophie Devine (NZ) 5 3 8.81
10. Shabnim Ismail (SA) 3 3 9.41

Bowling Ranking = Wickets / Economy

INTERVIEW: Scotland’s Katie McGill – We’re in a good place to cause an upset

Jake Perry speaks to Scotland’s Katie McGill

Ahead of the ICC Women’s World T20 Qualifier, experienced all-rounder Katie McGill talks to Jake Perry about her career so far and ambitions for the Netherlands.

Scotland’s Women fly to the Netherlands for the ICC Women’s World T20 Qualifier in confident mood. Despite the absence of several regulars the squad has been buoyed by some excellent recent performances, and with new talent coming through to add to the big-match experience of players such as Kathryn Bryce, Sarah Bryce, Lorna Jack and Abbi Aitken there is genuine belief that Scotland can go one better than their semi-final appearance at Thailand 2015.

Katie McGill is another who belongs in the same category, and as she prepares for her third Global Qualifier in Scotland colours the all-rounder is looking forward to seeing what the tournament will bring.

“The preparations have been going really well,” she said. “We’re particularly focused and clear on what we want to do and how we want to do it and we’ve had a good run of practice games which have given us a bit of momentum.”

“Different people at different times have been stepping up, too, and it’s really nice to know that we have that depth within the squad.”

Scotland go into the tournament on the back of their best-ever performance in the ECB’s domestic T20 competition after finishing third in Division Two of the Vitality Women’s Twenty20 Cup.

“It’s been a massive help mind and body-wise to have played the fifty-over competition in early season before moving to T20,” said Katie. “It’s nice to have been able to focus on that different pace of game, particularly for our batters.”

“To have had a good block of T20 coming into [the Qualifier], to be really confident that we have the skills for that and for us bowlers to have been able to get into the rhythm of going hard for four overs without having to worry about having to pace out eight over spells has been really good.”

Since her debut in 2015 the twenty-six-year-old has become a cornerstone of the Scotland team in both domestic and international cricket. Awarded her fiftieth cap in June, Katie scored her first half-century for the Wildcats in Division Three of the Royal London Women’s One-Day Cup against Cumbria before ending the Twenty20 Cup campaign as leading wicket-taker.

“I’ve always been a bit of an all-rounder, very much in the mould of jack-of-all-trades rather than master of one,” she smiled. “I was always a middle overs bowler as I’ve not really got the pace or movement of some of the others, but I have a bit more control I guess.”

“Spending a winter in New Zealand [with Northern Districts Women in 2016-17] was so good for my development. It opened up opportunities for me to bowl with the new ball which I’ve never really had before as even in club cricket I’d look to come in later and use change-ups and so on. But when I went out to New Zealand there happened to be an opening, so they got me opening the bowling.”

“It was a brilliant place to learn a new skill and I took that momentum and got a little bit of a go with it [at the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier] in Sri Lanka. I’ve never sat there and said I want to open the bowling, but I love doing it now when I get the chance. I have always liked a new challenge.”

“When something’s going well and you have confidence in one discipline you can work on the other,” she continued. “As I said I like a challenge and I like tinkering but I’ve learnt through time that it’s best to keep things simple. With the bat I just focus on hitting the ball. It doesn’t necessarily make for the best photos but if I’m scoring runs and supporting an in-bat then that’s my job done.”

“To have had the opportunity to get a bit more crease-time in the Regional Series has been a very good test as well. I’m in a place now where I’m really confident in the shots I’ve got and when and how to use them.”

In Cricket Scotland’s rebranded Regional Series Katie’s all-round credentials have been to the fore. With 45 not out in the first T20 match of the series and 4 for 12 in second, the Eagles captain has led from the front in what has already become an enormously significant competition for the development of women’s game in Scotland.

“It’s massive,” said Katie. “It gives it weight. Previously there were different franchise-type names like East and Rest, which particularly for the Rest felt like you were part of a bit of a hotchpotch, so to have good branding in place now has been a really important step.”

“But [the Regional Series] also cements the pathway. It’s already shown its worth when you have people like Charlotte Dalton, for example, who performed well at club level, got a shout at Regionals, performed there and got a shot with the ‘A’s, all within six months. Hannah Rainey, too, only debuted this year but is now going to her first international tournament, again thanks to her performances through that regional structure.”

“It keeps the established players on their toes as well,” she continued. “You know what is coming through and it keeps you pushing to elevate yourself. It’s just so good for our game that the competition is branded seriously, taken seriously by the players, taken seriously by the set-up and provides a genuine pathway for people who shine within it.”

And as her attention turns towards Scotland’s opening match against Uganda on Saturday, confidence is strong.

“We want to get to the World Cup and there’s no denying that there’s a genuine belief within the team that we can,” said Katie. “We sat down at the beginning of the winter and asked what our goal should be and if it was realistic and yes, we feel it is.”

“In the Regional Qualifiers there have been a few upsets and teams you would expect to be in this Qualifier haven’t made it, so it proves that up-and-coming teams like ourselves can leap-frog over others. We’re confident in our game and we’re definitely more skilful and more fit than we’ve been, so I think we’re in a really good place to go and cause an upset and get ourselves to the World Cup.”

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Jake Perry is a cricket writer based in Scotland.

Twitter: @jperry_cricket / Facebook: Jake Perry Cricket