WBBL “Star-Cap” Levels Playing Field

Australia’s Women’s Big Bash League, which will take place next December-through-January, will cap teams to a maximum of 5 “star” players.

Domestic cricket in Australia has suffered slightly as a spectacle over the years, because so many top players have gravitated towards the New South Wales Breakers, who have won the WNCL 10 seasons in a row and 16 times overall.

Although WNCL is set to continue as a 50-over competition, the key focus will now be on the T20 WBBL, which will feature a much more level playing field.

Teams will be limited to a maximum of 5 “stars” – i.e. current or recent internationals – of which 3 may be overseas players.

This means up to 24 overseas internationals will get to join the party, with England glove-butler Sarah Taylor, West Indies’ big hitting batsman Deandra Dottin, and South African leg-spinning all-rounder Dane van Niekerk, likely to be at the top of many of those wish-lists.

West Indies Move 3rd In Women’s International Championship

A 2-1 series* victory over Sri Lanka has moved the West Indies up to 3rd in the Women’s International Championship, pushing England down to 5th, though England have 3 games in hand, to be played against Australia as part of this summer’s Women’s Ashes.

Australia remain top of the WIC, despite having played 3 matches fewer than 2nd-placed South Africa.

The top 4 sides qualify automatically for the World Cup in England in 2017.

Team Played Points
Australia 6 12
South Africa 9 11
West Indies 9 10
Pakistan 9 8
England 6 7
Sri Lanka 9 5
New Zealand 6 4
India 6 3

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* Although the full WI/SL “series” is 5 games, of which 4 are complete at time of writing, only games 2-4 count for the WIC.

Middlesex Beat Surrey in Inaugural Pemberton Greenish Cup

Middlesex 126-7 (Wilson 46) beat Surrey 100-4 (Smith 34) by 26 runs

On a sunny summer evening at the Oval, it was Middlesex who emerged as the inaugural winners of the Pemberton Greenish Cup after Fran Wilson’s 46 saw them reach a total of 126-7 in their 20 overs.

Surrey struggled to achieve the required rate of just above 6 an over from the outset, with no runs coming off the bat until a single from Kirstie White in the third over.

And it took until the 7th over for their first boundary, as Holly Knight drove the ball through mid-on. She was dismissed two balls later, however, holing out to Izzy Westbury at cover off the bowling of Danni Warren, leaving them 29-1.

There was hope for Surrey yet, with wickets in hand, but the pressure mounted after Alex Hartley bowled two successive maidens. With the required run rate up to 10, White attempted to hit out against Westbury’s off-spin, but sent the ball into the hands of Naomi Dattani at mid-wicket and was out for 12.

It was a spectacular low diving catch, symptomatic of Middlesex’s sharp performance in the field, which considerably restricted the ability of their opponents to score freely throughout the innings. Even England’s Nat Sciver did not look able to up the rate, hitting just 9 off 12 balls before being clean bowled by Sophia Dunkley in the 14th over. The highlight for Surrey was a swift 34* (27 balls) from Bryony Smith, but it came too late to make a difference.

Surrey eventually finished on 100-4, falling 27 runs short of their target.

Earlier, Middlesex had been left reeling at 4-2 in the third over, after Rachel Candy clean bowled Dunkley for a duck with just the second ball of the game, then trapped Catherine Dalton lbw for 2.

But Natasha Miles fought back for Middlesex, hitting three boundaries off the next over before being bowled by Surrey’s captain Cecily Scutt for 15.

Anna Nicholls (28) then provided good support for Wilson as the pair helped Middlesex accelerate with a 57-run partnership. The runs came mainly in singles at first, but Wilson’s fluency improved throughout and she finished with four boundaries to her name.

She eventually departed in the final over, run out at the striker’s end as she and Dattani (16*) attempted to force through yet another single.

After Middlesex celebrated their victory with champagne on the outfield, captain Izzy Westbury told CRICKETher:

“I feel elated. After those first 3 overs I definitely didn’t think we’d win it! But we played as a team and everybody pulled through.

It’s given us a lot of confidence going into our next round of County Championship matches this weekend.”

Meanwhile Surrey, who are currently top of the County Championship, will be hoping for revenge in their Championship game against Middlesex at Reeds School on Sunday.

Surrey Women & Girls Day

About two overs from the end of the Pemberton Greenish Cup, the scoreboards at The Oval died. It summed up a dispiriting evening for Surrey on the pitch; but off the field it was a day that was anything but disappointing.

Over 700 children from local schools packed out the pavilion for yesterday’s match. Kids from all walks of life were equally excited to be there – boys from state primaries cheered the big hits; and girls from posh, private preps applauded the clattering of stumps; all accompanied by a noisy DJ, who might have made the traditionalists frown, but who brought a sense of bounce to the occasion that held up the excitement levels even as the game drifted slightly towards the end.

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Ebz Gets Into The Action In The Indoor School

Earlier in the day, a rammed indoor school had seen 300 children through bowling clinics and batting master-classes from Surrey coaching staff, with guest appearances from the captains, Cecily Scutt and Izzy Westbury.

Nat, Cecily & Rachel Candy Take Questions

Nat, Cecily & Rachel Candy Take Questions

One teacher at an all-girls school told us of the challenges she faces introducing cricket to the curriculum: “All the schools around us play rounders in the summer, so it’s hard to get a game; but I’m hoping that if one leads, the others will follow.”

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Middlesex Enjoy Their Champagne Moment

After the match a champagne-soaked Izzy Westbury was full of praise for the leadership of Ebony Rainford-Brent, telling CRICKETher: “It’s an amazing thing to be playing a domestic cricket match with this turn-out and a lot of counties could learn a lot from it.”

Will there be better games of cricket played in this year’s Women’s County Championship? No doubt! Will there be a bigger “event” in the domestic game this season? No… and that’s why this day was important!

OPINION: Financial Realities Bite For Women’s Big Bash

Plans for a Women’s Big Bash in Australia over the (Antipodean) summer of 2015/16 look to have descended into a bitter three-way pile-on between Cricket Australia, the ACA (the players’ union) and the teams themselves over (what else?) money!

Cricket Australia’s plan that the new league should mirror the 8-team men’s competition always looked ambitious; but it turns out that they were not expecting to have to pay for it – the assumption apparently being that players’ payments would come out of the existing (men’s) salary budgets.

This plan however was pole-axed by the ACA, who called it “robbing Peter to pay Pauline” – adamant that the men’s (much larger) salaries would not be reduced one iota to pay the women’s (considerably smaller) retainers.

The teams then in effect replied “don’t look at us” – despite an earlier insistence that they should call the tunes by selecting and contracting players themselves, the idea of actually paying the piper was apparently not quite what they had in mind!

So it has been left to Cricket Australia to pick up the budget to the tune of some half a million Australian dollars, part of which will come from reducing payments to the Southern Stars. Cricket Australia argue that the players will end up with the same amount of money at the end of the day; but a less charitable interpretation might be that they are now robbing Pauline to pay Pauline.

Meanwhile, the ACA is now also haggling after a “Memorandum of Understanding” over women players’ salaries – effectively a long-term collective-bargaining agreement, which is arguably in principle a good thing; but has further damaged relations with Cricket Australia, who argue that huge steps have already been made. With retainers going from $15,000 just a couple of years ago to over $50,000 now, Cricket Australia believe that anything more is unrealistic in the short term.

It is all an uncomfortable reminder that even in those countries such as England and Australia, where women’s cricket exists on a relatively stable financial footing compared to places like New Zealand and India, we remain indentured to The Other Game and when something has to give… well… I think we are all acutely aware of where it might (and might not) give first!

ECB: Kent-Sussex Tied Result Will Stand

The ECB have announced that their decision to uphold the original tied result in the Kent-Sussex Championship match on Monday 4th May will stand.

Comments from the Kent CEO Jamie Clifford made earlier this week had previously called the ECB’s decision into question, after he stated that Kent did not believe that there had been an “appropriate review” into the controversial outcome, and that “a number of questions remain[ed] unanswered”.

However, the ECB’s spokesperson Beth Wild has confirmed to CRICKETher that the original result will stand, stating:

“The outcome was fully examined by Nick Cousins, the head of the ECB’s Association of Cricket Officials, and we are no longer reviewing the umpires’ decision. The tied result will not change.”

“Jamie Clifford has been in touch with us to check that the appeal was conducted properly, and to confirm that the umpires had not been unduly influenced by the Sussex players.”

“We hope that the matter is now resolved.”

The ECB also confirmed that they are aware of Kent coach Stuart Eddicott’s tweet, which branded their decision “shameful”, and that they had requested that contracted England and Kent player Tammy Beaumont remove her original “favourite” of the tweet.

Kent have been given the option to refer the decision to the ECB’s Recreational Cricket Group, which meets tomorrow, should they wish to pursue the matter further. However, given that the grounds for their original appeal are still unclear (there is nothing in the playing regulations to allow for such a procedure), it is presumably unlikely that they will do so.