How does the standard of England’s Women’s County Championship compare to Australia’s Women’s National Cricket League? Perhaps one player’s stats tell a story?
New South Wales’ Kara Sutherland had a pretty indifferent season in the WNCL in 2014-15. In 7 matches, the all-rounder took only 3 wickets at 52 and (admittedly batting down the order) scored just 1 run in 4 innings, averaging 0.5 thanks to a couple of not-outs. Looking back at previous years, the story is a similar one: Sutherland is a very good club player, who probably isn’t quite classy enough to play at the highest level of domestic cricket in Australia.
Consequently, it was something of a surprise when Kent – England’s reigning county champions, and home to (among others) England captain Charlotte Edwards and four other contracted England players – signed Sutherland as their “overseas” for the 2015 Women’s County Championship.
But watching Sutherland play for Kent against Berkshire and Ireland in the T20s, however, was something of a revelation – she looked pretty good, bowling at a similar pace to Daisy Gardner, who I rate as probably the best “county” bowler (excluding England and Academy players) around at the moment; and Sutherland’s stats reflect this. So far this season, she has taken 9 wickets at 21. Meanwhile with the bat, she averages 16 – not spectacular… but a lot better than 0.5!
As commentators, we’ve often wondered about the relative standard of the Women’s County Championship compared to the WNCL; and it is usually taken as a “given” that WNCL is the stronger.
But it can be difficult to find hard facts to back-up this hunch; and that is why The Strange Case of Kara Sutherland is so interesting. A player who struggles in WNCL but looks pretty good in the Women’s County Champs? I’d say this was rather strong evidence that domestic cricket in Australia is of a much higher standard than it is here… and that is a big part of why we need the ECB’s new Womens Cricket Super League to succeed in its mission to strengthen our domestic game.