Women’s County Championship – Yorkshire See Double As White Roses Snatch Women’s Title

In a season which went down to the last day, Yorkshire emerged triumphant – adding the Women’s County Championship to the men’s title which they retained last week, to leave their fans seeing double in the trophy cabinet.

With top-of-the-table Kent sitting out of the final round of the 9-team championship, Yorkshire knew exactly what they had to do going into the day: beat local rivals Lancashire, taking least 7 of the 8 available bonus points.

Although they were already relegated, having lost every game so far, this was still a match Lancashire desperately wanted to win.

After winning the toss, Lancashire elected to bat, but with Katherine Brunt opening the bowling alongside leg-spinner Katie Levick it was a decision they were soon regretting as they collapsed to 11/5. A recovery of sorts followed as Lancashire limped to a final total of 113 all out, with Levick the star of the show, taking 6 wickets for 25 runs.

This left the Yorkies with a whopping 38 overs to make just 114 to bag the bonus points they required to overhaul Kent and snatch the silverware. In the end it was all too easy, as captain Lauren Winfield (65*) led the way with the bat, making her 3rd 50 of the campaign, leaving her averaging over 250 in championship cricket this season, and taking Yorkshire to their second men’s/ women’s double, having previously achieved the feat in 2001.

Meanwhile, Dani Wyatt hit 76 as Notts romped to victory over Surrey; but wasn’t quite enough to save the Outlaws’ season – after a string of mid-season defeats left them struggling, they will be joining Lancashire in Division 2 next season.

MATCH REPORT – Sussex Pinky Ponked In Knight Gardner Nightmare

England vice-captain Heather Knight carried her bat for a colossal 162* as Berkshire posted 265/9 before a Daisy Gardner hat-trick ripped up the Sussex top order, with the south coast side eventually subsiding to defeat by 72 runs.

Knight’s innings was the highest score of the season by some margin in the top tier of this year’s Women’s County Championship, and was the kind of dominating performance you would expect from a batsman who, despite a disappointing summer, remains one of the world’s best. Berkshire’s next top scorer was Extras, with 32 including 17 wides and 8 no balls. But as the wickets fell around her, Knight ploughed on, playing confidently off her toes and finding the boundary 21 times, including one huge 6 over deep midwicket off Izy Noakes.

In reply, Izzy Collis and Georgia Adams made it to 50 without loss, before Adams was bowled by Daisy Gardner. Good got better for Gardner as Sarah Taylor departed the very next ball – also bowled for a golden duck – off the final delivery of the over. Gardner’s hat-trick ball in the following over rapped Paige Scholfield on the pads, and after a huge appeal, up went the finger. In between, Lauren Bell had also removed Collis from the other end, and Sussex were reeling, having gone from 50/0 to 53/4 in the blink of an eye.

Despite a defiant 39 from Holly Colvin, there was no way back from there for Sussex; and as news began to filter through that Yorkshire had taken the 18 points they needed from Lancashire to seal the championship, Sussex looked for all the world like their hearts weren’t really in it any more – Fi Morris (4/32) and Lissy Macleod (3/52) doing the rest of the damage as Sussex were bowled out for 193.

Afterwards, happy hat-trick hero Daisy Gardner self-deprecatingly told CRICKETher how she approached that ball to Paige Scholfield:

“Relax, get into my rhythm… and then just appeal loud!”

It was a moment which will long live in the memory as Berkshire look back upon another winning season in Division 1 of the County Championship, with victories against Sussex, Middlesex, Lancashire and Notts; and just the two early-season defeats to Surrey and Yorkshire back in May.

Reflecting upon the summer, Berkshire Manager John Dickinson thanked the Berkshire Cricket Board for backing the team “100 percent” and put their success down to a solid work ethic:

“We don’t have any prima-donas – it’s all down to the team effort that the girls give every week.”

As Sussex celebrated the end of their season by being officially presented with the T20 Cup, Berkshire sat quietly in a circle on the other side of the ground – they may not have had the medals or the champagne… but once again they have a lot to be proud of nonetheless.

Women’s County Championship – Bonus Points Explained

It’s the last day of the Women’s County Championship, and bonus points could be critical at both the top and bottom of Division 1.

Each game offers 10 points for a win plus 8 bonus points, 4 for batting and 4 for bowling.

To take the title, Yorkshire need a win plus at least 7 bonus points; whilst at the bottom, to be certain of survival Warwickshire also need the same – i.e. a win plus a minimum of 7 bonus points, although they can get away with less depending on how Notts get on.

Here is how the bonus points work:


Bowling points are pretty simple – you take wickets; you get points!

Wickets Points
3 1
5 2
7 3
9 4


Batting points are a bit more complicated, because they are calculated on the run rate, rather than the number of runs. To give you an idea, we’ve shown a 50 Over Equivalent score below; but remember if your side are chasing, it is really how quickly they score the runs rather than how many they score.

Run Rate (Per Over*) 50 Over Equivalent Points
1.5 75 1
2 100 2
3 150 3
4 200 4

* If you are all-out, the run rate is calculated based on the full allocation of overs.

OPINION: Time To Administer Last Rites To Double-Headers

Supporter of women’s cricket Richard Clark explains why we need to move on from Double-Headers.

It’s amazing to think that it’s only six years since the first T20 “double header” took place in this country, during that summer’s World T20 Championships. The semi-finals and finals were all played in that format, of course, with England winning the tournament, beating New Zealand at Lords in the final.

But six years is a long time, and perhaps now is the right time for a re-think, and to consign the double-header to history.

There’s no “revisionism” in this. The double-header games were a fantastic innovation at the time. In fact I’d say they were essential for the women’s game. They brought the one thing that otherwise would not have happened, and which is crucial to any sport – live TV coverage. It’s a simple fact that neither Sky, nor any other TV company would have covered stand-alone women’s games at that time. Crowds in the grounds may have been sparse for those matches, but for the development of the women’s game, at that moment in time, TV was more important than bums on seats

Indeed, I would go as far as to say that England’s semi-final against Australia, in particular, was the most significant match in women’s cricket history. Claire Taylor and Beth Morgan’s pursuit of the Aussies’ daunting total remains, pound for pound the best one-day run-chase I’ve ever seen. Mike Selvey, for one, credits it as his moment of “conversion” to women’s cricket. Without TV coverage it would have had little or no impact.

Fast forward six years. This summer has seen Sky televise every day of the Women’s Ashes live. The crowds at Taunton, Bristol, Chelmsford and Hove (Worcester was nigh-on a sell-out too, until the weather had its say) have proved that there is now an audience for the game that perhaps wasn’t quite there even two years ago. Whether that can translate to other series is debatable at best, but Women’s Ashes cricket, at least, is now “marketable” in its own right. The TV excuse for needing double-headers is no longer there.

The only damp squib of the series was the final game in Cardiff. Yes, of course, that was partly down to Australia already having taken the spoils, but would it have been any different had that not been the case? After all, the series was only decided three days earlier. Had that game been played at, say, Headingley, and marketed as the potential Ashes decider and, dare I add, the only opportunity to watch England – including Yorkies’ Brunt, Hazell and Winfield – and Australia north of Worcester, who is to say what sort of ticket sales might have been achieved?

From a personal point of view, too, the cost of going to a double-header is prohibitive for my family of four, and I also don’t particularly want to subject my children to the “beer snake culture” as the day progresses. I actually want to watch (and be able to watch) good, and affordable, cricket. And I suspect I’m not alone. I suspect, in fact, that the Women’s Ashes is coming to represent that for an increasing number of cricket lovers.

It’s time to let it stand on its own two feet.

Grassroots Thrive But Elite Struggle In 2015

CRICKETher has always maintained a healthy degree of scepticism about the ECB’s participation figures for women’s and girl’s cricket. Some of the larger numbers thrown about by the board count girls who have participated in a single Chance To Shine Kwik Cricket session at school… which is great, but probably stretching the definition of “participation” a little far when the figure is quoted without context to the mainstream media.

However, anecdotally things at the grassroots really do seem to be looking quite rosy in 2015. We’ve spoken to parents in two different parts of the country* recently with daughters playing recreationally in the 11-15 year-old age-bands, and they’ve got plenty of good things to say about cricket: their girls get regular net sessions, a positive team environment, great coaching and lots of “proper” matches – up to 20 games a season in the Essex girl’s leagues.

At the women’s recreational level things are on the up too, with new clubs forming to play friendly games or locally-based leagues. The ECB’s long-term investment strategies seem to be paying-off here, with a particular driver being the graduation of last year’s girls into this year’s women’s teams.

At the elite level however, it is a different story. The “Premier League” clubs which have been the bedrock of women’s cricket since its inception as an organised sport in the 1920s are really suffering. 2nd XIs find themselves unable to put a regular team out, and even 1st XIs struggle. Wokingham Ridgeway (home when they are available of Heather Knight and Charlotte Edwards) have taken to the field with just 8 players in a Premier League match on one occasion this season, and on another with only 10.

Starting next season, the ECB are adding another elite tier to the women’s game: the Women’s Cricket Super League, which is supposed to function alongside the County Championship and the Premier League, relying on many of the same players. That’s a lot of (cricket) balls for the ECB (not to mention the players) to keep juggling – probably one too many, if we are honest. Something will most-certainly have to give… but it remains to be seen what.


* Admittedly, both in the south – Essex and Berkshire.

OPINION: Here’s To The Losers!

“Every loser wins…” sang EastEnders’ Nick Berry. But then again “Wicksy” (as he was known on screen) never played international cricket – if he had, he would have known that “Every loser loses” and it hurts like hell too. (Just ask Charlotte Edwards, or any of the rest of the England team, right now!)

Nevertheless it is a paradox that every sport needs its losers, because without them there can be no winners – if England hadn’t lost the Women’s Ashes, Australia could not have won them!

As the Women’s County Championship draws once more to a close, there will be joy for the winners; but spare a thought too for the losers: those like Scotland and Lancashire, who are already relegated but play on for pride; or those like one of either Nottinghamshire or Warwickshire and Essex or Durham, for whom the tears are still to come.  They might not be writing their names into the history books this weekend… but it would have been awfully difficult for the winners to have won without them!

Women’s County Championship – Average Points System Descends Into Farce… Again!

The “Average Points” system used to decide the Women’s County Championship looks like descending into farce again, as 2nd-placed Yorkshire appear to have been able to essentially forfeit their match against 3rd-placed Sussex, without suffering any penalty… and indeed may go on to win the Championship as a result, as detailed over on Women’s Cricket Blog.

Last year’s Championship ended in similar circumstances, with Kent actually being handed the trophy despite having theoretically two more games to play, which if they had lost would have handed the title to Surrey. (And bearing in mind that Kent would have been without their England players for the replays, there is every possibility that this is exactly what would have happened.)

2012 saw an even more bizarre situation, as Essex made it through to the “Grand Final” despite having won only two games… because they were the only completed games they played; though at least on that occasion poetic justice was served as Kent deservedly went on to take the title by winning the final.

The Average Point system was intended to even-out the vagaries of the English weather, which inevitably causes cancellations, the impact of which are magnified by such a short (8 game) season.

But like some sort of Alan Ayckbourn script writ-large, it has instead become the cause of a litany of ever more ridiculous outcomes; which inevitably look all the more laughable because of the complexities of such a system, when compared to JUST ADDING UP THE POINTS!

It must be hoped that when the Women’s Cricket Super League is introduced in 2016/17, this is one feature of the Women’s County Championship that is politely (or if necessary, impolitely) told it is no longer welcome around these parts!

Women’s Ashes Trophy Gaffe

The Australians have recently headed back home with the Women’s Ashes trophy back in their grasp, presumably soon to be added to the silverware on display in their trophy cabinet.

There’s just one little problem: the trophy contains a glaring error.

CRICKETher’s editor Raf Nicholson spotted the mistake during the recent series, when the trophy was being displayed prior to the beginning of the Test match at Canterbury.

The discs on the base of the trophy contain the dates and results of the 21 women’s England-Australia series’ played to date (with space to show all results until 2030). The third series listed appears on the trophy as “1949/50 – Australia”. But… the series concerned actually took place during the 1948/9 season – with the three Tests (of which one was won by the Aussies, and two ended in draws) occurring in January and February 1949, at Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.

Detail of the Women's Ashes Trophy

Detail of the Women’s Ashes Trophy

The Women’s “Ashes” – which are the remains of a miniature bat signed by both teams burned prior to the 1998 series – were originally housed within a timber cricket ball, but a new version of the trophy, which now surrounds the ball with nine golden stumps, was jointly commissioned by the ECB and Cricket Australia prior to the 2013 series. A company based in Kyneton, Victoria – Flynn Silver – was responsible for its production. Apparently the error on this new version of the trophy had until now gone unnoticed by either board.

While the correct series dates are on both the Cricket Archive and ESPNcricinfo databases, Wikipedia for some unknown reason has the same (incorrect) dates as the trophy. Perhaps the trophy’s engravers checked the wrong source before they did their job?!

CRICKETher did bring the gaffe to the attention of the ECB during the recent series, so it may be that something will be done to amend the error before the next Ashes encounter Down Under in 2017/18.

For now, though, there’s just one word to sum up the situation…


WBBL – Melbourne Struggling For Stars

As Australia’s (fairly) long-standing domestic structure based around 7 state* teams, morphs into the 8-team, city-based WBBL, there are signs of looming recruitment difficulties for at least one of the teams.

News coming out of the Subcontinent suggests that the Melbourne Stars attempts to enlist two of India’s biggest names – captain Mithali Raj and bowling all-rounder Jhulan Goswami – have fallen flat.

Whether Mitali and Jhulan made up their own minds not to play for the Stars, or had them made up for them by the BCCI, is unclear; though the latter would be no surprise, given that the Indian Board has been very reluctant to allow their players to participate in any of the men’s T20 competitions outside India.

But CRICKETher can reveal that the Stars also made enquiries about a senior England player which were politely rebuffed by the player herself, not the ECB.

Overall, the Stars appear to have made only 4 domestic signings so far – albeit one being the Megastar herself, Meg Lanning – and have filled none of the 3 “overseas” spots on their roster.

With less than 90 days to go until WBBL bats-off on December 5th, the sense of excitement is building; but Cricket Australia will be crossing their fingers that the drama builds to a climax… not a crisis!


* Yes… we know ACT isn’t technically a state!

OPINION: Edwards Should Stay But England Need Change

In the wake of England’s Ashes defeat, certain voices in the media have wondered if it is time for Charlotte Edwards to stand down as England captain. CRICKETher dissents from this point of view – there is quite simply no alternative. But it is nevertheless apparent that many of the problems identified with the current regime are very real indeed.

On the field, England’s approach to the game is one-dimensional and they never seem to have a Plan B.

Furthermore it is abundantly clear that a number of batsmen don’t have their heads in the right places, with good players becoming bunnies as soon as they pull on an England shirt.

Meanwhile, selection is confused. We have a core of players who are pretty-much undroppable; while the rest struggle to find a role – in and out of the lineup and up and down the order – one minute a specialist boundary fielder, the next an opening batsman!

This has created a situation where a number of squad members are said to be deeply unhappy, with at least one believed to be on the verge of quitting.

All of these issues come down to one thing: management.

While Meg Lanning has credited Southern Stars Head Coach Matt Mott with playing a huge part in their Ashes success, England don’t even have a Head Coach – they have a Director of Elite Performance. When Paul Shaw was appointed to this post, the ECB talked it up as a more all-encompassing role than Head Coach, but it subsequently seems to be the case that at least in terms of the England team, it really isn’t.

If England are not to regress further over the next two years leading up to the 2017 World Cup, this needs to change.

They need a proper Head Coach with the moral and “legal” authority to challenge the status quo, to offer a fresh perspective and renewed leadership both on and off the field. This person has to be appointed from outside the “Loughborough Bubble” which probably means they will have to come from abroad and from The Other Game; but in both cases, so be it.

Make no mistake, it won’t be an easy job… but somebody’s really gotta do it!