WNCL Debrief – Scorps Stinging In The Rain

South Australian Scorpions (190) bt Vic Spirit (188-8)

In a match reduced to 33 overs by rain, Bridget Patterson led the way for the Scorpions, hitting 71 off 86 balls. With some strong strike-rates lower down the order, including 38 off 31 from Sarah Coyte, the Scorps posted a challenging total of 190 – Sarah Eliot the pick of the bowlers with 3-26.

In reply, Vic Spirit came close, but not close enough. At 153-3, with Meg Lanning and Danni Wyatt at the crease, they looked to be cruising, but Lauren Ebsary and Sam Betts combined to remove both of them c. Ebsary b. Betts; and the clatter of wickets which followed saw the Spirit fall just 3 short.

The win puts South Australia firmly on top of the WNCL table – level on points with Vic Spirit, but with a superior Net Run Rate and a game in hand – in a very strong position to qualify for November’s final for the second year running.

ACT Meteors (166-8) bt Western Australia Fury (161)

Batting first, the Fury were bowled out for 161 – Nicole Bolton top-scoring with 44, as Sam Bates picked up 3-25.

The Meteor’s reply was steady if unspectacular – Kate Mack hitting 38 as they crossed the line with 7 overs to spare, for the loss of 8 wickets.

The result leaves the Fury at the foot of the table, still winless after 3 games. While mathematically they could still make the final, realistically their WNCL season looks pretty-much over now. Meanwhile ACT sit mid-table with 2 wins from 4.


NEWS: Sciver, du Preez & Nielsen To Star For The Stars

The Melbourne Stars WBBL team have announced a star-studded trio of overseas recruits – England all-rounder Nat Sciver, South African captain Mignon du Preez and New Zealand spinner Morna Nielsen.

Nat Sciver, who had a very good international summer winning two Man of the Match awards in the Women’s Ashes, was a surprise omission from the original list of England players set to play in WBBL. Back in September CRICKETher revealed that she was still keen to join the party over in Oz, and her signing is also a big boost for England in terms of getting her match-fit and cauldron-tested for the World T20 in India early next year.

Mignon du Preez is the 26-year-old skipper who is leading South Africa into the professional era from the front, with over 2500 international runs to her name, including a century in her first (and only) Test against India last year.

Morna Nielsen is a left-arm orthodox spinner, who made her international debut in 2010 and has taken over 70 international wickets, with best figures of 4-10 against England in 2012.

The three will compete for Melbourne Stars alongside Emma Inglis, Anna Lanning… and of course The Megastar herself – Meg Lanning, leading what is now looking like a very strong line-up which could go all the way to January’s final.


EXCLUSIVE: Tennis Star Ashleigh Barty Set For Junior Coaching Role With Cricket Australia

CRICKETher can exclusively reveal that former Junior Wimbledon champion Ashleigh Barty will be acting as joint coach for the Cricket Australia XI team at the U15 Female National Championships, to take place at Hobart next month.

Barty will be working alongside Hobart Hurricanes coach Julia Price, who last season took the Tasmanian Roar side to a 4th placed position in the state T20 competition.

It had already been announced that Barty would be participating in the inaugural WBBL for Brisbane Heat, after attending a Southern Stars training camp earlier this year and, more recently, undergoing training with Queensland’s WNCL team, Queensland Fire.

Barty has been quoted as saying that she was attracted to the idea of team sport because: “There’s never a lonesome moment on the field if you’re struggling.”

Now it seems that Cricket Australia are looking to utilise her experience in junior tennis coaching to help talented cricketing youngsters too. As an international athlete who has trained at the highest level, it is also the case that Barty will be able to provide guidance for a new generation of girls coming through into a cricket set-up which is now increasingly professional, with ever-higher expectations of its players.

Cricket Australia’s National Coaching Manager Matthew Betsey told CRICKETher:

“Ash is an experienced athlete with a tennis coaching background and we want to use these skills alongside a ‘cricket’ coach in Julia Price.  It will also help Ash understand the game more deeply before she plays in the WBBL for the Brisbane Heat.”

The WBBL kicks off on Saturday 5th December, with Barty likely to feature in Brisbane Heat’s double-header against Melbourne Stars at the Junction Oval.

Keightley Aiming To “WACA” New Talent Into Shape

It was announced last month that England Academy Head Coach Lisa Keightley would be leaving the role she had done since early 2011 in order to return to coach in her native Australia.

What exactly will Keightley be doing Down Under? Her main role will be with the Western Australia Cricket Association (WACA), heading up their Female Talent Development programme. While she will have work to do – the Western Fury have underperformed in previous seasons – she also has a great deal of talent at her disposal, with the squad having been strengthened this year by the addition of Australian openers Nicole Bolton and Elyse Villani.

But CRICKETher have learned that Cricket Australia will be harnessing Keightley’s talents at national level, too. Next month at the U15 Female National Championships in Hobart, she will be acting as a coach mentor for all State coaches involved in the set-up. Following on from that, she will be coaching the Cricket Australia XI in the U18 Female National Championships, to be held at Canberra in January: effectively the equivalent to her recently-vacated Loughborough role.

While England are therefore left seeking both a head coach and an Academy coach – with Keightley’s replacement not to be selected until the New Year at the earliest – it seems that England’s loss is, for the moment, Cricket Australia’s gain!

NEWS: West Indies Knock Pakistan For Six

Despite losing the first ODI, West Indies recovered to take all six Women’s International Championship points from their 4-match series with Pakistan.

A below par performance from West Indies in the opening game allowed Pakistan to snatch an upset win in St Lucia, as Pakistan overhauled the host’s 222 thanks to 90 from Javeria Khan.

The Windies looked a little shaky in the second ODI too. After bowling Pakistan out for 149, they made the runs thanks to 49 from captain Stafanie Taylor and 28* from Kyshona Knight, but it took them 47 overs and they lost 7 wickets in the process.

In the 3rd ODI, West Indies looked a bit more like themselves, posting 281 with Taylor again top scoring with 98 and her predecessor as captain, Merissa Aguilleira, contributing 68. Pakistan survived to 50 overs (for the loss of 9 wickets) but scoring at just 3.44 they fell over 100 runs short, with Javeria making 73*.

In the final match, Pakistan again guarded their wickets well, but somewhat at the expense of scoring runs, and a total of 182 off 50 overs would have been plain embarrassing if not for 44* off 43 balls from Asmavia Iqbal at the end of the innings. In reply, Taylor again played the captain’s innings, ending 87* as they chased Pakistan down inside 43 overs.

Pakistan’s real problem is that a scoring rate of well under 4 in all three Championship ODIs isn’t going to win you many matches at this level.

Meanwhile, for the West Indies it was “Job Done”, but it was really Taylor that saved them with the bat, as their bowling looked toothless and their fielding a bit sluggish, with general fitness levels looking very questionable, it has to be said.

Finally… a BIG THANKS to the West Indies Cricket Board for making all of these matches available on live-stream with multi-cameras, the occasional replay and full commentary – it just shows what can be done if there is a will, even when you are one of the poorest boards in the game!

OPINION: Are the new ICC rankings totally meaningless?

Earlier this month the ICC announced their new rankings system for women’s cricket, which combines results from all three formats of the game into one table, to produce the Definitive List of where each team sits in relation to the others.

As we pointed out on CRICKETher at the time, the fact that Australia lead the way is no surprise, but below that there are some quite interesting placings!

The new ranking system has been devised by David Kendix, the same statistician who calculates the men’s rankings. While his exact methodology has not been revealed, we are told that equal weighting has been given to the Test, ODI and T20 formats.

There has been a lot of scepticism about the merits of a system which combines all three formats, especially given the dearth of Test match cricket currently played in the women’s game.

In some ways, therefore, the new ranking system is not hugely meaningful. In fact, CRICKETher would strongly advise that you follow Martin Davies’ new ODI and T20 rankings available over on Women’s Cricket Blog – England are currently at the top of the T20 rankings, and Australia are heading up the ODI rankings. These will be updated after every game and are an excellent reflection of the true state of affairs in depth.

Having said that… the ICC should be given some credit here for what they are trying to do: promote the women’s game. Having a single rankings system simplifies this process. It gives meaning to matches like the recent Pakistan-West Indies ODI, whereby seventh-ranked Pakistan pulled off an unexpected and exciting win against fifth-ranked West Indies. And it gives some context to bilateral series’ which, unlike the women’s Ashes, often still go under the radar.

Giving the media something to latch onto, and helping them create coherent stories and narratives about the women’s game, can surely only help women’s cricket in the long-run. So, even if it is via an oversimplified methodology, CRICKETher think that there’s room for both the ICC rankings and the more sophisticated WCB ones.

Aussie Telegraph Vastly Exaggerates Value of Southern Stars Contracts

The (Australian) Daily Telegraph has a long article on the simmering row between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association over who pays the salaries in the rapidly professionalising women’s structure over there.

The piece is worth reading, but if you are in a hurry the TLDR is this: CA would like the girls to be paid out of the pot already allocated for professional cricketers; while the ACA say this money was set aside just for the men and CA need to stump-up additional sums for the women.

The article does though contain one significant factual error:

“What has annoyed some female players is that while they’re the No. 1 team in the world and hold the Ashes, they’ll earn an average of $85,000…” [Emphasis ours.]

In fact, the “average of $85,000” figure not is correct – $85,000 (c. £40,000) is not an average but a maximum, earned by the handful of players who are on the top-tier contracts – the likes of Lanning, Blackwell and Perry. Other Southern Stars regulars – the Alyssa Healys and Nicole Boltons – earn a lot less than this, and the average is probably considerably less than half of the $85,000 quoted.

This is not to say that things in Australia aren’t going in the right direction – they indubitably are – or that the Telegraph aren’t making an important point… but getting the facts right nevertheless always helps!