As the 2015/16 Australian WNCL draws to a conclusion this weekend, one statistic stands out above all others: 11 centuries have been scored in 21 matches. In contrast, in this year’s Women’s County Championship (Division 1) just 3 hundreds were scored in 32 (completed) games.
It’s not just down to a couple of individuals either – 9 different players have made tons; and the team aggregates reflect a similar trend – the average innings score in the WNCL has been a shade over 200; in the WCC it was 158 – a difference of a staggering 27%.
The question is… why?
Better Batsmen? Australia are the world’s Number 1 team and much of that is down to their super-confident batting – they didn’t really outbowl England this summer; but they certainly out-batted them. However, some of the WNCL’s centurions (Alex Blackwell (twice) and Sarah Taylor) also played in the WCC without making hundreds, so there must be more to it!
Lesser Bowlers? As the batsmen are Australia’s key weapon, so the bowlers are England’s! Perhaps it is just harder to score centuries against the likes of Katherine Brunt and Holly Colvin? Although are Megan Schutt and Ellyse Perry really that much of an easier ride?
Better Pitches? Whilst the WCC is hosted mostly on club grounds maintained by part-time ground staff on very low budgets, WNCL is played largely on professionally curated “First Class” pitches, including Test grounds like the WACA and the Gabba. Inevitably, these Aussie pitches will play truer than those in England, especially when combined with…
Better Climate? Although at least one match in this year’s WNCL was played in very wet (one might even say, English!) conditions, in the main (as anyone who watches Neighbours knows) Australia is the land where the sun always shines; and the only thing that disappears faster than a beer at a BBQ, is a cricket ball to the boundary over a lightning-quick outfield. Illustratively, WNCL’s leading run-scorer, Ellyse Perry, scored 42% of her runs in 4s – significantly more than her English equivalent, Heather Knight – 36%.
More “Professional” Teams? With two fewer teams in WNCL, there’s a greater concentration of good players and maybe this creates a more competitive environment which encourages more attacking play? Also, anecdotally if not empirically, the teams certainly seem more “professionally” set up in WNCL – training harder, more regularly, and for longer, with better facilities both in and out of season, than the English county sides.
Whatever the reasons, one thing is for sure – it has made for a fantastic WNCL and it bodes well for the WBBL which begins next month. Hundreds are obviously that much harder to score in T20, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see one or two made as we build our way towards that big, televised finale at the end of January!