WBBL: Charlotte Edwards Drives Scorchers To Finals

Charlotte Edwards Kia Sportage might be back home in England, but who needs a car when you’ve got the England captain as your designated driver? Edwards hit 63 off 51 balls as the Perth Scorchers surged towards a last-minute semi-final spot in WBBL, joining Sydney Thunder, Hobart Hurricanes and Sydney Sixers in the knockout stages.

With the Stars facing the Thunder in the morning, it could have all been over by lunch time for the Scorchers; but despite restricting the Thunder to just 104, the Stars just didn’t align for Melbourne and they blew their chance of guaranteed qualification by 6 runs; leaving them on 14 points with a NRR of 0.034.

This meant that the Scorchers had to beat the Renegades to join the Stars on 14 points, but to qualify they would also need to slightly improve their NRR, which was 0.005 going into the final day.

It was another English woman – Nicky Shaw – who did the first part of the job, taking 3-28 as the Renegades were restricted to 108; before Edwards took the wheel as the Scorchers knocked off the runs in 15.2 overs.

Elsewhere,  the Sydney Sixers completed their remarkable “zeroes to heroes” comeback – from last place at Christmas, with just one win from their first 7, they won every match since to finish 3rd – beating the Hurricanes today on the final ball to seal the deal.

Points NRR
1. Sydney Thunder 18 0.358
2. Hobart Hurricanes 16 0.19
3. Sydney Sixers 16 -0.074
4. Perth Scorchers 14 0.166
5. Melbourne Stars 14 0.034
6. Brisbane Heat 14 -0.094
7. Adelaide Strikers 12 -0.131
8. Melbourne Renegades 8 -0.459

NEWS: Sceptical Sussex Slam Super League

Sussex Chief Exec Zac Toumazi has responded to this week’s announcement of the Super League franchises hosts by saying he wishes the competition “every success”… before going on to damningly question the ability of the project to deliver on its key goals.

Sussex gave serious consideration at the highest levels to the idea of bidding to be a host, but in the end decided against doing so – a “strategic decision” which Toumazi attributes rather mysteriously to “a number of factors”.

Rumour has it that fundamental to this was the refusal of the ECB to guarantee the availability of key players from the county to the Super League team; so there is apparently some surprise at Sussex that other hosts (e.g. Yorkshire re. Katherine Brunt and Lancashire re. Kate Cross) do seem to have been given just such assurances.

More generally there was the feeling that Sussex have invested significant time and money in the development of players, the rewards of which they deserved to reap themselves, rather than see leak away to other teams via the stroke of an ECB pen.

Nevertheless far from walking away, Toumazi promises to double-down on the county’s efforts, with an innovative new coaching program for 2016, building on the county’s success at grassroots and elite levels, which Sussex argue will provide a “sustainable future” for the women’s game in terms of both participation and performance… with the clear implication that they believe the Super League will not.

NEWS: ECB Announce Super League Hosts

The ECB has today announced the six hosts selected to compete in the inaugural Women’s Cricket Super League this summer. The hosts are as follows:

  • Hampshire Cricket (in conjunction with Berkshire, Dorset, the Isle of Wight, Oxfordshire, Sussex, Wiltshire and Southampton Solent University)
  • Lancashire County Cricket Board
  • Loughborough University 
  • South West (in conjunction with Somerset, Gloucestershire and the University of Exeter)
  • Surrey County Cricket Club
  • Yorkshire County Cricket Club

 All six teams have been awarded hosting rights until the end of the 2019 season.

The big surprise is the omission of Middlesex, who submitted a bid in conjunction with the MCC, but were ultimately unsuccessful. It is likely that the ECB felt that having two London-based teams was simply not feasible.

Another interesting inclusion is Loughborough University. Despite the fact that the ECB’s National Performance Centre is based on site, the ECB has previously stated that grounds would need to meet a certain minimum standard in order to host WCSL games, and Clare Connor stated back at the original launch event last June that Loughborough’s on-site pitch was unlikely to meet the required standards.

The Super League will run from Saturday 30th July to Sunday 14th August, with the date of the final – along with team names for the six successful hosts – still TBC.

NEWS: South Africa To Tour Ireland

Ireland have announced that they will be hosting South Africa this July/ August, playing 4 ODIs and 3 T20s against the Women Proteas who currently sit 4th in the ICC Women’s International Championship table.

The ODI’s are scheduled for July 24, 26, 29 and August 1, followed by the T20s on August 4, 5 and 7, with venues yet to be confirmed.

Prior to that, the sides will also encounter each other in the group stages of the Women’s World T20 in India in March.

Having recently won the WWT20 Qualification tournament, beating Bangladesh in the final, Ireland have firmly established themselves recently as the No. 1 “Associate” nation in the women’s game.

As such, and they will provide a genuine test for a South African team who are on the up, but were themselves in a similar position only a few short years ago.

EXCLUSIVE: Ireland’s Holdsworth Looks To Independent Future

Cricket Ireland Performance Director Richard Holdsworth has told CRICKETher that Ireland are focussing on their independent future, following news of their withdrawal from the Women’s County Championship.

Holdsworth said that although Ireland had in fact been offered the opportunity to participate in a restructured Women’s County Championship following the introduction of the Super League in 2017, they had made the decision to focus their resources instead on building their own expanded calendar.

“The cost has been a factor,” admitted Holdsworth. “Cricket Ireland has been investing significant funds into participating in these two ECB competitions, and the feeling of our Cricket Committee and management is to invest now in more international fixtures both home and abroad.”

But there were other overriding issues too, not least the challenge of participating in an overseas competition, when almost all of the squad are 100% amateurs with full-time day jobs:

“The nature of the fixture list meant we often flew in very late in the evening before matches, or very early in the morning, neither of which were great preparation for elite cricket.”

Now Ireland are looking to build on their own local programs, with Holdsworth promising that the money saved would be ploughed back into the domestic game, including an enhanced “Super 3s”, following the launch of the competition just last year.

Holdsworth thanked the ECB for their on-going co-operation and expressed the hope that it would continue at more of an international level:

“The ECB has been, and continue to be very supportive… [and] we are also hoping the ECB will be able to play more representative matches against Ireland, particularly with their Academy program.”

With Ireland having recently qualified once again for the T20 World Cup, firmly establishing themselves in the “Top 10” as arguably the leading “Associate” nation, clearly the only way is forward now for these ambitious girls in green!

EXCLUSIVE: Ireland Cut Costly County Cricket

In a last-minute move which has forced the ECB to frantically rejig this summer’s fixture list, Ireland have stunningly withdrawn from the Women’s County Championship and Women’s T20 Cup.

Ireland have been part of the English “county” scene since 2012 – a project which was intended to give their international players a boost by playing more regularly against higher quality opposition than was possible within their own domestic setup.

But it was an expensive undertaking. Unlike the English counties which are subsidised by the ECB, Ireland have had to bear the full costs of participation themselves, including playing all their fixtures “away”, adding to the financial burden of flights and hotel rooms; and CRICKETher understands that this was the major factor behind their decision to quit.

But equally, given that Ireland have qualified for the past two World T20s, not to mention giving Australia some good games last summer, perhaps it could also be argued that the initiative had successfully run its course.

Plus as previously reported on CRICKETher, the ECB had already announced that their participation would end in 2018 anyway, following the introduction of the Super League in England.

As a result of Ireland’s withdrawal, their Divisions (Division 2 of the County Championship and Division 1 of the T20 Cup) will now consist of just 8 teams, with only one side being relegated – though given the changes coming in 2017, the matter of relegation is perhaps somewhat academic.

Additionally, the Division 1 T20 fixture list has been extensively rejigged. The “triple-header” format, where 3 teams all play each other on a single day, is retained overall; but with each county now having one single-header against a “local” rival.

NEWS: Coach Tiffen Backs New Zealand WBBL Franchise Plan

New Zealand coach Haidee Tiffen has said she concurs with plans to include a New Zealand based franchise in the WBBL.

The suggestion of adding a New Zealand-based team to the Men’s BBL was mooted by former Black Caps captain Daniel Vettori back in December [here] with BBL Chief Exec Mike McKenna promising “we’ll look at it”.

The logical corollary of that would be an aligned WBBL franchise, and in an interview with the New Zealand Herald [here] Tiffen has said she is supportive of this idea.

There are obviously a lot of questions raised by this – not least, a franchise which was basically just the White Ferns in a different uniform would almost certainly be too strong and upset the delicate balance of the competition.

But teams are already restricted to five “stars”, of whom three can be overseas, so a change in the regulations which added the top White Ferns to the “stars” roster but allowed the New Zealand franchise to register other local players as non-overseas would be one possible solution; opening the way for what would clearly be a massive shot in the arm for the women’s game in New Zealand.