WWT20: Ground Control To England – Don’t Underestimate Pakistan

By the time England play Pakistan later today, they could already have qualified for the semi-finals of WWT20. If West Indies fail to beat India, England are through, even if they lose to Pakistan by a million runs. (Though they might still prefer to top the group and avoid a New Zealand semi-final.)

But if West Indies do beat India, England have to be careful – as we showed earlier, if Pakistan win it will all come down to Net Run Rate; and a Pakistan victory by as little as 12 runs could be enough to send them through at England’s expense.

Pakistan have played six T20s against England, of which England have won five and Pakistan just one; but there is an important lesson in the one game Pakistan won, back in 2013.

The teams played a “double-header” at Loughborough and England won the morning match at a cruise by 70 runs, with Sarah Taylor hitting a half-century and Charlotte Edwards also in good form, smashing 46 off 37 balls.

England then made two fateful selection decisions for the afternoon encounter – resting Taylor and dropping Edwards right down the order to No. 9. Chasing just 116, they suffered a late-order collapse (sound familiar?) and were bowled out off the final ball, falling one run short of Pakistan’s total.

In short, England underestimated Pakistan and paid the price – it is a mistake they can not afford to make again today!

NEWS: Cricket Australia Comment on Flights Policy

As CRICKETher reported several weeks ago, the ICC’s current inequitable flights policy means that all women’s teams travelled to the World Twenty20 in Economy class, while their male counterparts flew in Business.

All teams, that is, bar Australia. Cricket Australia have confirmed to CRICKETher that the Southern Stars were upgraded to Business class, with CA footing the bill.

Why? A CA spokesman told CRICKETher: “We have been working on a number of ways to further professionalise the women’s game, including increasing pay for elite cricketers and providing greater on and off-field opportunities for our players through initiatives such as the Women’s Big Bash League. Addressing discrepancies between the class of air travel for male and female cricketers is another important issue that we have been committed to resolving.”

Interestingly, CRICKETher has also ascertained that an equitable flights policy does apply while teams are in India, with both men and women flying in Economy in order to travel between tournament fixtures.  This is the same policy used during the Australian domestic season, when both male and female state teams fly to away matches in Economy class.

As in most other areas, then, it appears that CA are leading the way in terms of parity for their female cricketers. The question is, will other cricket boards – and of course the ICC – now follow suit?

WWT20: Have England “All But” Qualified? (No… And Here’s Why!)

On yesterday’s radio broadcast, the TMS team repeatedly stated that England had “all-but” qualified for the semi-finals.

We considered otherwise, but started to wonder if we were wrong until TMS’s Dan Norcross backed us up:

England play Pakistan in their final group match on Sunday afternoon; but before that West Indies play India in the morning. (UK times.)

Currently, England have 6 points, West Indies 4 and Pakistan 4, all with one match to play; so if West Indies and Pakistan win their final games, both will have 6 points along with England (who in this scenario have lost their final match to Pakistan) and so Net Run Rate will be brought to bear.

The first thing to remember is that if  West Indies lose to India, it is all moot as far as England are concerned – they will have qualified regardless of what happens against Pakistan.

(Pakistan meanwhile would then need to beat England to qualify alongside them.)

But if West Indies do indeed beat India, then that is where it gets interesting from an England perspective.

Currently the NRRs stand as follows:

  1. West Indies: +0.87
  2. England: +0.75
  3. Pakistan: +0.33

West Indies having won their final match will have improved their NRR, so it is all down to England v Pakistan.

If England win, they are through; but it isn’t quite so simple for Pakistan. Because they trail England in NRR – they need to win by… how much?

Well, NRR can be a complicated beast to pin down, but here is one permutation:

If Pakistan bat first and make 120, England need to score 108 to qualify despite losing the match; but if they made just 107 their NRR would slip below Pakistan’s and they would go out.

Would we put money on this? No! Is it “plausible”? Absolutely! And anyone who therefore thinks England have already “all but” qualified needs to think again!

WWT20: Qualifiers Out… But Should Not Be Down

Ireland joined fellow “qualifiers” Bangladesh yesterday on the metaphorical “plane home” from WWT20 after losing to South Africa by 67 runs. Although both still have one match to play, neither can mathematically reach the semi-finals, sitting as they do at the bottom of their groups with no wins between them.

After triumphing in the qualifying tournament at the tail-end of last year, Ireland have found things more difficult in the “major leagues”. The closest they came to a win was against Sri Lanka, where they fell just 14 runs short of chasing 129.

Bangladesh meanwhile were thumped by India; then thumped again, only slightly less hard, by England and the West Indies.

However, it is important to note that neither side have on any occasion been humiliated. Ireland’s lowest total was a respectable 84 against rampant New Zealand; whilst Bangladesh’s low was 91 versus India – i.e. one more than India themselves made against England.

Overall it is an excellent platform on which to build for both Ireland and Bangladesh.

Although qualification for the 8-team 50-over World Cup in England next year looks like a bit of a mountain, the whisperings are that the next cycle of the Women’s International Championship might just be expanded to include them.

If so, it is something they have more than justified here; and would very-much prove that while they may be out… they definitely should not be down.

EXCLUSIVE: BBC Commit To Super League Coverage

The BBC have today confirmed to CRICKETher that they are committed to providing ball-by-ball coverage of the inaugural Women’s Cricket Super League, due to take place this August.

TMS producer Adam Mountford has told CRICKETher that the BBC are currently in negotiations with the ECB regarding the precise number of matches which will be broadcast, with exact details to be provided in due course.

The BBC have in recent years shown a broad commitment to showcasing the women’s game, with coverage of every ball of the last four women’s Ashes series, and being the only UK news organisation to have provided coverage of the last three women’s World Cups.

With Sky having not yet committed to showing any of the tournament, this makes the BBC the first confirmed Super League broadcaster – undoubtedly very welcome news indeed.

OPINION: Robinson Pushing Against The Trend

Mark Robinson made little secret yesterday of the fact that he wasn’t happy with England’s pedestrian victory against Bangladesh, telling the BBC:

“I thought we went backwards today… In the middle of the innings, you can’t settle for six an over. We’re better than that.”

But the evidence might suggest that England weren’t so much going backwards as continuing in the direction they’ve been travelling for a while.

Here are the T20 career Strike Rates for England’s leading batsmen – Sarah Taylor and Charlotte Edwards:

edwards-t20-sr

taylor-t20-sr

The red line is a “trend line” which shows the general direction things are going… and it is pretty clear that it is downhill. Not only that, but it is under the 100 marker these days in both cases – and nothing like the 130-140 to which Robinson aspires.

If there is one ray of hope for the future, it is in the rise of Heather Knight:

knight-t20-sr

Here at least the trend is going uphill rather than down – perhaps supporting our suggestion a few weeks ago that Knight is the only England player to have made significant steps forwards in the past couple of years.

None of this means that England can’t win this WWT20; but if they are going to do so, they are either going to need to bat significantly against the trend, or bowl extraordinarily well.

But with even the on-message Edwards admitting yesterday that “there’s a bit of work we can do on our bowling” that is going to be tough, especially in conditions which might not entirely favour Shrubsole and Brunt, or even Hazell and Knight, who don’t get the turn that (say) Luus and van Niekerk will for South Africa.

There is an interesting comment on yesterday’s piece which suggests we were possibly overly fixated on Net Run Rate:

“England already have NRR advantage over WI. We only need NRR advantage over one of India and WI, not both. People seem to forget that. Of course, if England beat India on Tuesday, they will have four points, good NRR and probably only need to beat Pakistan to get through.”

This is a good point; and the focus must now of course be on winning against India so we can hopefully then easily qualify for the semis. But whether a Strike Rate hovering around 100 will be enough to beat New Zealand or Australia when we get there, is another matter!

OPINION: England Need More Than Victory v Bangladesh

England’s WWT20 campaign gets started later today, as they take on qualifiers Bangladesh in Bangalore, starting at 10am UK time.

Bangladesh are the lowest-ranked seeds in the competition – they were (narrowly) beaten by Ireland in the final of the qualifying tournament last December; and put to the sword by India in the opening match of the WWT20 earlier this week.

It almost goes without saying that this is a game England should win; but the truth is that they need more than a victory.

Although West Indies had a bit of a scare against Pakistan yesterday, the likelihood is still that this group will be a 3-horse race between West Indies, India and England; but with only two of those sides going through to the knock-out stages, there is therefore a fair chance that our old friend Net Run Rate will be making an appearance before we’re done.

With India having recorded a mammoth 72 run victory over Bangladesh, they are now in the driving-seat with a NRR of +3.6, so England ideally need to better that, either by bowling the Women Tigers out cheaply or by scoring a serious hatful of runs.

Sarah Taylor aside, England have not looked entirely convincing recently – scraping through their tour to South Africa with a pair of 2-1 series victories, where some largely forgettable batting displays were accompanied by fielding performances that they probably only wish they could forget!

But now is the time to put all that behind us. England have 5-or-6 absolutely world class players – Taylor, of course; Edwards and Knight who had massively successful WBBLs; and with the ball, Shrubsole (ranked #1 in the world in T20s) and Hazel (ranked #2); plus Brunt, who might not be quite the threat she once was, but who you underestimate at your peril.

Are England favorites for this tournament? Certainly not! Can they win it? Definitely… but they need to lay down a big marker from the off; and against Bangladesh today, nothing less than a crushing victory will do.