Kia Super League – James Piechowski’s Deep Cover Points – Surrey Stars & Western Storm

In a multi-part special, James Piechowski takes an in-depth look at the Kia Super League squads, starting with Surrey Stars and Western Storm.

Now the squads are fully announced, the key thing that strikes me is how balanced they are – the efforts to ensure a fair distribution of England Performance and Academy squad players looks to have reasonably effective. It is difficult to see, when facing conflicting interests to balance player and club interests, all the while trying to evaluate how much influence each player may provide, how the ECB could have done much better. Maybe Loughborough were left looking a bit raw in terms of experience, but they were given an extra Academy player to compensate. After being handed four strong looking England players, Yorkshire Diamonds may have looked to bolster their batting more from their imports, knowing that the other players coming in from the Academy or County could struggle to offer much with the bat. And Southern Vipers could have at least chosen an International spin bowling all-rounder knowing that they were struggling for spin options elsewhere.

It will be interesting to learn whether it turns out to be more advantageous for a team to have a strong squad all the way through, or whether the standard of the best players (the first XI) will be more important. As it is such a short competition, taking place over the course of only 3 weeks, the latter is perhaps more likely to be the case, as there is not long enough for players to acquire many injuries and squad players to come into effect. Also, the conditions are not likely to be hot enough to tire players out to the extent that resting players or fitness will be an issue.

One notable feature of the squad selections which I’ve not heard brought up yet is the lack if international spin imports. Among the players we perhaps could have expected to see, but are absent are the likes of Erin Osborne, Kristen Beams, Grace Harris, Morna Nielsen, Leigh Kasperek, Yolani Fourie and Sune Luus to name but a few. Indeed Harris would have been an ideal addition for Southern Vipers. It seems that most of the teams have decided to forgo additional quality spin options and rely chiefly on their medium pace attack. There is an exception to this, in the Western Storm, whose innovation in this regard could prove vital. Perhaps there will be higher batting scores in the league than we expect, as there will be more pace on the ball.

Surrey Stars

Batsmen: 5
Bowlers: 2
All-rounders: 8
Pace bowling options: 4
Spin options: 4 (3 OB, 1 LB)
Wicket Keeping options: 2
Left-Handed Batsmen: 1

Possible Team

  • Beaumont, White+, Lanning, Kapp, Sciver*, Morgan, Smith, Dunkley, Farrell, Marsh, Hartley

Strengths

  • Good balance of International players
  • Meg Lanning
  • Economical opening bowlers: Kapp and Farrell
  • Flexible line-up with plenty of bowling options, both medium pace and spin
  • One of the better spin attacks in KSL

Weaknesses

  • The young captain, Nat Sciver will have to draw on an on-field brains trust including Lanning, Morgan, Marsh, Kapp and more. There is plenty of experience available but any competing opinions may be difficult to manage.
  • A glut of all-rounders, which may make it difficult to know the best XI and establish a good, stable batting order
  • Too few specialist bowlers increases the likelihood of a bad day in the field.
  • Batting order may be prone to loss of quick wickets, leaving one established player to manage the last few all-rounders in scraping together a score

Uncertainties

  • We don’t know if Beaumont will take up the wicket keeping gloves or if Kirstie White will. If Beaumont does keep, it would allow the Stars to either strengthen the batting or provide more bowling options.

Prediction

  • They are not the strongest side on paper, despite the inclusion of Lanning. Their success or otherwise will largely depend on how she does and if the others can provide adequate support. The Stars may struggle to reach the top four and get into finals day, but it’s certainly possible for them. The squad will need to gel quickly, play well, and cause an upset or two to progress though.

Western Storm

Batsmen: 6
Bowlers: 2
All-rounders: 7
Pace bowling options: 5
Spin options: 4 (3 OB, 1 SLA)
Wicket Keeping options: 2
Left-Handed Batsmen: 0

Possible Team

  • Priest+, Taylor, Knight*, Wilson, Luff, Lee, Fairbairn, Dibble, Shrubsole, Westbury, Davies

Strengths

  • Batting order is both strong and long, with a good mix of aggression and stability
  • Effective, experienced spin attack looks the strongest in the KSL, with the off-breaks of Knight, Taylor and Westbury supported by left arm spin from Dibble
  • Two good pace bowlers to back them up, in Shrubsole and Davies
  • “Challenger” team with some players looking to impress the England selectors
  • Knight’s captaincy has been effective in the WBBL and she can use the experience from that, plus draw from an on-field brains trust including world-cup winning captain Taylor

Weaknesses

  • No Left handed batsmen – this will make it easier for opposition bowlers to maintain the line they are aiming for
  • Too few specialist bowlers increases the likelihood of a bad day in the field.
  • Possibly over-reliant on spin. Any injuries to their 2 main medium pace bowlers, Shrubsole and Davies, will leave the bowling reserve bench looking a little empty.
  • Davies was not one of the more successful bowlers in the recent England Academy tour.

Uncertainties

  • A difficult batting order to predict. Lee could play anywhere from three down to six, or even open; likewise Knight.

Prediction

  • Storm look a good bet to make the top four and finals day. They are one of the stronger sides on paper, with relatively few weaknesses, bar medium pace bowling backup. They have a  good chance at winning the tournament overall, and should be disappointed if they don’t make the final.
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12 thoughts on “Kia Super League – James Piechowski’s Deep Cover Points – Surrey Stars & Western Storm

  1. Short competition lowering risk of injuries..

    The biggest risk would appear to be squad members playing themselves into fitness & form in either the England series v Pakistan or playing club & county preceding the WSL.

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    • Yes ,good thought, I didn’t consider that…although, if the injuries were known before the start of KSL maybe replacements would be allowed?

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    • Yesterday was the first weekend of WCSL, no internationals at Hayes although Mark Robinson was there to watch his daughter playing for Horsham. Alice Davidson Richards who is on the WSL list was playing.

      How many other WSL squad players (Academy / Other) play club cricket?

      I see the Womens Cricket Southern League (WCSL) has club matches scheduled every weekend of the WSL.

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      • Lottie played at least one game for Wokingham Ridgeway last season; Anya played a couple at least for Bath; and a number of Academy / KSL players played in the club final – e.g. Luff, Westbury, E Jones.

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  2. What concerns me is what is going to happen next season – I assume that KSL and County players will not be able to play for a club. Around here at least women’s league cricket seems to be dying even now, a few seasons ago there were 10 teams in the two leagues covering the area now only 4 – where are the future KSL players going to come from? It is becoming increasingly clear the only way for a woman to get to play any serious cricket is to join a men’s team.

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    • A worrying thought, but it will have to get sorted out eventually. Maybe some mixed cricket is part of the solution. I think we’re entering a period of transition and the previous pathways look different now. Newly formed organisations like these franchises, be they commercial or otherwise, have a responsibility to bring through young talent so they’ll have to find some way to do it. If England fail to produce many good new players in the future, which I don’t think will be the case, they will have to implement ways to keep up as well.

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    • The problem is going to materialise this season, the county and Southern league are both supposed to continue playing through the WSL window. Many of the PL sides in Club cricket no longer run a Sunday friendly team alongside the League team.

      Not restructuring the pathway in parallel to the WSL is in my opinion a mistake by the ECB and will make this a challenging season for all involved.

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  3. Of course there are, there is only a finite time in which to play games. KSL should be played Saturdays and midweek, after all they can get pitches when they like. Do you want to encourage club cricket or kill it altogether?

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    • There are two views that can be taken on this.
      1. The WSL audience will not be maximised as fans will be busy playing / watching county & club

      2. Its an opportunity for players to play club and county who may not get a chance. But trying to run all 3 simulataneously seem very optimistic

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    • I heard at the start of the year that the ECB would no longer keep club and County days separate. While it may have been necessary for the top teams it was a pain for those lower down (with few or no County players) in that it seriously reduced the amount of cricket available and the gaps made it really difficult to get going. On the other hand there are just not enough women playing to cover all three which is why I have concerns.
      Is midweek a real possibility for KSL given some of the players work and the distances involved?

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