NEWS: Bexley Bees Buzz Into Action

John Daniels reports from Bexley Cricket Club

Sunday 19th June saw the launch of the Bexley Bees, the new women’s section of Bexley Cricket Club. The Bees – comprising of Bexley CC girls aged between 13 and 17, plus a couple of more experienced players from Catford Wanderers – took on the Bexley Churches XI, made up of male and female players from St John’s and St Mary’s Churches in Bexley Village, in a 24-overs-a side-game.


(Photo credit: Andy Clay)

Batting first the Churches attained 158-7 and in reply The Bees made a fight of it but came up a little short to end up on 132-8. Both teams batted out their full allocation of overs.

Bexley CC supported the day well. A good crowd attended and the bar was open along with the BBQ and a tasty cake table. The fixture, organised by Andrew Hill (one of the Bexley CC girls managers) was a resounding success.

While Bexley has a thriving girls cricket set-up, a full adult section is a new venture for the club, and has been launched because it became apparent that some of the older girls were not able to get any girls colts club cricket once they reached the age of around 14. Bexley did not want to lose these girls from the game and decided they needed to do something to keep them playing and enable them to keep up their membership at the club.


(Photo credit: Andy Clay)

While the intention is for the Bees to eventually enter the Women’s Cricket Southern League, they will mainly play friendly matches for the time being until such time that the squad is big enough to take on a league commitment. It is hoped that the side will get a couple more fixtures in during the summer and perhaps some indoor games in the coming winter.

For Bexley women’s cricket, it seems, the future is bright.

EDITORIAL: Which Side Are We On?

One of the most common criticisms we get from our readers is that we are too close to the England team to be objective and we sometimes hold back from criticising players we know personally.

It is a challenge that all journalists have to deal with, and for a “global media circus”, cricket (all cricket, not just the women’s game) is actually quite a small community, so it is a particular challenge in our sport; but the truth is that we are not that close to the players on a personal level.

Unlike the men’s journalists, we don’t stay in the same hotels 200 days a year, and while we have met most of the parents, and the odd boyfriend/ girlfriend, we wouldn’t presume to call ourselves “friends” with any current international player.

We know that some of them follow us on Twitter and read CRICKETher, which is nice; but others (at least two of the currently England team) take a different and equally valid approach – they block us!

Yes – ironically, while some readers think we are too soft on the team, the players themselves often feel like we are harsh, negative and unfair to them.

So which side are we on?

We want to celebrate the achievements of the England team, but we aren’t cheerleaders – what we really want to do is to share with our readers a bit of the insight and perspective that comes from having followed this sport for a long time, at both the domestic and international levels; and hopefully inform a bit of discussion and debate.

So we hope the answer is that we are on everybody’s side – the players, the fans, the women’s game, the wider game… even the ECB’s, believe it or not! It is a bit of a balancing act sometimes, but we’ll keep doing what we do – walking the wire, from point to point, hopefully getting somewhere, but maybe actually more importantly, enjoying the view along the way.

OPINION: Children of the Robinson Revolution

An England cap has always been something to be treasured. Lately, though, they have been so rare that had there been an England Cap-Making Company it would have had to go out of business. Only two players – Tash Farrant and Becky Grundy – have gained a debut ODI cap in the past three years, and the idea that England might look outside their pool of contracted players has – since the one-off last minute selection of Sonia Odedra in the August 2014 Test against India – gone out of the window. Alex Hartley’s selection today – long overdue – bucked a trend. It also makes her the first Child of Mark Robinson’s Revolution.

Sociologists have written entire books about what, precisely, constitutes a “revolution”. It is a question I sometimes ask my students when teaching on the subject of modern British history. “A change that happens quickly”, is normally the initial hazard at a definition. “So if I dyed my hair purple before our seminar next week,” I reply, sceptically, “would that constitute a revolution?”

In cricket terms, alternatively, one might ask: does calling up one uncapped player and one player who has not worn an England shirt since 2011 actually constitute a revolution? Fran Wilson did not even play in any of the three matches; a cynical soul (ahem) might suggest that Mark Robinson’s Brave New World looks pretty similar to the old one, minus the run-machine that was – to the end of her England career – Charlotte Edwards.

And if one possible headline from today’s game is “Brunt Takes Five-Fer”, one might well imagine that continuity, not change, has been the watchword: for all the criticism England have endured over the past few years, their bowling – almost always fronted by the ever-passionate Katherine Brunt – has rarely been the problem.

So has anything changed? Absolutely. Just look at the batting order. Lauren Winfield and Tammy Beaumont are opening: it feels familiar, until you realise that while they have both done the role previously, they have never done so together prior to this series. And until you realise that instead of weakly holeing out they are getting themselves in and staying there.

If I’d had to put money on a player coming close to beating Edwards’ record score of 173, Beaumont isn’t the name I’d have chosen; but there it is in black and white on the score sheet, and in the record books – and the way she played I don’t think anyone could argue that it doesn’t deserve to be there.

Amy Jones is behind the stumps. It would have been understandable if she had gone through this series with the media spotlight firmly upon her, stepping up as England’s first choice wicketkeeper in the absence of Sarah Taylor. Yet she has barely been mentioned. She should not take it personally; or rather, she should: going so far under the radar is a tribute to her talent with the gloves.

Of course, with Georgia Elwiss at 3 and Nat Sciver coming in up the order, Jones has not been required with the bat. Sciver is another point of interest: were she a Friends episode, she would be entitled ‘The One With the Big Reputation’. She has long been touted as England’s power-hitter; their answer to the Grace Harris’s of this world. She has never quite lived up to this billing – until her innings at Worcester the other day, that is.

Yes, Pakistan are not the strongest side; but the clinical way in which they have been dispatched should not be underestimated. England have a tally of 910 runs this series against Pakistan’s 495. It has been not just a victory but an annihilation.

Robinson’s Revolution does not look like I thought it would a few weeks ago. In this case revolution has not, really, been about a change in personnel, but a change in attitude and environment. Brunt – whose plain speaking makes her a pleasure to interview – summed this up after close of play. “He’s sparked something in me and it’s making me want to stick around for a while,” she said. “If you’re doing the same things over and over it just becomes a bit monotonous. I’m not a big fan of change but this change has really helped me out. It’s about pushing you out of your comfort zone, figuring out what you’re capable of, and then taking even that further. The biggest thing for me is watching everybody grow. When I look around and see these youngsters who have been around for a lot of years now really starting to flourish as players, it’s really inspiring. He’s just brought the best out of everybody.”

As Alexis de Tocqueville reminds us, revolutions are not always sudden and violent: sometimes they are slow but sweeping; sometimes they take time to make their mark. In truth, most revolutions in British history have been slow burners (quite literally, in the case of the Industrial one); set in motion by one radical event, change then unfolds gradually over time, until you look back and realise that something fundamental has changed without you quite noticing how.

Robinson’s revolution is, thus far, very much in the British mould. Will it succeed? Time will tell. But in a week where Brexit has shown just how bad the English are at dealing with radical change, it’s surely worth a go.

Random Thoughts: England v Pakistan 3rd ODI


This was another ruthless performance from England; but it wasn’t the “same” performance. Moving out the boundaries gave the batsmen different challenges – you could see they were looking to bunt it short and snatch a lot of sharp singles, for example; and Nat Sciver played very differently – knowing there were an extra few yards to find those sixes, she looked instead to find the gaps more along the floor.


Again… Pakistan weren’t awful, but their fielding would be one area where they could really improve things in time for next year’s World Cup. Talking of which… you’d still definitely think they ought to qualify – they might not have been able to derail the England train on this tour, but they will be hard work for the likes of Ireland nonetheless, and if they aren’t back in 2017, it will be a surprise.

Alex Hartley

Mark Robinson (generous with his time, as always, to talk after the close) mentioned that England always intended to try to give Hartley a game in this 3rd ODI of the series; and the only person more delighted than us to see her receive her cap today, appeared to be Hartley herself! Spinners have the hardest job on debut – there is so little margin for error with the art – but Hartley got a good first over in, which was important.

She got a little bit expensive at the end of her first spell, with her economy rate edging towards 10 in overs 3-through-5, so Knight withdrew her; and she then came back later with a strong second spell, with an economy rate of just 3 in her final 5 overs. She didn’t take a wicket, but it was a very good response nonetheless and we will be seeing her again in an England shirt, for sure.

Katherine Brunt

This was Brunt’s first 5-fer since 2011, when she took 5-18 in an ODI against Australia at Wormsley. We mentioned in an earlier Random Thoughts that it is hard for her, because her reputation precedes her and the batsman usually try to just see her off, so it was great to see her get a reward and her name of the board again!

Amy Jones

They say sometimes with goalkeepers in football that they’ve had a good game if you don’t notice them; and it is very much the same with wicket keepers. Has anyone noticed Amy Jones? No – not really, because she hasn’t brought the attention to herself by doing anything horrendous… and that’s the way we like it.

Tammy Beaumont

TB has been England’s outstanding player in this series. Presented with a gilt-edged invitation to succeed, she did so in No Trumps and you can’t ask more than that. There will be harder series to come, but she has probably bought her ticket for a long time to come on the strength of these performances, and she deserves it.

REPORT: T20 Cup – Berkshire v Kent v Lancashire

Raf Nicholson & Syd Egan at Wokingham

On an increasingly drizzly Sunday at Wokingham Cricket Club, it was Berkshire who came out on top, to open up a big lead in Division 1 of the T20 Cup.

Berkshire v Kent [SE]

First up, a Berkshire side without Heather Knight, faced a Kent line-up which included Charlotte Edwards, Suzie Bates, Lydia Greenway and Tash Farrant. Berkshire were, however, bolstered by the debut of New Zealander Rachel Priest, who prior to the start of play received her cap from coach Aftab Habib.

Edwards and Bates opened the batting, and the gods initially appeared to be on Edwards’ side, as an edge off Daisy Gardner fell agonisingly short of Carla Rudd behind the stumps, and then a tame cut to point off the same bowler was put down by Alex Rogers.

The batsmen having been softened up by Gardner however,  the double-breakthrough came from Linsey Smith, who bowled Edwards for 2 off 9 balls and had Bates caught at slip by Priest for 18 off 17.

Alice Davidson-Richards (26) and Lydia Greenway (16) then took Kent to 52-2 at the half-way mark; but what looked like a good platform somehow crumbled away as Berkshire continued to bowl tightly. Nevertheless, Kent’s final total of 95-8, though disappointing, looked like it might just have been enough.

Indeed, it very nearly was enough. Although a 2nd wicket stand of 56 between Rachel Priest (38) and Alex Rogers (20) looked to have put Berkshire firmly in charge, Kent dragged themselves back into the game with 3 quick wickets; and then kept the partnership between Lissy Macleod and Amanda Potgieter sufficiently in-check that it came down to the final ball, with Berkshire needing 2 to win.

A scampered single brought the scores level, but it was a reckless shy at the stumps which proved Kent’s undoing, as Macleod and Potgieter ran the overthrow to record a thrilling win by the narrowest of margins.

Kent v Lancashire [RN]

The second game of the day saw one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Women’s County T20 competition, as Lancashire – who have not won a Division 1 county game since 2006 – triumphed over Kent by 6 runs.

Lancashire started on the back foot as they lost both Emma Lamb (caught by Greenway at cover) and Lauren Smith (lbw for a first-ball duck) in the first over of the day, though Tash Farrant failed to achieve the hat-trick. However, they proceeded to add 44 for the third wicket as some loose bowling by Kent offered up easy pickings for Ellie Threlkeld (19) and Natalie Brown (23). While both were eventually dismissed by Megan Belt, a fiery 13* down the order from Rachel Dickinson, coming in at 9, helped them post a target of 91.

This did look eminently gettable as, in the absence of Charlotte Edwards, Suzie Bates and Farrant walked out to open for Kent. Indeed, at 44-0 in the 11th over, Kent were were cruising towards victory, albeit at the pace of a tandem rather than a Porsche. Yet a clever piece of glove work by Threlkeld – who realised swiftly that Farrant’s foot was on rather than behind the line – saw her stumped for 17 off the bowling of Natalie Brown (2-10). In Brown’s next over Bates also fell foul of a great piece of fielding, as Dickinson took a fantastic catch over her shoulder, running backwards from midwicket.

From there the wickets continued to tumble – none of Alice Davidson-Richards, Lydia Greenway, Lauren Griffiths and Charlotte Pape made it into double figures – and Kent were left needing 14 off the last over, which proved too big an ask.

Berkshire v Lancashire [SE]

So the final match was (by coincidence) itself to be a sort-of “final” between the day’s earlier winners.

With drizzle already beginning to fall, Berkshire won the toss, and might have looked to the weather, and to the advantages of batting second when shortened matches are decided by simple run rate, not Duckworth Lewis; but with the pitch deteriorating, they opted to bat first instead.

Berkshire found it heavy-going, as Lancashire’s spinners pegged them back early-on, and all of their top 5 fell for single-figures, leaving it to Linsey Smith (29* off 25) and Amanda Potgieter (12) to try to claw things back at the end, taking then to 91-6; with Sophie Ecclestone and Aussie Lauren* Smith the pick of the Lancashire bowlers, both taking 2-11.

The drizzle continued as Ellie Threlkeld and Emma Lamb walked out to begin the reply, with Berkshire also opening with spin from both ends, as Linsey Smith and Fi Morris took the ball. Morris had a hand in all of the first 4 wickets to fall: Threlkeld LBW, Smith skying a catch to Macleod at mid off, Brown caught at slip by Rachel Priest, and finally running out Emma Lamb, who had played very positively for 26 off 21 balls.

As the ball became increasingly soggy, so did Berkshire’s fielding, with catches going down and run outs going begging; but fortunately for the home side, it mattered not, as Rachel Hardy came on to clean up the tail with 3-3, as Lancashire were bowled out for just 55 off 16.1 overs.

Afterwards, Berkshire’s new overseas signing, New Zealander Rachel Priest, praised the Berkshire bowling attack, though admitted that her side could have improved in the field against Lancashire:

“Our bowling was great today. There were a few dropped chances [and] against a better side we’ll need to tidy that up a little bit.”

Priest, who is one of Western Storm’s overseas players in the inaugural Kia Super League, also said that she was happy to have the chance to acclimatise to English conditions before the competition begins next month:

“It was good to be out in those conditions and not just sitting at home [in the rain].”

“As many games as I can be available for, I’ll be back to Berkshire for those.”


* Play Cricket says “Dave” Smith… but we are fairly sure this isn’t her name 😉

OPINION: England Need Hart As Well As Six Appeal

There is no doubt it has been a dream start to Heather Knight’s reign as captain, with two stonking victories over Pakistan this week. In the 1st ODI, Knight took command, with a Player of the Match performance; whilst in the 2nd, Winfield, Beaumont and Sciver finally started to look like the players on the pitch that they have always been on paper.

But while England’s much-lauded new “six appeal”  (© Vish Ehantharajah) has been a whole heap of fun to watch, let’s not get carried away. Pakistan’s bowling and fielding has been serving runs up on a plate to England’s batsmen; so is there an argument for playing a different batsman to allow them to join the feast? Coach Mark Robinson thinks not, it seems – Fran Wilson has been released to play for Middlesex on Sunday, suggesting we won’t be seeing her on Monday. And while this is hard on Wilson, who probably deserves to play in her preferred format, it is understandable – why interfere with a batting order which is just coming together?

But cricket is a game of two halves – bat and ball; and if England’s batsmen have finally found their je ne sais quoi, the bowlers still appear to be turning out the drawers in the spare room looking for theirs. So it is time to add some hart [sic!] to that six appeal, and bring in Alex Hartley. Not only is she the best spinner in the country right now, but as a left-armer, she offers something different to really challenge the batsmen – something that neither Cross nor Marsh, who have been workmanlike but nothing more in this series, have quite done.

Interestingly, unlike Wilson, Hartley has not been released to Middlesex, so is Robbo thinking what we’re thinking? I guess we’ll find out at around half past 10 on Monday!

Random Thoughts: England v Pakistan 2nd ODI

Thoughts from Syd Egan & Raf Nicholson (And don’t forget to add yours below!)

Short Boundaries

Tomorrow’s back page story will of course be the fact that England smashed their highest ever score in one day internationals. And yet it’s hard not to feel a bit cheated by this, given that the boundaries – at 55 yards – were at the absolute minimum required by ICC regulations. At one point Tammy Beaumont, fielding at deep backward square leg, was actually starting off outside the boundary rope to give her space to “walk in” as the bowler ran in to bowl.

Officially the boundaries are at the groundsman’s discretion. However, it’s pretty obvious from what Mark Robinson has said in recent interviews that he is strongly pushing for shorter boundaries – he thinks it encourages attacking play. Maybe; but if it turns everything into bish-bash-bosh we’re going to see a LOT of records smashed in the next few years. Surely allowing players to start mishitting sixes not only devalues the skill of someone like Nat Sciver – who as she showed today is perfectly capable of hitting big without any artificial assistance – but the women’s game as a whole?

Pakistan’s Fielding

It might be hard for their bowlers to adjust to the English conditions; but Pakistan could help themselves massively if they upped their game in the field. Leaking boundaries through your legs, or sliding past the ball and turning round to watch it pass behind you over the rope, only makes life easy for the opposition. Something to work on before Monday?

Centurion Central

We can’t remember the last time we saw two English players hit centuries in an ODI (anyone know when it was?); and the fact that the boundaries were short shouldn’t take anything away from the fact that Tammy Beaumont and Lauren Winfield fully deserved their maiden hundreds. It’s interesting that Beaumont reflected in the post-match press conference that she felt Mark Robinson’s faith in her as a batsman during the World Twenty20 had provided her with the level of confidence which she needed to translate her ongoing excellent domestic form into England level cricket. Both Winfield and Beaumont seem to be thriving under the new regime, and that’s great to see. Having said that…

England’s Batting

Mark Robinson told the press a couple of weeks ago: “Lottie would have filled her boots against Pakistan but we would not have learnt anything.” But you have to ask: what have we actually learnt here? Lauren Winfield and Tammy Beaumont can fill their boots against innocuous bowling? Nope – we already knew that! Nat Sciver can bosh it when the pressure is off? I think we probably knew that too! Yes, England were very good with the bat, but it isn’t time to get carried away yet, if only because…

England’s Bowling

We tend to think of bowling as being England’s main strength… and with Shrubsole and Brunt – the most feared opening pair in the world – why wouldn’t you? Perhaps because (whisper it) they looked a mite toothless again today. They did the job – they bowled Pakistan out – and admittedly, it is difficult when a team play as defensively as Pakistan have done, but nevertheless it wasn’t the “bossing it” performance with the ball that we saw with the bat.

1st ODI, Leicester: Operation Collaboration

There was a resounding cheer at Leicester today when Heather Knight hit the single that would take her to 50, in her debut match as England captain.

There was also a moment, 3 balls earlier, when Knight – on 49 and poised to take any chance of the elusive single that would put her into the record books as the first woman ever to take 5 wickets and score 50 in an ODI – was so eager to dash out of her crease having made contact with the ball that she slipped and fell.

For some reason that moment didn’t get cheered quite so loudly. Yet somehow it symbolised the ineffable quality that is Heather Knight-ness: graceful, no; gets the job done, yes.

It may have been Tammy Beaumont (70) and Natalie Sciver (27*) who hit the pretty strokes today – the cuts through point and the straight drives that will live on in the memory – but it was Knight who always looked like she would be there until the end. Some captains are born; some are made; some have captaincy thrust upon them. While Knight may fall into the latter category, it does not stop her already looking like she is quite happy just to get on with the job of winning, thank you very much.

One senses that even Knight’s eagerness to run that single when on 49* was more about seeing her team to victory than anything else. “Nat [Sciver] tried to bring it up [that I was close to my half-century] and I was like, ’don’t even think about it, you finish the game, don’t worry about me’,” she said after close of play. “It was a nice thing to get the 50, but the win was the main thing.”

Did today feel entirely convincing? No. Against better teams the fumbles by England in the field – of which there were too many – would have proved costlier; Beaumont might well have been run out earlier in her innings by a more experienced fielder. And there is still a feeling of scepticism about Mark Robinson’s New Order hanging in the air. If this series is a chance to blood new players, why does this team look suspiciously like it did 12 months ago when it lost the Ashes? Why no Fran Wilson, no Alex Hartley?

Yet the one aspect of the New Order that is both new and convincing is the wonderfully collaborative style of captaincy which it looks like we will be seeing more of over the coming months. When someone captains a team for a decade it becomes difficult to question their thought processes. Why, players might ask themselves, would I bother? The captain knows what they are doing. Today, it was very apparent while England were in the field that when decisions were being made, all of their bowlers were involved. Kate Cross at mid-on giving guidance to Katherine Brunt; Knight and Anya Shrubsole, the new vice-captain, heads bent together over the ball. Even Amy Jones could be seen deep in conversation with Nat Sciver after she had conceded 8 off her first over.

“We want to work as a team,” Knight said, tellingly, in the post-match press conference. “That’s something that’s going to be really big going forward: having that bowling attack together and getting them communicating and talking it through.”

It begs the question: should Knight really still be fielding at slip? Yes, she is the best England have in the position; but Lauren Winfield snaffled a good catch there today. If captaincy is to be ever more collaborative, requiring Knight to run all the way up and down the pitch just to exchange a few words with her bowler is going to be a tall order. It contributed to a slow over rate today; and in any case, doesn’t she have enough weight on her shoulders already?

Perhaps even Heather Knight – Wonder Woman as she was today – can’t quite do everything.

Then again, perhaps not.

Random Thoughts: England v Pakistan 1st ODI


The visitors weren’t awful – they weren’t overawed, but ultimately they were overwhelmed. With the bat they preserved their wickets at the expense of scoring runs; and they lacked that little bit of professional sharpness in the field, as witnessed by the massive let-off for Tammy Beaumont when she really ought to have been run out after a horrible mix-up with her skipper when she was on 49. Are Pakistan anywhere near up there with England? No! But do they belong at this level? On the evidence of today, absolutely; and playing in these kinds of conditions now sets them up to be ready for the World Cup next year, for which they will still hope to qualify via the Qualifying Tournament.


England’s “Brave New World” didn’t look that brave or that new today – no new cap for Alex Hartley… and not even a game for Fran “Like A New Cap” Wilson. It is to be hoped that we see the two of them later in the ODI series, especially as ODIs rather than T20s would (you’d think) be their preferred environment. But the really important thing is that they got the victory – they aren’t 100% happy with their bowling or their fielding, and rightly so, but a win is a win!

Heather Knight

Those who know Knight won’t be surprised to find that the “burden” of captaincy has quickly affected her form in the most positive of ways. She might not be “flashy”, either as a player or an individual, but as captain at Berkshire, Hobart Hurricanes, and now England, she has stood up and taken responsibility. Bowling-wise, she might not turn it much at all, but she lands it on a spot, and when you build pressure like that, the bad shots will come and the catches will follow. With the bat, she played quite conservatively, a lot off the back foot; but if her role going forward is to anchor the team coming in at 4, that is the game she needs to play in this kind of situation. (But in another situation, she can (and would) play differently.)

Tammy Beaumont

This was TB’s best performance in an England shirt, and it really does start to look as if Robinson might have had a transformative effect on someone who has always been able to do it at county, but has consistently struggled for England. She moved her feet like Ginger Rogers and punched like Nicola Adams; but she does need to remember to play to her strengths, driving in front of the wicket – the only times she looked shaky today were when she became a bit too expansive, not least the terrible shot she got out to.

Katherine Brunt

Brunt finally got her 100th ODI wicket, something which has been weighing a little on her, because it has taken some time to move past 99; but that’s what happens when you are the best – people play you differently, and the wickets are genuinely harder to come by. So don’t panic – she isn’t struggling or losing her form – and she remains key to England’s World Cup prospects next year.

England ODI Squad – County Stats

You can’t always read too much into a player’s county form – some, like Nat Sciver, always seem to perform better with an England shirt on; whilst others, such as Tammy Beaumont, have never yet seemed able to quite translate their always-impressive county numbers into international success.

But with that caveat, here are the top-level numbers for this season.

Player County Matches Batting Average Wickets
Heather Knight Berkshire 5 52 6
Anya Shrubsole Somerset 1 60 4
Tammy Beaumont Kent 6 52 N/A
Katherine Brunt Yorkshire 3 38 2
Kate Cross Lancashire 3 6 0
Georgia Elwiss Sussex 4 22 12
Jenny Gunn Warwickshire 2 21 0
Alex Hartley Middlesex 2 15 4
Dani Hazell Yorkshire 3 41 5
Amy Jones Warwickshire 3 4 N/A
Laura Marsh Kent 6 23 9
Nat Sciver Surrey 5 21 7
Fran Wilson Middlesex 1 63 N/A
Lauren Winfield Yorkshire 4 25 N/A
Danni Wyatt Sussex 4 37 7