INTERVIEW: Surrey Stars – Marizanne Kapp & Nat Sciver

It hasn’t been the easiest week for the Surrey Stars. First, they lost their best player – the Mega-Star herself, Meg Lanning – who was forced to withdraw from the Kia Super League with a shoulder injury. Then they were defeated in both rubbers of their warm-up double-header at Loughborough, with the Lightning smashing them for over 200 in the second match.

But South African all-rounder Marizanne Kapp is still able to find the bright side:

“Those matches didn’t go as planned but we are still positive. One of the girls made a comment that at least we were bonding, so that’s quite unique – we had a really bad day but we still smiled.”

Stars captain Nat Sciver agrees:

“We had a good day despite the result! It was good fun for a first day out as a team and we can definitely only get better from there!”

Given the traditional rivalry between Middlesex and Surrey, the decision to tie London’s only KSL franchise so tightly to the Surrey brand, has been a controversial one; but Sciver insists this isn’t a problem for the players:

” I think the Middlesex-Surrey rivalry is more with the men – we’ve got some Kent players as well, and based on yesterday, we’ve bonded really well.”

Almost to prove the point, it is two Middlesex players that Sciver points to when asked who we should be looking out for among the more junior members of their squad:

“The young girls that we have are particularly exciting, especially Sophia Dunkley, and also Alex Hartley making her England debut this summer – they’re really exciting prospects.”

The big game for the Stars is their home match versus the Yorkshire Diamonds at The Oval, and Sciver is obviously looking forward to leading the side out at one of the most historic grounds in cricket:

“The two T20 games there against Middlesex have been really good – we’ve had loads of people watching which is really brilliant. We’ve already sold 500 tickets, and hopefully we can sell more.”

Asked about comparisons with the WBBL, Kapp, who reached the final of that competition with the Sydney Sixers, says the same principles apply:

“KSL is shorter [than WBBL] but even for the WBBL you had to be on point from the first game – the same will happen here, we just have to be ready when the first team comes.”

For the Surrey Stars, that team is the Charlotte Edwards’ Southern Vipers, at the Ageas Bowl next Sunday – it should be a cracker!


INTERVIEW: Loughborough Lightning – Georgia Elwiss & Sophie Devine

Loughborough Lightning are very much the wildcard in the Kia Super League pack. Of the five other teams, there are three – Lancashire Thunder, Yorkshire Diamonds and Surrey Stars – that are based around existing counties; and two – Western Storm and Southern Vipers – that are conglomerates of universities and multiple counties.

Lightning, though, chose to go it alone as a university – something that was realistic because, as the home of both the contracted England Women’s Performance squad and the England Women’s Academy, what they did have was an in-place women’s cricket programme that was second-to-none, and an unrivaled set of facilities which New Zealand’s Sophie Devine believes is what gives Loughborough the edge.

“I’ve been here just over a week now,” she says, “[and] what I’ve seen so far has been absolutely incredible – the facilities available literally right on the doorstep – it makes a massive difference.”

Devine admits though that it is a challenge, jetting in from the other side of the world.

“It’s a bit of a shock for me, coming from the middle of winter where it’s not getting above 5 degrees – we had an open wicket training the other day and my feet were really sore from wearing the spikes; but we’re just trying to take it all on board and learn as quick as we can, because the competition’s coming round really quick.”

Of course, facilities are nothing if you haven’t got the players, and Georgia Elwiss tells us they picked their overseas stars very carefully.

“In terms of our international players we’ve got all all-rounders, so they’re all world-class at batting and bowling, which is obviously a massive help – they are all likely to bat in the top 5 and bowl 4 overs each, so for me [as captain] that’s a dream.”

In terms of preparation, Loughborough have had a warm-up double-header versus the Surrey Stars, winning both games, and scoring over 200 in the second match; but Elwiss is characteristically not getting carried away.

“It’s always good to get a run out and see some of the younger girls really perform and stand up. We had small boundaries [but] power hitting has been a thing that we’ve really focused on over the last 18 months, and it’s nice that it’s coming out in the game now.”

As well as work on the field and in the gym, the girls have taken some time-out at Laser Tag, with New South African skipper Dane van Niekerk leading the winning team: “She had all the game plans and she bossed it!” says Elwiss. (“Don’t talk any more about it!” retorts Devine, who we suspect might have been on the losing side!)

Although she is only here for a month, Devine is keen to emphasise that while she is here, she is a Lightning player and not a New Zealand one.

“I don’t care that Georgia plays for England and I play for New Zealand – for me that goes out the window and it’s just about playing cricket. And if we can help each other get better and if we can help the county players get better, then surely that’s going to be better for the women’s game in general.”

Reflecting on the overall state of the women’s game here, Devine thinks we are in good shape going into KSL:

“Women’s cricket over here in England, from what we see from abroad, is massively popular – the crowds you guys get [and] the following of the English girls is huge. So if KSL gets at least a little bit of the following that the England girls get here I think it will be a really successful tournament.”

“It’s only going to be for the better of the women’s game”, she concludes. “It’s a really awesome experience.”


Laura Wright Heroes Single Released At KSL Launch Party

Heroes – the anthem for England women’s cricket, written and performed by Laura Wright – has been released as a single and is available now for download now on and all other major music stores.


Laura performed Heroes last night at the Kia Super League Launch Party in Manchester, in front of everyone who is anyone in cricket… and us!!

The evening also brought us face-to-face with the beautiful KSL trophy for the first time.

NEWS: Lanning Out Of Super League

Australian captain Meg Lanning will play no part in this summer’s Kia Super League, after being ruled out with a shoulder injury.

Lanning was crucial to the hopes of the Surrey Stars, who yesterday suffered two huge defeats in a warm-up double-header against Loughborough Lightning, with the Lightning posting over 200 in the second match, thanks to 91 from Georgia Elwiss, and the Stars well behind the D/L rate when the rain came down to bring proceedings to a close.

The Stars will be permitted to replace Lanning, and an announcement on that is expected shortly.

County T20 Cup – Warwickshire, Kent & Middlesex Head to “Finals Day” at Beckenham

Although the Women’s County T20 Finals Day was abolished two years ago, last weekend’s results mean that we will have something close to a de-facto Finals Day at Beckenham next weekend between Warwickshire, Kent and Middlesex.

Here’s how the table looks:

Team Played NRR Points
Warwickshire 5 0.81 17
Kent 5 0.54 12
Berkshire 5 0.12 12
Lancashire 6 -0.23 12
Middlesex 5 0.32 10
Yorkshire 6 -0.51 6
Nottinghamshire 5 -0.41 5
Sussex 5 -1.04 2

After two more wins yesterday, Warwickshire are in the driving seat – if they win either of their games, they are champions.

But if Kent and Middlesex both beat Warwickshire, the winner of their match could (see below!) be taking home the trophy instead.

The one team who could upset the party at Beckenham are Berkshire, who play Sussex and Notts at Hove.

If Berkshire beat Sussex and Notts, they can snatch the cup if either (a) Beckenham is rained off; or (b) Middlesex win both their matches and Kent beat Warwickshire. (There is a theoretical (c) too, if Kent win both their matches and Middlesex beat Warwickshire, but it would require a massive turn-around in NRR.)

Exciting times… and between us at Beckenham, and @WomensCricBlog at Hove, we’ll have full coverage for you next weekend.

REPORT: Middlesex Cruise Past Berkshire Despite Standout Knight

England captain Heather Knight top-scored with 32 and took 3 wickets for Berkshire, but it wasn’t enough as Middlesex cruised to victory at Wokingham.

Wokingham is getting a bit of a reputation as being a difficult place to score runs – when Berkshire played Kent and Lancashire here 3 weeks ago, the highest score was just 96 – but Berkshire made it even harder for themselves as they gave Middlesex plenty of catching practice after having won the toss and elected to bat.

It started with Maia Bouchier who, after giving away 4 runs with a ghastly misfield on the deep backward point boundary, more than made up for it with a lovely diving catch to her left at mid off, to dismiss Rachel Priest for 6 off Ria Raval.

Lissy Macleod lasted just 5 balls before popping one up to Anna Nicholls at cover; and then Alex Rogers, off the mark with a beautiful cover drive for 4, soon followed, bowled by Holly Huddleston without adding to her score.

Sherisa Gumbs hung around with Knight for a short while, taking the score to 48-3 at the half-way mark, before she drove Naomi Dattani to short midwicket; and then it was Knight’s turn to head back to the pavilion, after slog-sweeping Dattani straight to Fran Wilson on the midwicket boundary. With Alex Hartley also picking up a couple of late wickets – Amanda Potgieter bowled and Emily Gerke LWB – Berkshire finished on 92-8.

With Daisy Gardner clearly still not quite herself (she bowled 1 over in the middle of the innings, going for 8) and Lauren Bell sitting this one out, Berkshire’s attack lacked any real venom, and it was not until Knight brought herself on in the 4th over that a double breakthrough was made, the England skipper bowling Naomi Dattani for 8 and Tash Miles for 10.

This brought Fran Wilson and Beth Morgan together and they simply turned on the cruise control – Wilson making 27 off 21 balls before she became Knight’s 3rd victim, only to be replaced by Maia Bouchier, who just continued where Wilson had left off – ending up on 21* off 19 balls, with Morgan also not out on 21 (off 22) as Middlesex completed the chase with more than 5 overs to spare.

Afterwards Fran Wilson told CRICKETher that the secret to success here is batting “ugly”:

“It is sometimes a tricky pitch playing here, and low scores can be difficult to chase; but the thing is not being scared to bat a bit ugly – doing all the basics well and running hard, and not being too caught up in looking great or playing flary shots.”

The result means that Warwickshire move above Berkshire to the top of the table – after their victories against Sussex and Lancashire in this round, they need just one more win from their two remaining games next weekend, against Middlesex and Kent, to seal the title.

NEWS: Berkshire’s Boswell Appointed Director of Women & Girls Cricket In Oxfordshire

Former Berkshire player Emma Boswell has been appointed by Oxfordshire Cricket Board as their first Director of Women & Girls Cricket.

Boswell – a retired former Royal Navy submarine officer – is currently Assistant Coach of Berkshire’s Women’s 1st XI, and has also done some work with their age group sides this year, where she is a popular figure with the girls.

Her role at Oxfordshire will be to oversee the promotion and development of Women’s cricket throughout the county. A key focus will be creating an effective pathway – from school, via club, county and Super League, to England – ensuring there are enjoyable and rewarding experiences for the players at every stage.

Boswell is also set to return to the field with Oxfordshire, who are currently 2nd in Division 3 of the Women’s County Championship, with 3 wins from 4 completed games this season.

James Piechowski’s Deep Cover Points – England v Pakistan: New Look England Shrug Off Uncertainties – Part 2 – The T20s

In the second part of a two-part special, James Piechowski reviews England’s summer v Pakistan.

To me the T20 series was a different priority for England – with no upcoming major competition, they had time to re-build, but would want to put their recent World T20 competition, in which they were more sedate than sensational, firmly behind them. It was worrying that Shrubsole had picked up an injury after bowling only about 23 overs in the ODIs. She still contributed well, with 6 wickets, but England will need her to be on top form for the upcoming winter tours and of course, a certain tournament starting next year on these shores.

England’s new opening partnership very much carried on where it had left off. Whereas Beaumont had been scoring more heavily in the ODIs, Winfield was the more impressive in the T20s. As an aggressive, front footed opener hitting through the ball, harsh on anything too full or too short, it’s hard to see too many other players fulfilling the same role for England. Over the 3 games, Winfield scored 166 runs at 55 with a strike rate of 164. Beaumont managed 142 runs at 47 and a strike rate of 128. These were, unsurprisingly, the chief contributions to England’s batting.

England made an impressive 187/5 in the first game at Bristol, with 50s for both of England’s openers. Pakistan’s reply was led by quick-fire scores of 24 by Nain Abidi and 35 from Asmavia Iqbal, another player who I could see making it in WBBL. But 2 wickets apiece from Hazell, Sciver and Gunn, the latter contributing strongly and consistently with the ball throughout the T20 series, was too much and Pakistan finished on 119-7. England had won by 68 runs. Sophie Ecclestone, the 17 year-old left arm spinner who with her freckles and braces looks every bit the schoolgirl (which she still is!), showed good composure and gave consistent performances across 2 games to return total figures of 3-47 off 8 overs.

The third and final iT20 match at Chelmsford followed a similar pattern to the first, both England openers making fast 50s and the middle order blasting a few final runs to give a total of 170. This never looked in danger as Pakistan finished on 113-7 this time. Tash Farrant bowled 4 overs for 15 runs and took a joyful return catch off Nahida Khan, and Alex Hartley impressed and did her ongoing selection chances no harm with 2-19, including the big wicket of Bismah Maroof (35), castling her with a beautiful and clever piece of bowling.

The second T20 at Southampton is worth considering in a bit more detail, as in some ways it was a bit more of a chastening experience for England. On a supposed road of a pitch, neither Beaumont nor Winfield reached 30, and England’s middle order were kept quiet by some accurate and very slow sub-50 mph left-arm spin bowling from Bismah Maroof (2-19). The boundary count was down, and the total of 138 was in no small part due to a much-needed 43* from the ever-solid Fran Wilson. Finally given a long overdue chance, but hardly in her element in a T20 innings where run rate was a priority over steady accumulation, Wilson played very sensibly and ran well, in a succession of small partnerships that saw England climb to what turned out to be a respectable score. It seemed Wilson was determined to impress no matter the situation. Luckily, England were able to provide a strong performance with the ball to back up their batting, restricting Pakistan to just 103. The surface had played slowly. It wasn’t the perfect pitch we’d been led to believe after all. Despite a 35-run win in an ultimately solid display, England were heavily criticised in the press.

It’s worth noting that back in 2012, when a supposedly better England last played Pakistan in a home iT20 series, Pakistan couldn’t even score into the 90s. In reply, England took almost 16 overs to reach the target. In the other game England only managed a 160 score. This new series was definitely more exciting. Personally, I think the new-look England does have a lot more appeal.

Whilst England kept their heads to post a reasonable score on a slow track, where batsmen found it hard to get the ball away, it was some of the press that seemingly lost it. The Independent was claiming that England’s middle order frailties were once again exposed. We had scored 140 plus, which as the later men’s game showed, was not so bad an effort. Indeed, rather than the quick singles taken by Knight, Wyatt and Sciver being a failing, it was very much where England outclassed a Pakistan side who so often found it harder to rotate the strike rather than hit the ball to the boundary.

CRICKETher pointed out this fact and it will be an area where Pakistan could really improve their game, to become more competitive in a format where, as they showed in the recent World T20 series against India, they have the best chance of causing an upset. Anyhow, England had taken the 2016 iT20 series 3-0, and the celebrations ensued.

Let’s not forget England’s success was also in part due to Natalie Sciver. Batting incredibly effectively in the ODI series and bowling well in both the ODIs and iT20s, she scored a total of 194 runs and took 7 wickets, the latter bettered only by Brunt. Her ground fielding and catching is also excellent, and the only part of her game that has really failed to ignite has been her batting in iT20. England have brought her in high enough up the order, I think, but something about the expectation or pressure of the format is preventing her from recreating her ODI form. It is certainly something to continue working on.

Final Thoughts

Too much minimising England’s successes this summer seems churlish to me. Indeed, the facts back this up. I don’t particularly care if you consider Pakistan to be a “club side”, whatever that means. If we look back at how Australia, South Africa and West Indies fared against Pakistan, we can see that England’s performances are more dominant.

Pakistan’s past ODIs against top sides in the ICC WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP

Australia – August 2014
In the 1st ODI, Australia finished 6 wickets down chasing 157. They took 36 overs, and would probably not have made 300.
The 2nd ODI was rain reduced to 25 overs. Australia won with just 3 balls left chasing 122, and were 5 wickets down.
The 3rd ODI was much more comfortable for Australia. They were 2 wickets down chasing 190, taking 33 overs. They would almost certainly have made 300 plus.

South Africa (Sharjah) – March 2015
Pakistan actually won one game and suffered a 2-1 narrow loss in the series. SA did not win any match especially convincingly.

West Indies – October 2015
The 1st ODI was not counted in the Championship.
In the 2nd ODI, WI successfully chased 150, but were 7 wickets down and only had 3.1 overs left.
In the 3rd ODI, WI made 281/5, and Pakistan finished on 172/9, a higher score than they achieved against England.
In the 4th ODI, Pakistan made 182/5 and WI chased successfully, reaching 183/4 off 42 overs. This was comfortable, they could have made 250 but probably not 300.

The summary from all this, is that the worst beating Pakistan had taken coming into the England leg of their ICC women’s championship campaign was by Australia in the 3rd ODI of their series (by 8 wickets with 17 overs to spare). This was only akin to the least severe of 3 defeats England inflicted upon them (by 7 wickets with 18 overs to spare in the first ODI). England won 2 matches by over 200 runs. No opposition player had scored a century against Pakistan in these previous matches, although Nicole Bolton of Australia and Stafanie Taylor of WI, twice, came close. England scored 3 centuries.

If those Australia and West Indies games had seen widely broadcast, I wonder if we would have been mitigating against the performance of the two top teams in the ICC WIC as much as England? But because no-one saw them, the opportunity did not arise. England seem to suffer for trying to lead the way.

Of course we must proceed with caution, and we can’t tell how well England will follow this series up in the West Indies. But with Sarah Taylor, who had previously scored a hundred there, set to return at some stage, England must be hopeful that they can take some more points back from their travels.

They say that the best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today, and England certainly did that. As it stands, Robinson has a series of selection “problems” over who to pick from an increasingly confident group of players, which are the kind of problems you’d like to have!

James Piechowski’s Deep Cover Points – England v Pakistan: New Look England Shrug Off Uncertainties – Part 1 – The ODIS

In a two-part special, James Piechowski reviews England’s summer v Pakistan.

I arrived at Grace Road, Leicester on a damp Monday afternoon to see a sodden outfield and a sharp shower, which had the spectators rushing for cover from the downpour. The umpires did their best to keep everyone’s hopes up with regular inspections of the squelchy surface, but it was no surprise when play was called off and we moved onto the reserve day. Fortunately I was able to stay locally, there was no more rain, and the tiny returning crowd were rewarded by a good day’s cricket on a largely dried field, that saw England restrict Pakistan to a sub-par 165. England’s bowling had not looked especially threatening, but Pakistan failed to push along at a rapid pace. They could have made over 200, though, if not for Knight’s intervention when she brought herself on as 4th bowling change. Seeing as England later suffered early losses in their reply, this was perhaps as important as her half-century that would follow in England’s chase. Knight bowled well, using flight to deceive the Pakistan batsmen who could, too often, only lob the ball back up in the air, either into the grateful hands of England fielders in the outfield or straight back to a delighted Knight. Sidra Ameen made a well-crafted 52, but could have picked up more singles, and this would turn out to be her best effort of the series. She would eventually be dropped in the T20s, one of several puzzling selection choices made by Pakistan as the series progressed.

In England’s chase Winfield didn’t give herself a chance though, nicking off to the first ball. She had looked to chase a wide one, nearly overbalancing as she lost her shape. She then walked on Nain Abidi’s claim of a catch, which some suggested may not have been taken above the floor. A familiar sense of doom enveloped the ground, as England had puzzlingly picked only 2 specialist batsmen for this match, one of whom had already been dismissed. England were 0-1. Would we see a slow and stodgy crawl to the target, punctuated by regular wickets? It could well have been, and when a bright and breezy innings from Elwiss was truncated by the sound of the death rattle from Sana Mir’s delivery bowling her, England were in a real spot of bother at 33-2.

Where was Fran Wilson? Surely, England needed her stick-ability about now? But in stepped Knight, who played solidly and calmly, and along with Beaumont they started to assert themselves as Pakistan’s bowling wilted. They had a new belief in themselves, no doubt in part at least instilled by Mark Robinson. In a microcosm of what was to come later in the series, Beaumont used her feet well to work the ball round and hit over the top. Her dismissal, top edging Asmavia at about the halfway point, only brought in Sciver who again in an ODI played one of her busy, positive knocks. Knight just managed to make 50 before the target was reached thanks to Sciver’s selflessness, and England made it home at a canter with 18 overs left. I rushed off to catch a train to Worcester for the next game the following day. Little did I know what was to come!

Rain from a grey, overcast sky threatened to ruin the morning’s play at New Road but thankfully it never really materialised. What certainly did materialise was aggression from England, and their opening pair. Having been inserted by Pakistan they started well and pushed on, keen to reach the tiny 50m boundaries, prepared as instructed by coach Robinson, as often as possible. Nothing Pakistan tried worked, with only the impressive Maham Tariq and Sadia Yousuf showing any semblance of control. Winfield, an imposing and muscular presence at the crease, was bristling with intent, unleashing a series of booming straight drives, and vicious pull shots, as harsh on anything short as she was was excellent at putting away the full toss, and in fact any bad ball. Her ability as a dominant opener looked unquestionable. She liked to get on top of the bowling early on and force them into mistakes. Pakistan certainly obliged with some wayward bowling and many fielding mishaps.

The opening pair marched on unhindered. There was a sense of joy around the ground as first Winfield, then Beaumont registered their tons. Winfield had played the more aggressive innings, and made it to 123, whilst Beaumont had got bogged down a little at times, but battled through, continuing her recent excellent form. Both were out in the 39th over as they tried to accelerate further. In came Nat Sciver and she was soon under way, hitting Sana Mir for six and four. The quickish dismissal of Elwiss did not phase England and Knight joined the boundary party, although she was happy to play second fiddle to Sciver’s brutality.

21 runs were scored off the 47th over and 23 off the 49th as Sciver smashed six after six off the unfortunate Asmavia Iqbal and Nida Dar. Straight back over the bowlers’ head the ball sailed; and then way up over the leg side, over cow corner, over the groundsman’s covers – Sciver seemingly determined to deposit the ball in the River Severn. It was something to behold, and something I’ll not soon forget. Sciver had smashed 6 sixes and 7 fours in her 80 off 33 balls. Her assault was only curtailed when she was run out out at the end of the innings by Wyatt, who herself smashed a quick-fire 12*. England had done it, smashing many runs and many records, and the shackles were finally off: 378 runs had been amassed.

Pakistan’s reply never really got going, and the miserly Shrubsole was able to restrict runs and take wickets, returning figures of 4-19. Only Bismah Maroof played anything like the type of innings that would have been required, hitting 61 from 81 balls with 8 fours. Other contributions were far too slow, and Pakistan limped to 166 before being all out in the 48th over. England’s bowlers had not necessarily looked too dangerous but with a large score on the board, the run rate was just too high for them to chase.

Having been desperately disappointed by a rainy Sunday in Bristol (where England men’s ODI against Sri Lanka had been abandoned), I was delighted to wake up to a bright and sunny Monday in Taunton ready for the 3rd ODI. Again England won the toss and chose to bat, and two increasingly familiar figures made their way out in to the middle. After a solid start, the diminutive Beaumont provided a perfect contrast to Winfield’s brawn, playing square of the wicket with style and invention as she swept, reverse swept, hit over the top and drove beautifully through the covers. She was surely some type of controlled whirlwind, dervish-like at the crease. Her ability to use her feet to get to the pitch of the ball, or to hang back and play the ball late, was a feature of her batting; and coupled with her experience playing in the middle order, means that if she can see off the early overs she will be ideally placed to compose a long innings. The last century of her incredible 168* (including 20 fours) was nigh-on chance-less, and just goes to show how she can accelerate and exert real control as the innings progresses.

At the height of Beaumont’s onslaught, as boundary followed inevitable boundary, Pakistan were found to be clueless in the field and were far too reactive, moving fielders around where the last ball had gone through, only to find Beaumont smashing the next ball through the newly vacated region. This happened time and time again. If Pakistan had lost a horse because they had just shut the gate after one had bolted, there would not be many horses left in Pakistan right now!

The partnerships between the two openers across this whole summer series were remarkable. Their combined contributions tallied up 816 runs from 12 innings. A small statistical anomaly: Lauren Winfield scored exactly the same number of runs, 166, in 3 innings across both ODI and T20 formats.

England have unearthed two gems here, who complement each other ideally and they should be kept together as an opening pair whenever possible. Whether England are faced with fast bowling on a pacey track, or spin on a slow, dry turner, one of these two will be in their element. The other, I think, has enough ability to stick at it through unfavoured conditions. The biggest puzzle is how they have taken so long to shine like this, (although Winfield had shown some promise in 2014/15). We should give Robinson some credit for this, but not too much. His decision to drop Winfield for the World T20 was unwise. So in particular, Winfield had battled through to success this summer against considerable odds.

At Taunton Georgia Elwiss played beautifully for 77. She tends to take early risks and may give a chance or two, but has a resolute nature that means she can usually battle through to punish the opposition bowlers, using attractive cuts and drives through the off-side. She can hit a long ball, and once she gets in can be difficult to prize from the crease. With her obvious ability with the ball added into the mix, the only part of her game that is lacking is her ground fielding, which is not up to the standard of our best. The other question around her role is in T20. Robinson seems content to play her one game, then leave her out seemingly at random. Ideally more consistency would serve better. Credit should also go to Sciver who played a similar belligerent innings, this time just cut short of her 50 when she was caught off the bowling of Asmavia Iqbal for 48, going for another boundary. England eventually reached 366-4. With the longer boundaries and the slower start, this was in my opinion and even better batting effort from England than in the previous game at Worcester.

Pakistan’s reply got off to a bad start and never really recovered. Only Bismah Maroof, again, and wicket-keeper Sidra Nawaz with a good 47, played well enough to challenge England. Both were removed by Laura Marsh though, who returned figures of 3-29 off her allocation of 10 overs.

Alex Hartley was also bowled out on her début, and after giving away a few too many runs with some friendly full tosses, came back strongly in her second spell, only conceding 15 runs in 5 overs. Katherine Brunt (5-30) treated us to an exhibition of death bowling, castling Sana Mir and 3 more tail-enders with a series of full, straight deliveries that turned back the clock and were too good for Pakistan’s lower order. England had won the game by 202 runs and taken the series 3-0. It was an ideal start for Knight and provided at least some justification for all the changes Robinson had made. The 6 ICC Women’s Championship points were vital, and England are now in a much stronger position to qualify in the top four for next year’s World Cup.

For Pakistan, Bismah Maroof is the sort of player who would not look out of place in the WBBL or KSL, it seems a shame that she has not been participating in these competitions. In order for Pakistan to continue their improvement, it’s important their best players get experience by playing with the best. Sana Mir, although disappointed with her team’s performances, was confident they’d taken plenty of learnings from the series and almost seemed pleased that England had showed them how it was possible to play cricket, that had at times seemed more like the IPL than anything else. Maybe she thought, we could aspire to this attitude, and one day soon, too.

ANALYSIS: England’s Left Armers v Pakistan

Not surprisingly, all the plaudits have gone to the batsmen in this series against Pakistan, but we’ve also seen some lovely bowling in the T20s from England’s left-armers. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Sophie Ecclestone to Sana Mir (2nd T20)

YouTube Link

Sana Mir is Pakistan’s most experienced player, but seventeen-year-old Ecclestone has her for breakfast here.

Ecclestone 1

Ecclestone delivers the ball from very wide of the crease, so regardless of the spin, which would normally move the ball from leg to off (right to left, as we are looking at it) this ball is heading from off to leg (left to right).

Ecclestone 2

Mir’s plan is just to help it on its way by paddle-sweeping it down to fine leg – we can see she is in position with plenty of time to do this. The advantage of the paddle-sweep here is that Mir doesn’t have to worry too much about the lateral (left/ right) movement of the ball – the length of the bat has her covered.

Ecclestone 3

The down-side of the paddle-sweep is that Mir has to judge the bounce perfectly, and this is where Ecclestone does her up like a kipper. This ball in fact doesn’t spin laterally at all – it is a top-spinner, so when it pitches it comes on with more bounce than Mir is expecting – she is already playing underneath it and the ball ploughs into her middle and leg stumps. Beautiful.

Tash Farrant to Nahida Khan (3rd T20)

YouTube Link

Nahida Khan is an experienced batsman, who made her debut all the way back in 2009, but Farrant has a plan to snag her.

Farrant 1

Although this first picture is obviously from behind the bowler’s arm, you can actually see something rather interesting – the ball, which is a slower delivery coming out of the back of Farrant’s hand. England tried a lot of these slower deliveries in the series, and they didn’t always come off, but this one is perfect.

Farrant 2

You can see here that Nahida hasn’t picked it – because the trajectory of the ball is “normal” she thinks it is also coming on to the bat at “normal” pace, and is preparing to unleash a big shot.

Farrant 3

But she is on to it too quickly – the ball takes a lot longer to reach her than she is expecting and by the time it does, she is horribly tucked-up as she tries to adjust – popping up a fairly straightforward catch back to the bowler. Lovely.

Alex Hartley to Bismah Maroof (3rd T20)

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Bismah Maroof is Pakistan’s T20 captain and was their highest run-scorer on this tour. Meanwhile Hartley has had problems with her line to the left-handers in both the matches she has played.

Hartley 1

Maroof is looking to assert herself against the “inexperienced” Hartley so even before the ball is bowled she has started to come aggressively down the pitch – you can see her here dancing forwards just after the moment of delivery, looking to smash it straight back down the ground.

Hartley 2

But Hartley has spotted Maroof coming and she changes what she is going to do at the last instant – instead of a spinner, she fires in a quicker ball – forget the spin, just get it down there – and Maroof has to check her forward march!

Hartley 3

To be fair to Maroof, she picks it and adjusts to try to push it through the leg side, but her feet aren’t in quite the right place – her bat is too late on the shot and the ball sneaks through the gate between bat and pad and she is bowled. Brilliant.

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