STATS: Women’s County Championship All-Rounder Rankings

Player Runs Wickets
1. Heather Knight (Berkshire) 308 11
2. Suzie Bates (Kent) 206 9
3. Georgia Elwiss (Sussex) 129 15
4. Danielle Wyatt (Sussex) 244 7
5. Natalie Sciver (Surrey) 190 7
6. Hollie Armitage (Yorkshire) 153 7

Ranking = Runs * Strike Rate * Wickets / Economy – Min 100 Runs + 5 Wickets

This year’s Division 1 50-Over County Championship all-rounder rankings are dominated by the big international stars.

At No.1, England captain Heather Knight was once again a rock for Berkshire, with her two best performances both coming in losing causes – 92 with the bat against Warwickshire and 3-16 with the ball versus Kent.

Meanwhile, at No. 2, Knight’s New Zealand counterpart, Suzie Bates, stepped onto the English summer scene with a crash, a bang and (dare we say?) a wallop – her 206 runs and 9 wickets were a big part of why Kent won the County Championship; and she has certainly set down a marker for next year’s World Cup, as she flies home with all 3 domestic trophies in her kit bag!

Georgia Elwiss, stepping up to the Sussex captaincy in Sarah Taylor’s absence, makes the list at No. 3 after a very consistent season – she’ll remember the game against Somerset at Bath in particular, where she took 6 wickets as the hosts were knocked-over for just 126, and then hit 45 opening the batting as Sussex chased them down in under 30 overs.

Only one non-international player met the all-rounder qualifying criteria of 100 runs plus 5 wickets – Yorkshire’s opening batsman Hollie Armitage. Armitage is only really a part-time all-rounder at best – she bowled less than 20 overs across the season – but the numbers say what the numbers say (!) and so Armitage makes the list, with a best batting performance of 70 against Staffs, and a best bowling of 4-17 in just 4 overs, cleaning up the tail against Berkshire.

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STATS: Women’s County Championship Bowling Rankings

Player Wickets Economy
1. Megan Belt (Kent) 16 2.63
2. Katie Thompson (Yorkshire) 12 2.23
3. Charlotte Pape (Kent) 14 2.66
4. Tash Farrant (Kent) 15 3.24
5. Georgia Elwiss (Sussex) 15 3.26
6. Holly Huddleston (Middlesex) 12 2.63
7. Heather Knight (Berkshire) 11 2.69
8. Laura Marsh (Kent) 11 2.81
9. Suzie Bates (Kent) 9 2.38
10. Rebecca Grundy (Warwickshire) 11 3.05
11. Katie Levick (Yorkshire) 10 2.97
12. Cecily Scutt (Surrey) 14 4.31
13. Alex Hartley (Middlesex) 8 2.47
14. Hannah Jones (Surrey) 13 4.51
15. Georgia Davis (Warwickshire) 9 3.21
16. Amanda Potgieter (Berkshire) 9 3.23
17. Linsey Smith (Berkshire) 6 2.52
18. Georgia Hennessy (Warwickshire) 9 3.91
19. Lorraine Szczepanski (Somerset) 6 2.66
20. Millie Pope (Middlesex) 7 3.17

Ranking = Wickets / Economy

The star of this year’s Division 1 50-Over County Championship bowling rankings is Kent’s 18-year-old off-spinner Megan Belt, with 16 wickets at a fantastic economy rate of just 2.63. If you were following the Kia Super League you might remember Belt from… oh… no… hang on… amazingly she wasn’t selected for Super League – so if there aren’t six KSL coaches out there right now, kicking themselves sharply in the shins… then they jolly well should be!

There is actually a serious point here – the KSL teams undeniably gravitated towards “local” players – you were more likely to get picked for Surrey Stars if you were a Surrey player, more likely to get picked for Lancashire Thunder if you were a Lancashire player, etc. etc.; and whilst this is understandable, it did means some very good players like Belt missed-out when on pure merit they probably really deserved to get a game.

Anyway… Belt’s response has certainly been the right one – she has made the best case she can for inclusion next season, and if someone doesn’t snap her up, they won’t be kicking themselves… we’ll be doing it for them!

Meanwhile at No. 6, Middlesex’s overseas pace-bowler, New Zealander Holly Huddleston, is another who has her eye on next season… but in her case it is the 2017 World Cup that is the prize. Huddleston, who from the boundary looked like the quickest bowler we saw in the County Championship this year, played a handful of internationals in 2014/15 but was unable to establish herself in the side, and wasn’t selected for the World T20s; but her performances at 50-over in England seem to have been instrumental in earning her a recall to the White Fens squad just in time for the run-up to 2017.

Finally at No. 16, someone we sadly won’t be seeing next year is Amanda “Steamer” Potgieter, who is off to start a new life in New Zealand. In 14 years which brought her to Berkshire via Hampshire and Surrey, she has been a stalwart with both bat and ball, all whilst juggling a full time career in the armed forces; and she’ll be much-missed not just on the field, but as part of the wider women’s cricket community – we wish her well!

STATS: Women’s County Championship Batting Rankings

Player Runs Strike Rate
1. Danni Wyatt (Sussex) 244 102
2. Tammy Beaumont (Kent) 292 84
3. Heather Knight (Berkshire) 308 74
4. Suzie Bates (Kent) 206 94
5. Nat Sciver (Surrey) 190 100
6. Kirstie White (Surrey) 337 54
7. Fran Wilson (Middlesex) 159 111
8. Georgia Adams (Sussex) 175 85
9. Bryony Smith (Surrey) 153 90
10. Charlotte Edwards (Kent) 164 77
11. Carla Rudd (Berkshire) 192 64
12. Georgia Elwiss (Sussex) 129 87
13. Lydia Greenway (Kent) 174 62
14. Naomi Dattani (Middlesex) 166 64
15. Katherine Brunt (Yorkshire) 135 76
16. Hollie Armitage (Yorkshire) 153 66
17. Eve Jones (Staffs) 126 80
18. Beth Morgan (Middlesex) 150 66
19. Lauren Winfield (Yorkshire) 101 92
20. Marie Kelly (Warwickshire) 99 70

Ranking = Runs * Strike Rate

This year’s Division 1 50-Over County Championship batting rankings are headed-up by Danni Wyatt, in her first season at Sussex after signing from Notts. Wyatt helped her cause considerably with a near-run-a-ball hundred against Surrey on the last day of the season – one of only two centuries scored in Division 1 this term – the other being Eve Jones’ 110, also against Surrey.

Surrey’s Kirstie White ended the season as the County Championship’s highest run-scorer with 337 runs, including 3 fifties at an average of 48; but a relatively sedate Strike Rate of 54 pushed her down the rankings to No. 6.

A couple of younger players on the way up are Surrey’s Bryony Smith at No. 9, who also had a good Kia Super League, and Berkshire glove-butler Carla Rudd in at No. 11 – finally starting to fulfil the promise that she showed as a junior with the bat.

But this doesn’t mean the old-timers are done yet, with Kent’s ex-England duo of Charlotte Edwards and Lydia Greenway at Nos. 10 and 13 respectively; and Middlesex veteran Beth Morgan also making the top 20.

NEWS: West Indies Join The Club With Bigger & Better Contracts

The West Indies Cricket Board has become the latest to offer significantly improved central contracts to its women’s team, which like the New Zealand contracts announced earlier this year, will lift many of the squad into the realms of full professionalism for the first time.

The number of contracted players increases from 11 to 15; and although the WICB have not released details of the salaries to be paid, CRICKETher understands that the average remuneration including match fees etc. is likely to be in the realms of $30-40,000 (USD). Adjusted for cost-of-living, this represents something like £35,000 – not a king’s ransom, but a good living wage nonetheless.

Interestingly, the president of the Players Association which negotiated these contracts with the board, Wavell Hinds, cited not the recent WWT20 win, but consistency over a number of years, saying:

“Our women senior team has been a solid elite performing group over the last decade. As such, the improvement and security in their compensation package is well deserved.”

This is an important point – as Raf Nicholson argued in her CricInfo Cordon column last year, tying the contracts to particular successes merely creates a hostage to fortune when those successes inevitably pass into history.

OPINION: Player (Non) Availability Risks Making 50-Over KSL A Farce

In the wake of this year’s successful T20 KSL competition, the ECB are now making plans for 2017 – including the extension of KSL to 50 overs, which we are assured will definitely take place before the World Cup, due to begin on 26 June.

In fact the current suggestion, according to a recent ECB document seen by CRICKETher, is for matches to take place on Saturdays and Wednesdays during May, with a final on the first weekend in June.

Sounds reasonable… or does it?

There will be very few overseas players in this inaugural 50-over KSL competition. Few boards are likely to release players for a tournament which takes place right before a World Cup. Therefore the teams that contest the 50-over KSL will be almost totally made up of England, Academy and county players.

Nothing wrong with that. Except… it doesn’t seem very compatible with a tournament played on weekdays in May.

Outside of the contracted England players, all female cricketers in England are still amateurs. That means they are either a) students, or b) holding down jobs which they juggle their cricket around.

Students – whether at college or university – will almost all have exams in May. It seems inconceivable that any of these players will choose to put KSL before formal examinations, which cannot be rearranged when (not if) they clash with KSL training / match commitments – and why should they be expected to? Women’s cricket is not yet a meal ticket for any except a very select few.

Those with jobs have the option of taking holiday in order to play in KSL matches – but with two (big) caveats. Firstly, for any of those – such as Vipers’ Carla Rudd and Arran Brindle – who are committed to teaching or term-time coaching jobs (a not inconsiderable number) it is likely to prove nigh on impossible to get leave to play in midweek games in May.

For others like Beth Morgan, who took 3 weeks leave from work (some of which was unpaid) in order to play in the inaugural 20-over KSL, it will come down to a straight choice between playing in 50-over or 20-over KSL. Many will opt for the latter.

So what are we left with? Essentially a competition which will take place with many of the best non-international players in England – surely the very players the tournament was aimed at – unavailable.

Could the 50-over KSL be rescheduled? Unlikely. Timings are going to be very tight next season, with most teams – not least England – likely to want some time to come together and train in the weeks preceding the World Cup; and with the T20 KSL to follow hot on the World Cup’s heels. It is difficult to see when else a 50-over competition could be fitted in, were it not played in May.

But if things go ahead as planned, the risk is surely that the KSL “brand” will be massively devalued, and that the excitement which built up around this year’s competition will quickly dissipate.

Perhaps it might be better to kick the idea of a 50-over KSL into the long grass for the moment, and focus efforts on the Women’s County Championship instead?

 

NEWS: England Squad For West Indies

The ECB have announced the squad for England’s 5-match ODI series in the West Indies, which begins in Jamaica on October 8th. The final 3 ODIs count towards the Women’s International Championship, in which England currently stand 3rd on 19 points, right behind the West Indies in 2nd with 20 points.

There is disappointment for Western Storm’s Fran Wilson, who has been ruled out of the tour with a broken finger; but one player’s misfortune is another’s lucky break and the beneficiary on this occasion would appear to be Danni Wyatt, who didn’t have a great KSL, but finished the County Championship strongly with a century in front of the England coach at Hove last weekend.

Meanwhile there is good news for Loughborough Lightning’s Beth Langston, who was expected to miss the tour also with a broken finger, but who has nevertheless been in full training with the ball (the break was on her “wrong” (left) hand) and is selected in the hope that she will now be fully fit for the later matches.

Also include are both the “new” left-arm spinners who made their international debuts this summer – Alex Hartley and Sophie Ecclestone.

Full Squad:

  • Heather Knight
  • Anya Shrubsole
  • Tammy Beaumont
  • Katherine Brunt
  • Sophie Ecclestone
  • Georgia Elwiss
  • Jenny Gunn
  • Alex Hartley
  • Dani Hazell
  • Amy Jones
  • Beth Langston
  • Laura Marsh
  • Nat Sciver
  • Lauren Winfield
  • Danni Wyatt

INTERVIEW: A Tough Year At The Top For Surrey’s Kirstie White

The last match of the summer was something of a metaphor for 2016 as a whole for Surrey’s Kirstie White: she carried her bat for 98*, but Surrey went on to lose the game by 3 wickets; meaning that White finished the season as the leading run-scorer in Div 1 of the Women’s County Championship, with 337 runs, ahead of names like Heather Knight (308 runs), Tammy Beaumont (292) and Suzie Bates (206); but even so, Surrey were relegated to Div 2, finishing the season with just 1 win from 8.

White, now 28, has been around the scene for a long time – starting out at Hampshire, she made her first appearance in the Super 4s back in 2004. After taking an extended break from the game in her early 20s, she came back for Surrey in 2012, with her breakthrough season coming in 2014, when she scored 320 runs. She was the county’s leading run-scorer in 2015, and obviously again in 2016, when her contribution was recognised by the award of a coveted “baggy brown” by the county.

But it was the possibility of selection for the new Kia Super League which really motivated White coming into the 2016 season:

“I worked a lot harder this year over the winter – I put in a lot of my own time and [Surrey and Surrey Stars Coach] Jeremy [Greaves] worked really hard with me as well to get into some good nick. I wanted to get selected for the Super League, so I made sure I put a shift in!”

After a great start to the county season, with a 69 against Berkshire – a career-best which lasted only until the next round, when she bettered it with a 76 v Yorkshire – White was in a great place to shine in the Super League for the Surrey Stars.

Tragically, however, it wasn’t to be, as injury ruled her out of the tournament just days before it got underway:

“I was devastated – everything I’d worked hard for since November – I put in a shift, and then a freak injury occurred – it is just the nature of sport I guess, but what a time to get injured.”

A rapid rehabilitation, and a rescheduled County Championship match against Sussex, two weeks after the “official” end of the season, nevertheless offered some opportunity for catharsis, which White grabbed with both hands, making yet another career-best of 98*; but it wasn’t enough to save Surrey from the drop:

“We are disappointed to go down – especially when we’ve put in some good performances but just failed to cross the finish line a little bit – but it is time to rebuild and look to come back up next season.”

Meanwhile for White a well-earned holiday… and then a renewed determination to pursue her Super League dream again next year:

“I’ll take a little bit of a break – just keeping fit and making sure I don’t get too lazy – and then it is back into training – there is a long hard winter to put in again but I’d love to be a part of the Super League next season.”

MATCH REPORT: Surrey Read The Wyatt Act

A century from Danni Wyatt made a dead rubber into a thrilling last game of the season, as Sussex fought back from 25-3 to beat Surrey by 3 wickets.

Chasing 218, Sussex had the worst possible start, as Beth Kerins, the pick of the Surrey bowlers today with figures of 3-33, removed both openers cheaply – Georgia Elwiss clean bowled for 6 in her first over of the day, and Georgia Adams (2) caught by Cecily Scutt at mid-off in her third. She followed this up by trapping Izzy Collis lbw for 7.

With Sussex in real trouble, Wyatt’s maturity shone through as she shared a 57-run partnership with Paige Scholfield (28) and then, crucially, remained at the crease for the remainder of Sussex’s innings, as wickets fell steadily at the other end. Even so, Wyatt retained faith in her partners, rotating the strike as Sussex picked off the required runs in ones and twos, thanks to good cameos from Hannah Phelps (19) and Ciara Green (17), always keeping the necessary run rate under 4.5 an over.

When Green fell in the 42nd over with the score on 185-7, Sussex still needed 33 runs, but with words of encouragement from Wyatt she and Tara Norris held their nerve to chase down the target with 2 overs to spare. Wyatt herself finished on 120*, the highest score in Division 1 this season.

Ultimately it was a disciplined and patient innings, compiled with only a smattering of boundaries on a slow pitch, which made it clear to all present that she is more than just a T20 specialist. Made in front of England coach Mark Robinson, it can only have enhanced her international prospects – no bad thing, with the winter squads for the tours to the Caribbean and Sri Lanka to be announced this week.

It came on the back of a solid performance from Wyatt with the ball, finishing as the most economical of the Sussex bowlers with 0-32 from her 10 overs, including a maiden. Bowling in conjunction with captain Georgia Elwiss, the pair put the brakes on Surrey openers Kirstie White and Sophie Pout (27) who had raced away at 4.5 an over in the powerplay but were subsequently restricted to just 2 an over. Wyatt herself also pulled off two run-outs throwing in from midwicket, as Surrey struggled to get much past 200 despite several dropped catches.

It was a big day, too, for Kirstie White, returning from the injury which forced her out of the KSL, yet amassing enough runs across the season (337) to finish as Division 1’s leading run-scorer. Sadly she fell just short of a century, finishing on 98* after 6 Surrey wickets fell in the last 5 overs of their innings to give Sussex maximum bonus points.

After the game Danni Wyatt told CRICKETher that batting conditions had been difficult:

“The pitch got a lot slower and lower in the second innings – you had to really watch the ball. But it was a good opportunity for me to go out there and play every ball on its merit. I’ve been having a few one to ones with Ali Maiden at Loughborough and he said the other day ‘just bat long’. Hopefully it will put me in good stead for selection for West Indies.”

She also praised the performance of the younger Sussex batsmen:

“The young girls that came in towards the end all batted really well, I’m really proud of them. I was quite calm out there and hopefully I made them calm as well. A few of the younger ones were quite nervous but I said ‘just bat, hit the bad balls, run well, it’s a very big outfield, and the runs will come’ – and they did.”

OPINION: Secrets & Lies Amongst Team Mates

In any team sport (and even in some nominally individual sports, like athletics) the concept of the team as a bonded unit is very important. You play for the team; you work for the team; you win for the team. Ask any player and they will tell you: it is the team – and being part of the team – that really matters!

And yet in the modern era of multiple teams, this presents a dilemma – on Super League Finals Day, Charlotte Edwards was team-mates with Carla Rudd… two weeks later they were facing off against each other in the County Championship, respectively for Kent and Berkshire. In the next few months, she will likely find herself playing against other Vipers team-mates in Australia’s WNCL and WBBL… but then next summer they will be Vipers together once more!

So what do you do with those little pieces of knowledge – the flaw in technique you know the player has been working on in the nets… the slower delivery you’ve overheard the coach discussing? Do you exploit that knowledge against someone who might be your team-mate again in six months time… or do you keep the secret?

It is a dilemma which India’s Smriti Mandhana alluded to in a recent interview with Cricbuzz, discussing the possibility of playing against national team-mate Harmanpreet Kaur in the WBBL, making it pretty clear where she stands:

“I don’t think we’re giving each other’s secrets away!”

Contrast this with the attitude of New Zealand’s Sophie Devine, who spoke to us in the run-up to KSL:

“I don’t care that Georgia [Elwiss] 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.”

Maybe Devine’s perspective is simply reflective of the reality that, in an age of video analysis, there can’t really be secrets any more… at least not ones that last for more than 5 minutes out in the middle?

But it is also interesting to consider that this more open mindset comes from a New Zealander – the country that, more than any other, seems to be encouraging its stars to embrace the world of the modern, globetrotting, supranational cricketer.

And then you ask yourself: which team are on the up right now, increasingly at the top of many people’s lists of favourites for the World Cup in England next year?

New Zealand, of course!

Coincidence? Perhaps!

Or perhaps not!

OPINION: Counties Between Hope & Despair Thanks To KSL-50 Uncertainty

As another domestic season draws to a close in England, the counties prepare for their long winter hibernation… but what kind of a world will they wake up to next spring? The truth is that nobody – not even those “in the know” – actually knows.

What we do know is that the ECB are clearly determined to press ahead with the 50-Over Kia Super League; but where this leaves the counties – especially the Div 1 counties, who share a lot of players with KSL – nobody is quite sure: the ECB are currently conducting a review of this year’s KSL, from which will emerge a strategy for next year, but this means that at the moment there is quite simply no information.

Information, however, abhors a vacuum, and in its place, rumours fly uncontrollably. In the past few weeks we’ve heard speculation covering every base from: (a) the County Championship will be effectively abolished in its current “national” form, and replaced by a regional competition; to (z) the KSL-50 will be played on Wednesdays to allow all the players to continue to play the County Championship on Sundays.

Meanwhile the counties themselves are trying to draw up winter training programs, but the information vacuum has left them writing them up on a blackboard… in black chalk… in the dark!

Berkshire, for example, want to build over the winter, but they simply don’t know which players they will have – they have already lost 3 of the squad to “retirements” – Amanda Potgieter, off to start a new life in New Zealand; Alex Rogers, off to do the same in Australia; and Rachel Hardy, off to college in America on a football (soccer) scholarship. Now they face the possibility of maybe losing Heather Knight, Linsey Smith, Carla Rudd, Lissy Macleod, Fi Morris and Daisy Gardner too – all to KSL-50.

That’s pretty-much their entire 1st XI, which is sad, but ironically not actually the real point – it is that word “maybe” which is killing them. How can they even select their winter training squads, let alone book gyms and nets, when they don’t know which players they’ve got, or which competitions they will be competing in?

Sussex meanwhile are potentially in even more of a pickle – they have massively restructured and professionalised their women’s program, taking the “business” side of it fully into Sussex CCC, and building a new “Women’s Academy” – a huge investment, presumably based on the premise that county remains the seat of elite women’s cricket in this country. Are they now potentially about to have the rug pulled away from beneath their feet and discover that that is no longer the case, if the county championship is indeed effectively consigned to a regional development structure?

Again, we emphasise, these are all “ifs” – nobody knows – but to quote John Cleese’s character in the movie Clockwise – “I can take the despair – it’s the hope I can’t stand” – and that’s how the counties feel right now.

Answers are needed… and they are needed soon.