NEWS: This Week In Brief

WNCL

  • The New South Wales Breakers hit the top of the table this weekend, after an Ellyse Perry century (101 off 120 balls) saw them thrash the bottom-placed Western Fury by 107 runs.
  • Tasmania Roar keeper-batsman Georgia Redmayne became the first Tasmanian ever to hit a WNCL century as the Roar pulled off a thrilling last-ball run chase of 246 to beat the ACT Meteors.
  • The following day was somewhat less fun for the Roar however, as they got Lanninged. The Megastar hit 190 off 153 balls – breaking her own WNCL record high score of 175 – whilst Jess Cameron played second-fiddle at the other end with a “mere” 108 off 120, as the Vic Spirit posted 320-3 in Hobart – the Roar were bowled out for 163 in reply.
  • Fast bowler Julie Hunter has announced her retirement from the WNCL after a 13-year career which included 23 ODIs for Australia. She will continue to play in the WBBL.

WBBL

  • Anya Shrubsole will join Katherine Brunt at the Perth Scorchers for this year’s WBBL – this is the first time Shrubsole has ever been persuaded to play domestic cricket other than for her “home” sides – Somerset and Western Storm.
  • Shrubsole effectively replaces Charlotte Edwards at the Scorchers – Edwards confirmed earlier this month that she will play for the Adelaide Strikers, as expected given that she is currently playing WNCL there for the South Australia Scorpions.
  • It’s been announced that Channel Ten will broadcast a standalone women’s cricket weekend in December as part of the WBBL season, with four (F.O.U.R!!!) WBBL games being shown across one weekend.

India

  • India have announced their squad for their Women’s International Championship ODI and T20 series versus West Indies, with Harmanpreet Kaur promoted to the T20 captaincy, but Mithali Raj retaining the role for the ODIs.
  • Meanwhile, there is still no official word on what happens to the points from India’s “missed” series against Pakistan, which the BCCI essentially refused to play. Bizarrely the Indians seem to think they may be entitled to some of the points, and it is apparently going to an ICC committee to decide. (The two teams are also supposed to be competing later this year in the Asia Cup in Thailand, but there are now clouds over that too.)

And Finally…

  • In case you missed it, this is awesome – Eileen Ash (née Whelan) played the last of her 7 Tests in 1949. On the pitch Whelan was a bowler, taking 10 wickets in a career which was curtailed by the war. More than half a century later though, she is still at the crease of life – currently (as of today, Sunday) batting 105 not out and reckoned to be the oldest living Test cricketer of either gender.
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OPINION: Camp Selections Point To England Ins And Outs

The announcement yesterday of an almost completely uncontroversial England squad to tour Sri Lanka next month was accompanied by some rather more intriguing selections for the pre-tour camp in Abu Dhabi.

The 14-man squad to tour Sri Lanka will be accompanied to Abu Dhabi by 9 others – one of whom will also be the 15th player selected for Sri Lanka.

Coach Mark Robinson has hinted in the past at trying to almost ‘blur the line’ between the Academy and Performance (Contracted) squads, perhaps by subsuming the Academy into a larger “combined” squad. So, taking the 14… plus the 9… plus Anya Shrubsole, who is injured… do we have a hint of what a 25-man England squad might look like next summer? And if so… who is in, and who is out?

In addition to Charlotte Edwards and Lydia Greenway, both of whom have retired, 4 members of last summer’s performance squad are not included for the Abu Dhabi camp.

Tash Farrant is playing WNCL in Australia, and (to be frank) probably getting a higher standard of cricket there than she would even if she played in Sri Lanka – she will undoubtedly be back.

Sarah Taylor is still working on her mental health, but given that there are no other wicket keepers in the squad, you have to imagine that England are still hoping she will be back too at some stage.

Jodie Dibble and Becky Grundy however, both look to be heading for the door.

Dibble was one of those in the unfortunate position of being expected to be part of the “contracted” performance squad, whilst not actually being “contracted” – i.e. paid – and unsurprisingly has not found it easy recently, and her exit was expected.

Grundy on the other hand, just seems to have slipped quietly out of form and favour – she’s 26, and has been overtaken by younger, “spinnie”r options in the tweak department – it will be a surprise if her central contract is renewed in January.

Also perhaps on the way out are several “older” batsmen the Academy squad – Eve Jones (24), Alex MacDonald (25), Steph Butler (22) and Sophie Luff (22). Of these perhaps Eve Jones can consider herself unlucky having had quite a good season in 2016, and all 4 might still make it; but the hint (based not just on these selections, but also on other conversations we’ve had) is that Robinson feels that this cohort overall just aren’t ever going to good enough, and he plans to almost ‘skip a generation’ over them.

In their place, a new gang of teenagers are knocking at the door, and the opportunity for them to come in and seize their chances has been presented to the likes of Surrey pair Bryony Smith (18) and Hannah Jones (17), Lancashire’s Emma Lamb (18) and Middlesex’s Sophia Dunkley (18). Alongside them, one “older” Academy batsman has retained her place – Sussex’s Georgia Adams, after a very good summer for Sussex and the Southern Vipers.

Finally, two big surprise selections – all-rounders Georgia Hennessy and Alice Davidson-Richards have both previously been part of the Academy, had subsequently dropped-off the program, but are now back! What have they done right?

Both had solid domestic seasons – the combative Hennessy was a key part of Warwickshire’s successful (albeit ultimately trophyless) season; whilst “ADR” (as she is known) is a new player recently – one look at her confirms that she has transformed herself fitness-wise over the past year. Both will have to continue to work hard if they are to progress; but Robinson has thrown them the big ball to run with – now it is up to them!

Professional sport is a tough old business – for every winner, there is a loser; and for every player selected, there is one who is dropped, not to mention countless others who never quite make the grade. There are always tough calls to be made, and it will be especially hard on those who go from contracted status to essentially “unemployed” at the stroke of a selector’s pen.

But like the Circle of Life, the game goes on, and Robinson’s determination to forge a long-term dynasty, by investing in new talent not just for next summer but for summers well beyond, is exciting and promising for the future of the women’s game in England.

NEWS: England Squad For Sri Lanka – Shrubsole Out; Wilson In

England have named 14 of the 15-strong squad who will travel to Sri Lanka next month for 4 ODIs. 

Fran Wilson has recovered from a broken finger and is back in to bolster the batting; but Anya Shrubsole is ruled out. With Sophie Ecclestone unavailable due to school, England have left one spot free in what is otherwise an unchanged squad from the recent West Indies tour. 

  • Heather Knight
  • Tammy Beaumont
  • Katherine Brunt
  • Georgi Elwiss
  • Jenny Gunn
  • Alex Harley
  • Dani Hazell
  • Amy Jones
  • Beth Langston 
  • Laura Marah
  • Nat Sciver
  • Lauren Winfield
  • Fran Wilson
  • Danni Wyatt

The 15th spot is likely to be taken by one of the players additionally selected for a pre-tour camp in Abu Dhabi:

  • Georgia Adams
  • Kate Cross
  • Alice Davidson-Richards
  • Sophia Dunkley
  • Sophie Ecclestone 
  • Georgia Hennessy
  • Hannah Jones
  • Emma Lamb
  • Bryony Smith

STATS: New Zealand v South Africa Player Rankings – The Amy Satterthwaite Show!

New Zealand’s 7-match ODI series in South Africa ended this week with the visitors sealing a 5-2 victory, with Amy Satterthwaite scoring her 3rd 50 of the series in the final match, as the White Ferns posted 273 – South Africa slumping to 147 all out in reply.

The numbers below show this was very-much Satterthwaite’s series – she topped the batting rankings with 344 runs at an average of 69 and the bowling rankings with 11 wickets going at under 3 an over.

For New Zealand, Katey Martin and Rachel Priest (with the bat) and Erin Bermingham and Morna Nielsen (with the ball) also put in their shifts, as Suzie Bates was eclipsed for once – coming in at 6th in the batting rankings, and at 13th in the bowling, having not bowled a huge amount of overs. The selectors will probably not be worried by Bates’ personal form – there is a positive to be taken out of it in terms of their strengths elsewhere; but they will want to be sure that Bates does get an opportunity to rest properly at some stage before the World Cup, after basically playing non-stop for the past year or so.

For South Africa, Mignon du Preez emphasised her continued importance to the team after relinquishing the captaincy with 232 runs; whist Ayabonga Khaka had a bit of a breakthrough with 11 wickets – she’d taken just 6 wickets in 14 ODIs prior to this series.

Batting Rankings

Player Runs Strike Rate
1. Amy Satterthwaite (NZ) 344 85.57
2. Mignon du Preez (SA) 232 66.09
3. Katey Martin (NZ) 170 83.33
4. Dane van Niekerk (SA) 222 60.98
5. Rachel Priest (NZ) 152 88.88
6. Suzie Bates (NZ) 182 68.93
7. Lizelle Lee (SA) 136 80.47
8. Sam Curtis (NZ) 107 66.04
9. Sune Luus (SA) 89 60.13
10. Maddie Green (NZ) 48 84.21

Bowling Rankings

Player Wickets Economy
1. Amy Satterthwaite (NZ) 11 2.94
2. Erin Bermingham (NZ) 9 2.73
3. Morna Nielsen (NZ) 8 2.86
4. Ayabonga Khaka (SA) 11 4.2
5. Holly Huddleston (NZ) 10 4
6. Marizanne Kapp (SA) 7 3.29
7. Lea Tahuhu (NZ) 8 4.34
8. Masabata Klaas (SA) 6 4.61
9. Moseline Daniels (SA) 6 4.64
10. Hannah Rowe (NZ) 3 3.47

Batting Ranking = Runs * Strike Rate
Bowling Ranking = Wickets / Economy

OPINION: The Winner Takes It All?

The winner takes it all, so they say, and there is no doubt that England were the winners in the Caribbean this month, taking the series 3-2 and moving up to 2nd place in the Women’s International Championship, with a 4-2 points victory.

Meanwhile, Head Coach Mark Robinson was reportedly spotted at a flea-market in Kingston, selling his entire wardrobe to make space in his suitcase for all the “massive positives” he will be bringing home – two half-centuries apiece for Nat Sciver and Lauren Winfield, and one for Tammy Beaumont, in conditions that could hardly have been more unfriendly to the batsmen.

Then of course there were those 13 wickets at an Strike Economy Rate of 3.4 for Alex Hartley – a record for England in a bilateral series; plus also not to mention, 10 wickets for 31-year-old Katherine Brunt, proving that if age is a barrier, it is one she is determined to meet with a short pitched delivery and a long, lacerating stare!

Nevertheless, any impression that England “triumphed” has to be counterbalanced by a reading of the facts. They lost two matches, and lost them badly – collapsing to 110 all out in the 2nd ODI, having lost 7 wickets for 17 runs; and to 181 all out in the 4th ODI, having lost 6 wickets for 20 runs.

Even in the final ODI, with the West Indies visibly slumping in the field, they managed to make it look like hard work as they lost the late wickets of Wyatt and Elwiss – watch the reactions of Amy Jones and Nat Sciver in this clip as they win the series:

There are cheers from the boundary, sure; but out in the middle there are no arms aloft in celebration, nor bats raised in triumph – just a fist-bump and a sense of exhausted relief – Sciver and Jones were only too well aware of just how narrowly it felt like they’d squeaked it!

ABBA were right – in sport, the winner really does take it all, as they will in next year’s World Cup; but England will know that if that winner is going to be them, they are going to need to be more consistent than they have been here, because lose two games there, and you’re not going to win the World Cup.

INTERVIEW: Scotland Coach Steve Knox Relishing The Challenge Ahead

Jake Perry chats to Scotland Coach Steve Knox.

As seasons go, the first for Steve Knox as Head Coach of Scotland’s National Women’s cricket squad could only have been fashioned by Carlsberg. Since his appointment in March he has watched his side reach the ICC Global Qualifier for the first time as well as secure promotion to Division Two of the NatWest Twenty20 competition on the back of an unbeaten campaign. Oh, and led the German national men’s team into European Division One for good measure.

Today, having finished a session of junior coaching at the National Cricket Academy in Edinburgh at the start of the half-term holiday, the 42 year-old former Saltire is happy to take a moment to look back on what has been by any standards quite a year.

“I’m very pleased,” said Knox. “We’ve achieved what we set out to achieve. One of the targets at the start of the year was to beat Holland in the European qualifiers and we managed to do that.

“Realistically I knew that promotion in the [Royal London] One-Day competition was going to be difficult because we needed to prioritise and use those games to find out what worked and what didn’t, but we identified the opportunity to get promoted in T20. 

“For us to achieve those two objectives was fantastic, especially to remain unbeaten in the T20 competition. As a result we’ll be playing better teams week in, week out next year which is really important for us as we’re looking towards the next World T20 in 2018.” 

Knox took over a team buoyed by a strong performance at the Women’s WT20 Qualifiers in Thailand. Led by Abby Aitken, a youthful Scotland side had demonstrated that they could compete with the more established nations, eventually securing fourth place in what was their first appearance at a major global tournament. The potential in the team is clear and Knox initially focused on how best to harness it.

“Finding the right combinations on the field was the first thing that had to happen and I think we’ve managed to do that,” he said. “By the time July came around everyone knew their role in the top six and was pretty much carrying it out, which allowed us to score 200 plus the majority of times.” 

A well-balanced side in which responsibility is shared has been the key to success.

“Kari [Carswell] has been our main player for so long but to be honest for much of that time she was relied upon too heavily,” he said. “We were obviously very keen to move away from that situation and I think we’ve achieved that, we had four girls who scored over three hundred runs in all formats this year. 

“Kari still played a big role at number three in the one-dayers but the pressure was on her less compared to before which has to be good. 

“Kathryn Bryce has performed really well, she is a very important member of our squad who has taken on leadership responsibility as vice-captain too,” he continued. “She enjoys every challenge, she acknowledges it and then just gets on with overcoming it which is great. 

“Her sister Sarah has emerged to open the batting too – at sixteen years old to break into the team, get yourself established and then keep performing is a fantastic achievement. Ollie Rae also opened the batting for the second half of the season, she feels comfortable there and contributed on several occasions. Rachel Scholes, on the flip side, went down the order and found her niche at five, she’s a really dangerous player and a good bowler as well.

“We backed that up with a bowling attack that gave us a number of options,” said Knox. “If seam wasn’t working we could turn to spin, we have three good spinners who played a really important role against the Dutch in the fifty over games. Different options are always nice and it’s important that the responsibility is shared around. 

“I think the really exciting thing for me, too, is that the majority of the girls are aged between sixteen and twenty four, twenty five, so the next three or four years are very promising for us.” 

Development of the women’s game is one of the cornerstones of Cricket Scotland’s Strategic Plan, published in May. A significant growth in participation, together with a top twelve ranking for the international side, are clearly defined targets for the next three years. There is work to do to achieve this, but Knox feels that Scotland are on their way to doing so.

“We have to get a domestic structure which allows the best players to play each other reasonably regularly. We haven’t quite got that yet but it’s starting to get there. 

“One of the things we introduced this year was a regional competition. It involved two teams because I wanted strength to play against strength, I didn’t want it to be easy for anyone. Establishing that culture is really important within Scottish women’s cricket, it is saying to the girls that if you want to break into the national team this is the environment in which you need to perform, if you don’t you’re not just going to get in because you’ve played before. 

“If we can get into the habit of playing tough cricket and doing well in tough situations then hopefully that will carry into the international arena as well.” 

Reorganisation of the domestic league structure is also planned.

“Kari set up and developed the women’s national league over the past five years and moving forward we’re probably going to look to regionalise that as far as possible so that the girls who want to play recreationally are playing more locally. 

“Hopefully that will grow the domestic regional club leagues and allow the women’s game to keep developing because we don’t yet have anywhere near a wide enough base of players at the bottom of the pyramid.” 

Knox is also hopeful that the international fixture schedule may provide a boost to the profile of the Scotland side.

“We need the international team to play more against other international teams. I’m not sure how long it has been since the Wildcats played a home game against international opposition but it’s been quite a while. For our profile that needs to change, we need to play some games at home so that the girls and boys in Scotland who want to come and watch us can do so.” 

For now, though, all eyes are turned to Scotland’s next assignment at the ICC Global Qualifier. Victory over Holland in July secured Scotland’s qualification to the tournament in February and with it the chance to meet some significant opposition.

“It’s a fantastic challenge and I’m very excited about it. The girls went to Thailand for the World T20 Qualifiers last November but this one is going to be much tougher. The quality of the opposition, together with the local conditions, us coming out of the Scottish winter into temperatures which will probably be in the early thirties, all adds up to a real test for us.” 

But although their task could hardly be more daunting, Knox is relishing the opportunity for his side to spring a surprise.

“We’ve got three and a half really important months to get ourselves as ready as we can be. I don’t think there’s any expectation on us to qualify, we’re just going to go out there to give it our best shot. 

“Let’s see what happens!”

———————

Jake Perry is a freelance cricket writer. He writes regularly on Scottish cricket for Cricket Scotland, CricketEurope and CricIndex and has contributed to ESPNcricinfo and All Out Cricket. 

Twitter: @jperry_cricketFacebook: Jake Perry Cricket

 

Random Thoughts: West Indies v England 5th ODI

Selection

  • Both teams fielded unchanged teams again today – meaning that for England, the same 11 players contested all 3 of the Championship ODIs this series. Continuity of selection isn’t necessarily a bad thing – but all the same it’s rather baffling that, despite having been ruled fit, Beth Langston hasn’t played a single game on this tour. Why take a back-up quick bowler away on tour if, when your leading strike bowler gets injured, you aren’t going to select her? Odd.

England’s Fielding

  • It would have been easy for England to come out with their heads hanging after the disappointing display on Sunday. But in the field today they looked confident and together. Indeed it was England’s sharp fielding on the ring throughout the middle overs that kept the pressure firmly on the West Indies, and led to some rather questionable shot selection.

Alex Hartley

  • Here at CRICKETher we’ve been accused of having a pro-Hartley bias many times – right now that doesn’t feel like such a bad thing! No praise for Alex Hartley seems too high at the moment. Once again today she was bang on the money all the way through her 10 overs; someone needs to tell the West Indian batsmen that you can’t really get away with trying to slog sweep her.
  • While her record-breaking 13 wickets across the series – the most ever by an England player in a bilateral ODI series – needs to be tempered with the fact that 5-match ODI series are less common in recent years, it’s still an impressive achievement for someone who only made her international debut 4 months ago. What’s more, she’s taking crucial wickets at crucial times: she’s got Stafanie Taylor out twice this series, which is often tantamount to winning a game. We look forward to many more Hartley wickets!

Nat Sciver

  • It’s always nerve-racking to watch England chasing, even (perhaps especially?!) when it’s a low total. Today’s chase was no different – when Knight got out today, leaving England 112-3, you really did feel they were still capable of making a horlicks of it! That they didn’t was largely thanks to a calm and mature innings from Nat Sciver. She proved she was capable of changing up the tempo of her game – her natural inclination would be to play shots, but today it was all about taking it slowly, realising that the important thing was that she was still there at the end of the innings. Opening the bowling in tandem with Katherine Brunt this series has put a lot of pressure on Sciver but, with two half-centuries across the five games, she’s shown she can provide some much-needed backbone to England’s middle-order. Music to the ears of England fans ahead of next year’s home World Cup.