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.

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21 thoughts on “OPINION: Camp Selections Point To England Ins And Outs

  1. I feel Mark Robinson prefers to work with newer talent rather than established players, hence his removal of Edwards, Greenaway and some of the players mentioned above. Surely a coaches job is to get the best of all the talent available. Imagine how much stronger England would be with Edwards batting at 5 or 6 in a new role finish innings and mentor new players. I am probably in a minority of 1 but I’m not a Robbo fan.

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  2. Not sure it’s very accurate to say he prefers to work with newer talent than established players. Yes there seems to be an emphasis to go with young players but Marsh, Gunn Shrubsole and Brunt are all established players. Marsh and Gunn are two players who have been brought back in while Brunt seem to have re discovered herself under the new regime.
    Edwards could probably have done a good job at 5 or 6 but they decided to go with less experienced players. Edwards would have retired at the end of the World Cup anyway so it doesn’t seem a bad decision.

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  3. “Robinson feels that this cohort overall just aren’t ever going to good enough” – presumably if Robinson actually said this it would be career limiting given Connor has been banging on for the last 5 years that we have strength in depth !

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  4. Yes it would make perfect sense for Eve Jones to be ‘on the way out’ given only Beaumont and Knight, of the 23 named players managed to score more runs than her in this season’s county championship.

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    • Here here clanger. I’ve watched enough cricket over the years . only two tons scored in the 1st div last year.jones got one of them. No other left handers in the squad. Can’t believe they are so narrow minded

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      • well said and it happened in World Cup Semi Finals!!–ridiculous– and the journeyman county cricketer had a first class batting average of 3!!!

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  5. Has anyone said Eve Jones was on the way out? Is Robinson quoted as saying the current cohort is no good? Was she available for the trip? What has been her top score for the Academy ? I dont know the answers but it would be good to find out instead of jumping to conclusions.
    I’m a Becky Grundy fan been for obvious reasons. I think she deserves to still be involved. Does anyone know why she wasn’t selected?

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    • I don’t think Jones is necessarily completely “out” – indeed I hope she isn’t – but Grundy probably is – she hasn’t really done anything wrong – but there are just too many people ahead of her now to justify keeping her on a contract whilst those others ahead of her are not.

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  6. Has anyone said Eve Jones is been eased out? Was she available for the trip?What has been her highest score for the Academy? Has Robinson been quoted as saying the current cohort is no good? I don’t know the answers but it is worth asking before jumping to conclusions.
    As a Warickshire fan I like Rebecca Grundy as a player and would have loved to see her involved still. Is she better than Hartley?

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  7. I don’t know anything about Hannah Jones (maybe you could provide a bit more information about her Syd?) but the other selections certainly look about right. We shall have to see when happen with the contracts. So far no-one’s really “lost” their contract completely so I hope they can manage it properly if it does happen. Grundy is still a good bowler but obviously there are limited places available and other strong contenders. I would be concerned though if Eve Jones was ruled out for England at this stage. I’m not sure that can be right, given she’s done pretty well recently, she hasn’t had a “full” England chance yet and would fit into the line-up well as an attacking batsman and a left-hander. In my view the way the contracts operate still need to be reviewed, there need to be more staggered temporary positions at the bottom of the ladder to allow players to establish themselves.Maybe this is what Robinson is trying to achieve, but it needs to be formalised.

    I’m shocked after just having watched a morning of cricket where England’s men gave away what looked to be a winning position, in the same vein as the recent fourth women’s ODI against the West Indies. First we let them get a few too many runs which made the target very challenging. Then the batsmen had a great opening partnership, and looked set to chase the target. But then a wicket came and triggered a landslide, as England suffered a terrible collapse and ended up falling some way short. Actually, given Halloween, the similarities between those last innings are a bit spooky! Just goes to show these collapses are more common than you might think.

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    • Hannah Jones – all-rounder who has mostly played as a batsman for Surrey. Debuted quite young (14???). Bowled a lot more this season and took a few wickets. Has made 100s at age-group – something Robinson obviously feels he can build on.

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  8. Good measured post as always a James P.
    I guess there was only a limited amount of people they can take on the trip. I would still like to know the record of Eve and the other girls whist playing for the Academy. This must have a bearing on any promotion. Does anyone know and that of the other girls for that matter? How did she do on last trip to Sri Lanka where they played Australia as well ?
    Come on Syd

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    • From memory Eve Jones has always done okay at Academy level but I think Robbo believes there is still a huge technical gap between the Academy batsmen and the likes of TB/ Lauren Winfield – not surprisingly when they have been full time pros for a couple of years now and have had that much more coaching.

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  9. Fair point on the coaching bit Syd there should be a difference between her and the pros but what’s done ok on the Academy mean? Ok doesn’t sound great for a 24 year old. Can’t we find out at least how she did on their last tour to Sri Lanka. I think it would be fair to compare her to her peers.

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  10. Wow just seen Clive’s post! Man you have a serious person vendetta against Robinson. It’s actually not pleasant to read. The worst part about sites like these is when they get taken over by people who just want to moan or slate people personally.

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  11. Eve got a duck against Ireland this year and 7 against Pakistan according to the Cricket Archive.
    It had lots of Academy games on there for those who are interested.
    I’m sure Eve will get her chance if she’s good enough.

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  12. Unfortunately there will always be a huge gulf between the contracted players and those lower down simply due to resources. I doubt the KSL will be enough to bridge it. The idea that women should forget careers etc to concentrate on cricket in the hope they might get into the England set up is simply not realistic. We can always hope that one day it will dawn on the powers that be that the women’s game is nothing like the men’s where they have a huge pool of full professionals.
    The present women/girls set up is simply not fit for purpose in the modern game.

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  13. Pingback: NEWS: England Announce Academy Pathway Revamp | CRICKETher

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