ANALYSIS: Spin City & The Pace Problem In The Women’s Game

A recent piece on Women’s Cricket Blog asked Do the Aussies have a seam problem? Basically concluding… yes they do – their pace options are limited and apparently ineffective!

In fact, looking at the stats for the Women’s International Championship, it might be argued that EVERYONE has a “pace problem”.

Just 4 of the top 10 wicket-takers in the Championship are pacers, with spinners occupying the first 3 spots:

Player Bowling Wickets
1. Jess Jonassen Spin 29
2. Heather Knight Spin 29
3. Anisa Mohammed Spin 25
4. Anya Shrubsole Pace 24
5. Shabnim Ismail Pace 22
6. Kristen Beams Spin 21
7. Marizanne Kapp Pace 21
8. Sune Luus Spin 20
9. Hayley Matthews Spin 20
10. Katherine Brunt Pace 20

And across the entire Championship, spin dominates – it takes more wickets than pace, more economically, and at a better Strike Rate:

Bowling Wickets Economy (Avg) Strike Rate (Avg)
Spin 58.02% 3.81 37.04
Pace 41.98% 4.19 40.22

Contrast this with the situation in the men’s game where, looking at ODIs over the past 2 years, spin has its place in keeping the runs down, but it is pace bowling which takes wickets and has the edge in Strike Rates:

Bowling Wickets Economy (Avg) Strike Rate (Avg)
Spin 32.36% 5.26 49.69
Pace 67.64% 5.90 46.02

The $64,000 question is why?

Here’s a theory:

At junior, club, and even at county level in the women’s game, pace can be intimidating, so it is an effective weapon by itself; but by the time you get to international level, the players are used to facing bowling machines which hurl it down, so international batsmen aren’t intimidated any more, leaving the pace bowler with two options.

One option, increasingly common in the men’s game, is to bowl it fast enough that actually seeing the ball becomes a problem, due to the limitations of the human eye; but to do this, you need to be touching close to 90mph, and no one in the women’s game is anywhere near close to this.

The other option is to add “something else” to the pace armoury – swing (e.g. Anya Shrubsole) or control of movement off the pitch (e.g. Katherine Brunt) – but that isn’t easy to do, especially if you are only suddenly confronted by this need when you reach the pinnacle of the system.

Add to this conditions around the world which often seem to favour the tweakers over the twerkers, and it is Spin City in the women’s game, as the spinners take the glory, whilst the pacers increasingly struggle to make an impact.


4 thoughts on “ANALYSIS: Spin City & The Pace Problem In The Women’s Game

  1. I have a few theories:

    1. There is a genuine drop in fast bowler numbers most are now fast medium at best as young fast bowlers breakdown / suffer injuries early in their careers. Where are the next generation of seamers in physio or retired.

    2. Foot work – when the ball is above eye line and batsmen have to use their judgement & feet only a few are of a high enough standard to dominate the spinners. So Captains play on this weakness and look to stifle run scoring.

    3. The pitches at junior level seam is still king but seamers find it far harder on higher quality pitches unless they can swing the ball or develop varieties – this is a steep learning curve.


    • Agree with all this, especially #1 – younger quicks not getting the support they would get in m’s game to stay injury-free – parents left to manage everything, including the not inconsiderable costs of physio support.


      • The ECB bowling limits create a problem how apart from bowling do you develop the strength & fitness. How much is too much? Apart from the top level do we do the best for our charges?

        Seam and pace is more about short bursts now and not long spells. But as soon as you ask someone to bowl a ‘spell’ the stresses and strains are amplified.


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