OPINION: Operation Wyatt – Mark Robinson’s Biggest Challenge Yet

When Mark Robinson was appointed England coach, pretty-much exactly one year ago, Tammy Beaumont’s international career was in the doldrums. With 58 caps, and a (combined formats) batting average of just 12, the Kent opener freely admits that she had started contemplating what to do when she inevitably lost her England contract.

With the press (including us) calling for Beaumont’s head, one man still believed in her… and that man was Mark Robinson, who assured us that what he’d seen in the nets at Loughborough could be translated into success on the international field.

And how right he was. In the Robinson era, Beaumont has scored 917 runs in 23 matches, at an average of 44 – in ODIs she averages over 55 – only Suzie Bates and Amy Satterthwaite have scored more international runs in this calendar year. (Though Meg Lanning could insert herself into that list v South Africa in the next few days.) In simple terms, TB’s career hasn’t so much done a u-turn as a triple-back-flip-with-double-pike-and-a-cherry-on-top!

Another player in a similar boat to Beaumont this time last year was Danielle Wyatt – 92 caps and a batting average of 14. But here the stories diverge somewhat – Wyatt has played 26 internationals under Robinson (2 more than TB, though they have batted the same number of innings) and averages a miserable 12.

There are some extenuating circumstances for Wyatt – she has largely come in down the order, towards the end of the innings, facing pressure to score quick runs – and a Strike Rate of 92 isn’t terrible.

But on the recent tour to Sri Lanka this hasn’t been the case – she has had 3 golden opportunities, coming in with plenty of time and probably the least tension you could ever hope for in international cricket – facing a low-ranked side in an empty stadium.

And she made scores of 4, 4 and 0.

What is so puzzling is that Wyatt has all the talent – she is probably the most naturally gifted athlete in the current England squad – others have sweated blood to get where they are, but for Wyatt it all just came naturally. She has always been a brilliant fielder – always been able to score runs for fun in county cricket – because somehow, she understands the ball, and the ball understands her.

She isn’t all just “bish, bash, bosh” either – only a few weeks ago, we watched her score a masterfully patient hundred for Sussex on the County Ground at Hove.

There was even a hint recently in the West Indies, in the 1st ODI there, that she might finally be turning things around internationally, with a career high England knock of 44; but in 7 innings since, she has averaged just 6.

For all the problems though, it is clear that as with Tammy Beaumont, Mark Robinson still believes in Danni Wyatt – he has persisted with her, and despite Emma Lamb waiting in the wings, he gave her another chance in the final ODI in Sri Lanka.

Robinson is not a man who likes to be be beaten, and he will take it personally if he can’t turn Wyatt around. He’s done it before with Beaumont – he can do it again with Wyatt… but it may be his biggest challenge yet!

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NEWS: Ireland’s Garth & Lewis + Scotland’s Bryce Selected for WBBL Rookie Program

Ireland’s Kim Garth and Gabby Lewis, plus Scotland’s Kathryn Bryce, have been selected for this year’s WBBL Associate Rookie Program, which gives players from the “minor” nations the sponsored opportunity to be part of a professional cricket setup for a couple of weeks during the competition – benefiting from the same coaching and facilities as the “full time” players on the team.

Irish bowling all-rounder Garth was part of last year’s program – spending a month in Hobart under the wing of Hurricane’s coach Julia Price, and was full of praise for the scheme when she spoke to us last summer:

“[Hobart] was pretty intense – it was training four or five times a week plus gym work [and] I got a good opportunity to work quite closely with Julia Price, who is a brilliant coach, so I did a lot of one-on-one with her on my [batting] technique.”

Garth is headed to the Sydney Sixers this year; whilst her colleague – batting all-rounder Gabby Lewis – is off to Hobart.

Meanwhile Scotland’s Kathryn Bryce – an opening batsman, who has also opened the bowling on occasion – is set to be a Melbourne Star, alongside Meg Lanning!

The three join players from China, Hong Kong and Papua New Guinea on the program.

NEWS: Dani Hazell Becomes England’s 22nd Captain

With England suffering a bit of an injury crisis in Sri Lanka, Dani Hazell is the surprise choice as stand-in skipper, becoming the 22nd woman to captain England across all formats.

With Heather Knight (left hamstring) and Katherine Brunt(left thigh) ruled-out, coach Mark Robinson has turned to the Yorkshire off-spinner to lead the team.

It is an interesting choice – prior to this tour Hazell hadn’t played an ODI since South Africa back in February, missing the series against Pakistan and West Indies, though she played all 3 T20s in the summer; so this might be seen as partly a reward for loyalty over a period when she has had to spend a lot of time on the sidelines.

However, with 3 Super league captains – Georgia Elwiss, Nat Sciver and Lauren Winfield – in the team, might we not have expected one of them to be given the job? Perhaps, but by giving it to Hazell, Robinson effectively avoids a difficult choice which might have been seen to “anoint” a potential successor to Heather Knight in years to come, and left the other two thinking – why not me?

As we write, Hazell has taken her first captain’s wicket too – bowling opener Nipuni Hansika for 29 – you can follow the game here.

NEWS: This Week In Brief

New Zealand v Pakistan

  • After her success in South Africa, it has been another good week for Amy Satterthwaite, who hit two centuries in the 2nd and 3rd ODIs as the White Ferns took a 3-0 series lead against Pakistan.
  • The first two ODIs were easy wins for the Kiwis, as Pakistan simply failed to score runs; but there were signs of things coming together a bit for the visitors in the 3rd ODI, as a century stand between Javeria Khan and Bismah Maroof provided the foundation for a total of 263-6.
  • As things stand, New Zealand still need one more win to assure qualification for England 2017 – they have that opportunity on Thursday.

India v West Indies

  • West Indies went into this series needing just one win to wrap-up their qualification; but thus far it has been India all the way, and they currently lead the series 2-0.
  • In both ODIs, West Indies batted first, but failed to put enough runs on the board (131 in the 1st ODI, 153 in the 2nd) and India chased them down easily.
  • West Indies have another chance to qualify again on Wednesday; but…
  • There is still a slim hope for India of direct qualification – if they win well on Wednesday and the ICC’s committee decrees that they share the points from their “missing” series with Pakistan, they could directly qualify at West Indies’ expense. UPDATE: Games Won counts before NRR, and West Indies are well ahead on this.

Sri Lanka v England

  • This has been a difficult one to follow, with only a barely-live scorecard and the ECB’s official Twitter feed providing information; but we know obviously that England have done the job they went to Sri Lanka to do – qualify for their own tournament with a win in the 2nd ODI – the 1st “Championship” match.
  • Although England won the 2nd ODI by a huge margin (over 100 runs) they did get bowled out, albeit off the final ball of the 50 overs, but still clearly questions remain over the fragility of the batting, and it will be interesting to see if Emma Lamb gets a couple of games now that the pressure is off for the last 2 matches.

And Finally…

CLUB OF THE MONTH: Woolpit Ladies Cricket Club

Here at CRICKETher, we’re passionate about women’s cricket at all levels, including club cricket. It’s our mission to offer coverage of women’s (and girls’) club cricket wherever we can! Our ‘Club of the Month’ feature will focus on one women’s or girls’ club every month (or so!), giving you the lowdown on their highs, lows, and everything in between.

If you’d like to see your club featured here, get in touch – we’d love to hear from you!

The Woolpit Ladies Cricket team was formed in 2005, led by the future Suffolk captain Alice Parker, who went on to captain the Woolpit team for a decade, winning the Two Counties League in 2013. The junior girls section was created in 2014 and currently has over 35 girls aged between 8 and 15.

Woolpit currently play on a Sunday, in the Two Counties Ladies Challenge (a 35 over league). They are lucky enough to have two pitches at home in Woolpit, allowing them to play matches alongside any one of the 3 Sunday men’s teams, resulting in a good level of support on match days.

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Woolpit Ladies Cricket Club team photo – League Winners 2013. Photo Credit: Laura Moss.

The junior girls currently take part in the U13 Girls Suffolk Junior Cricket League and the U11 Boys Suffolk Junior Cricket League Division C. The girls won all bar one of their matches in the latter league and so took the title for 2016.

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Woolpit U13 and U11 girls teams after competing in the Woolpit CC Girls Tournament 2016, with the U13’s coming runners-up on the day. Photo Credit: Steve Unwin at DE Photos.

Many of Woolpit’s players have played county cricket, with 10 having represented Suffolk or Cambridgeshire, and are now being ably followed by the juniors, 8 of whom have been called up to play age-group county cricket.

Their current junior county representatives are as follows: Elizabeth ‘Wizz’ Firman, Sophie Utteridge, Millie Gale, Sophie Kubitzek, Lily Tillbrook, Florence West, Isobel Melville-Ross and Cara Swinburn.

The current ladies captain is Natalie Samuels, who has been at the club since 2013 and took over from Alice after her retirement from playing in 2015. She also coaches at the club and will be taking on the challenge of the U15 and U14 girls teams in the upcoming season.

The ladies train on a Wednesday evening during the summer, in Woolpit’s 5 lane net facility located at the club. During the winter, the ladies train at the net facilities at the Victory Ground in Bury St Edmunds, on a Friday night. The junior girls train on a Friday evening during the summer and they alternate between training on the outfield and using the nets as this is also when the junior boys train.

As a club, Woolpit have a good social scene with special nights organised by the committee, such as quiz nights, race nights and the annual awards dinner. They also have ‘girls only’ evenings, whether it is a night in the curry house, a BBQ at the club or a trip to see England play at Chelmsford.

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Dressed up watching a T20 at Chelmsford – Ladies Night Out 2014

The ladies team are very fortunate to have an array of helpers, putting the teas out at every home game and then coming to support at away games. There should also be a big thank you to Kathy Parker, for scoring for the ladies and always being the background with organising events, on top of her role as treasurer of the club and as the main sponsor for the ladies team via her business Grange Farm Bed and Breakfast.

The support for the ladies team at the club is continually improving and Woolpit are very proud of their ladies section, as they have been extremely successful over the years. Despite needing some new recruits for this season nearly all the fixtures were played, and that was down to the hard work of current ladies captain Natalie finding people to play. Their junior girls section is also going from strength to strength, and including friendly games they competed in 18 fixtures from April to August.

By the start of the 2017 season, the extension the club are having built to improve changing and kitchen facilities at Woolpit will be completed and the ladies will benefit from this. Woolpit’s aims for next season include enhancing their numbers through a mutually beneficial arrangement with Bury T20 ladies side, developing the U15 girls into a standalone team and challenging for the League title. The men’s section is setting up a 4th team on a Saturday, and this will allow ladies to play in a mixed team, giving them a greater opportunity for participation and improving their own performance through experience.

Woolpit’s annual U13 girl’s cricket tournament will run again on Friday 25th August 2017.

If you are an adult and interested in playing, please email nataliesamuels13@gmail.com. If you want to find out more about junior cricket, for girls aged 13 and under, then please contact Jo Ticehurst: jo_ticehurst@hotmail.com or 07956051992.

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.

NEWS: Women’s Game “Endangered” In New Zealand, But Board Promises To Act

New Zealand Cricket have accepted the findings of a damning independent report into the state of the women’s game in the country.

The report into the state of women’s cricket in New Zealand was commissioned by the board, and undertaken by Sarah Beaman, a former player and New Zealand age-group captain, who is now a management consultant specialising in sports and recreation.

Beaman’s report finds that beneath the veneer of the current team’s international success, domestic participation has dropped to near-disastrous levels, with over 50% of clubs offering no cricket at all for women or girls. Just 10% of players are female, almost all of whom are young girls who go on to drop out of the game as teenagers. At a management level, women hold only a small fraction of positions on New Zealand’s regional and national boards.

In the report’s executive summary, released today, Beaman writes of having discovered “women having virtually no voice in the governance or leadership of cricket, few women coaching or umpiring, and female players a species on the verge of extinction.”

A statement from New Zealand Cricket acknowledged the issues highlighted in the report and promised to put them right, saying:

“We have neglected the women’s game… We were wrong, and we now need to address the areas we’ve allowed to slip.”