MATCH REPORT: Kent Exit Pursued by Bears

A battling batting performance, led by captain Marie Kelly and new recruit Jo Gardner, dragged Warwickshire over the line to beat Kent by 2 wickets at the Edgbaston Foundation Ground in the opening round of the Women’s County Championship.

Marie Kelly might have begun the day with a wild toss of the coin, forcing one of the umpires to leap out of the way, but she won the call nonetheless. The luck stayed with her until the end, when a direct hit went for 4 overthrows, and Warwickshire celebrated a victory which hadn’t all been plain sailing.

Sent into bat, Kent put on 44 for the first wicket before Molly Davies prodded a loose delivery from Georgia Hennessy into the vacant area behind midwicket. The single looked easy, and it would have been were it not for a brilliant bit of fielding from Nish Patel – a direct hit sending Davies back to the dressing room for 20.

The luck continued to flow Warwickshire’s way as Lottie Bryan played back to an unthreatening delivery from Liz Russell, pushing the ball safely out to cover, but in the process somehow managing to take out her own stumps.

The wickets came pretty easily after that, and Kent were on the ropes at 133-8 when Megan Belt came out to join Jenni Jackson in the 38th over. Belt may only be 19, but in a County Championship shorn of its international stars that makes her a senior player these days, and she looked it as she put on 66 with Jackson – making 29, including five 4s, before she was finally dismissed at the death. Jackson finished on 44*, as Kent made exactly the 200 they needed for full batting bonus points; whilst Warwickshire achieved the same with their 9 wickets.

In reply, Warwickshire lost Minahil Zahoor early, but Georgia Hennessy and Kathryn Bryce calmly took them to 47 without any real alarms. Bryce was caught mistiming a drive off Izzy Cloke for 13, bringing in Kelly who looked happy initially to let the ever-dangerous Hennessy play the leading role. But when Hennessy was out – Emily Thompson taking a low catch at backward square – Kelly began to take the initiative herself, running single after single on her way to 57 in partnership with Jo Gardner (who was on debut for Warwickshire, having signed from Northants).

As is so often the case, though, it only takes one wicket to bring two and then three, as Warwickshire collapsed from 163-3 to 167-6 and Kent were back into the game once more. Gardner rode her luck – including being dropped twice and caught off a no-ball – but she continued to play her shots as Kent began to pick off the stragglers in the tail at the other end. A drama ensued worthy of a David Attenborough voice-over – Kent chasing the final wickets, and Warwickshire just a handful of runs, with overs not an issue by this stage.

It was then – in the 47th over – that luck had its final say: a direct hit off a tight run could easily have been the final nail in Warwickshire’s coffin, but the ball ricocheted off the stumps and raced over the carpet of the outfield to the rope for 4 overthrows and the final victory to Warwickshire.

Speaking to CRICKETher after the game, Marie Kelly told us:

“I’m used to batting with Jo [Gardner] at Loughborough University and I think we work well together – we had a good partnership and I thought we were going to see it home, so it was frustrating for me to get out, but Jo saw us home.”

But for Kelly there were also lessons to be learned:

“We had them 130-8 but we just didn’t put sweepers out and they got away a bit – we need to learn from that and get the sweepers out early on – we’ll take that into tomorrow’s game [against Sussex]. Then towards the end… it has become the Warwickshire way, but rather than leaving it until the end like we did today, we need to make our wins a bit more clinical.”

Nonetheless, it was the start Warwickshire needed in the County Championship – a win against the champions, with full bonus points – and they will go into that match against Sussex full of confidence, and deservedly so.

Advertisements

2017 Women’s County Championship Preview

The Women’s County Championship begins this weekend with two rounds of games across the Bank Holiday. The counties will be missing all their England players, who are at a training camp in Abu Dhabi – but that is something they are going to have to get used to, as the home World Cup in June/ July, followed by the KSL in August, means that is likely to be the rule rather than the exception this season.

WHO’S GOING TO WIN IT?

Raf Nicholson: Sussex – The County Championship has almost always been a two-way fight to the finish between Sussex and Kent, but Sussex’s main rivals have now lost Charlotte Edwards, Suzie Bates and (probably) Lydia Greenway in one foul swoop. Meanwhile Sussex are pretty much at full strength, with a solid contingent of non-England players (including Academy stalwarts Freya Davies and Georgia Adams) in a season where that will really matter. They’ve got to be favourites.

Syd Egan: Lancashire – With the star names missing across the board, this looks set to be the closest County Championship in years. I’ll be massively surprised if anyone wins all their games, and in fact I think we’ll see a four-or-five-horse race for the title. The last time Lancashire were promoted, two seasons ago, they lost all their matches and went straight back down again; but that’s not going to happen this time. They have the same core squad, but with two years more experience; and although the re-signing of Alex Hartley is probably moot, as she’ll be playing for England most of the summer, grabbing Eve Jones from relegated Staffs is a major coup; and they will also have Amy Satterthwaite behind the guns for a few games too prior to the World Cup. Are Lancashire racing certainties? Absolutely not! Do they have as good a chance as anyone? Yes!

WHO’S GOING DOWN?

SE: Nottinghamshire – The bottom of the table is likely to be just as close as the top – I reckon everyone will win at least a game or two, and the fate of relegation is likely to be decided by the random cruelty of bonus points, which sadly are so dependent upon the weather and the state of the pitch, because they are absolute (how many runs/ wickets) not relative. As a Berkshire fan, I refuse to believe they are going down, so I’m afraid I’m tipping newly promoted Notts to drop back into Div 2 again this season.

RN: Berkshire – Sorry, Syd, but life isn’t looking particularly rosy for the Beavers right now, especially in the bowling department. Amanda Potgieter, now living in New Zealand, will no longer be steaming in with the new ball; Rachel Hardy has gone off to America on a soccer scholarship; Daisy Gardner is still struggling with injury; Linsey Smith has recently defected to Sussex. With the prospect of Heather Knight unlikely to feature much, if at all, it’s going to be a tough season and, much as I’d like them to, I’m not sure they’ll be able to survive in Div 1.

WHO’LL GET PROMOTED?

RN: Somerset – Somerset have got to be in with a shout. They went down last season only as a result of the triple-demotion ruling, and they still have most of the players available (including Sophie Luff) who in 2015 secured promotion by not losing a single game.

SE: Hampshire – I watched Hampshire absolutely hammer Middlesex in their pre-season friendly last weekend… and the thing was, Middlesex weren’t actually that bad. Hampshire were just very good – they batted first, timing their innings perfectly to put 223 on the board; and then they were sharp as razors in the field to bowl Middlesex out for 82! They are a young side, and last year wasn’t quite their time, as they missed out narrowly on promotion; but Charlotte Edwards will have them well-organised, and Suzie Bates will add even more firepower when she is available prior to the World Cup – if they don’t make the top 2, it will be a massive surprise.

T20 WINNERS

SE: Yorkshire – If you thought the 50-over County Championship was going to be close, the T20 Cup is likely to be even closer. But I’m tipping Yorkshire for this one – they will be in the mix for the WCC too, but I think maybe the T20 is where they can come good – like everyone else, they will miss their England players, but they have a strong youth system and the T20 format often favours that.

RN: Birmingham Bears (aka Warwickshire) – As with Sussex they have a good number of established players who won’t be distracted by England duty, not least Becky Grundy and Georgia Hennessy. Pipped to the post at the last minute by Kent in 2016, they’ll be looking to go one better this year, and are in with a good shot at doing so.

BREAKTHROUGH KID?

RN: Emma Lamb (Lancashire) – This could be a make-or-break season for Lamb, who has been on the verge of making the jump to international cricket for a while now and was actually in the squad for England’s tour of Sri Lanka (though her debut remains elusive). She was a standout player for Lancashire Thunder in KSL, the only non-international player to feature among the top ten group-stage run scorers. She’ll be out to prove her worth in this season’s County Championship.

SE: Lauren Bell (Berkshire) – Lauren Bell is something of a veteran already – despite being only 16, this will be her third season at the top level. Having been selected for England’s Academy program over the winter, she has been working hard up at Loughborough, where she has added a yard of pace to a ball which was already pretty quick – making her one of the fastest bowlers in the women’s game. With bounce (she’s well over 6 feet tall) and movement off the pitch she can be unplayable on her day… and her day is coming!

BEST OVERSEAS BUY?

SE: Holly Huddleston (Middlesex) – The Hudd Missile is back again for Middlesex this season, having basically resuscitated a career there which looked to be somewhat on life-support when she first arrived a year ago. She has since been recalled for New Zealand and seems virtually certain to be a big part of their World Cup squad. Her bowling may not be “fast” fast, but it’s nippy enough, and she is very consistent – she’s a very “English” bowler in a sense, and it isn’t just Middlesex who will reap the benefits of that in 2017 – watch out for her in the World Cup Final too!

RN: Suzie Bates (Hampshire) – Not only is Bates one of the best cricketers in the world, but she’s shown she can cut the mustard in English conditions. Across last year’s English summer she scored 678 runs at an average of 42, and took 30 wickets, helping Kent “do the double” and win both the County Championship and the T20 Cup. Hampshire will benefit hugely from having her around.

OVERALL MVP?

SE: Eve Jones (Lancashire) – An opening batsman who has been part of the Academy setup for a while, Jones was one of only two players to score a century in Div 1 last year. Unlikely to figure for England, she should be available for most matches and she has the temperament to have a big impact – if Lancashire do indeed win the Championship, she is likely to have been a big part of the reason why.

RN: Charlotte Edwards (Hampshire) – Given that most internationals will have very little chance to play county cricket this season, someone with as much top-level experience as Edwards is going to be invaluable. England’s loss is Hampshire’s gain!

NEWS: Pakistan World Cup Squad Announced

Hamadullah Sohu writes:

The PCB have announced Pakistan’s 15-woman squad for the forthcoming World Cup, which will be played in England from 24 June to 23 July.

They have also confirmed that Pakistan will feature in two warm-up matches before the main event, against West Indies and Australia on 20 and 22 June respectively.

Sana Mir, Pakistan’s captain, said: “The warm-up matches provide us with just the kind of chance we need to fine-tune our game ahead of the ICC Women’s World Cup. We get to play last year’s finalists Australia and the West Indies in these matches and look forward to using the opportunity to prepare well for the tournament ahead.”

Pakistan qualified for the tournament at the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2017, played in Colombo in February this year, along with India, South Africa, and Sri Lanka. They play their first game of the campaign against South Africa on 25 June at Grace Road, Leicester.

Full Squad:

Ayesha Zafar

Bibi Nahida

Marina Iqbal

Bismah Maroof

Javeria Khan

Syeda Nain Fatima Aabidi

Sidra Nawaz (WK)

Sana Mir (Captain)

Kainat Imtiaz

Asmaviiya Iqbal Khokhar

Diana Baig

Waheeda Akhtar

Nashra Sandhu

Ghulam Fatima

Sadiya Yousuf

Sabih Azhar (Coach)

 

 

NEWS: Sarah Taylor To Join UAE Camp

England have announced that Sarah Taylor will after all join England’s pre-season training camp in the UAE, during which an England XI will play 3 non-international matches against Ireland.

Although Taylor has stayed out of the limelight for the past year, and hasn’t played any competitive cricket since the World T2o semi-final in India last March, she has remained a part of the England squad throughout that period, and has been training over the winter.

Nevertheless if she is, as England clearly hope, to make her return in time for the World Cup, she needs something more than nets at Loughborough to prepare, and hopefully this fairly low-key training camp offers that opportunity.

Additionally joining England on the camp in a coaching capacity will be recently retired Lancashire men’s captain Tom Smith, who is also going to be involved with Lancashire Thunder during KSL2.

England Head Coach Mark Robinson said:

“Bringing people [like Tom Smith] in helps further their own careers and brings continuity and quality within the coaching setup… He is fresh out of the game and is hungry to learn and develop as a coach. It’s great to get him in.”

BREAKING: The Women’s County Championship

At the launch event for the (Men’s) County Championship at Merchant Taylors School last week, Clare Connor stood on stage alongside the bigwigs of the men’s game to celebrate the inclusion of a fourth “major” trophy into the pantheon of English domestic cricket – alongside the (Men’s) County Championship, the (Men’s) One Day Cup and the (Men’s) T20 Blast, we now have the Women’s Kia Super League.

“It’s a visual reminder for the game that we now have four major trophies on offer in our domestic season.”

The following day, Scyld Berry reported to readers of the Telegraph:

“Clare Connor, the ECB’s director of women’s cricket, made the point that counties had ceased to produce a good national women’s team and had to be replaced by franchises.”

Replaced?

Replaced?

Well, no – we can assure you that on Sunday 30th April, players from Berkshire to Yorkshire, and all manner of shires in-between, will walk out onto the fields of England to embark upon the chase for the Women’s County Championship of 2017.

To be fair to Scyld Berry, he was only reporting what he heard… and to be equally fair to Clare Connor, we don’t doubt that what he heard probably wasn’t quite what she said.

But the impression is clear enough – as far as the ECB are concerned, the Women’s County Championship occupies the status of Mrs Rochester to the KSL’s Jane Eyre, and we all remember what happened to Mrs Rochester… right? (TLDR: madness, fire, suicide, blar, blar, blar.)

As if to emphasise the point, at the end of last week, the ECB sent out a press release detailing the international player rosters for KSL2, which (lest we forget) doesn’t even start until after the World Cup, in which the only mention of the word “county” was to confirm that Finals Day will be held at the “Central County Ground” in Hove.

But the fact of the matter is that it is county cricket, with the Women’s County Championship at its heart, which remains the bedrock of the elite women’s game in this country – Div 1 offering 3,920 overs of cricket (including the T2o Cup) compared to the KSL’s 680 overs. We should be shouting from the rooftops… not jumping from them! [Okay… that’s enough Jane Eyre references – Ed.]

But perhaps the real lesson here, however, isn’t for us at all – it is for the fans of the men’s game, who are being told that the coming City T20, designed around the same franchise model as the KSL, won’t downgrade the status of their County Championship.

Yer.

We were told that too.

BREAKING: England & Overseas Players Announced For KSL2

The ECB have revealed the England and Overseas player rosters for KSL2, with moves for a number of players, including for England’s two Danielle’s: Hazell heading across the Pennines to captain the Thunder, and Wyatt moving down south to the Vipers.

It has also been announced that both Charlotte Edwards and Arran Brindle will be returning for the Vipers; but not Lydia Greenway, who effectively therefore confirms her retirement from the “spotlight” level of the game, though she may yet appear for Kent this season in a “player-coach” capacity.

Two overseas players (at the Stars and the Storm) are still “To Be Confirmed”.

Lancashire Thunder

  • Kate Cross
  • Danielle Hazell
  • Sarah Taylor
  • Jess Jonassen (AUS)
  • Amy Satterthwaite (NZ)
  • Lea Tahuhu (NZ)

Loughborough Lightning

  • Georgia Elwiss
  • Amy Jones
  • Beth Langston
  • Kristen Beams (AUS)
  • Ellyse Perry (AUS)
  • Elyse Villani (AUS)

Southern Vipers

  • Tash Farrant
  • Danielle Wyatt
  • Suzie Bates (NZ)
  • Hayley Matthews (WI)
  • Dane van Niekerk (SA)
  • Charlotte Edwards
  • Arran Brindle

Surrey Stars

  • Tammy Beaumont
  • Alex Hartley
  • Laura Marsh
  • Natalie Sciver
  • Rene Farrell (AUS)
  • Marizanne Kapp (SA)
  • TBC (OS)

Western Storm

  • Heather Knight
  • Anya Shrubsole
  • Fran Wilson
  • Rachel Priest (NZ)
  • Stafanie Taylor (WI)
  • TBC (OS)

Yorkshire Diamonds

  • Katherine Brunt
  • Jenny Gunn
  • Lauren Winfield
  • Sophie Devine (NZ)
  • Sune Luus (SA)
  • Beth Mooney (AUS)

NEWS: 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup Cancelled

The 2017 Women’s World Cup, which was due to be staged in England this summer, has been cancelled, according to a statement from Cricket Australia.

Bruce Bruceton, the Deputy Vice Chief Executive of Women’s Cricket in Australia, made the announcement at a special press conference last night in Melbourne.

Bruceton said:

“It was clear to everyone that Australia were going to win the World Cup anyway, so we’ve decided to do the sensible thing and just keep the trophy for another 4 years.”

Australian skipper Meg Megastar, who has been credited with an additional 9 international centuries, to make up for the ones she would have scored anyway if the tournament had been played, added:

“I’m really, really good at the crickets. By the way… has anyone seen Warnie?”

It is expected that a decision on the 2021 World Cup in New Zealand will be made shortly after midday.