When we talk about KSL, much of the focus tends to be on the big international names – the England players and the overseas stars that everyone recognises. Whether it’s Katherine Brunt steaming in at Headingley, or Suzie Bates carving up the Rose Bowl, they’re the ones they’re all here to see!
And perhaps they’ll also ask about the “Ones To Watch” – the next generation, who might be lifting a World Cup in 2021 or 2025. Will Freya Davies be the new Katherine Brunt? Could Emma Lamb be a future Suzie Bates?
But there is also a third group of players – the “journeymen” of county cricket – who are actually just as important. They won’t pull the crowds, and they probably won’t ever play for England, but they aren’t just here to make up the numbers either!
At yesterday’s “Roses” clash between Yorkshire Diamonds and Lancashire Thunder, Chamari Atapattu (41 off 38) and Lauren Winfield (41 off 43) laid down a solid platform for the Diamonds; but someone still needed to turn that platform into an intimidating total, and that job was done at the death of the innings by Katherine Brunt (31 off 16) and Alice Davidson-Richards (22 off 13).
Alice Whaty-What-Now? (As we could almost hear some people saying from our living room 200 miles away!)
Well… although she has been involved in the Academy recently, and has definitely improved as a player over the past couple of years, “ADR” (as she is known) will likely not ever pull on an England shirt; but she is in her 8th season playing county cricket for Kent, and is now their de-facto captain. (The “official” captain is Tammy Beaumont, but TB’s England commitments mean ADR does the job most of the time.) ADR has made 92 appearances for Kent, scoring nearly 1,000 runs (a big milestone when you play a maximum of 14, limited-overs, matches per season) and taking over 70 wickets.
And now ADR is doing it in KSL too – following up her cameo with the bat, she went on to take 3-20 with the ball, and scoop up the Player of the Match award – not bad for someone who is essentially an amateur playing in a league full of big name pros!
ADR had “competition” for Player of the Match however – a spinner! Perhaps it was Dani Hazell, still ranked one of the top international bowlers in the world despite having to “share” her spot in the England line-up with Laura Marsh? Or maybe Sophie Ecclestone, who made her England debut last summer? Nope – a leg-spinner! Ah – in that case, it must have been Sune Luus – the South African superstar, who at 21 already has over 100 international wickets? Wrong again! It was another “amateur” – Katie Levick – who took 3-30, including the big wickets of Emma Lamb and Amy Satterthwaite.
If ADR still might perhaps dream of circumstances coming together where she plays for England, self-described “Sheffield lass” Katie Lev realistically probably does not; but in county cricket she is actually something of a legend. The 26-year-old is the leading wicket-taker in this year’s County Championship, with 19 wickets; and currently lies 3rd in the “All Time” list, behind Alexia Walker and Holly Colvin. Given another couple of seasons, she will likely overtake them both; so she has some serious experience to bring to the KSL stage, and if yesterday is any indication, she is ready to bring it… as a certain American president might put it… bigly!!
Of course, KSL needs the international stars – they are the ones who bring the crowds to the stands and the TV audience to their sofas. Without them, it would just be a re-named County T20 Cup – a bit of fun for the hardcore fans like us… and a bit irrelevant to everyone else.
But long-term, it also needs the journeymen like ADR and Katie Lev – they might not be the face of the game, but they are its backbone.
And without a backbone… it’s a job to stand up!
A point worth highlighting! I played against ADR in a men’s match and she took a 5-fer.
The KSL now and in expansion next season needs a backbone that may only come from the County Academy system it demonstrates the current depth (or lack thereof) of women’s cricket.
This is the second article in a row to say ADR has little chance of playing for England, without explaining why. Has she upset the selectors in some way? As a neutral (NZ), I’m genuinely baffled by what appears the received wisdom that she would never be picked for England, and I’d love to know why this is – unless it’s a state secret!
It’s a good question, actually!
As I hinted in the piece, it isn’t TOTALLY inconceivable; but…
Bear in mind that ADR is currently 23.
England won’t take anyone “new” to The Ashes; and after that, the next big focus will be the Women’s World T20 in the West Indies in late 2018. There might be a “speculative” debut or two next summer, in the lead-up to the WWT20, but that would likely be one or two of the “young guns” – Davies or Lamb look the most likely candidates, though both are probably better suited to the longer game ironically – and I actually would expect the WWT20 squad to look a LOT like this summer’s WWC squad.
After the WWT20 there will likely be a number of retirements – there are several players who you’d think probably can’t go on until the next WWC (Gunn, Brunt & Marsh are ones that spring to mind – all will be well into their mid-30s by 2021) so there WILL be opportunities in 2019; but ADR will be 25 by then and that just feels like it’s too old.
Nevertheless… good luck to her trying to prove me wrong – she won’t be the first and she won’t be the last if she does!!
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I now want ADR to do extra-well, just to upset the apple cart!!!
You’re right though, I’m very impressed so far with Thunder’s Emma Lamb and Storm’s Freya Davies. They have a great chance but I think the “will probably never play for England” moniker applied more to someone like Eve Jones, which is a shame really.
To me it’s more about what players are currently available on contract, what form they’re in and what extra the upcoming players can offer which is different – rather than age. ADR could still play at 35 let alone 25.
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Winfield was a few days short of 23 on her debut. We will need to give some debuts to someone other than the 18 ‘chosen ones’ sooner or later.
There lies the problem if our County cricket needs to be a gateway not just the ECB academy
Alice has been on the Academy since the last summer. If I recall correctl she also went to Abi Dhabi at Easter with the England team. It would seem then she is on the selectors radar