A Close Game?
With Stars eventually winning by a mere 4 runs (via the D/L Method), on the surface of it this match ended in a close result. In actual fact the only reason Vipers got so close to the required total were the 16 runs Tash Farrant and Suzie Bates hit off the 16th over – largely a result of Stars’ misfielding an incredibly slippy ball, thanks to several previous overs of constant rain. While no one likes the weather intervening, justice therefore probably was done this time around.
You could tell that Lizelle Lee was furious with herself when she hit the ball straight to Bates at cover in the 5th over, but she’s a risk-taking player, and sometimes when you take risks you get out! With 40 off 20 balls, you’d have to say that she did a good job in laying a foundation for her side to launch from – and though the runs dried up once she departed, that was hardly her fault.
Prior to this game we’ve had plenty of people asking if (when) we were intending to revise our prediction that Vipers wouldn’t retain their KSL crown. But, while Vipers absolutely annihilated their opponents in the first two matches of the tournament, today was always going to be the big one as far as we were concerned, with Stars our favourites to take home this year’s KSL title. And so it proved. Vipers are still a good team – but they aren’t invincible this time around. On that note…
In some ways it was a familiar story today, with Suzie Bates once again ploughing her way to 50 not out. Unfortunately for the Vipers, she can’t bat at both ends. Indeed in some ways they were victims of their own success – before today, they had never lost more than 4 wickets in a KSL game, and as such their middle / lower order were always going to find it difficult coming out to bat in the middle of a tricky run chase.
Ultimately it was losing the cluster of wickets in the 13th-15th overs that really made the difference and ensured that the Vipers ended up having to play D/L catch-up. Something to work on, perhaps, as a still-likely spot in Finals Day looms on the horizon.
Both Stars and Vipers have shipped in international openers this year, acquiring Lizelle Lee and Hayley Matthews. In turn, that’s meant that last year’s KSL openers Bryony Smith and Georgia Adams have been booted down the order – today coming in at 5 and 6, and scoring 5 and 0, respectively. It’s unfamiliar territory for players who both regularly open for their counties, and it shows in their unease walking out to bat. Might an experienced international player like Lee be better able to cope with coming in further down the order? Or should you always play your “best” openers up top? It’s a dilemma not easily resolved, but a dilemma nonetheless.
Domestic Cricket Matters
The best preparation for KSL is of course high-quality domestic cricket in the lead-up; for non-international players that’s a particular concern. On that note, it’s interesting to look at the contrasting fortunes of two of today’s Vipers’ players: Charlotte Edwards and Arran Brindle.
Exhibit A: Edwards, who now plays her domestic cricket for Bishop’s Stortford CC’s women’s team, and Hampshire (who sit in Div 2 of the Women’s County Championship). Exhibit B: Brindle, who (with two young children) is no longer able to play women’s county cricket, but still regularly plays 1st XI men’s cricket for Louth CC in Lincolnshire. Edwards today was out for a 5-ball duck. Brindle, meanwhile, took 1-19 in her 4 overs, and hit 19 off 17 balls to boot. It seems pretty clear who was the better prepared of the two.
So could it be that there are issues with the quality of domestic women’s cricket in this country, below the elite level? We’ll leave you to ponder that one…
Sorry do not agree how much faith do Surrey put in their county players. Georgia Adams batted 3 last season coming in behind Lottie. At least we have faith in our county players it was only the weather that beat us today yes the weather did make a difference but not only for the fielders but also for the batters who had balls skidding on. So I would still say that the case is open for both Surrey and Vipers to be at finals day and hopefully we will see a full game to get a real winner
I have to agree with your final comment, Raf, on the quality of domestic cricket in England. You learn from the best in this game, probably, in fact, more than you learn from the coaches. And the best are so often absent at County and club level. I have seen players who have not played a single KSL game, just sat complete with bib on the sidelines, deprived of time in the middle at county, and therefore the chance to influence those at county who have yet to make the KSL. One county/KSL player, whose parents chatted at game recently, told me she had been only able to play two competitive games all season. This may be an extreme case but is something the ECB need to be tougher with the KSL managements about. You learn by playing so even her development, let alone those she might influence, will have been adversely affected. We may have some of the finest international players in the world in 2017, but if they don’t play more club and county I live in fear of England’s side in three, five or ten years time.
Have to agree with Don’s comment here, and the last point about mens vs womens club cricket. From a personal experience playing in Bedfordshire, our county side was disbanded due to lack of players (no selection process… we welcomed any female that was willing to participate!!). Between myself and my other half we formed a ladies team at his cricket club and have slowly started to form ladies cricket in the county – another club has recently followed suit inspired by us. However around half of the 10 previous “county” players have now gone to play exclusively mens cricket. I can’t help but feel that this happens elsewhere.
Surely, if any female interested in cricket were to actually play womens cricket then the overall standard of the game would increase and mean that the “better” women could still be challenged while playing against other women! An incredibly frustrating situation for the game.
Unfortunately, for any woman who wants to play more than a handful of games, the men’s game is the only option.
The issue is that domestic cricket is dying.
The WCSL which is not large to start with has lost at least three teams already this season and there are several more who may not make it to next season.
Not long ago my own County had about 6 clubs playing competative league cricket, I believe there are now only 2.
Finding a local club playing at the right level is impossible.
We all know that Club cricket is at risk across the board and the initiatives coming from the ECB to breathe life into the game are focused at grass roots. But the reality still seems to be being ignored, finding enough adult and teen female players to run a traditional hard ball league or even friendly team is getting harder and harder (The ECB Prosecco cricket initiative a side).
There was a time not so long ago when Club and County WAGs cricket could operate in parallel with the odd fixture clash providing opportunities for younger players to get their first taste of women’s cricket. That is no longer the case.
Even if the World Cup win inspires a generation of young girls into Club cricket the opportunity to play and learn in a Club cricket environment will already be lost and in the intervening period
England will be reliant on those already on the County WAGs and ECB pathway.
Also those who don’t ‘make it’ will struggle to stay in the game without Club cricket to fall back on.
NB Middx CC just launched an 16-25 academy initiative
Southern Vipers severely miss the experience and ability of Lydia Greenway and Sarah Mcglashen in their middle order order from last year.Players recruited in by Vipers have hardly scored a run and Susie Bates is carrying their batting at the moment–Charlotte Edwards should bat where is best– at the top of the Order with Bates with Arran Brindle coming in at 3.
Sorry Clive, I cant agree.The tournament should be about developing our next group of players. Brindle has been a fine player but there are to many good prospects not getting a game. I would be playing the likes of Burt in front of her.
It was a shame Adams had to bat behind her on Sunday when she did so well last year at the top of the order.
Wyatt got 22 not out in the last game and Adams did ok too.