Women’s Ashes Squad: Reaction and Thoughts

A few brief thoughts:

  • This squad contains all of the 13 players that played in the World Cup, which does make sense – why change a winning formula?
  • Sophie Ecclestone coming into the squad is a no-brainer. A few weeks back we watched her take 6-12 against Warwickshire – she didn’t just deny them the Championship title, but actually bowled Lancashire back into contention (they went on to win it). Then at Chelmsford last week in the warm-up match she set the the pink ball on fire – taking 3 wickets in one over and finishing the first innings with 5-34. If there had been any doubt left in Mark Robinson’s mind, Ecclestone stomped all over it.
  • Having said that, I’m a bit surprised that Beth Langston, Tash Farrant AND Freya Davies are all being left behind. Australia are a much stronger side with the bat right now than they are with the ball (cf: Chamari Atapattu and Harmanpreet Kaur). I’d personally have gone for a bowler-heavy squad – especially given that England have to bowl Australia out twice in order to win the Test match. Essentially you’re relying on Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole to take the strain across four days – and that worries me. Especially because…
  • … do we know how fully recovered Anya Shrubsole is from the side strain that left her sitting out of the first half of the Super League? Given her propensity to not last out for the whole of these long Ashes tours without picking up an injury or two, it seems even more strange to send her out with a pre-existing one, and NOT send back-up.
  • England now have two left-arm spinners at their disposal throughout the tour, which creates an interesting selection dilemma for Robinson. On the one hand you surely don’t drop Alex Hartley, given the way she bowled in England’s World Cup game against Australia? On the other hand Mark Robinson clearly thinks Ecclestone is the future (especially now she’s finished school – something he specifically mentioned in the press release), or she wouldn’t be on the plane at all. Perhaps Robinson might even play both of them in the same match?
  • For the last women’s Ashes in Australia (in Jan/Feb 2014) England got around the 15-player squad restrictions by naming a separate squad for the T20 leg of the series. They haven’t done that this time, for reasons known only to Robinson & co, and I think it could be an error. This is a long old tour – last time around they could barely cobble together 11 fit players by the end of it, and the ECB’s own Beth Barrett-Wild was threatened with having to take the field! Of course they (sort of) have Kate Cross and Amy Jones at their disposal were anything to go wrong – but that’s not quite the same as having an extra player actually in the camp.

NEWS: Women’s Ashes Squad – Ecclestone In For Langston

England have announced their squad for the Women’s Ashes in Australia next month. The 15-player squad is largely the same squad which won the World Cup this summer, with just one change – left-arm orthodox spinner Sophie Ecclestone, who was the leading wicket-taker in county cricket this season, comes in at the expense of fast-bowler Beth Langston.

England will also have Kate Cross and Amy Jones semi-available as potential injury replacements, with both already out in Australia playing domestic cricket.

Full Squad:

  • Heather Knight
  • Tammy Beaumont
  • Katherine Brunt
  • Sophie Ecclestone
  • Georgia Elwiss
  • Jenny Gunn
  • Alex Hartley
  • Dani Hazell
  • Laura Marsh
  • Anya Shrubsole
  • Nat Sciver
  • Sarah Taylor
  • Fran Wilson
  • Lauren Winfield
  • Danni Wyatt

The series begins with the 1st ODI in Brisbane on October 22nd and ends with the 3rd T20 in Canberra on November 21st. All matches are expected to be broadcast in the UK, with the limited overs games being shown live on BT Sport, whilst the Test will be live-streamed on the Cricket Australia web site.

NEWS: Lauren Winfield Special Guest at Cheshire Women’s End of Season Awards

Martin Saxon reports.

The Cheshire Women’s Cricket League was delighted to welcome Lauren Winfield as the special guest at its annual end-of-season presentation dinner, held this year at Hazel Grove Golf Club.

Before presenting the prizes, she told the audience how a ‘journey’ towards the 2017 World Cup win began after the England team’s disappointing exit from the World T20 in 2016. From that point, everything was geared towards the following year’s World Cup, and the England opening bat spoke at length about how the team put themselves in a position to challenge for honours once again, but also explained how they bounced back from setbacks such as losing an ODI in the West Indies via a horrendous collapse, and even losing the opening match of the 2017 World Cup campaign.

For the fifth time in the nine years since the League adopted the current awards format, Appleton’s Emma Barlow won the Division One batting award. She also shared the Division’s fielding award with Didsbury’s Hannah Jones, who also won the T20 bowling prize.

Barlow and Jones weren’t the only ones to receive more than one award either. Not only did Alison Smith captain Wistaston Village to the Division Two title this year, but she also had an outstanding personal season, finishing top of the batting and bowling rankings in Division Two, and coming second in the fielding category.

Kate Coppack scooped a bowling award in the league and a batting award for T20, as well as being chosen as the Coach’s Player of the Year for the Cheshire senior county team.

Another recipient of two awards was Chester Boughton Hall wicketkeeper Nic Capes.

Dawn Prestidge was second or third in as many as four of the CWCL performance award categories, but did not manage to bag a first place. However, Cheshire captain Prestidge did pick up the award for the county side’s Players’ Player of the Year, in a year when Cheshire hopefully started a revival in their fortunes by winning Division 3B of the county T20 tournament.

Players from nine different clubs received individual performance awards, but there were none for league champions Oakmere, whose successes this year really have been a team effort, with many different players contributing. For the first time in recent years, the Division One lead changed hands on a dramatic final day, and after Chester Boughton Hall’s four-run defeat by Didsbury, Oakmere were able to clinch the Championship by completing a seven-wicket win over Appleton.

There was one prestigious award for a member of the Oakmere club however when John Bone won the President’s Award for an Outstanding Contribution to Women’s Cricket in Cheshire. John has umpired many League matches over a long period, and has served on the League Committee as Umpires & Scorers Representative, as well as acting as a selector for the county side.

Many thanks also go once again to Di Totty and Alan Thomas for organising yet another superb event, and at the end of the formal part of the evening Di and Alan were presented with gifts to acknowledge their contribution to League Dinners over the years. This year’s event marked ten years since the first presentation dinner, held at The Tytherington Club in 2007. The CWCL likes to think of itself as a trailblazer in women’s club cricket, and believes it may be the only women’s club league that hosts a formal presentation dinner, not to mention the only one that runs three T20 competitions alongside the main league, and the only one that has a league representative eleven.


DIVISION 1 Emma Barlow (Appleton) Sammi Short & Kate Coppack (both Chester BH) Emma Barlow (Appleton) & Hannah Jones (Didsbury) Nic Capes (Chester BH) & Gaby McKeever (Stockport Trinity)
DIVISION 2 Alison Smith (Wistaston Village) Alison Smith (Wistaston Village) Megan Cureton (Oxton) Katie Bennett (Wistaston Village)
DIVISION 3 Rachel Warrenger (Hawarden Park) Alex Wilson (Woodley) Nicole Baker-Tunney (Stockport Georgians) Maz Linford (Didsbury 2nd XI)
T20 COMPETITIONS Kate Coppack & Ali Cutler (both Chester BH) Hannah Jones (Didsbury) Emma Royle (Stockport Trinity) Nic Capes (Chester BH)


Competition Winners Runners-up
League Championship Oakmere Chester Boughton Hall
League Division 2 Wistaston Vilage Leigh
League Division 3 Stockport Georgians Didsbury 2nd XI
T20 Divisional Competition Chester Boughton Hall Deemons Stockport Trinity Fire
Knockout Cup Chester Boughton Hall Deemons Didsbury Swordettes
Development Knockout Cup Didsbury 2nd XI Stockport Georgians
Indoor League Appleton Oakmere


Cheshire WCCC Coach’s Player of the Year: Kate Coppack

Cheshire WCCC Players’ Player of the Year: Dawn Prestidge

President’s Award (Outstanding Contribution to Women’s Cricket in Cheshire): John Bone

Tea Cup (Club with best matchday catering): Leigh

NEWS: Kate Cross And Amy Jones Wintering In Australia

Two of England’s contracted players, Kate Cross and Amy Jones, will be spending the winter in Australia, playing for Perth’s Western Fury in the Women’s National Cricket League.

Both will be available for the entire competition, which begins on October 6 and runs until February 2018, with gaps in the middle for the women’s Ashes and the third season of the WBBL.

While England’s Ashes squad is yet to be announced, it is probably therefore safe to assume that neither Cross nor Jones will be included.

However, England coach Mark Robinson has stated that he sees it as an opportunity for Cross and Jones “to test themselves by playing good, competitive cricket” over the winter, and there remains the chance of a last minute mid-series call-up due to injury, should England require their services.

INTERVIEW: Scotland and Warwickshire’s Kathryn Bryce Reflects On An Impressive Year

Jake Perry chats to Kathryn Bryce

It has been a year to remember for Kathryn Bryce. With cricket in Australia, Sri Lanka and the Women’s County Championship, a fiftieth Scotland appearance and an international tournament win under her belt, all whilst completing her first year at Loughborough University, the classy all-rounder has reinforced her position as one of the brightest stars in the Scottish game. And with the third of a hat-trick of Women’s Scottish Cup winner’s medals to add to her collection, too, Scotland’s nineteen year-old vice-captain is able to look back over the past few months with particular satisfaction.

Prior to Scotland’s appearance at the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier in Sri Lanka Kathryn had the opportunity to work alongside some of the best players in the world as part of the ICC Associate Rookie Programme during the Women’s Big Bash, and with top-level cricket continuing back on home soil, too, 2017 has provided a priceless experience.

“The fortnight I spent with the Melbourne Stars was fantastic,” she said. “To be around that level of play and to see how they go about doing everything that they do within a competition was really great.

“And then I have been really lucky to be part of Warwickshire this year,” she continued. “It has been terrific to be around a few of the England girls and learn from them. Opening the batting with Amy Jones and being around high quality players more regularly has really helped my game.”

Bryce scored a Division One half-century against Nottinghamshire on her way to 241 runs at 30.13 as Warwickshire finished third in the table. With a 49-ball 73* for Birmingham Bears Women against Surrey in the T20 Championship, too, it represented an impressive first season.

“You get more good balls at this level,” said Kathryn. “There aren’t so many bad ones to put away so you have to find ways to score off those better deliveries. So the challenge is learning how to hit those good balls and be more precise, too, because the fielding is up a level as well.

“I am really enjoying being in this environment,” she continued. “Two Januarys ago I spent three months at the Darren Lehmann Academy in Adelaide which was probably my first experience of being in a setting that was totally professional.

“Doing fitness work four times a week and then training three or four times a week and playing matches on top of that was great for me going into Loughborough where there is a similar set-up. The facilities at both are outstanding.”

Scotland’s principle assignment of the summer was the ICC Women’s World T20 Europe/Americas Qualifier in Stirling where, despite persistent rain and a narrow loss in their final match, Steve Knox’s side booked their passage to the Global Qualifier as tournament winners.

With 81 runs at an average of 27 Bryce’s opening partnership with Lorna Jack proved decisive as Scotland’s victories over the Netherlands and USA secured what became an unassailable net run-rate. For Bryce, however, it was the way in which the team reacted to the stop-start nature of the week that proved most satisfying.

“It was so difficult for the girls with the weather,” she said. “Sitting around not knowing when you are going to get on is always tough.

“When we did, though, we came together and put on a good performance pretty quickly. That was really pleasing and to get the win against Holland first up was a great way to start.

“They didn’t have a great game to be honest but that was something else that we did well, we didn’t have that poor game to put ourselves under pressure.

“The Dutch were much better in the second game, particularly in their bowling which was much more difficult to get away. The pitch hadn’t been covered for most of the week [after the original pitch had had to be abandoned due to standing water] so if the ball was in a good area it was hard to score from.

“But it was interesting to see the USA for the first time because we had no idea what they were going to be like.

“They showed a lot of character and put up a real fight and I think they could be a good team. They showed some great fielding at times and had some strong batters, too, so things are looking good for their future.”

For now, though, Kathryn is relishing the opportunity to recharge the batteries before her return to Loughborough at the end of September.

“We have a little bit of time off just now which is nice because we’ve not really had much since we were in Thailand a couple of years ago,” she said. “So we’ll look to recover and then get ready to go again.

“We’re looking forward to the next stage already, though. I think everyone will be ready to put in a massive effort and really push teams like Ireland and Bangladesh to try and get that spot in the World T20.

“That would be incredible.”


Jake Perry writes on Scottish cricket for Cricket Scotland and CricketEurope and is a regular contributor to HoldingWilley.

Twitter: @jperry_cricket / Facebook: Jake Perry Cricket

Jan Brittin: The Idol’s Idol

Most people have an idol. For a generation of female cricketers, that idol will be Charlotte Edwards. For Charlotte Edwards, it was always Jan Brittin.

Jan Brittin

Jan Brittin (C) Don Miles

When Edwards’ international call-up came in the summer of 1996, there was one thought that went through her head: “I was an absolute geek of the game,” she told me in an interview. “To know that I was going to open the batting with my hero, Jan Brittin – wow.”

Edwards went on to win two World Cups and five Ashes series during her 20-year career. But ask her to name the highlight of that career and she still cites that 1996 Test at Guildford against New Zealand. “It was four days I’ll never forget.”

By that point Brittin had been playing international cricket for 17 years, having made her debut in June 1979 at Teddington, in an ODI against West Indies. Her career would last a further two seasons, when in 1998 – shortly after breaking the record for most Test runs during that summer’s women’s Ashes series – she finally hung up her boots.

It was a career that overlapped with those of both the late, great Rachael Heyhoe-Flint, and with the recently retired Edwards. During those years Brittin witnessed a period of great change for the women’s game, epitomised by the shift from skirts to trousers at the start of her penultimate series in England, against South Africa in 1997. Brittin herself was at the forefront of that shift. Always an athletic fielder, renowned for her dives at cover – she retains the record for most World Cup catches, with 19 to her name – it was her sliding stops and badly grazed legs which helped to convince the cricketing sorority that skirts were no longer suitable for international cricket.

Born in Kingston, Surrey, in 1959, she was a naturally talented sportswoman from a young age, representing English schools at athletics; she eventually achieved the rare feat of becoming a triple international, adding indoor hockey and indoor cricket to her mantle. Cricket came relatively late in the day: at 12 years old her grandparents took her to a Steam Engine Fair, where she was attracted to a catching machine. Her catching skills were such that she was recruited on the spot for a local club by the lady operating the machine. County cricket and Junior England soon followed.

Asked once about the greatest influence on her career, Brittin replied: “my family – for their love and support and financial backing”. Her father, Kevin, helped to instil in her a love of sport: he had played junior football for Spurs, and was later a part-time professional at Reading, as well as a keen club cricketer. Her parents ran a sports shop in Surbiton, where Jan sometimes helped out. But as an only child it was the practical support her parents offered that was most crucial. “That helps a lot when, for the privilege of playing for England in a Test match in this country, you have to pay for your own petrol to get there,” she remarked wryly, in a 1984 interview for the Daily Mail.

Playing as an amateur for the whole of her career, at a time when there was very little money at any level of the women’s game, and when every pound of sponsorship had to be fought for, Brittin juggled cricket with firstly her studies at Chelsea PE College, and then with her work as a manager for British Airways.

There was very little media coverage of women’s cricket in the 1980s, but Brittin’s talent was nonetheless an irresistible draw. The breakthrough came over the winter of 1982/3, a season she spent playing in Western Australia. England Men had surrendered the Ashes, but Brittin returned home in February with a season batting average of 110. A classical batsman, she was from that point on termed “the girl with a touch of Gooch”, a label she happily accepted.

When her photograph appeared on the front cover of The Cricketer in October 1984 she became the first female player to be awarded such prominence; when Kwik Cricket was launched in January 1988 as a response to the near death of cricket within state schools during the 1980s, the launch was attended not only by Mike Gatting but by Brittin – very much England Women’s premier batsman of the day.

Despite the fame she remained a quiet and self-effacing person, happy to let her batting do the talking. And talk it did. Her debut Test century came against New Zealand in 1984, followed up with scores in the next two Tests of 96, 63 and 35. She was, unsurprisingly, chosen as Player of the Series. Four more Test hundreds would follow – her highest score coming in 1998, in the penultimate match of her career, as she hit 167 against the Aussies. The runs just never dried up.

Her career highlight, though, was undoubtedly England’s World Cup win at home in 1993. It was during that tournament that she became England’s leading run-scorer, adding two more centuries to her ODI tally, against Denmark and India. More importantly, as far as she was concerned, were her 48 runs in the final at Lord’s against the Kiwis. Fittingly it was Brittin who took the winning catch, out on the hallowed turf. “It was,” she said later, “the stuff of dreams.”

Never one to wallow in plaudits, she was happy to remain largely out of the spotlight after her retirement from cricket in 1998. Nonetheless her place in the record books is secure. No one has yet surpassed her record of 1,935 Test runs.

No one is ever likely to.

NEWS: Kia Sponsorship Extended Until 2019… And Then…???

The ECB today announced that Kia’s sponsorship of women’s cricket has been extended for a further 2 years, running until the end of 2019.

Kia originally signed a 3 year deal to sponsor the England women’s team, which was later expanded to include the “title” sponsorship of the Super League.

The deal was/ is not a huge one in financial terms – the original agreement was worth only a fraction of what Waitrose were paying at the time to sponsor the men’s team – but it was/ is still hugely significant because it is a “stand-alone” deal for the women’s game – not a “tack-on” sponsorship to the men’s game.

And that Kia chose to expand their commitment via the Super League was also big news, because it put a value on women’s domestic cricket for the first time in this country.

Meanwhile Kia are clearly happy that it is a proposition which has worked for them, as they continue to target the “soccer cricket mom” market with their mid-range SUVs, as driven by all the England players.

So why have they only signed on for two years this time?


[Idle speculation alert!!]

In 2020 the ECB are planning to launch their “City T20” competition.

Right now, the City T20 is only being talked about as a men’s tournament; but following the logic of BBL/ WBBL, might not an aligned Women’s City T20 also make sense?

Put it this way: it would be a remarkable surprise if the idea hadn’t crossed anyone’s mind over at ECB Towers; and that would mean no more Kia Super League after 2019… which is exactly when the extended Kia deal is now scheduled to end.

As the kids say… you do the math!

George Watson’s College Win Women’s Scottish Cup

Jake Perry reports

George Watson’s College 107-2 (K Bryce 46*, L Steindl 1 for 8) beat Carlton 42 (G Henderson 3 for 5) by 65 runs

George Watson’s College claimed the 2017 Beyond Boundaries Women’s T20 Scottish Cup with victory in a surprisingly one-sided encounter with Edinburgh rivals Carlton at New Williamfield. An unbeaten 46 from Kathryn Bryce together with an outstanding performance in the field saw Sarah Bryce’s side triumph after the league champions were dismissed for just 42.

After their 90-run partnership had laid the foundation for the semi-final victory over Stirling County earlier in the day, GWC openers Kathryn and Sarah Bryce started well in the face of probing Carlton bowling. With a sluggish outfield putting boundaries at a premium – the legacy of a sharp shower shortly before play began – the Scotland duo put down a marker for their side with some aggressive running between the wickets as 36 came from the Powerplay.

The ninth over brought Carlton an important breakthrough, however, as Sarah Bryce (23) was bowled by Lily Steindl, and with Georgia Henderson (0) following nine balls later as she skied a Samantha Haggo delivery to Ruth Willis at midwicket, the momentum that was beginning to build was abruptly checked.

Progress was painstaking in the middle overs as the Carlton bowlers tightened the screws still further but with wickets still intact Kathryn Bryce and Nina Whitaker (19*) battled back superbly. Both found the boundary before Bryce cleared the ropes in some style as the innings moved through its closing stages.

The final total of 107-2 represented an excellent recovery from the GWC pair. As the chase began, however, it was the duo’s performance with the ball which was to prove crucial in setting their side on the road to victory.

Opening the bowling, Whitaker and Bryce blew away the top order as they quickly reduced Carlton to 3-3. Katie McGill (0) fell in the first over, followed in the second by Ruth Willis (2) and Charis Scott (1), and with Georgia Henderson adding the wickets of Samantha Haggo (9), Lily Steindl (3) and Christina Evans (4) soon after, crisis rapidly turned into calamity for the Grange Loan side.

No Carlton batsman reached double figures as their challenge subsided, GWC’s emphatic victory securing them the trophy for the third year in succession.

“It’s wonderful to get the hat-trick of wins,” said Sarah Bryce. “There were some great individual performances but we came together really well as a team and everyone contributed which was great.”

“Carlton are a really good team and they bowled really well so we had to be patient, work our way through the innings and take our time. Nina Whitaker came in at the end and had a great partnership with Kathryn.”

“I’m really proud of our bowlers. To get Katie McGill in the first over and then keep taking regular wickets was what won us the game in the end. I’m delighted.”    


Jake Perry writes on Scottish cricket for Cricket Scotland and CricketEurope and is a regular contributor to HoldingWilley.

Twitter: @jperry_cricket / Facebook: Jake Perry Cricket

OPINION: Women’s Ashes Squad Speculation – The 15th Conundrum

With just a month to go until England fly Down Under for the Women’s Ashes, coach Mark Robinson has been meeting with his team this week to finalise the squad.

The Ashes squad is officially 15 players, but there may be some wriggle-room in terms of naming different squads for different formats, so who is likely to be in and out?

It is probably safe to say that the 13 players who played during the World Cup are all pretty sure bets to be involved:

  1. Heather Knight
  2. Tammy Beaumont
  3. Katherine Brunt
  4. Jenny Gunn
  5. Alex Hartley
  6. Dani Hazell
  7. Laura Marsh
  8. Nat Sciver
  9. Anya Shrubsole
  10. Sarah Taylor
  11. Fran Wilson
  12. Lauren Winfield
  13. Danni Wyatt

This leaves officially just 2 spots to fill, so who is in contention?

There were two players named in the World Cup squad who didn’t play: Georgia Elwiss and Beth Langston; and a further three in the contracted squad: Amy Jones, Tash Farrant and Kate Cross.

One thing you need on a long, distant tour is a versatile all rounder to act as an injury back-up, and Georgia Elwiss is that player – a good enough batsman to be selected on merit and a good enough bowler to fill-in when required – it would be a big surprise if she was left behind, so that’s 14!

The final, 15th spot is where all the big questions lie, which is why England might go with two, or even three, 15ths!

Beth Langston was in the World Cup squad and never got her chance, so it might seem unfair to leave her behind, but (as my dad used to say) life’s not fair… and he might have added that professional sport definitely isn’t, so is there an opportunity for A.N. Other?

Kate Cross is as close as England get to a “Test Specialist” – she didn’t have a great Super League (1 wicket, and an economy rate of 9) but that probably shouldn’t have too much bearing on Test selection, and her batting, which has come on a lot over the past couple of years, could be handy, so there is perhaps a case to be made for her in the Test squad.

If England have a “T20 Specialist” it is Tash Farrant, who has played just one ODI but 9 T20s since her debut in 2013. She opened the bowling for the Vipers in the Super League and took 6 wickets at an economy rate of 6.2 – not terrible numbers by any means, but not exactly “banging down the door” either.

Amy Jones (who should have recovered from the broken finger which kept her out of the last couple of rounds of Super League) is England’s official under-glove-butler* but we have a feeling that Tammy Beaumont keeping-wicket for the Surrey Stars in Super League (even when they had a “proper” keeper – Kirstie White – on the field) might have been a sign from on-high that England will look to turn to her if Sarah Taylor gets injured out in Australia.

In addition to the contracted squad, there are a handful of wildcards. Sophie Ecclestone had a fantastic domestic season – topping the wicket-taking charts in the County Championship – but England are pretty flush with spinners right now, with Alex Hartley, Laura Marsh and Dani Hazell, so she will probably have to wait her turn – it will come – but maybe just not quite yet!

The other outside shots are opening batsman Emma Lamb and fast bowler Freya Davies.

Lamb is one of those players who would thrive if the game we played was more like men’s Test cricket – pace on the ball, and 5 days to bat – but it isn’t. Yes there is a (4 day) Test, and yes it is Australia where the pitches will be faster, but there won’t be serious pace on the ball from this Aussie attack; and besides, who would you drop…?

So if England do make an “outside” pick it is more likely to be Davies, who the England management clearly see as a long-term replacement for Katherine Brunt, who is 32 now and therefore unlikely to continue much past next year’s World T20 in the West Indies. Heather Knight obviously rates Davies, trusting her to open the bowling for the Storm in the Super League; and although England got through the World Cup with the injury-prone axis of Shrubsole and Brunt playing every match, they might not be so lucky this time, so taking another “proper” fast bowler might be a wise move.

Will Mark Robinson agree? For what it’s worth, we haven’t got a clue… but we will find out very soon!


* Back-up wicket keeper!

KSL FINAL – Storm v Vipers: Priest Reads Edwards Last Rites

Rachel Priest is – as Forrest Gump might have put it – like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re gonna get!

Her scores at the World Cup this summer read: 2 against South Africa, 8 against Australia, 8 against Pakistan, 12 against England, 5 against India. Oh…and 90 off 55 balls against the West Indies!

In this year’s Super League, her first two innings were 3 off 8 balls versus the Vipers, and a 4-ball duck against the Lightning.

Then came York: the Storm v the Diamonds.

With the Storm chasing 160, after what Women’s Cricket Blog described as an “iffy” start, Priest reached her 50 off 39 balls… and then she really got going! Finishing on 106*, the second 50 had taken just 25 balls. In total she hit 14 4s and 3 6s, including 15 off an over from Sophie Devine and another 15 off Chamari Atapattu.

In the Storm’s final group match, against the Thunder at Bristol, there was really no “start” at all – just a “finish”! After hitting 10 off the first over from Kate Cross, Priest went on to smash the fastest 50 in KSL history, off 22 balls, with 7 4s and 3 6s.

And so to Hove for Finals Day, with the Storm distinctly unfancied: our statistical analysis said they had only a 24% chance of lifting the title, and our followers on Twitter agreed – just 17% of them made the Storm favourites!

In the semi-final, with the Storm chasing a low total against the Stars, Priest got a bit of a start, hitting a couple of 4s, before horribly missing a fairly innocuous ball from Nat Sciver to be bowled for 11, as the Storm collapsed to 17-4.

Had everyone been right about the Storm?

No! It was Stafanie Taylor who kept them in it, guiding them home with an over to spare, with a patient 37 off 45 balls – Priest was to have one more chance to really make her mark, in the final against the Vipers.

At the half-way point in the final, however, the odds were stacked against the Storm once again. Although the Vipers highest individual score was just 31, a massive “team effort” had taken them to an imposing 145 – all-but 50% more than the Storm had just about managed to chase earlier in the day. There were men in white coats standing outside Ladbrokes on Portland Road, waiting to cart anyone betting on the Storm off to the loony bin!

Meanwhile in the press box, all the talk was of Charlotte Edwards, who had just hit 20* off 8 balls, with no 6s (Lottie does it “old school”) but 4 sweet 4s. If it was a secret that this was to be Edwards’ final game, it wasn’t a very well-kept one, and the fairy-tale ending was already being hotly anticipated and written-up for the morning’s papers.

But Rachel Priest had other ideas.

She hit her first 6 in Linsey Smith’s second over, but it was her brutal treatment of Smith’s third (and final) over which changed the course of the match. It began with a wide; before Smith seemed to pull it back with two dots. Then the damn broke – a 4, another wide, a no-ball hit for 4, the free hit sent for a soaring 6, then 2 more 4s – 26 off the over, and the Viper’s leading bowler quite literally battered out of the game.

By the time Rachel Priest was finally dismissed, brilliantly caught by Danni Wyatt, with a racing dive from deep midwicket to deep mid on, she had made 72 off 36 balls – a strike rate of exactly 200. There was still work to do – the required rate was just a little under 6 at that point – but it was as if Priest’s innings had lifted all the pressure off. Sophie Luff in particular looked a different player from the one who had made a nervous 5 off 6 balls in the semi-final – Priest had made batting look easy again, and Luff, Stafanie Taylor and Fran Wilson (running for Taylor, who was suffering from cramp) eased the Storm to victory with 12 balls to spare.

Charlotte Edwards – her fairy-tale ending denied – said afterwards that the Storm were simply the better team.

They weren’t.

But Rachel Priest was.

She might be infuriatingly inconsistent; but on her day she can be the best player in the world.

And this was her day.