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.”    

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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

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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!

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* 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.

KSL SEMI-FINAL – Stars v Storm: In Charts

Stars Innings

  • The Stars innings never quite got going – Claire Nicholas was exceptionally economical in the powerplay – conceding just 5 runs in her first 3 overs (overs 1, 3 & 5). Admittedly, she conceded 9 in her final over (over 7), but by that point the pattern of the game had been set; and 100 didn’t feel like a par score at all.
  • It was the Storm’s spin attack which controlled the game – their quicks went for 6-an-over on average; their spinners just 4.57.
  • But… to be fair to them… the quicks were more than twice as likely to take wickets – taking a wicket every 2 overs bowled; compared with one every 4.5 overs for the spinners.

Storm Innings

  • The Storm’s reply was a case-study in not panicking, despite losing wickets – they were always on-course with the rate but at 4-wickets down after 10 overs, with all-but-one of their “big” batsmen back in the dugout, they could so easily have hit The Big Red Button.
  • The last “big” batsman was Stafanie Taylor; but she didn’t “bat big” – she batted at a Strike Rate of just over 80 – that’s absolutely not a big number, but it was enough of a number as long as she stayed in – and she did! She was there to guide the tail home and hit the winning runs with 7 balls to spare.

  • They say slow and steady wins the race! Well, not always; but it did in this semi-final!
  • In contrast to the Storm, the Stars spinners were more expensive – going at 6.4-an-over, compared to 4.5 for the quicks.

KSL SEMI-FINAL – Stars v Storm: Talking Points

The Toss

Heather Knight described it as “a good toss to lose”, no doubt aware that – as Hypocaust pointed out before play began – Storm have only batted first twice in all KSL games, and both times they lost. It was a scrabble, but they retained that record today. Stars, who seem to be reasonably confident both chasing and setting a total, might therefore have been better off putting their opponents in.

Claire Nicholas

Stars might be able to rip through their opponents with an all-international bowling attack, but this tournament is also about discovering new talent, and there’s only one non-international who has opened the bowling for her side every single match this tournament: Claire Nicholas.* Today her captain, Heather Knight, showed the ultimate faith in giving her 4 straight powerplay overs, which went for just 14 runs. The Huddleston Experiment might not have worked – the Nicholas one certainly has.

Stafanie Taylor

Taylor had a miserable World Cup and that’s been followed by a fairly miserable Super League. Nonetheless, when her side needed her the most she did finally deliver, hitting 37* to take them over the line when at one stage they absolutely did look dead in the water. Even more impressively Taylor played in a way that isn’t her natural T20 game – acting as anchorwoman rather than bish bash boshing it around. Before today she had scores of 8, 34, 4 and 0 in the group games – all is now forgiven!

Batting Breadth

What we’ve seen in Super League is actually similar in some ways to what we see in the Women’s County Championship: once a side is 3 or 4 wickets down, they tend to struggle with the bat. That was true of both sides today, with the “big” stars dismissed early on – for Stars none of Tammy Beaumont, Lizelle Lee, Marizanne Kapp or Nat Sciver went on to make a big score; and Storm then found themselves 17-4 in the 4th over. It was just fortunate for Storm that Georgia Hennessy kept a calm head on her shoulders. Basically what this match proves is that a side that can – genuinely – bat deep will win most of their games, most of the time.

* To be fair to her, Linsey Smith did open the bowling for Vipers in 4 out of 5 group games, but missed the last match due to illness.