NEWS: England Rest Stars, Call Up Alice Davidson-Richards, Bryony Smith & Katie George For India

England will fly out to India next week for 3 ODIs and a T20 tri-series also involving Australia without two of their biggest stars, with coach Mark Robinson taking the rare opportunity of a non-Championship ODI series and some fairly inconsequential T20s to take a look at some of the talent waiting in the wings.

Sarah Taylor and Katherine Brunt are rested, the latter having picked up a back injury in WBBL, with three potential new caps called up to the squad for the first time: Kent all-rounder Alice Davidson-Richards, Surrey opening batsman Bryony Smith, and Hampshire seamer Katie George.

Smith stands to be the first batsman to debut for England for nearly five years, since Lauren Winfield won her first cap in 2013; and given the schedule of potentially 8 matches (if England reach the tri-series final) all look likely to play a role at some stage on this tour.

20-year-old Smith made her mark as one to watch with the Surrey Stars in KSL01, scoring 94 runs at a Strike Rate of 102; whilst Kent vice-captain Davidson-Richards first came to national attention with a Player of the Match performance in the Roses match in KSL02 – scoring 22* and taking 3-20 as the Yorkshire Diamonds beat the Lancashire Thunder by 28 runs in front of the TV cameras at Headingley.

18-year-old George is perhaps the most surprising selection – a line-and-length seamer, she has had two seasons with the Southern Vipers, but has bowled only 18 overs across the two editions of the Super League, taking 4 wickets at an Economy Rate of 6.6; and she got carted all over Brighton and Hove by Sophie Luff and Stafanie Taylor in last year’s KSL final, but Mark Robinson liked the spirit she showed nonetheless, telling the media: “She went round the park, but she kept running in fearlessly and bowling quick.”

Full Squad

  • Heather Knight (Captain, Berkshire)
  • Tammy Beaumont (Kent)
  • Kate Cross (Lancashire)
  • Alice Davidson-Richards (Kent)
  • Sophie Ecclestone (Lancashire)
  • Tash Farrant (Kent)
  • Katie George (Hampshire)
  • Jenny Gunn (Warwickshire)
  • Alex Hartley (Lancashire)
  • Danielle Hazell (Yorkshire)
  • Amy Jones (Warwickshire)
  • Nat Sciver (Surrey)
  • Anya Shrubsole (Somerset)
  • Bryony Smith (Surrey)
  • Fran Wilson (Middlesex)
  • Danni Wyatt (Sussex)

ANALYSIS: Should Keepers Stand In Front Of The Stumps For Run Outs?

There is a fascinating video on the ECB’s web site which asks (and attempts to answer) the question: Should keepers stand in front or behind the stumps for run outs? (HT Joe Ashdown)

The coaches at the ECB’s performance centre up in Loughborough set up their cameras and stopwatches, and with the help of Hawk-Eye and a reconfigured bowling machine acting as the fielder, attempted to get a definitive answer.

You can watch the whole thing at the link above, but the TLDW* is that standing in front of the stumps is… well… it depends!!

The key to it… and the video actually slightly talks-around this fairly simple point… is that you have to know exactly where your stumps are – not vaguely; not roughly; but exactly!

There are two reasons for this:

  1. You need to know if the ball is already going on to directly hit the stumps, in which case you need to basically leave it alone – nothing beats the speed of the ball through the air, and if you interrupt it then you lose all the benefit of those few milliseconds you bought from standing in front.
  2. If the ball is missing the stumps, you need to be perfectly positioned to guide it on in a single movement – if you can’t do this in one smooth, gliding arc, then it actually becomes two movements and again the advantage is lost as the batsman makes their ground.

What the video shows fairly conclusively is knowing exactly where your stumps are, and perfecting the art of guiding the missing ball back on in a single arc, is really hard – even for a seasoned pro, it takes years of practice. The video’s final conclusion is that, even in the professional game, “normal” fielders at the bowler’s end (typically the bowler himself) should always stand behind the stumps; but that the very best ‘keepers could indeed buy some advantage by standing in front.

This has some interesting implications for young ‘keepers in the women’s domestic game, as it touches on the slightly awkward question of what the Women’s County Championship and Kia Super League are for? Are they competitions in their own right, where winning is all? Or does that come secondary to their other role as nurseries for future England players?

England’s Academy and pathway coaches are clearly coaching players to stand in front – and rightly so, because one day England will need one of them to step into the gloves [Ed: err…?] of Sarah Taylor.

But for a young ‘keeper playing the County Championship or KSL, if the goal is to win “this” match right now, they should probably be standing behind, because this is the optimal choice unless you’ve had the years of professional practice to perfect the techniques required to stand in front… which the young (at best, semi-pro) ‘keepers in domestic cricket have not!

It isn’t only wicket keepers who face these dilemmas. Should a young fast bowler, hoping one day to be bowling out the Aussies in the Women’s Ashes, focus on pace, even if it means conceding a few wides or no balls? Her England pathway coach would no doubt say yes; but her county coach might well prefer her to take a foot off the gas and keep the runs down in “this” match going on right now!

To be fair, these same issues arise as well in The Other Game but that is what they have 2nd XI cricket for. We have no real equivalent, and so the County Champs and Super League play both roles – competition and nursery – and that means there is no easy answer.


* TLDW – Too Long; Didn’t Watch