DEBRIEF: Women’s County Championship Div 1 – Hampshire Roll On

Team Played Won Lost Tied Points
Hampshire 4 4 0 0 17.25
Yorkshire 4 3 1 0 13.75
Kent 4 2 2 0 11.5
Lancashire 4 2 2 0 11
Middlesex 4 2 2 0 10.5
Nottinghamshire 4 1 2 1 9.75
Warwickshire 4 0 2 2 8.5
Somerset 4 0 3 1 6

Hampshire consolidated their position at the top of the Women’s County Championship – beating Kent by 3 wickets, with just 4 balls to spare, thanks to a hard-run half-century from opener Charlie Dean (70) and a critical late cameo from Charlotte Edwards (25*).

Yorkshire move up to 2nd, after beating Lancashire in the Battle of the Roses at Bamford Fieldhouse in Rochdale. Jess Watson and New Zealand’s Leigh Kasperek both made half centuries as Yorkshire posted 226-7. In reply, Emma Lamb hit 78 off 72 balls for Lancs, but no one else could quite keep up the pace, and Lancashire ultimately found themselves 12 runs short at the close.

Warwickshire were involved in a rare tie for the second(!) time this season, this time against Notts. Kirstie Gordon took a senior-level career-best 5-18 to bowl Warwickshire out for 160, but despite a solid-enough start (61 for the 1st wicket) Notts never got out of 2nd gear, batting through the 50 overs to finish on 160-7.

At the foot of the table, Somerset’s winless season continued against Middlesex. Maia Bouchier, coming in at 6, hit 76 off 82 balls to take Middlesex to maximum batting-points with 212; before spinner Emma Albery took 4-19 to bowl out Somerset for 149.

Next weekend’s Bank Holiday double-header could see the Championship pretty-much decided, with Hampshire visiting 2nd-placed Yorkshire on the Sunday and reigning champions Lancashire on the Monday. Meanwhile Warwickshire, who desperately need a win to lift them out of the relegation zone, host Kent and Middlesex at Edgbaston.

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MATCH REPORT: Hampshire Roll On As Kent Get Lost In Forest Of Dean

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Dean produced a masterclass of patience and composure, batting through 49 overs for 73 runs – all but 4 of them “run” – as Hampshire beat Kent at Andover.

With Hampshire chasing 148, Dean opened the batting and soon found herself speed-dating partners out in the middle, as Grace Gibbs removed Ariana Dowse and Ella Chandler cheaply, albeit the latter to an LBW decision that looked about as plumb as an orange.

Emily Windsor (15) kept Dean company for a while, and was the only other top-order batsman to make it to double figures as Hampshire wobbled to 92-6.

It is in situations like this when you might find yourself wishing that your No. 8 was one of the greatest batsmen ever to have played the game… so it was particularly fortunate for Hampshire that their No. 8 was one of the greatest batsmen ever to have played the game!

Charlotte Edwards’ knees might be suffering through every run, but she still knows how to hit a cricket ball, and she and Dean slowly edged their way towards the target, before Dean got a bit too excited on the final ball of the penultimate over, driving Alice Davidson-Richards to Grace Gibbs at cover, with just 4 more required.

The batsmen having crossed, this left Danielle Ransley facing the first ball of the final over – she prodded it straight to mid off, but ran anyway. A direct hit would have run her out, but the throw missed and Edwards swept the next delivery to the boundary to bring up Hampshire’s 4th straight win of 2018.

Earlier, Kent had got off to a good start, with Phoebe Franklin and Chelsey Rowson putting on fifty for the first wicket, with a helping hand from the extras column as a few leg side deliveries from the Hampshire quicks disappeared down the hill to the boundary.

But Kent never quite capitalised on the start they had made and were ultimately bowled out in the 48th over for 148, with Providence Cowdrill taking 3-13 for Hampshire; and Katie George also getting 2-in-2 in her second spell.

The result keeps Hampshire top of Div 1, but the real test comes next weekend when they visit Lancashire and Yorkshire, where the title may well be decided.

INTERVIEW: Mark Robinson On The Summer Ahead And The Count-Down To The World Twenty20

Ahead of this summer’s busy international programme, England are amidst a weekend of warm-up matches against boys teams: yesterday, a T20 against Bedes School 1st XI, and today, a 50-over fixture against the Sussex Academy.

For coach Mark Robinson, who spoke to CRICKETher after yesterday’s match at Bedes, this is vital match practice in the build-up to the international summer.

“We’re desperate to play some Twenty20 games ahead of the World Cup,” he says, “and with the 50-over series coming up against South Africa we’re trying to combine the two.”

The advantage of playing against these boys teams is that: “You get a bit of pace on the ball.” More importantly, he says it is crucial for England to play together against a different and unknown opposition:

“We play against each other and use the England Academy girls, which isn’t quite the same because you know each other.

“So to come and play an opposition where you don’t know who they are, what they’re going to do, how to problem solve, especially in a T20 game where you have to problem solve very very quickly, work out the wicket – that’s the learning that you want.”

He acknowledges that the clash with today’s round of County Championship fixtures is “not ideal” but stresses that a number of the squad have been released to play county today, including the star of yesterday’s match Amy Jones (for Warwickshire).

Robinson speaks positively about Jones’ start to the season – including a score of 68 for Warwickshire in the Women’s County Championship – and says that since the team returned from India she has “hit the ground running and played outstandingly well.”

He selected her to open the batting yesterday in the absence of Danni Wyatt, who is in India for the one-off IPL-style Women’s T20 Challenge. He hopes that for Wyatt, the opportunity to perform on the big stage will allow her to recover from a slow start to the county season: “It’s good for her ego!” he says with a smile. “She likes the big occasions – playing in front of a crowd on a good wicket.”

Jones, meanwhile, repaid the faith shown in her by Robinson handsomely. She was the key contributor to England’s clinical 51-run victory yesterday against the school side, hitting 76 of their 179-run total and keeping wicket in her usual tidy fashion, including a catch and a stumping.

It will be interesting to see whether Robinson finds a place for her in the forthcoming international fixtures – all of which will be challenging.

“On paper New Zealand are the bigger threat, but South Africa have got players who can win games by themselves,” acknowledges Robinson. “It’s a really good summer because anything can happen. None of the games you can take for granted.”

Ahead of the World Twenty20 in November, he is also hoping that the ECB can arrange some further warm-up T20s out in the UAE, against a different international side. “We’re trying to fill the gap,” he says. “Plan C is being in a tent at Loughborough!”

DEBRIEF: Women’s County Championship Div 2 – Sussex Ex Machina

Team Played Won Lost Cancelled Points
Sussex 3 3 0 0 18
Berkshire 2 2 0 1 17
Essex 2 2 0 1 16
Surrey 3 2 1 0 12.7
Devon 3 1 2 0 10.3
Wales 3 1 2 0 9.7
Derbyshire 3 0 3 0 4.7
Northamptonshire 3 0 3 0 4

At the top of Div 2, Sussex kept up their perfect record, taking maximum bonus points as they thrashed Surrey at Reeds.

With Berskhire v Essex cancelled due to a waterlogged pitch at Billericay, Berskhire go 2nd and Essex 3rd, thanks to the average points system which means cancelled matches don’t count! In theory this game can be rescheduled; but in practice the risk of dropping points which are now effectively “in the bag” means it probably won’t be!

Devon and Wales both picked up their first wins of the season. Felicity Leydon-Davis made 91* and also took 2-9 as Devon beat Derbyshire by 82 runs; whilst for Wales, Gabby Basketter top scored with 45 and picked up a couple of wickets as they scored a 53-run win over Northants.

It looks increasingly clear that the big battle in Div 2 will be the fight for the second promotion spot behind Sussex, which could be effectively decided next weekend when Berkshire play Surrey at North Maidenhead, whilst Sussex host Essex in Brighton.

DEBRIEF: Women’s County Championship Div 1 – Hampshire Stay Top After Rollercoaster v Somerset

Team Played Won Lost Tied Points
Hampshire 3 3 0 0 17.3
Kent 3 2 1 0 13.3
Lancashire 3 2 1 0 12.3
Yorkshire 3 2 1 0 10.0
Nottinghamshire 3 1 2 0 9.0
Middlesex 3 1 2 0 8
Somerset 3 0 2 1 6.7
Warwickshire 3 0 2 1 5.3

In the Women’s County Championship, Hampshire stay top of Div 1 after an incredible match against Somerset, which saw Somerset bowled out for 64, with Katie George and Fi Morris taking 4 wickets apiece, only for Somerset… or more accurately Anya Shrubsole… to roar back. Shrubsole tore through the Hampshire top order, taking 5-15 to leave them reeling at 17-5, before Suzie Bates and Charlotte Edwards came to the crease and proceeded to calmly knock off the remaining runs for Hampshire’s 3rd straight win of the season.

Hampshire are now the only unbeaten team in the top flight, after Kent went down to Middlesex at Mill Hill. Tash Miles top scored with 48, and Maia Bouchier made a valuable run-a-ball 38 at the end, as Middlesex posted 203-5 off their 50 overs. In reply, Kent, who were without Tammy Beaumont, were bowled out for 155, with Sophia Dunkley taking 4-23.

Yorkshire picked up their second win of the season versus Warwickshire – Lauren Winfield making 69 and Hollie Armitage 44 as they posted 198, with Georgia Davis taking a 4-fer for the Bears. Warwickshire chased hard, led by Amy Jones’ 68 off 58 balls, but were bowled out 13 short in the 49th over – Leigh Kasperek and Katherine Brunt taking 3 wickets each.

Lancashire also got a second notch in the bedpost of their season, as they beat Notts by 5 wickets at Welbeck CC. Georgie Boyce top-scored for Notts with 50 as they posted 152-8. In reply, Emma Lamb and Eve Jones put on 100 for the first wicket, and although Lancashire then wobbled and lost 5 quick wickets, they still managed to get over the line with overs aplenty to spare.

Next weekend sees things really hot up, as Hampshire take on Kent at Andover, whilst Lancashire and Yorkshire do battle in Rochdale. Another win for Hampshire would put them in a very strong position, though they still have to play both Lancashire and Yorkshire so it won’t be plain sailing even if they do beat Kent!

Meanwhile at the other end of the table, Middlesex take on Somerset and Warwickshire look to rebuild their season against Notts in Nottingham.

MATCH REPORT: Sarah Taylor Sews Up Sussex Win

Sussex continued their unbeaten run in Division 2 of the Women’s County Championship today with a maximum bonus point win against Surrey at Reeds School.

3 wickets from Paige Scholfield saw Surrey restricted to 120 all out, before Sarah Taylor hit an unbeaten half-century to take Sussex to a 6-wicket win.

After Surrey had won the toss and chosen to bat, Tara “Chuck” Norris, opening the bowling for Sussex, broke through early to remove Bryony Smith (1) in the second over as her England teammate Danni Wyatt took the catch at point.

Kirstie White (20) and Aylish Cranstone (18) then steadied the ship with a 36-run partnership which was perhaps a bit too steady – Surrey reaching just 27 in the first 10 overs.

That partnership was broken in the 12th over by acting captain Georgia Elwiss; before Paige Scholfield ripped through Surrey’s middle-order in a consecutive 10-over spell, taking 3-17 including the crucial wicket of Nat Sciver (LBW).

England Academy’s Amy Gordon saved Surrey from capitulation with an exciting rearguard cameo (31*) that featured two sixes fired back over the heads of bowlers Norris and Freya Davies. But Sussex had the final say as Davies wrapped things up in the 49th over, removing Beth Kerins LBW.

Sussex were chasing only 120 but Wyatt gave them a scare up top, sending the first ball into the hands of Smith at point – a karmic role reversal from Smith’s own dismissal in the Surrey innings – to leave them 0-1.

That dismissal, though, brought Taylor to the crease, allowing her to continue her form of last weekend in an innings of 60* that exhibited her usual array of classical shots. She now has 3 half-centuries in as many innings, which should please Mark Robinson ahead of the England internationals which begin against South Africa next month.

For Sussex the important thing was to bat positively to ensure they reached the target within 30 overs, thus securing maximum batting bonus points. Taylor’s partnerships with Adams (25) – unscathed after earlier being hit in the forehead while fielding at slip – and Abi Freeborn (21), alongside the rather baffling decision not to bowl Sciver until 8 overs had already elapsed, allowed them to do so without much concern.

Speaking to CRICKETher after close of play, Sussex captain Georgia Adams said that she was really pleased with the way her team had started the season:

“We’ve trained really really hard this winter and we’ve set ourselves really high standards. The big thing for us is, we want to go in with a bang and not just win but win well. We’re definitely looking to win Division 2.”

DEBRIEF: Women’s County Championship Div 2 – Sussex Lead The Race Back To Div 1

Team Played Won Lost Points
Sussex 2 2 0 18
Surrey 2 2 0 17.5
Berkshire 2 2 0 17
Essex 2 2 0 16
Wales 2 0 2 6.5
Devon 2 0 2 6.5
Derbyshire 2 0 2 4
Northamptonshire 2 0 2 3.5

The opening weekend in Div 2 saw Sussex steamroller first Derbyshire and then Northamptonshire as they look to bounce back to Div 1. A century from Georgia Adams and a half-century from Sarah Talor saw them notch-up 316 versus Derbyshire, before Freya Davies (6-10) bowled them out for just 65; whilst Taylor was again in the runs with 88, as Sussex posted 285 against Northants before bowling them out for 76.

For Surrey, Kirstie White led the way, with 41 and 94, as they beat Devon and then Wales; whilst for Berkshire, a Heather Knight hundred got them off to a winning start on Sunday versus Wales, but it was a much closer-run thing against Devon the following day – the Beavers making it 2-from-2 in a low-scoring game thanks to an all-round performance from 17-year-old Lauren Bell.

Essex also made a double-winning start to their campaign, though they were arguably slightly fortunate with the fixture list to be facing the weakest sides in the division first-up – Derbyshire and Northants – beating Derbyshire by 4 runs and Northants by 60.

Surrey v Sussex next weekend at Reeds School may well decide where the “title” goes, though neither will really care if they both get promoted, which is obviously the real end-goal here.

DEBRIEF: Women’s County Championship Div 1 – Hampshire & Kent Make The Running

Team Played Won Lost Tied Points
Hampshire 2 2 0 0 17.5
Kent 2 2 0 0 17.5
Nottinghamshire 2 1 1 0 11
Lancashire 2 1 1 0 10.5
Yorkshire 2 1 1 0 10
Somerset 2 0 1 1 8
Warwickshire 2 0 1 1 7
Middlesex 2 0 2 0 2

The opening weekend of the Women’s County Championship saw Hampshire and Kent make the early running with two wins apiece.

Suzie Bates was the difference for Hampshire, hitting 50 versus Notts on Sunday and then 148 off 146 balls against Warwickshire on Monday; whist for Kent Tammy Beaumont was the star turn, making 63* and 70* as they swept aside first last year’s runners-up Yorkshire, and then champions Lancashire.

After their opening-day defeat to Hampshire, Nottinghamshire bounced back to beat Somerset – a half-century from Yvonne Graves helping them to a total of 193, before Scottish spinner Kirstie Gordon took 5-26 as Somerset were bowled out for 81.

Somerset and Warwickshire both finished the weekend winless, but were involved in a rare tie at Nailsea Cricket Club on Sunday, as the two managed to both bowl each other out for 124.

At the bottom end of the table, Lancashire and Yorkshire both travelled south, where their away defeats to Kent were cancelled-out by wins against Middlesex. Middlesex-Lancashire wasn’t even close – a 10-wicket win for the champions, after bowling out their hosts for 120.

Middlesex then produced a slightly more encouraging performance against Yorkshire, thanks to 67* from Sophia Dunkley, who must be making a strong case for England selection in the T20 Tri-Series this summer; but with Lauren Winfield, finding some form again after a difficult winter, and Hollie Armitage both making 50s at the top of the Yorkshire order, Yorkshire cruised to victory in the end at Teddington.

And finally… Middlesex’s young wicket-keeper Iqraa Hussain can take some consolation that she was at least involved in a moment of history as she was bowled by Katie Levick on Monday – that wicket means that Levick now stands alone as the leading wicket-taker of all time in women’s county cricket, with 153 wickets.

MATCH REPORT: Bell Tolls For Devon v Berkshire

England Academy fast bowler Lauren Bell top scored and took a 4-fer as Berkshire came out on top in a low-scoring encounter with Devon at North Maidenhead.

On a blisteringly hot day, Devon won the toss and put Berkshire in, with Oli Rae opening the batting alongside Heather Knight. Knight made the early running, driving runs into the off side, but was then dismissed for 21 off an innocuous delivery from Emily Edgcombe, which bounced oddly on the dusty North Maids pitch and ballooned to midwicket where Daisy Meadowcroft took the catch.

Carla Rudd, fresh from 50 yesterday, then joined Rae in the middle, but her dismissal in the 13th over led to a collapse from 43-1 to 44-5 as left-armer Hazelle Garton began to rip through the Berkshire middle-order. Garton finished with 5 wickets for 18, and Berkshire looked out for the count when Bell came in at 9 to join Millie Allerton at 71-8.

But Bell put on a feisty 36 for the 9th wicket with Allerton (11 off 39 balls) and then another 16 for the final wicket with Emma Walker (2 off 24 balls), to finish with 33 – her highest score in county cricket – as Berkshire’s innings ended all out for 123 off 45.4 overs – some way short of the 242 they had made on the same ground the previous day against Wales.

Former Berkshire Beaver Alex Rogers opened the batting for Devon alongside Amy Wier, but both were dismissed for ducks, followed quickly back to the pavilion by acting-captain Felicity Leydon-Davis and Emily Edgcombe, as Bell, bowling with unplayable pace, and spinner Emma Walker, getting real turn on a helpful pitch, gave Berkshire just the start they needed, reducing the visitors to 9-4.

With a low total to defend Berkshire could ill-afford to give anything away, but a slightly off-colour spell with the ball from Heather Knight, who was possibly experimenting with some new deliveries a few of which did not come out right at all (one in particular barely reaching the batsman on the second bounce), allowed Georgia Hennessy to lead a fight-back.

Hennessy made a stubborn 44 as Devon started to turn the tide; but the return of Bell finally brought her knock to an end, caught behind by Carla Rudd. Bell’s final victim of the day was Devon keeper Amanda Higginbotham, caught by Knight, to leave Bell with figures of 8 overs, 2 maidens, 4-17.

It was still nervous times though for Berkshire, as the Devon tail blocked everything that moved, allowing extras to keep the asking-rate manageable, before the last two wickets fell to ring catches off Lissy MacLeod and Phoebe Graham, with Devon all out for 102 at the death.

Afterwards, Berkshire captain MacLeod praised Bell’s contribution:

“Lauren Bell saved it with the bat – she changed the innings, and then bowled brilliantly in the opening spell gaining crucial wickets – she was outstanding today.”

The win means Berkshire, who lost every game on their way to relegation from Div 1 last season, are now 2-from-2 in Div 2 this term, and well-placed as they look to fight their way back to the top tier next year.

MATCH REPORT: Hampshire Have Notts At Havant

Hampshire (187-6) beat Nottinghamshire (186-9) by 4 wickets

On a gloriously sunny day at Havant Cricket Club, Hampshire opened their account in Division 1 of the Women’s County Championship with a tense win, chasing down Nottinghamshire’s total of 186 with just 1 over to spare.

Star of last season Suzie Bates had reached her half-century as Hampshire got their chase off to a much-too-leisurely start, reaching 100-3 in 29 overs.

It meant that when Bates departed for 54, having misjudged Kirstie Gordon’s slower ball, Hampshire were already behind the required rate.

Ultimately it took a real team effort to get them across the line, with Emily Windsor (49) and Katie George (23) both playing a role, before veteran Charlotte Edwards entered the fray with 30 runs still required.

Edwards was skilfully able to force the pace, with traces of the old brilliance still very much apparent as she found the boundary rope with a drive for four.

She was eventually run out backing up for 14, but Ariana Dowse finished things off the very next ball, pulling Georgie Boyce for four runs through square leg – Hampshire ending with a 4 wicket win.

Earlier Notts had accumulated the highest Div 1 total of the day, putting 186 runs on the board despite losing their last 6 wickets for 40 runs.

Sonia Odedra (50) and Jodie Dibble (44) formed the backbone of the innings, with both batsmen riding their luck in a partnership of 80 as several catches went begging.

For Hampshire, who by taking 9 wickets secured maximum bowling bonus points, it was 17-year-old Charlie Dean (3-31) who took the bowling honours, removing top-scorer Odedra just after she had reached her half-century, and taking a fantastic diving catch to dismiss Lucy Higham caught and bowled.

Speaking to CRICKETher after close of play Suzie Bates acknowledged that Hampshire had improvements to make but said that the win was the most important thing:

“We didn’t field as well as we would have liked but we managed to come back and keep them to a score that we felt we could chase.”

“We got off to a good start with the bat but lacked intent at times – it was probably a bit closer than we would have liked, but it’s nice to get the first win under our belts.”