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.

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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.”

Women’s County Championship Squads & Preview

Jump To: Hampshire, Kent, Lancashire, Middlesex, Nottinghamshire, Somerset, Warwickshire, Yorkshire

Last season’s Women’s County Championship went right down to the wire, with Lancashire pipping Yorkshire by just 0.14 average points. (If Yorkshire had taken just one more wicket in their final-day defeat to Notts, they would have won.)

(The WCC is decided on average points (total points divided by completed matches) to attempt to fairly account for the weather – this usually works, though it does theoretically mean that someone could win the Championship having won just one game, if all their other matches were cancelled – which almost happened once!)

This season’s big contenders are likely to be the same teams that took the top spots in 2017 – Lancashire, Yorkshire and Warwickshire – but with the England contracted players expected to play almost every match this time, there will no doubt be some upset apple-carts along the way.

Hampshire

Last Season: 1st Div 2 (Promoted)

After narrowly missing out on promotion in 2016, Hampshire recruited Charlotte Edwards and Suzie Bates for 2017; and it was Bates who made the difference – scoring 494 season runs as Hampshire topped Div 2. With Edwards likely to step ever further down the order, Hampshire will need Bates to bring her best form again… but when doesn’t she? Alongside the Kiwi skipper, they will be looking to Emily Windsor and all-rounder Charlie Dean to step up with the bat; whilst there will be a new level of expectation for Katie George, having won her first England cap out in India this spring, to make an impact in Div 1.

Squad

  • Suzie Bates
  • Matilda Callaghan
  • Ella Chandler
  • Providence Cowdrill
  • Clover Crosse
  • Charlie Dean
  • Charlotte Edwards
  • Katie George
  • Kim Healey
  • Naomi Lynch
  • Chloe Micklethwaite
  • Alice Monaghan
  • Fi Morris
  • Dani Ransley
  • Charlotte Taylor
  • Emily Windsor

Kent

Last Season: 6th

So often the queens of the championship cakewalk, Kent found themselves in the somewhat unusual position of being relegation candidates on the final day last season. They survived, but better will be expected this season from a team that, on paper, ought to be right up there, with 4 contracted England players (Tammy Beaumont, Alice Davidson-Richards, Tash Farrant and Laura Marsh) not to mention the best player in England not to have a KSL contract – off-spinner Megan Belt. Belt needs just 6 wickets this season to break the significant career landmark of 100 wickets in county cricket… and she is still only 20!

Squad

  • Tammy Beaumont
  • Alice Davidson-Richards
  • Megan Belt
  • Lottie Bryan
  • Izzy Cloke
  • Tash Farrant
  • Phoebe Franklin
  • Grace Gibbs
  • Lauren Griffiths
  • Jenni Jackson
  • Hannah Jelfs
  • Arlene Kelly
  • Laura Marsh
  • Emily Thompson

Lancashire

Last Season: Champions

Bowled to glory last season by Sophie Ecclestone, Lancashire will have to defend their title without skipper Meg Fairclough, who has retired to a new life in Italy. Her successor – Eve Jones –  might have been dropped from England’s Academy program; but she remains a fine county cricketer and is one of only a tiny handful of women to have scored a County Championship century. Opening the batting alongside Jones, Lancashire will need Emma Lamb to put some numbers on the scoreboard, because their batting thereafter is a little bit thin, though with a bowling attack that includes Kate Cross and Alex Hartley, as well as the aforementioned Ecclestone, it might not matter!

Squad

  • Eve Jones
  • Kate Cross
  • Sophie Ecclestone
  • Alex Hartley
  • Emma Lamb
  • Ellie Threlkeld
  • Natalie Brown
  • Rachel Dickinson
  • Ella Telford
  • Jess Couser
  • Nalisha Patel
  • Shachi Pai
  • Laura Jackson

Middlesex

Last Season: 5th

After battling through with 2 wins on the final weekend last season, this young Middlesex side might actually be an outside shot in 2018 to carry that momentum through to bigger and better things. They certainly started splendidly with a win against a strong MCC side at Lord’s last week – Maia Bouchier and Gayatri Gole both look like proper players now (Bouchier spent the winter impressing in domestic cricket in New Zealand) and with Sophia Dunkley coming of age, having had a good start to her season out in South Africa with England Academy, there is some real talent coming through alongside the established names like co-captains Natasha Miles and Naomi Dattani, England’s Fran Wilson, and ex-England batsman Beth Morgan.

Squad

  • Emma Albery
  • Maia Bouchier
  • Hayleigh Brennan
  • Amara Carr (T20 Only)
  • Cath Dalton
  • Naomi Dattani
  • Sophia Dunkley
  • Bhavika Gajipra
  • Gayatri Gole
  • Iqraa Hussain
  • Natasha Miles
  • Beth Morgan
  • Emily Thorpe
  • Rebecca Tyson
  • Fran Wilson
  • Katie Wolfe

Nottinghamshire

Last Season: 4th

Nottinghamshire somewhat defied gravity last season with a mid-table finish in the County Championship, and backed that up by winning Div 2 of the T20 Cup. With Kirstie Gordon getting better every year, and surely eyeing up a Super League contract with her economy rates, plus batsman Georgie Boyce coming through the England Academy system, they’ve got some talent coming on longer-term; but right now they are very dependent upon Sonia Odedra, stepping up season after season, scoring 452 runs and taking 15 wickets in 2017. Without her and Jodie Dibble (366 runs and 18 wickets in 2017) they’d be struggling.

Squad

  • Amy Gauvrit
  • Beth Unwin
  • Georgie Boyce
  • Hannah Hughes
  • Jodie Dibble
  • Kirstie Gordon
  • Lucy Higham
  • Megan Burton
  • Sonia Odedra
  • Sophie Munro
  • Yvonne Graves
  • Teresa Graves

Somerset

Last Season: 2nd Div 2 (Promoted)

The last time Somerset were promoted to Div 1, in 2016, they went straight back down again; and they’ve also found themselves playing ping-pong between the divisions in the T20 Cup in recent years. Sophie Luff – too good a cricketer to be playing in Div 2 – scored a staggering 38% of their runs last year, averaging 66, so she is key with the bat; but a lot might hang on how much Anya Shrubsole actually plays – or rather, how much she is allowed to play, by an England management team who will have a nervous eye on her fitness for the World T20 later in the year.

Squad

  • Anya Shrubsole
  • Georgina Adcock
  • Bernadette Forge
  • Sophie Luff
  • Olivia Hamilton
  • Nicole Richards
  • Carmen Clements
  • Georgia Tulip
  • Megan Hodkinson
  • Emily Dibble
  • Lauren Bowen–Jones
  • Lauren Filer
  • Lorraine Szczepanski

Warwickshire

Last Season: 3rd

Warwickshire probably spent more time at the top of the table than anyone else in 2016 and 2017, but still managed to fall away at the last to come 3rd on both occasions; there is no doubt that the only third they will be looking for this time around is third time lucky! Warwickshire under young captain Marie Kelly are a proper “team” with a lot of good players rather than one or two stars. Kelly herself, Kathryn Bryce and Amy Jones all made runs last season; whilst with the ball, wickets were shared between Anisha Patel (14), Liz Russell (10) and Becky Grundy (10). Expect more of the same this season, plus added Jenny Gunn and New Zealand superstar Sophie Devine for a couple of games in late May, and you could be looking at potential champions.

Squad

  • Marie Kelly
  • Kathryn Bryce
  • Amy Jones
  • Jenny Gunn
  • Laura Crofts
  • Katie Green
  • Lizzie Russell
  • Georgia Davis
  • Anisha Patel
  • Ria Fackrell
  • Mina Zahoor
  • Jo Gardner
  • Thea Brookes
  • Gwenan Davis
  • Sophie Devine

Yorkshire

Last Season: 2nd

Yorkshire are still smarting after being beaten by a nose last season, especially having won their head-to-head with eventual champions Lancashire by a whopping 122 runs; and they will certainly be up there this season. With Katherine Brunt and Dani Hazell on the squad, you’d think that would be enough bowling for anyone; but Yorkshire’s “secret” weapon is leg-spinner Katie Levick who, with 33 wickets last season, needs just one more wicket to overtake Holly Colvin and Danni Warren (who interestingly both finished their careers on 152 wickets) to become the leading wicket-taker of all time in women’s county cricket*. With the bat, they (and England) will be hoping that the less pressured environment of county cricket offers Lauren Winfield a chance to rediscover the form that deserted her over the winter in Australia, where a poor Women’s Ashes was followed by a nightmare WBBL.

2017† Squad

  • Jess Watson
  • Lauren Winfield
  • Katherine Brunt
  • Dani Hazell
  • Beth Langston
  • Hollie Armitage
  • Anna Nicholls
  • Steph Butler
  • Katie Levick
  • Cecilia Allen
  • Hannah Buck
  • Katie Thompson
  • Madie Walsh
  • Theresa Graves
  • Rebecca Newark
  • Hannah Poulter
  • Rachel Hildreth
  • Charlotte North

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* List here – stats on Play Cricket only go back to 2002, but the leading numbers are likely to be correct.

† We asked… we did not receive.