MATCH REPORT: Pakistan v West Indies 1st T20I – The Caribbean Queens in Karachi

S.M. Hussain in Karachi

The last time West Indies Women visited Pakistan in 2004, they had a long itinerary – one Test and seven ODIs; this time around they’re here for three T20s only. The rest of the games – three ODIs – will be played in Pakistan’s adopted home, the UAE.

For a cricket-mad nation which is taking baby steps towards reviving international cricket in the country, the significance of West Indies Women’s visit is far greater than a mere few T20 games. No wonder the visitors are being treated like Caribbean queens.

It was a rare gloomy January morning in Karachi, but an hour before the start of play, to the delight of many cheering college and school girls present at the stadium, the sun broke through. West Indies won the toss and elected to bat at the South End Club, which happens to be the second Test centre of the city.

Deandra Dottin and Kycia Knight opened the innings. When Knight was on 8, she scooped a ‘dolly’ to square leg off the bowling of Nashra, but Dottin was savage from the word go.

Dottin was dropped on 24 and this folly proved a costly one for Pakistan. Apart from that mis-hit, Dottin looked a million dollars; though she batted right-handed, her sixes were reminiscent of Chris Gayle’s. She reached her fifty in style by hitting a huge six over the mid-on boundary.

Chedean Nation wasn’t too far behind – her 50 runs came off just 35 balls. From 51/2 the West Indies team finished with 160/2 at the end of their allotted overs. The unbeaten partnership of 109 runs between Dottin (90) and Nation (50) almost sealed the match. Except for the left-arm spin of Nashra Sandhu, none of the Pakistan bowlers were able to restrict the visitors.

The target of 160 in twenty overs would pose a great challenge to any team, let alone to Pakistan, who are hardly known for their six-hitting.

Both openers – Sidra Ameen and Javeria Khan – were back in the hutch in the first six overs. The southpaw Bismah Maroof plays with a high back-lift and when she times the ball right, it reaches the boundary rope in no time. She looked busy and confident; she played scoop shots and reverse sweeps with ease.

Amid all the flippant batting strokes played from the other end, the captain Bismah was the lone warrior in this unsuccessful run chase. Except for Bismah (38) and Javeria (19) none of the Pakistan batters were able to reach double figures. The home side were eventually bundled out for 89 runs in the eighteenth over.

On a slow pitch the twin pair of Afy Fletcher and Anisa Mohammed made things extremely difficult for the Pakistan batters; both bowlers conceded just 17 runs each in their allotted four overs, with an economy rate of 4.25.

In the post-match interaction with the media the Pakistan coach, Mark Coles, looked quite disappointed with his team’s performance, saying: “We have a very disappointed group out there, and they should be.” Regarding the upcoming matches he added: “We just have to stick to our plans and we need to take some responsibility.”

So, the series has started with a thumping win by 71 runs for the visitors. Perhaps the victory margin also suggests the shape of things to come.

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S.M. Hussain is a freelance cricket writer and journalist based in Pakistan. He tweets from @CaughtAtPoint.

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NEWS: Women’s County Cricket Set To Move To Pro / Feeder Structure in 2020

As reported by Lizzy Ammon in today’s Times (ECB plans to cut teams in women’s game [£]) the ECB are planning a radical restructuring of women’s county cricket in 2020, creating a number of “professional” counties and relegating the others to permanent Minor Counties-style feeder status.

CRICKETher understands that new setup would preserve the Women’s County Championship as a “thing” but with a top tier of 8 (or possibly 10, depending on who you talk to) professional counties, with no relegation or promotion.

As well as the County Championship, these counties would also play a T20 competition, addressing concerns about the lack of domestic T20 when The Hundred is introduced.

As for all the other counties, they would become feeders for the pro teams – so for example, Berkshire would officially feed into Middlesex, creating an official pathway for any junior girls in Berkshire. CRICKETher understands that these structures are already being put into place, so expect to see more tie-ups such as yesterday’s announcement that Berkshire’s Lauren Bell will play for Middlesex in the T20 Cup this season.

The key advantage of this is it allows the pro counties to invest in the women’s game, without having to worry about promotion or relegation, creating a more stable system for the top players. (It has long been a concern for the England management that England players playing below Div 1 in the County Championship is (at best) unhelpful.)

It would also allow a degree of player payment to be brought in more easily, with the “pro” counties offering match fees and stipends, though this is likely initially to continue to fall some way short of full professionalism.

NEWS: 2020 Twenty20 Groups & Fixtures Announced

The groups and full fixture list for the 2020 Twenty20 (try saying that out loud!) have been announced, more than a year in advance… which is a big improvement on the last World T20, which felt very last-minute for those of us trying to book flights and hotels – so well done ICC/ Cricket Australia!

England have been drawn with South Africa, Pakistan and the West Indies, plus a qualifier to be confirmed; while in the other group, Australia will play New Zealand, Sri Lanka and India, plus qualifier. (So it looks a lot like the 2018 groups – with just Sri Lanka and Pakistan swapped-over!)

There will be a bit of travelling for everyone – England start off in Perth against South Africa, before heading to Canberra for fixtures against Pakistan and Qualifier 2, then to Sydney for their last group game against the West Indies.

21 February, 2020
Australia v India, Spotless Stadium, Sydney (7.00pm)

22 February, 2020
W. Indies v Qualifier 2, WACA, Perth (2.00pm)
New Zealand v Sri Lanka, WACA, Perth (7.00pm)

23 February, 2020
England v South Africa, WACA Perth (7.00pm)

24 February, 2020
Australia v Sri Lanka, WACA Perth (2.00pm)
India v Qualifier 1, WACA Perth (7.00pm)

26 February, 2020
England v Qualifier 2, Manuka Oval, Canberra (2.00pm)
W. Indies v Pakistan, Manuka Oval, Canberra (7.00pm)

27 February, 2020
India v New Zealand, Junction Oval, Melbourne (2.00pm)
Australia v Qualifier 1, Manuka Oval, Canberra (7.00pm)

28 February, 2020
South Africa v Qualifier 2, Manuka Oval, Canberra (2.00pm)
England v Pakistan, Manuka Oval, Canberra (7.00pm)

29 February, 2020
India v Sri Lanka, Junction Oval, Melbourne (2.00pm)
South Africa v Pakistan, Spotless Stadium, Sydney (7.00pm)

1 March, 2020
South Africa v Pakistan, Spotless Stadium, Sydney (2.00pm)
England v W. Indies, Spotless Stadium, Sydney (7.00pm)

2 March, 2020
Sri Lanka v Qualifier 1, Junction Oval, Melbourne (2.00pm)
Australia v New Zealand, Junction Oval, Melbourne (7.00pm)

3 March, 2020
Pakistan v Qualifier 2, Spotless Stadium, Sydney (2.00pm)
W. Indies v South Africa, Spotless Stadium, Sydney (7.00pm)

5 March, 2020
Semifinal 1, SCG, Sydney (2.00pm)
Semifinal 2, SCG, Sydney (7.00pm)

8 March, 2020
Final, MCG, Melbourne (7.00pm)

STATS: #WBBL Bowling Rankings – If The Kapp Fits…

If you were picking your dream T20 franchise XI, who would be at the top of your list? Perry? Devine? Smriti? For me, it would be Marizanne Kapp every time – top batsmen are almost two a penny, but there is only one Marizanne Kapp. Her worth really showed when the Renegades took their semifinal against the Sixers to a Super Over – Perry might have hit the runs that technically won the game, but it had been set up by Kapp conceding just 6 in the Renegades’ over. With the lowest Economy Rate in the competition at 5.8 runs per over, and 20 wickets too, Kapp is a Jaguar F-Pace with the petrol consumption of a 1 litre Ford Fiesta – she simply shouldn’t exist in an era when batsmen rule the roads, and the fact that she does is a constant marvel!

The only players close to Kapp on economy were Lea Tahuhu (5.9) who has often looked a bit lost in T20 franchise cricket, but had a very good season for the Renegades; Georgia Wareham (5.9), who I think could be a big player in the Women’s Ashes this summer; and Grace Harris (also 5.9).

In fact, with Harris ranking No. 8 in bowling and No. 5 in batting there is an argument that she, rather than Perry, should have been Player of the Tournament, and it will be interesting to see whether her performances force the Aussie selectors into a rethink on her, having not played for the Southern Stars since 2016.

The leading wicket-takers in WBBL04 were jointly Delissa Kimmince and Heather Graham, with 22 victims each, but both were a bit expensive – Kimmince conceding 6.8 runs per over – exactly a run an over more than Kapp – and Graham 7.4.

The leading English bowler meanwhile was Heather Knight at No. 20, with the other English bowlers well back in the pack – Dani Hazell at 38, Alex Hartley at 43 and Kate Cross at 45.

Player Matches Wickets Economy
1. Marizanne Kapp (Sydney Sixers) 16 20 5.8
2. Sammy-Jo Johnson (Brisbane Heat) 16 20 6.2
3. Delissa Kimmince (Brisbane Heat) 16 22 6.8
4. Heather Graham (Perth Scorchers) 14 22 7.4
5. Molly Strano (Melbourne Renegades) 15 19 6.4
6. Dane van Niekerk (Sydney Sixers) 16 19 6.7
7. Stafanie Taylor (Sydney Thunder) 15 19 6.9
8. Grace Harris (Brisbane Heat) 16 16 5.9
9. Lea Tahuhu (Melbourne Renegades) 15 14 5.9
10. Sophie Molineux (Melbourne Renegades) 14 16 7.0
11. Alana King (Melbourne Stars) 14 15 6.7
12. Jess Jonassen (Brisbane Heat) 16 15 6.9
13. Brooke Hepburn (Hobart Hurricanes) 14 15 7.3
14. Nicola Carey (Sydney Thunder) 15 15 7.3
15. Megan Schutt (Adelaide Strikers) 14 13 6.5
16. Lauren Cheatle (Sydney Sixers) 16 14 7.0
17. Jemma Barsby (Brisbane Heat) 16 14 7.0
18. Rene Farrell (Sydney Thunder) 10 14 7.2
19. Georgia Wareham (Melbourne Renegades) 15 11 5.9
20. Heather Knight (Hobart Hurricanes) 13 14 7.57

Bowling Ranking = Wickets / Economy

STATS: #WBBL Batting Rankings – Perry Top… But No Icing

Hot Take: Ellyse Perry let the Sydney Sixers down this season.

[Ed: What? Have you gone you mad?]

Yes… but there is method in my madness, so let me explain!

Prior to this season, Perry the batsman had a problem in Twenty20 – although her big innings were always scored at a respectable Strike Rate, she invariably tended to start very slowly, often scoring her first 25 runs at a Strike Rate pushing as low as 50. This meant that if she got out for 25, she’d chewed up a lot of balls in the process, putting big pressure on the rest of the team.

However, this WBBL season was different – she found a way of adjusting mentally, and almost “starting her innings in the middle”, which allowed her to score at 100+ from the off; and this is one of the reasons she was able to score those two hundreds and six fifties which all-but guaranteed her the Player of the Tournament award well before we got to the business end of the competition.

But, but, but… then came the final – the big match – the one that mattered… and who should walk out to open the batting for the Sixers but the old Ellyse Perry. At the end of the powerplay, she was 7 off 15 balls, and the lack of momentum up top was arguably a critical factor in tipping the balance of what turned out to be a very close game away from the Sixers. It shouldn’t take away from the fact that Perry obviously had an outstanding season overall, but when you buy a cake, you expect icing on the top… and for once Perry’s cake didn’t.

The New Zealand opening pair of Sophie Devine, who is ranked in our list at number 2, and Suzie Bates, ranked at 7, both had good returns, though the Adelaide Strikers’ season overall was a disappointment – their main achievement being definitive proof that packing your bowling line-up doesn’t work in T20 – you need batsmen, not a tail that starts at 3!

Elsewhere, the highest ranked English players were Heather Knight at 9, and Danni Wyatt at 13 – both seem to always play well in Australia, which could be good news for England at next year’s World Twenty20.

It is also interesting to see Sophie Molineux ranked so highly at 14 – Raf picked her as One To Watch in 2019 for the Guardian at New Year, but obviously mainly for her bowling not her batting. Arguably, Australia’s batting is so strong, they don’t need to worry too much about how well the bowlers bat, but nonetheless she is looking like she could be very useful for the Southern Stars over the next few years, maybe coming in at 7 or 8 with a couple of overs to go.

Player Matches Runs SR
1. Ellyse Perry (Sydney Sixers) 16 777 121
2. Sophie Devine (Adelaide Strikers) 13 556 137
3. Alyssa Healy (Sydney Sixers) 16 445 142
4. Beth Mooney (Brisbane Heat) 16 486 128
5. Grace Harris (Brisbane Heat) 16 374 148
6. Meg Lanning (Perth Scorchers) 9 389 137
7. Suzie Bates (Adelaide Strikers) 14 421 112
8. Smriti Mandhana (Hobart Hurricanes) 13 318 145
9. Heather Knight (Hobart Hurricanes) 13 374 122
10. Elyse Villani (Perth Scorchers) 11 403 113
11. Rachel Priest (Sydney Thunder) 15 338 134
12. Rachael Haynes (Sydney Thunder) 13 376 115
13. Danni Wyatt (Melbourne Renegades) 14 368 112
14. Sophie Molineux (Melbourne Renegades) 14 354 115
15. Harmanpreet Kaur (Sydney Thunder) 13 310 127
16. Ashleigh Gardner (Sydney Sixers) 16 337 115
17. Lizelle Lee (Melbourne Stars) 14 276 137
18. Alex Blackwell (Sydney Thunder) 15 301 122
19. Sammy-Jo Johnson (Brisbane Heat) 16 260 140
20. Tahlia McGrath (Adelaide Strikers) 14 276 126

Batting Ranking = Runs * Strike Rate

NEWS: Dani Hazell Retires With Head Held High

England’s Dani Hazell has announced her retirement from international cricket, after a 141-match career in which she took 146 wickets and won two World Cup winner’s medals.

Ironically, the way she won those two medals rather summed-up her career – in 2009, she was in the squad but didn’t play at all in England’s victorious World Twenty20 campaign; and although she played 5 matches at the 2017 50-over World Cup, she was relegated to bench for the both the semi-final and final as England triumphed.

Despite having reached the dizzy summits of No. 1 in the ICC rankings for T20 bowling, Hazell was never able to hold down a long term place in the England side – a source of constant frustration for the player, who was rumoured to have considered quitting during the 2015 Women’s Ashes, after she was left out of the ODI team that summer for reasons that were only tangentially cricket-related. (The Australians, as documented in David Tossell’s Girls of Summer, couldn’t believe their luck at not having to face the one England spinner they really rated, as they went on to win the series by 10 points to 6.)

Hazell did play in the recent World Twenty20 final in the West Indies, and has just finished a reasonably successful stint with the Adelaide Strikers in the WBBL, taking 9 wickets in the season. But with England’s squad for the spring tour to India due to be announced shortly, the speculation will presumably be that she had once again lost her place and that this was the last straw for a player who never made a secret of the fact that she thought there was more to life than just playing for England, and wasn’t prepared to sacrifice her mental or physical health to do so, especially when she was sitting out half the time anyway.

Nonetheless, she should leave with her head held high, knowing that she will be remembered as a player good enough to have captained England on 2 occasions when Heather Knight was injured, and a bowler who the opposition always feared – perhaps the ultimate compliment the game can give.

NEWS: Players Face Crack-Down On Social Media “Ads”

Hundreds of cricketers may be breaking the law and could in theory face significant penalties, as the UK government cracks down on covert social media advertising.

Following high-profile scandals such as the Fyre Festival, where celebrities were paid up to a quarter of a million dollars to promote a non-existent music festival via posts on Instagram and Twitter, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published new guidance for social media influencers, which lays down the law about sponsored content.

The start of a new cricket season is always heralded by a murder of posts to the tune of: “Can’t wait to get out in the middle with my new Batty-Bats bat!”

But George Lusty, the CMA’s Senior Director for Consumer Protection said:

“If celebrities or influencers are posting about a product on social media, they must make it clear if they’ve been paid.”

The CMA’s guidelines now state that such posts should include the hashtag “#ad” at the start of the post to indicate this.

And crucially these guidelines don’t just address traditional endorsement deals, where top players are paid directly to lend their name to a range of equipment; but also to those cases where players have a less formal relationship with a brand, such as being sent free kit, even when no money changes hands and there is no signed agreement between the player and the brand to promote the product.

The guidelines state that:

“Any form of reward, including money, gifts of services or products, or the loan of a product, is ‘payment’ – whether you originally asked for it or got sent it out of the blue (e.g. ‘freebies’).”

This would apply not just to players promoting bats, but to those who are lent cars during the season, or sent energy bars, headphones, or beer (yes… beer!) to try. A quick scan through the recent social media feeds of current and recent England players shows several such posts, one as recently as yesterday, none of which are accompanied by the “#ad” hashtag.

And as Lusty explains, this matters because it is important to ensure that all advertising relationships remain transparent in the social media age:

“Stars can have a big influence on what their followers do and buy. If people see clothes [or] a car… being plugged by someone they admire, they might be swayed into buying it. So, it’s really important they are clearly told whether a celebrity is promoting a product because they have bought it themselves, or because they have been paid or thanked in some way by the brand.”

Although the most likely outcome of any direct investigation would be a slap on the wrist, in theory breach of the applicable law (The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008) could lead to a large fine or up to two years in prison.

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Want to know more? Download the official guidance here:

https://www.asa.org.uk/uploads/assets/uploaded/3af39c72-76e1-4a59-b2b47e81a034cd1d.pdf