MATCH REPORT: Oxford University v MCC at Lords

By John Skinner

There was a mixture of trepidation and excitement as the teams lined up for the photocall in front of the historic pavilion on Tuesday prior to the MCC match with OUWCC.

Oxford Uni v MCC

Under leaden clouds the MCC lost early wickets before the sun glimpsed through, whilst Claire Taylor (41) and EM Porter (20) repaired the early damage with a stand of 68.

There were three wickets apiece for A Hearn, EA Harbourne and CE Dack, ably backed up by ME Bouchier and AVB Skinner. Quality bowling led to three of the top five MCC order falling without scoring and being in difficulty at 25-4 and 41-6, before the class of the former England captain told, helping the MCC to a defendable total of 127. The Oxford fielding was exceptional at times, as was that of the MCC later, including two catches of the highest standard.

Oxford started cautiously, building a stable base through the openers by the break. A century opening partnership and a huge 6 from Bouchier settled any nerves there might have been in the student camp. Bouchier, the Southern Vipers and Hampshire player, fell for 82 after brutally dispatching the MCC bowlers to various parts of the ground. Her partnership with VM Picker saw the Dark Blues home by 9 wickets to cap a memorable day, where every player did themselves justice.

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MATCH REPORT: Middlesex Shine In The Rain As Lord’s Plays Host To Historic London Cup Clash

Middlesex’s 100% record in the London Cup against Surrey remains just about intact after they got across the line on the final ball of a reduced-overs tonk-a-thon at Lord’s this evening, in the first ever women’s county fixture to be played at the ground.

Though the rain attempted to intervene, with only 12 overs able to be played out and a lengthy delay between the two innings, it was clearly still an intensely exciting day for the players, who had earlier been out and about assisting with the various softball cricket matches taking place on the ground throughout the afternoon.

“It was a great honour to be playing here,” Surrey captain Hannah Jones said after the match. “For a lot of us it’s the only time we’re ever going to get to play here – the moment really got us all as a team when we were walking out of the Long Room at the start of the match.”

Head of Women’s Cricket at Middlesex and MCC, Danni Warren, also heralded the day a great success.

“We had a very successful ‘Women’s Day’ in 2018, and the question is, how do you go one better? The London Cup is a very competitive fixture and one which the girls look forward to – it’s always been a goal of mine to make sure that we got to play it at Lord’s at some point, and the MCC were kind enough to let us take over their ‘Women’s Day’ with that.”

“It’s been a really enjoyable day, and the women’s softball event got over 200 women out here playing cricket on the outfield at Lord’s.”

On the pitch, the star of the show was Lauren Bell, making her Middlesex debut, who not only removed Surrey’s best batsman Bryony Smith in the opening over of the fixture; but also made an unexpected cameo with the bat, entering the fray with her side needing 8 runs from the last 5 balls of the match.

Bell kept a calm head, finding the gaps with two singles, running hard with partner Tash Miles, and – crucially – chipping in with the only boundary of the Middlesex innings as she middled it through backward point, finishing 6* at the end as Miles hit the necessary single off the last ball.

Earlier, play had eventually got under way 15 minutes after the scheduled start time, with Middlesex electing to field having won the toss.

Bell, who claimed the honour of being the first woman to open the bowling in a county match at Lord’s, celebrated by bowling Smith with a full-pitched inswinger with her fifth ball of the day.

Fellow pacer Katie Wolfe also struck in her first over – a wicket maiden – as Kirstie White sent a leading edge to Beth Morgan at midwicket.

By the time the rains came down, 7 overs into Surrey’s innings, the visitors were 3 wickets down with 28 runs on the board – Dunkley having trapped left-hander Aylish Cranstone LBW attempting the sweep.

It should have been an easy chase for Middlesex, who were set a reduced target for 26 off their allotted 5 overs, but nerves almost got the better of them.

The home side initially put their hopes in Naomi Dattani and Amara Carr, fresh from herself punishing the Middlesex bowlers in the Women’s County Championship on Monday with a century for her 50-over county, Devon.

However, Bryony Smith conceded just 2 from her first over, meaning the pressure was on. It quickly told: some smart work from Surrey keeper Rhianna Southby ensuring that – in the space of 3 balls – both Carr and the in-form Sophia Dunkley were stumped chasing deliveries from captain Hannah Jones.

When Dattani also departed in Smith’s next over – caught by Priyanaz Chatterji at mid-off – Middlesex were 5-3 and looking out of it completely.

Miles and Cordelia Griffith clawed it back by plundering 12 runs from the fourth over, taking advantage of the pace of Eva Gray and some sloppy fielding which cost Surrey a crucial overthrow.

It was Jones who stepped up to bowl the final over of the day, but despite a third lightning quick stumping from Southby (who was voted Player of the Match by the umpires) to see off Griffith, Bell’s cool head saved the day.

Credit should be given to the Lord’s groundstaff, who fought to get the players back out after it looked like the rain had set in for the evening; as well as to those at the MCC who allowed the fixture – which had been relegated to outgrounds on its two previous outings – to take place at Lord’s, thereby giving all the players a chance to make history.

DEBRIEF: Women’s County Championship Div 2 – Knight In Shining Armour Keeps Berkshire Top

Team Played Won Lost N/R Tied Points*
Berkshire 6 5 0 1 0 92
Middlesex 6 4 1 0 1 85
Essex 6 4 2 0 0 77
Devon 6 3 2 1 0 67
Wales 6 2 3 0 1 60
Somerset 6 1 5 0 0 48
Worcestershire 6 2 4 0 0 47
Durham 6 1 5 0 0 42

[* Bonus points for Berkshire and Devon on Play Cricket are wrong – these totals are correct!]

A huge century from Heather Knight kept Berkshire in pole position in Div 2, but Middlesex also won twice to set up a showdown between the two for the title next weekend.

Having beaten Durham on Sunday (full report here) Berkshire travelled to Wales on Monday, where 69 from Alex Griffiths helped set up a total of 232-9 – a target that looked an awfully long way off when Berkshire’s number 9, Millie Allerton, walked to the crease to join Heather Knight at 153-7. But Knight – in what was almost certainly her last match for the Beavers – drove on, eventually hitting the winning runs in the 48th over, as she finished with 159* off 125 balls, with Allerton still there on 17* at the other end.

Middlesex’s weekend began at Sophia Dunkley’s alma mater – Mill Hill School – where they hosted Somerset. For once this season, Dunkley was upstaged – she “only” made 54, as Cordelia Griffith took the limelight with 112 off 106 balls, as Middlesex posted 246-8. Somerset were then bowled out for 214 – Katie Wolfe cleaning-up the tail with a hat-trick at the end!

Dunkley and Griffith were then in the runs again as Middlesex defeated Devon by 8 wickets on the Monday (full report here).

These results mean that next weekend sees a de-facto “final” between Berkshire and Middlesex at Mill Hill, with the likelihood that the winner will top the division. (Though it is definitely mathematically possible for Berkshire to lose the match and still finish first due to the way bonus points work*.)

Elsewhere, there were 4fers for Anje Lague – 4-23 in Essex’s 65-run win versus Devon – and Emily Arlott – 4-25 as Worcestershire beat Somerset by 4 wickets; with Worcestershire leapfrogging Durham off the bottom of the table having also won in Wales.

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* E.g. Middlesex make 201-9 = Berkshire +4 for bowling; Middlesex +4 for batting; Berkshire make 200-2 = Berkshire +4 for batting; Middlesex +0 for bowling +10 for winning = Berkshire on 100; Middlesex on 99.

DEBRIEF: Women’s County Championship Div 1 – Kent Win 8th Title

Team Played Won Lost Points
Kent 6 6 0 102
Yorkshire 6 4 2 76
Nottinghamshire 6 3 3 68
Lancashire 6 3 3 67
Sussex 6 3 3 67
Hampshire 6 2 4 62
Surrey 6 2 4 54
Warwickshire 6 1 5 47

Kent have won a record 8th Women’s County Championship title – seeing off both their closest rivals over the Bank Holiday weekend to crown themselves with a game to spare.

Taking on Yorkshire at Harrogate, Kent were bowled out for 121 off the final ball in a rain-affected game – Fran Wilson and Maxine Blythin joint-top-scoring with 32. It proved 5 too many for Yorkshire, who finished 116-7, Leah Dobson 30* at the end.

This left Kent needing 15 points from their game the next day against Lancashire to make the title mathematically certain, and this they achieved as promising teenage fast bowler Chelsey Rowson took 4-24 to bowl Lancashire out for 161. An undefeated half-century from Fran Wilson then wrapped things up with 6 overs to spare, to send the trophy back to its forever-home in Kent!

Elsewhere, Hampshire picked up their first two wins – Providence Cowdrill taking 4-19 as they defeated Warwickshire, and captain Katie George hitting 80* to see off Notts. Warwickshire also finally got a win on the board – Amy Jones smashing 101* off 96 balls to defeat Surrey – completing a sorry weekend for Surrey, who also lost to Notts despite a run-a-ball hundred from Bryony Smith.

Meanwhile England fans will be delighted to see that Sarah Taylor made her return for Sussex, after missing most of the season through injury; though it didn’t help them much as they failed with the bat yet again versus Yorkshire – bowled out for 139. Sussex did get a win against Lancashire, thanks to Nancy Harman who took 4-19 as Lancs failed to chase 135 in a rain-reduced match at Kate Cross’s home club ground – Heywood CC.

MATCH REPORT: Count Dunkular Drains Devon

A maiden century from skipper Amara Carr proved in vain, as Sophia Dunkley drained Devon’s Div 2 title hopes with her 5th consecutive 50+ score in the Women’s County Championship for Middlesex.

Having won the toss, on a day when the weather could not make up its mind whether it was hot, cold, windy or still, Devon chose to bat at picturesque Eastcote Cricket Club.

Middlesex got an early breakthrough with the big wicket of in-form Georgia Hennessy – Katie Wolfe, having passed the bat several times in the early overs, going up for a huge appeal for caught behind, and Hennessy walking without the umpire needing to raise his finger.

Gaya Gole then clean-bowled Claire Varcoe for 1; but the match soon seemed to be turning in Devon’s favour, as Amara Carr and Emma Corney played sensibly, paddling the ball around to bring up their 50 partnership in the 19th over, and taking the score to 77-2 after 20 overs.

Carr brought up her 50 off 55 balls in the 27th over, and Corney’s half century followed shortly afterwards off 84 balls. The hundred partnership came too, but was finally broken shortly afterwards as Corney was bowled by Sonali Patel for 56.

Emily Edgecombe came and went – caught behind off Emily Thorpe for 3 – but Carr, who will be playing for Middlesex in the T20 London Cup at Lords this week, bustled her way on through the 80s and 90s to bring up her maiden County Championship hundred off 104 balls.

Carr was finally run out at the death on 105, by a direct hit from Naomi Dattani as she went for a sharp single, as Devon finished on 222-9, with Gole the pick of the Middlesex bowling taking 3-16.

In reply, Naomi Dattani and Cordelia Griffith – the latter fresh from a hundred the previous day against Somerset – got off to a flying start, with some generous help from the extras column, but were pegged-back a bit by a pair of maidens towards the end of the powerplay, which finished 56-0.

Dattani’s innings was ended by Charlie Phillips, though perhaps not in a way that the bowler herself would have wanted – the Middlesex captain caught by Ellie Mitchell off a high full toss for 19.

Griffith brought up her half century in the 22nd over, and she immediately followed it up by taking advantage of a very short boundary to smash a straight 6 over the sightscreen in celebration.

After 65 off 66 balls, Griffith didn’t quite get the full force of the bat on a lofted drive straight down the ground and was caught – Mitchell again the catcher – to give Phillips her second wicket of the afternoon.

Phillips had a chance for a third in her final over, but put down a tough caught and bowled opportunity from Sophia Dunkley, to finish with 2-41.

Dunkley passed 50 and was dropped again on 51, but gave no further alarms as her and Tash Miles (36*) cruised past the target with more than 5 overs to spare – Dunkley finishing things off with a lovely lofted drive for 4, to close on 75*.

Dunkley currently averages 113, having scored 451 runs in the Championship this season – yes it is Div 2, but surely enough to earn her selection for England’s up-coming series against the West Indies?

Meanwhile Middlesex go into a virtual “final” next weekend against leaders Berkshire, with the winner likely to take the Div 2 title as the County Championship draws to a climax one last time.

NEWS: Kent 15 Points Away From Championship

After their win at Yorkshire yesterday, Kent are now 15 points away from winning the last ever Women’s County Championship at Newton Le Willows CC on Merseyside today, where they meet Lancashire.

After Lancashire lost yesterday to Sussex, Kent’s nearest challengers are now Nottinghamshire on 64 points – Kent have 85* – 21 points clear with two games to play.

Notts could in theory reach 100 points with two “18 pointers” but because Kent have the head-to-head win against Notts in the bag, that means they only need to match them – i.e. Kent need to reach 100 points to take the title with one game left to play.

They can do that today by (a) winning, for 10 points; and (b) taking 5 of the 8 available bonus points.

Here’s a reminder of how bonus points work:

Bowling

Bowling points are pretty simple – you take wickets; you get points!

Wickets Points
3 1
5 2
7 3
9 4

Batting

Batting points are a bit more complicated, because they are calculated on the run rate, rather than the number of runs. To give you an idea, we’ve shown a 50 Over Equivalent score below; but remember if your side are chasing, it is really how quickly they score the runs rather than how many they score.

Run Rate (Per Over) 50 Over Equivalent Points
1.5 75 1
2 100 2
3 150 3
4 200 4

NB – If you are all-out, the run rate is calculated based on the full allocation of overs.

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* Play Cricket says 84, but Kent’s batting bonus points from yesterday are wrong – 121 runs / 36 overs = 3.36 RPO = 3 bonus points, not 2! (HT @WomensCricDay for pointing this out!) This is now corrected!

MATCH REPORT: Sophie Puts Day-Light Between Berkshire & The Pack

A half century from Australian overseas Sophie Day set Berkshire up for a 36-run victory over Durham, which combined with Devon’s loss to Essex put the Beavers 11* points clear at the top of Division 2 of the Women’s County Championship.

Day, together with Emily Cunningham, got Berkshire off to a great start on the way to a hundred partnership – Cunningham hitting Rachel Petherick for 4-6-4 in her second over, as the Beavers, whose batting has struggled of late, cantered to 50-0 off the first 10 overs.

After seven 4s and one 6, Cunningham was eventually undone by one that kept low from England Academy leg-spinner Helen Fenby, LBW for 41; but the left-handed Day went on to bring up her 50 in the 28th over with a pull through midwicket for two, before being bowled shortly afterwards by Hannah Knowles for 59.

England captain Heather Knight followed shortly afterwards, caught off a toe-edge for a nice 38, but with the score on 174 Berkshire were already in a very strong position.

With heavy drizzle coming down and the ball slipping around like a raccoon on roller-skates, spinner Laura Ellison struggled with her length, finding herself called for no balls for both high full tosses and double-bounces – but still managed to get the wicket of Anya Shrubsole, who plonked a full toss straight into the hands of Ami Campbell at mid off.

But a 40-run partnership between Lissy Macleod and Amanda Potgieter took Berkshire past the 200 required for maximum batting bonus points. Potgieter was eventually clean-bowled for 15 by Hannah Knowles; but Mcleod continued to tonk and bonk her way to 53 off 43 balls, helping Berkshire to a final total of 284-6.

In reply, Durham made it through the powerplay for the loss of just 1 wicket – Laura Hockaday LBW to Anya Shrubsole; but a second wicket followed almost immediately afterwards – Rachael Petherick also LBW to Phoebe Graham, leaving them 42-2.

Durham kept wickets in hand, but the run rate was starting to climb, and by the time drinks were taken at 17 overs it had already hit an ominous 7-per-over.

Remarkably though Durham, who had just the one win coming into this match, were keeping up more or less with that rate, hitting at around 7-an-over to keep the chase in sight, as Rachel Hopkins and Becky Glen targeted cow corner with some lusty blows to put on 81 for the 3rd wicket, until Glen became the 3rd LBW dismissal of the innings to Kate Coppack.

But the turning point came with the dismissal of Hopkins, who got to a half century before she went for one big shot too many against Macleod, lost her balance and was stumped for 54.

As darkness began to descend upon both Durham and the greying skies above North Maidenhead CC, Ami Campbell (42) skied a slog-sweep towards Heather Knight at long off – the England captain making no mistake taking the catch; and Emily Cunningham took a brilliant one-handed catch at gully, leaping high and back to dismiss Laura Ellison off Phoebe Graham for 16.

Berkshire’s thoughts could then turn towards bonus points, which they duly reeled-in, Graham finishing with 3-39 and Coppack with 3-38, as Durham closed on 249-9, with Berkshire taking a maximum 18 points from the game.

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* The current table shows a 9-point gap, but Devon have incorrectly banked bonus points from their abandoned match against Berkshire last weekend, which (we assume!) will at some point be removed.