England v West Indies – 1st ODI – Windies Go Back To Zero

The last time England and the West Indies faced-off was at the World Twenty20 last November, on a sweltering night in St Lucia.

“It feels like a long time ago,” says England opener Amy Jones. “They played very well that day.”

In an intense encounter, the West Indies were on fire – they were sharp in the field and bowled aggressively, putting England under early pressure to restrict them to 115; and then batted frantically to overhaul the total with 3 balls to spare.

The crowd that night were immense – “I remember it was very noisy – very loud!” says Jones. Indeed, it felt like England weren’t facing 11 West Indians but 8 thousand, roaring them on for every wicket, every catch and every run.

The star of the show was Deandra Dottin, whose 2 wickets and 46 runs earned her the Player of the Match award.

On that night it felt like the Windies were back – they had recovered from their humiliation by South Africa at the 50-over World Cup in England, and were looking more like the title holders, who had won the World T20 in India two years before.

Six months later, the West Indies meet England again.

But this was no sizzling night in St Lucia – it was a windy day-nighter in Leicester! There was no roaring crowd – about 300 turned up, despite more than twice that many advance tickets being sold – and no Deandra Dottin.

And without those twin talismen – the crowd and the crowd-pleaser – the West Indies fell to pieces. They let England get a start – putting on 57 for the wicket; and then failed to capitalise on their double breakthrough – allowing England to push on… and then pile-on – scoring 80 runs between the 30th and 40th overs.

They were shocking in the field – balls went over them, past them, and sometimes just right through them – but they looked like they didn’t really care – like they had given up on the series before it had even begun.

Self-belief is a huge part of international cricket – and the West Indies clearly didn’t believe they could chase 318. Kycia Knight’s 16 off 45 balls was not even the epitome – it was the captain Stafanie Taylor’s 1 off 11 balls which really said it all – WE CAN’T DO THIS – painted in capital letters all over their faces.

In some ways, it was worse for the West Indies than that World Cup game against South Africa when they were bowled out for 48. South Africa’s bowlers had the collective game of their lives that day – today England were merely efficient – it was all they needed to be… and they still won by over 200 runs!

Can the Windies recover from this mental drubbing before Sunday’s next encounter at Worcester? It didn’t look like it from their expressions, as they trudged across the outfield back to the team bus after the game.

But England should not be complacent – cricket is a funny game – you can go from zero to hero… and back to zero again… awfully quickly.

Just ask the West Indies!


NEWS: England Play It Safe With West Indies Squad

There are no surprises and no new caps in England’s squad to face the West Indies in the first two of 3 ODIs and 3 T20s this summer prior to the Women’s Ashes.

England have gone largely with experience, including veterans Jenny Gunn and Laura Marsh, and leaving out all of the recent “new” caps, with no room on the bus for the likes of Linsey Smith, Kirstie Gordon, Sophia Dunkley or Freya Davies.

Dunkley’s omission is particularly surprising after she scored over 450 runs at an average of 113, including 2 centuries and 3 fifties, in this season’s Women’s County Championship; but she misses out in favour of Fran Wilson, who has also been in excellent form for County Champions Kent.

Sarah Taylor comes back into the squad, after missing most of the county season through injury, but her Sussex team-mate Georgia Elwiss is not fully fit to return, despite having played for Sussex as a batsman last weekend.

Full Squad

Heather Knight (Berkshire)
Tammy Beaumont (Kent)
Katherine Brunt (Yorkshire)
Kate Cross (Lancashire)
Sophie Ecclestone (Lancashire)
Alex Hartley (Lancashire)
Jenny Gunn (Nottinghamshire)
Amy Jones (Warwickshire)
Laura Marsh (Kent)
Nat Sciver (Surrey)
Anya Shrubsole (Berkshire)
Sarah Taylor (Sussex)
Fran Wilson (Kent)
Lauren Winfield (Yorkshire)
Danni Wyatt (Sussex)

DEBRIEF: Women’s County Championship Div 2 – Middlesex Pip Berkshire To Win Div 2

Team Played Won Lost N/R Tied Points
Middlesex 7 5 1 0 1 102
Berkshire 7 5 1 1 0 98
Essex 7 5 2 0 0 94
Wales 7 3 3 0 1 78
Devon 6 3 2 1 0 67
Worcestershire 7 2 5 0 0 53
Somerset 6 1 5 0 0 48
Durham 7 1 6 0 0 46

Middlesex completed their comeback from their opening day loss to Essex to claim the Div 2 crown with a 20 run win over Berkshire. Two crucial interventions from Katie Wolfe – a rapid 19 off 18 balls batting at number 11, and a two-in-two with the ball to break the back of Berkshire’s middle-order – took Middlesex to the win they needed to overhaul the girls in green at the top of the table.

Meanwhile Essex confirmed third place with a 55 run win over Worcestershire. Cath Dalton top-scored with 70 as Essex posted 197-8, and despite 48* from captain-keeper-batsman-is-there-anything-she-doesn’t-do Chloe Hill, the Rapids could only reach 138-7 off their rain-reduced 43 overs.

Up in Durham, 3-14 from Martha Bilsland helped Wales bowl out their hosts for 175, which Wales chased-down easily thanks to half-centuries from Rachel Priest (84) and Lauren Parfitt (58) for the loss of only 4 wickets.

Finally, Somerset v Devon was called-off, with both teams promising to replay the match later in the season, though it won’t affect the outcome of the division, with no relegation at stake due to the changes coming in 2020.

DEBRIEF: Women’s County Championship Div 1 – Sussex End Kent’s Unbeaten Final Season

Team Played Won Lost Points
Kent 7 6 1 106
Yorkshire 7 5 2 93
Sussex 7 4 3 85
Lancashire 7 4 3 82
Hampshire 7 3 4 80
Nottinghamshire 7 3 4 75
Surrey 7 2 5 59
Warwickshire 7 1 6 50

With the County Championship having already retired, like some Edwardian maiden aunt, to a convalescent home in Kent, there was little but pride to play for in the final round of the tournament. Under these circumstances, it was perhaps fitting that it was the two great rivals of recent years – Kent and Sussex – who played out the key game of the weekend.

There is little love lost between the two counties, who have shared 14 of the last 17 titles, and whose animosity boiled-over in the infamous Beckenhamgate affair in 2015; but despite Kent having claimed the trophy, it was Sussex who had the final word with a huge 160 run triumph at Kent’s home Spitfire Ground.

Having won the toss, Sussex captain Georgia Adams (65) elected to bat and put on 118 for the first wicket with Izzy Collis (67). England’s Georgia Elwiss, making her comeback from the injury that ended her tour to the subcontinent early this spring, then added a 3rd half-century of the innings, as Sussex posted 268-6.

In reply, the champions – albeit missing half their team due to England call-ups ahead of the international season which starts this week – were skittled out for just 108, with Tara Norris, Cassidy McCarthy and Chiara Green taking two wickets each.

Elsewhere, Hampshire had an even bigger margin of victory as they walloped sorry Surrey by 192 runs. There were half-tons for Charlie Dean and Lucia Kendall as Hampshire posted 273-9, before dismissing Surrey for 81 – 3 wickets apiece for Danielle Ransley and Fi Morris.

Rain affected both the other two matches, but both nonetheless produced results – Hollie Armitage making 59 as Yorkshire secured second place, chasing a Duckworth-Lewis adjusted 206 against Notts; whilst the Duckworth-Lewis calculations set Lancashire 58 from 10 overs to beat Warwickshire, which they cantered to thanks to Eve Jones (27* off 19) and Emma Lamb (24 off 14).

So… that’s that for the Women’s County Championship, which is set to be taken behind the woodshed by the ECB after 23 years. (Conversations we’ve had suggest that rumours of a climb-down by The Powers That Be are little more than wishful thinking, we’re sorry to say, and though a delay is possible it would be little more than a stay of execution.)

It’s been a blast, and we’ll miss it like crazy, but there will still be cricket in years to come, because the 50 over game isn’t going anywhere – not yet, anyway! [Don’t give them ideas- Ed.] 

MATCH REPORT: Wolfe Keeps Berkshire From The Door

In what will almost certainly be the last ever County Championship match for both sides, due to the ECB’s planned restructure of domestic cricket from next season, Berkshire fell an agonising 20 runs short of their target at Mill Hill School to finish the season as Division 2 runners up.

They were beaten into second place by Division 2 champions Middlesex, who took a late flurry of wickets – Katie Wolfe finishing with 3-12 across her 10 overs – to bowl their opponents out and finish a mere four points ahead in the final standings.

The match was also notable for what may well be the last ever 50-over innings in top level cricket from England legend Beth Morgan, who becomes the only player ever to have featured in every season of the Women’s County Championship (which has run since 1997).* Morgan additionally took a crucial catch at mid-off to see off Berkshire’s top-scorer, Emily Cunningham, setting off the batting collapse which ultimately cost the Beavers the game.

Berkshire had started their chase slowly but steadily, reaching just 16-0 off the first 10 overs but achieving their initial aim of seeing off twin pacers Wolfe and Gaya Gole.

With Lissy Macleod joining the chase in the 21st over, after Sherisa Gumbs was adjudged LBW to Emma Albery, the Beavers picked up the pace – Macleod playing a series of lofted tonks and Cunningham hitting the only six of the day over midwicket.

Their 61-run partnership was finally broken in the 31st over by Emily Thorpe, Cunningham departing for 43, but it was the reintroduction the following over of Wolfe – fresh from last week’s hat-trick against Somerset – which really broke the back of Berkshire’s chase.

She initially had Amanda Potgieter clean bowled for a duck, and then added to her tally of destruction by having both Macleod (42) and Phoebe Graham trapped LBW in successive deliveries – Ashleigh Muttitt seemingly lucky to have survived a similar fate after she walked in to face the hat-trick ball.

From there, although the lower order fought bravely, the result was all-but a foregone conclusion – Berkshire eventually bowled out for 146 in the 48th over, a direct hit run-out from Middlesex keeper Iqraa Hussain finishing the job.

Earlier, with Anya Shrubsole sitting on the sidelines (literally!) ahead of the England internationals this week, it had been Graham’s time to shine, opening the bowling with Lauren Bell in Shrubsole’s place and finishing with figures of 3-30.

In tandem, the pair out-paced the Middlesex top order, with Cordelia Griffith edging Graham behind in the second over; while at the other end Bell opened up with two maidens before clean bowling both Tash Miles and Albery.

That left Middlesex 19-3; but Morgan – in a fitting likely end to her lengthy county career – was once again the backbone of the innings, sharing a 40-run partnership with Naomi Dattani – Dattani displaying some powerful hitting over midwicket, while Morgan was content to carefully nurdle singles through the gaps.

Captain Macleod eventually induced one pull too many from Dattani to have her caught at midwicket, but Morgan took the less risky option and stuck around for 10 more overs, adding another 41 runs with Ollie Rae (26) before being run out by a smart piece of keeping from stand-in Berkshire glove-butler Ellen Watson.

Though Middlesex couldn’t quite see out the 50 overs, with Macleod, Graham and Sophie Day all chipping in with wickets, they did add a crucial 34 runs across the last 10 overs – number 11 Wolfe smashing 3 quick-fire boundaries with a 19-run cameo at the tail end of the innings, runs that proved just as critical as her wickets to the eventual scoreline.

Of course the result is purely academic, given that this is the last season in which the Women’s County Championship will run. For all that, it was a match which was clearly hard-fought on both sides – and a fitting end to the competition which has for so long been a critical breeding ground for the England players of the future, and which will (for those who have followed, played in and helped to run it) be deeply missed.

*Stat courtesy of @_hypocaust