RHF TROPHY: 2021 Batting Rankings – Luff At First Sight

Although COVID-19 has by no means “gone away”, and certainly hadn’t done so at the start of the season, when almost all the players were still ineligible for vaccinations in the UK, there was nonetheless a much more normal feel to this season, and that extends to the stats. England regulars (or, soon-to-be England regulars, in the case of Sophia Dunkley) dominated the first three rounds of the RHF Trophy, with three of them – Dunkley, Heather Knight and Amy Jones – making this list (which is designed to reward overall impact over one-off performances) despite only playing three games, where others played as many as nine!

Amy Jones stands out in particular, ranking second after scoring a run-a-ball hundred against Diamonds on the opening day, and then following that up with 163 off 114 balls versus Storm, lifting her overall Strike Rate way above anyone else close to her in terms of runs.

Jones’s performances weren’t quite enough to take her to first place on the list, though she was closer to first than third in terms of ‘points’ – sheer weight of runs was rewarded with a No. 1 spot for Sophie Luff. Having been the best team of the Super League era, Western Storm looked to have carried that forward into regionals last year, but although this season wasn’t a disaster (they lost 3, won 4) there were echoes of Somerset days past, as Luff carried the team, scoring one hundred and three 50s.

The Bryce sisters’ situation was reversed this season. After Sarah ranked 2nd last year and Kathryn 20th, this season it was Kathryn who placed 3rd, while Sarah ranked just outside the Top 20, at 21st. The sisters’ 200-run partnership on the closing day of the group stages against Sparks will take some beating when the history-books of this competition come to be written.

One name we could be hearing a lot more of in years to come, is that of Bess Heath – the Diamonds wicket keeper only played 5 matches after coming back from injury, but still made 6th spot thanks to a very positive Strike Rate. Earlier this season, I wondered who might be England’s Next Top Wicket Keeper, noting that it would probably be a batter who could keep wicket, and Heath’s case is starting to look strong in that regard.

Finally a word on Ami Campbell, who sneaks into the Top 10 after crucial performances for Diamonds in the semi-final and final. Top-scoring for Diamonds in both, for me she was Player of the Match in the final, having turned a game into a contest with her 60 off 73 balls. Aged 30, coming through Durham into a team which is essentially Yorkshire By Any Other Name, Campbell could have been forgiven for thinking she’d be a bit-part player at best; but she made it count when it counted, and you can’t help but wonder what might have been if she’d grown up in Kent or Sussex, rather than Northumbria…?

Player Played Runs Strike Rate
1. Sophie Luff (Storm) 7 417 80
2. Amy Jones (Sparks) 3 282 116
3. Kathryn Bryce (Lightning) 7 353 81
4. Bryony Smith (Stars) 6 252 102
5. Georgia Elwiss (Vipers) 7 265 93
6. Bess Heath (Diamonds) 5 212 112
7. Cordelia Griffith (Sunrisers) 7 273 82
8. Heather Knight (Storm) 3 223 98
9. Emma Lamb (Thunder) 6 237 87
10. Ami Campbell (Diamonds) 8 223 87
11. Sterre Kalis (Diamonds) 9 290 67
12. Sophia Dunkley (Stars) 3 196 95
13. Eve Jones (Sparks) 8 299 62
14. Beth Langston (Diamonds) 9 141 131
15. Danni Wyatt (Vipers) 4 206 80
16. Fran Wilson (Sunrisers) 6 165 99
17. Lissy Macleod (Sunrisers) 7 214 74
18. Georgie Boyce (Thunder) 7 232 67
19. Georgia Adams (Vipers) 8 233 65
20. Holly Armitage (Diamonds) 9 197 77

Batting Ranking = Runs * Strike Rate

INTERVIEW: Lisa Keightley – England Battling “Mental Fatigue” But Will “Learn and Grow”

Speaking to the media after England’s series win over New Zealand, Head Coach Lisa Keightley was in more of a reflective mood than you might expect, given England’s 200-run margin of victory in the final ODI.

“I think we learned a lot from the series,” she says. “It was nice to finish today and show the potential we have with the bat. It’s always good to get 300 – it gives us more chance when we go out to bat first, if we can put big runs on the board and make it hard for teams to chase.”

But Keightley was the first to concede that England have been far from perfect across the whole series.

“I wouldn’t say we were at our best throughout,” she admits.

The batting unit comes in for particular scrutiny, with Keightley suggesting they were struggling to adapt back to 50-over mode after playing a lot of short-form cricket this summer.

“I think some of the batters had pretty soft dismissals, and I think that was a little bit [to do with] ending the series against India in T20 form, then playing The Hundred. The transition into 50-over was too slow – we were playing high-risk shots too early in the innings and not hitting down the ground.”

“In our middle order at times we lost clusters of wickets, which we need to improve on. There were key moments where we had New Zealand on the ropes, and then we lost double wickets and we didn’t capitalise on the good work we did – we lost clusters of wickets and that stopped the momentum and put pressure on on us.”

Keightley accepts that this is in part because the players are tired.

“The girls need a break,” she says. “We’ve had two international series, and The Hundred in the middle. Where the girls are used to going back into domestic cricket, with The Hundred they are on telly all the time – you’ve got to perform and the games come really quickly – and then you roll straight over and into an international series. I think that’s new for the players and they’re not used to it.”

“We got through it, but I think at times the players have struggled with a bit of mental fatigue.”

Keightley accepts that this is the reality of the new world of professional women’s cricket, and she believes in her players ability to adapt.

“They’ve got to get used to it because it’s only gonna be like that moving forward; and I think we’ll learn and grow from the experience.”

But there was also a hint that the calendar may have to be looked at, promising in future to “make sure they [the players] get the break that they need” after going from an international series into The Hundred and then straight into another international series.

The long end to the summer has however offered the opportunity to experiment a little with both ends of the one-day lineup.

It looks like the 7-batters strategy is one Keightley feels England can take forwards in ODI cricket.

“We experimented this time with playing seven batters and taking five bowlers in, plus Heather which would give us six. I think if we’re going to put pressure on Australia and India, and South Africa and New Zealand, we need to get more runs. And to do that, if we go in with seven batters I think we can be really powerful at the back end of the innings, which we saw today.”

With the bowling it has been more about combinations and matchups.

“Our bowling unit we changed-up nearly every game. We want to make sure that we’ve got all our bases covered when we’re playing different teams, so we looked at different combinations; and it was really good to have five games to do that.”

England will obviously get a little break now, but they’ll be back in training very soon, and Keightley makes it clear that she is looking for determination and focus from the players.

“It will be ‘eyes on the prize’ – working really hard leading up through Christmas, and going out to Australia in January. We won’t get back until March at the end of the World Cup, so it’s game on!”


England finally produced the performance we’ve been waiting for all summer, on the last day of the English women’s season in Canterbury – posting over 300 for the first time since the Pakistan series in Kuala Lumpur in December 2019.

Tammy Beaumont led the way with her 9th international century (8 in ODIs and 1 in T20s) after putting on 95 for the first wicket with Lauren Winfield-Hill, who made 43 – her highest score since 2019. Winfield-Hill’s recent record is unspectacular from one perspective – she hasn’t made an international 50 since 2016; but she nonetheless averages 29 in ODIs this summer. To put this in perspective, it is only 10 less than Beaumont, and 7 less than Heather Knight; so the bottom line is that although Winfield-Hill hasn’t made a big score, she has still been pretty consistent since her comeback.

But the key to England’s huge total today was not Beaumont, who played the anchor role and finished with a Strike Rate of “only” 90, but the middle-order, which finally clicked… and clicked biggly.

It started with Nat Sciver, who has struggled for form against New Zealand this month, but came in today with an obvious intent to play positively, and hit 39 off 38 balls – a Strike Rate of just over 100, showing that there were runs to be made here, despite the huge boundaries. Amy Jones followed Sciver to the crease, and upped the ante again, making 60 off 46 balls at a Strike Rate of 130. Then finally with Sophia Dunkley (33* off 25) also going well at the other end, Danni Wyatt turned the volume up to 11 with 43* off 20 balls – a Strike Rate of 215. England added a massive 96 runs in the final 10 overs – by far their most productive 10 over phase of the series – leaving New Zealand with a mountain to climb.

And climb it, they could not. Only Hayley Jensen, coming in at 8 with the game already far gone, was able to hit at over 100, as England’s bowlers just looked to keep it tight and let the massive total do its work, with the White Ferns bowled out for 144, over 200 runs short.

New Zealand will fly home disappointed with their tour, having lost both series against an England side which looked tired at times after a long domestic season. But there are some positives they can take into the lead-up to the World Cup, where they will have the advantage of home soil. Hannah Rowe was the joint leading wicket-taker in the ODI series, with 10 wickets alongside England’s Charlie Dean; and Lea Tahuhu also performed well, including her spectacular 5fer at Leicester. Both could be key players in the World Cup; when they will also of course have Amelia Kerr back in the XI.

For once, it is the batting that will be a worry. Amy Satterthwaite, Sophie Devine and Suzie Bates all showed glimpses on this tour of why they are some of the most revered hitters in the game; and Maddy Green had a good day in Leicester; but overall there simply weren’t enough swallows to make a summer for them with the bat. This doesn’t mean it can’t all come good for them at the World Cup, but it will be a concern.

As for England, they can go out tonight and celebrate the end of a long summer, with their record this calendar year across all formats, including the tour of New Zealand, reading an impressive: Played 21; Won 15; Lost just 5.

Now (finally!) the players can take a holiday and get some sleep, before they regroup in the autumn to prepare to face Australia in the Ashes at the beginning of next year. Next year sounds like a long time away, but there are only 3 months before they’ll need to fly out to quarantine ahead of the series, and that’ll go all too quickly – 2022 is, if anything, going to be an even longer year; and with 3 huge trophies to play for – the Ashes, the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games – England will need to be at their very, very best to challenge for all of them.

Lastly on a personal note, that’s all the live cricket we’ll be covering this year too – and probably for a bit longer than that, as it looks very unlikely we’ll be able to get to Australia or New Zealand due to… The C Word (COVID)! It has been another brilliant summer though, shared with this fantastic crew in the press box (plus a shout out to Rick ‘Cricket Man Wales’ Walton)

… as well as with everyone who follows us on Twitter and reads the site – your interactions, comments and replies are what keeps us going, so a big thanks to YOU for your support, and… we’ll see you back here soon!

RHF TROPHY FINAL: Charlotte Edwards – “I’m Lost For Words”

At the mid point in the English summer, half way through the Hundred, the twin “Southern” teams – Brave and Vipers – were, if not “on top of the world”, on top of all the bits of it that mattered: in first place in the Hundred, leading their group in the Charlotte Edwards T20 Cup; and at the top of the table in the 50-over RHF Trophy.

But disappointment followed in both the Hundred, beaten by Oval Invincibles in the final at Lords, and the CE Cup, knocked out in the semi-final by Northern Diamonds.

And with 10 overs to go in the RHF final, it was looking like a hat trick of finals day defeats was on the cards – Vipers were 126-7, still needing 58 runs to win, with the Diamonds clear favourites.

But 9.4 overs later, it was the Vipers who were walking off to collect the trophy, leaving the northern side to contemplate having finished runners-up in England’s List A competition for 5 consecutive years – as Yorkshire, finishing second in the County Championship in 2017, ’18 and ’19; and as Diamonds, defeated by Vipers in the RHF final in 2020 and now ’21.

“I never ever think we’re down and out, but I knew it was an uphill task,” admitted Vipers coach Charlotte Edwards as her team celebrated with the trophy on the outfield at Northampton. “It was one of the most unbelievable games of cricket – two really good teams who fought hard. Both teams probably thought they’d won it at times, but we’re really thankful to come out on top.”

The keys to the win were Emily Windsor and Tara Norris, who shared an unbeaten stand of 78 to grind out the most unlikely come-back win from 7 wickets down.

“I came down to the dug-out and said ‘We’ve got to take this as deep as we possibly can, and back ourselves’,” said Edwards, “and that’s what they did.”

Tara Norris, speaking with her winner’s medal around her neck, reflected her coach’s words: “I said to Winnie [Emily WIndsor]: ‘We’ve just got to take it deep.’ We knew that if we batted the 50 overs we’d win the game so it was about just holding our nerve.”

For Norris, the experience of losing on finals day twice already this season was a huge motivation: “I knew I didn’t want to feel that way again, so for me it was that grit that I wouldn’t walk off the pitch until the game was over.”

Although the Vipers were chasing a relatively low total, which Norris admitted they would have taken at the start of the day, the Diamonds bowlers didn’t make it easy at any stage, with Jenny Gunn and Katie Levick between them bowling 20 overs, taking 4-51; but crucially Diamonds gambled on bowling both out early, leaving Norris and Windsor to face slightly easier options in the run-in.

“Winnie was getting a little bit stressed,” admitted Norris, “but I just told her: ‘It’s a run a ball, we’ve done this thousands of times, we’ve got this.’ It was just being smart and thinking: Katie Levick and Jenny Gunn have got two overs left, one over left – let’s not take them on – let’s see them off and take the game as it comes and try and attack a different bowler.”

Which they did, taking 10 runs off Linsey Smith in the 49th, leaving them needing just two to win in the final over bowled by Beth Langston. Langston had bowled really well up-top, taking two wickets in her first two overs, but with the ball now old, she couldn’t quite generate the same zip she’d achieved earlier, allowing Windsor to hit the winning boundary off the 4th ball and seal the title.

It was a satisfying moment for the coach.

“I’m so proud of them all – we’ve had a great season, we’ve only lost one 50 over game, and to come out under that pressure to win it… I’m a bit lost for words! It makes all those winter months and all the hard work we’ve done truly worthwhile.”

ENGLAND v NEW ZEALAND: 4th ODI – Knight Knight, Sleep Tight

England put the ODI series to bed in Derby, completing their highest ever run chase thanks to a heavyweight hundred from Heather Knight.

Knight’s 4th international century was a very on-brand innings – perfectly paced, she did (almost) exactly what was needed – no more; no less. She passed 50 barely acknowledging the milestone, focussing on the job at hand; and only when she passed one hundred did she remove her helmet and share a hug with Danni Wyatt who was batting at the other end.

It wasn’t quite the perfect innings though – Knight’s famous concentration let her down for a moment, holing-out on the boundary with 8 runs still required – and she’ll be kicking herself for it. But despite the loss of Wyatt in the same over, it somehow felt never in doubt for England, with shades of the 2017 World Cup semi-final as Anya Shrubsole came in and clattered the first ball of the final over for 4, although it still took a wide to get them over the line with 2 balls to spare.

That New Zealand were able to set England a record-breaking chase was largely thanks to their tail piling on the runs at the death. With Katey Martin playing the anchor role at one end, finishing on 65*, Brooke Halliday (28) and Hannah Rowe (15) knocked off 43 from 33 balls between them, as the White Ferns hit at 7 runs an over through the last 10.

Hannah Rowe then went on to take 3-19 in her first six-over spell, removing Lauren Winfield-Hill with a beauty, as well as Tammy Beaumont and Nat Sciver, to leave England in a spot of bother at 71-3. Amy Jones has had ups and downs this summer, and she didn’t look at her best today either, but the important thing today was to stabilise the innings at a point where England could have collapsed to the loss, and that Jones did, putting on exactly 100 runs with Knight, to take England into match-winning territory.

Danni Wyatt also made a vital intervention – 27 off 27 balls, and crucially hitting her one maximum at an absolutely pivotal moment. At the start of the 44th over, England still needed 42 from 42 balls. By the end of it, that 6 from Wyatt, plus a 4 from Knight and 3 singles, had changed the equation to 29 from 36 balls – suddenly the pressure was dialled-down, and England were able to get home despite the mini-collapse at the end.

England clearly didn’t envisage Wyatt being part of their first-choice ODI XI coming into this series, but she has made a couple of important contributions now, and England look to have found a formula that works with 7 batters, albeit one that does leave them dependent on Nat Sciver to bowl almost a full quota of overs. Sciver is in a little bit of a slump with the bat, having scored just 34 runs in 6 outings versus New Zealand, but she’ll come good again – she has to, if England are to have any hope in Australia this winter.

Freed from the pressure to win the series, it will be interesting to see if England give Maia Bouchier a run out in the last match, having called her up prior to the Leicester game. If not, Heather Knight hinted in the press conference that people could be released to play in the RHF Trophy final on Saturday, so hopefully it will be one or the other – either an England ODI debut, or a domestic final.

Meanwhile, her Vipers teammate Charlie Dean looks to have secured her spot on the plane to the Ashes in Australia, having now played all 4 ODIs thus far, and taken 3 more wickets today. She’s not just bagging the tail-end Charlies (sorry!), or getting people caught on the boundary either – her wickets today included Amy Satterthwaite bowled and Sophie Devine LBW. There will be challenges to come – the hard part for any spinner is a few months after your debut, when the batters have had a chance to review your footage and make their plans – but she’s made a start, and you can’t ask for anything more than that.


A battling half-century from Maddy Green got New Zealand home in a chase that looks easier on the scorecard than it was at the ground.

Until today, in a 9-year international career, Green had never passed 50 against a “Top 8” team – her two previous highest scores of 122 and 50 both coming against Ireland on the “Tour Of A Trillion Tons” in 2018.

Coming to the crease at 12-1 in the 5th over, Green fought through 40 overs, finishing 70* off 106 balls, to carry the White Ferns to only their second ODI win in 2 years – a period in which they have lost 13 one day games.

A late assault from Lea Tahuhu, who smashed Tash Farrant for consecutive 4s and then finished it off with a 6, meant that the Kiwi’s margin of victory was 25 balls; but it was a closer run thing than that suggests. England kept plugging away, and when Katherine Brunt took the wicket of Hayley Jensen to leave New Zealand 7 down with still 21 required, it looked like England might just pull off one of history’s great escapes; but Tahuhu was having none of it – Green actually barely got a look-in at the death, with Tahuhu scoring all but 3 of the remaining runs.

It was in a way poetic that Tahuhu finished it off, having started it earlier in the day with a wonderful spell of controlled fast… ish bowling. She didn’t bowl with the pace she is legendary for, but she pitched it up on a track with little carry, and bowled tight lines to send England’s top order tumbling, taking 4-20 in the powerplay, and then coming back later to put the icing on the cake with a 5th – her first international 5fer in a decade-long, 128-match career.

The credit goes to Tahuhu, of course; but the other side of the coin is that England’s batters look exhausted after the longest summer of their careers. From the start of the domestic season back in May, there was then a long series against India, including the Test; followed by The Hundred, which was somehow a much more intensive competition to play than the KSL. Adding on a September series with 3 T20s and then 5 ODIs – two more than “normal” – feels like the straw that has broken the batter’s backs.

We now move on to Derby, where New Zealand have a chance to square up the series and set up a decider at the weekend. England’s challenge will be to pick themselves up again for one last push; while New Zealand have a real opportunity to upset England’s slightly knackered-looking apple cart.

Whatever the politics, England will be mightily relieved in retrospect that they don’t now have to travel to Pakistan next month – that feels like it really would have been a bridge too far, and is something the ECB will need to consider when they try to reschedule that series for 2022. These players didn’t grow up as professionals, and we still have to account for that in what we ask of them, or we’ll end up with a lot more days like today.

ENGLAND v NEW ZEALAND: 2nd ODI – Good Luck Charlie

Back in June 2019, Bryony Smith made her ODI debut for England. In a rain-affected match at Chelmsford, Smith didn’t get a bat (she was carded to come in at 9) but took 1-20 from 8 overs, as England beat West Indies by 135 runs on D/L.

Following that game, I wrote that then-coach Mark Robinson looked to have found a role for Smith, not as the opening batter everyone thought she was, but as a replacement for the soon-to-retire Laura Marsh – a reliable, economical off-spinner spinner, who offered a bit with the bat as a bonus.

So much for my theories… Smith hasn’t played for England since; while England have continued the search for a long-term spin partner for Sophie Ecclestone, having burned through a number of names in the meantime.

Was perhaps Charlie Dean the answer? You certainly wouldn’t have picked her out at the start of the season – she isn’t even one of the 60-odd “full time” professionals we now have in England. But she obviously impressed Heather Knight, who captained her for London Spirit in The Hundred, and clearly saw something more in her.

Her debut was a solid performance in Bristol – she got hit for a few runs, but the important thing is how you respond to that; and her response today was just the one England would have wanted.

Dean came back into the attack with New Zealand having every prospect of winning the game, despite what felt like a decidedly un-generous Duckworth-Lewis adjustment, that cut the overs available by 16%, but the target by only 8%. I know… I know… it is all statistically proven, taking wickets into account as well as overs, but it still FELT harsh.

But I digress…

New Zealand needed 58 runs from 84 balls, with Katey Martin and Brooke Halliday at the crease – I wouldn’t have put money on the Kiwis at that stage… but equally I’d have been a fool to bet against them. Dean was the obvious bowler for New Zealand to target too – her first two overs had gone for 16; but England had to bowl her, with only 4 specialist bowlers plus Nat Sciver in their lineup.

The pressure was all on Dean in that moment.

And how did she respond?


She bowled her remaining 6 overs straight through, taking 4-20 in the spell: good wickets with good balls, and single-handedly put the game to bed. England simply couldn’t have asked for any more.

Is Charlie Dean the answer to all England’s hopes and prayers? Like the consequences of the French revolution, it is definitely too early too tell. But she has launched her ship on the seas of international cricket, and with a little fortune she could go far.

Good luck, Charlie!

RHF TROPHY: Vipers v Diamonds – Elwiss Scales The Wuthering Heights of Heath’s Cliff

At 105-4 at the end of the 30th over of their de-facto “semi final” against Southern Vipers, Northern Diamonds looked to be heading for a gently undulating total of around 175, with Bess Heath on 0 off 1 ball, having entered the fray at the fall of the 3rd wicket two overs before.

Ten overs later, things were looking very, very different, with Heath on her way to a 51-ball 71, which included eight 4s and two huge 6s, turning that gently undulating slope into an imposing cliff for the Vipers batters to climb.

It was 20-year-old Heath’s 3rd significant score in regional cricket since the end of The Hundred, following knocks of 58* and 78*, both against Thunder, in the CE Cup and RHF Trophy respectively, which will have been noted by those on the look-out for England’s next wicket-keeper, who will inevitably be a “batter who can keep” rather than just a wicket keeper.

It was going to take a significant performance from someone for the Vipers to scale “Heath’s Cliff” and that someone was Georgia Elwiss. Out of favour with England’s cricketing management, but with some vocal support from the national women’s football team, watching on from balcony of the Hilton Hotel, where they were staying following their 8-0 thrashing of North Macedonia in Southampton last night, Elwiss carried the Vipers on her shoulders for the second time in a week, hitting 84* to see them home.

In the last two matches, Elwiss has now accumulated 196 runs without being dismissed, after her 112* versus Sunrisers.

“I literally just bat,” said Elwiss after the game. “I don’t even look at the scoreboard. I know that if I can rotate the strike then runs will come. I’ve had a lean run of form over the summer so I felt like I needed to repay the Vipers a little bit, and it’s amazing what happens when you give yourself a chance.”

The chance Vipers have now is to retain the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, having won the inaugural competition last year. Whoever they face in the final – Sparks or Diamonds – won’t make it easy for them; but with Elwiss in great nick, Georgia Adams coming off the back of two consecutive half centuries, and Maia Bouchier back from England duty, they have the batting to climb the wuthering heights of any cliff – Heath’s.. or anyone else’s!