The structure of the domestic season is still in flux after a) a global pandemic and b) the move from county to regional teams, but this year may be the first time we see the beginnings of a formula which future seasons will follow.
The season will begin with the T20 Charlotte Edwards Cup, starting this Saturday 14 May and culminating in a three-team Finals Day at Northampton on Saturday 11 June.
There will be two groups – Vipers, Thunder, Lightning, and Diamonds in one group; and Sparks, Storm, Sunrisers, and Stars in the other.
For the first time, the CE Cup will include a number of double-headers with the men’s Vitality Blast, and we have been promised that one of these will be televised (although there doesn’t seem to be any confirmation about which one it is – let us know if we’ve missed something!)
Then, from 2 July, teams will embark on their Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy campaigns (with a break in the middle for The Hundred), culminating in a Grand Final at Lord’s on Sunday 25 September.
In a reversal of last season, it’s likely that England players will be available for much of the CE Cup, but will miss the RHF Trophy in its entirety, requiring younger players to step up in the 50-over competition.
Which team will come out on top? Who will shine? Read on for our thoughts…
(NB: A full list of regional fixtures can be found here.)
WHO’S GOING TO WIN IT?
Southern Vipers have dominated regionals since their inception in 2020, winning two RHF Trophies along the way, but they will this be the year that they become a victim of their own success? There’s a good chance they will lose four key players (Bell, Bouchier, Dean and Wyatt) to England for much of the season, and this could open the way for others to challenge them in both formats. Diamonds (or Yorkshire, as they were) have finished 50-over runners-up in for the past 5 seasons, and were also the beaten finalists in last season’s Charlotte Edwards Cup, so we’re tipping them to share the silverware with Vipers this season.
WHO WILL GET THE WOODEN SPOON?
Sunrisers took home that dubious honour last season, and have recently lost a big asset in coach Trevor Griffin. He stepped down suddenly last month, leaving Sunrisers to draft in a replacement at the last minute – Laura Marsh. It remains to be seen how well Marsh will perform in her first Head Coach role, but she’s certainly got her work cut out for her – we think it could be another tricky season for the London-based side, whose squad is not much changed from 2021.
Our pick last season – Grace Scrivens – ended up not quite getting the opportunities she deserved, and being ultimately overshadowed by Alice Capsey; but she’s come into this season looking like she means business, with a string of captain’s knocks for Kent, so we almost went for her again. However, it’s actually another Kent player – Alexa Stonehouse – who we’ve got our eye on for this summer. The 17-year-old left-handed allrounder doesn’t bowl with lightning pace (yet!) but she looks to have good control (a-la Freya Davies) and she’s also been smashing it with the bat at Academy level. She’ll be playing for South East Stars in regionals, but has also been snapped up by Trent Rockets for The Hundred.
We hope Marie Kelly won’t be too offended to be labelled a “golden oldie”, but to be fair, she has been playing senior domestic cricket since 2011! The 26-year-old made a big call at the end of the 2021 season, choosing to leave Central Sparks for Lightning, presumably in the hope of more opportunities with the bat. So far at least it looks to have been a smart move – she’s already smashed 69 from 29 balls in a warm-up against Sunrisers, and is likely to be opening the batting for Lightning come Saturday. If she can carry her pre-season form into the Lottie Cup, it could be a fun few weeks!
Syd: It must be more than 10 years ago now that Don Miles (of womenscricket.net fame) first told me about a kid who’d been setting fire to the County Age Group record books down in Sussex – that kid was Paige Scholfield, now coming into her prime aged 26. After a quiet season in 2021, following a back operation that spring, Scholfield looks ready to take on 2022 fitter and stronger than ever – there’s extra zip to her bowling, and more power in her hitting. With so many Vipers players likely to be called up for England duty, this is Scholfield’s chance to shine, and she looks in form to grab the opportunity with both hands.
Raf: Assuming Emma Lamb gets to play a decent amount of cricket for Thunder this season, she is going to be vital to both their campaigns, sitting atop the order and bowling her usual reliable off-spin. She’s just recorded Lancashire’s best ever T20 bowling figures, taking 5 for 5 in the T20 Cup Group 1 Final against Yorkshire as her side lifted the trophy, after earlier hitting 62* from 34 balls in the semi v Notts. The only snag will be if she gets another England call-up (but she probably won’t mind that too much as and when it happens!)
(NB: Some squads had not been fully confirmed at the time of writing.)
Central Sparks: Eve Jones (captain), Emily Arlott, Hannah Baker, Clare Boycott, Thea Brookes, Steph Butler, Ami Campbell, Georgia Davis, Gwenan Davies, Poppy Davies, Ria Fackrell, Abbey Freeborn, Sarah Glenn, Milly Home, Amy Jones, Anisha Patel, Davina Perrin, Grace Potts, Liz Russell, Issy Wong
Lightning: Kathryn Bryce (captain), Grace Ballinger, Tammy Beaumont, Sarah Bryce, Ella Claridge, Piepa Cleary, Bethan Ellis, Kirstie Gordon, Josie Groves, Teresa Graves, Beth Harmer, Lucy Higham, Marie Kelly, Michaela Kirk, Sophie Munro, Katie Midwood, Alicia Presland, Lenny Sims
Northern Diamonds: Hollie Armitage (captain), Katherine Brunt, Leah Dobson, Yvonne Graves, Jenny Gunn, Bess Heath, Rachel Hopkins, Sterre Kalis, Leigh Kasperek, Beth Langston, Katie Levick, Emma Marlow, Nat Sciver, Rachel Slater, Linsey Smith, Phoebe Turner, Lauren Winfield-Hill
South East Stars: Bryony Smith (captain), Chloe Brewer, Alice Capsey, Kira Chathli, Claudie Cooper, Aylish Cranstone, Alice Davidson-Richards, Freya Davies, Sophia Dunkley, Tash Farrant, Phoebe Franklin, Grace Gibbs, Eva Gray, Dani Gregory, Emma Jones, Ryana Macdonald-Gay, Kalea Moore, Rhianna Southby, Alexa Stonehouse, Kirstie White
Southern Vipers: Georgia Adams (captain), Lauren Bell, Maia Bouchier, Charlie Dean, Georgia Elwiss, Nancy Harman, Chloe Hill, Freya Kemp, Ella McCaughan, Alice Monaghan, Tara Norris, Carla Rudd, Paige Scholfield, Anya Shrubsole, Charlotte Taylor, Emily Windsor, Danni Wyatt
Sunrisers: Kelly Castle (captain), Amara Carr, Kate Coppack, Naomi Dattani, Jo Gardner, Gaya Gole, Cordelia Griffith, Lissy Macleod, Abtaha Maqsood, Sonali Patel, Mia Rogers, Grace Scrivens, Katherine Speed, Mady Villiers
Thunder: Ellie Threlkeld (captain), Georgie Boyce, Nat Brown, Alice Clarke, Danielle Collins, Kate Cross, Rebecca Duckworth, Alice Dyson, Sophie Ecclestone, Phoebe Graham, Alex Hartley, Liberty Heap, Laura Jackson, Hannah Jones, Emma Lamb, Laura Marshall, Daisy Mullan, Shachi Pai, Seren Smale, Sophia Turner
Western Storm: Sophie Luff (captain), Emma Corney, Emily Edgcombe, Lauren Filer, Katie George, Danielle Gibson, Alex Griffiths, Georgia Hennessy, Niamh Holland, Steph Hutchins, Heather Knight, Fi Morris, Claire Nicholas, Lauren Parfitt, Nat Wraith