OPINION: Alyssa Healy’s Sporting Gesture Shows The Way For Australian Cricket

Ravi Nair reflects upon a moment from today’s tri-series final between England and Australia, which took place earlier today in Mumbai

About mid-way through England’s innings, as they were attempting to chase down Australia’s mammoth total of 209, Amy Jones hit the ball deep and was called back by Nat Sciver for a second run. She never looked like making it; the ball hit wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy’s gloves and almost simultaneously the stumps were knocked askew. But Healy turned away glumly and shook her head at her colleague, Ellyse Perry.

The umpires were baffled, as they were prepared to give the run-out without even going upstairs, but Healy refused to appeal, saying she had knocked off the bails with her gloves just before the ball hit them and she then knocked the stumps sideways. She didn’t have time to go for the keeper’s back-up, of gathering a stump in her hands and uprooting it.

Jones was halfway to the Pavilion when the umpires called for a television review (perhaps some of the other Australians had instinctively appealed, as most of us spectators did) and, after three long minutes, confirmed what Healy had said. Jones’ innings continued, even though it did not eventually make a difference to the outcome of the match.

Australians apparently like their sporting heroes to play “hard but fair”. After and this action of Healy’s, I’d suggest they would have been better off following the fortunes of their national team in India, as opposed to the one in South Africa.


MATCH REPORT: Australian Practice Makes Perfect in Tri-Series Final

By Ravi Nair in Mumbai

Australia (209-4) comprehensively beat England (152-9) by 57 runs

A phrase apocryphally attributed to Gary Player goes: “The harder I practice, the luckier I get.” An earlier version of the phrase attributes luck to knowledge, instead. Today Australia’s practice and experience came together to show that they deserved all the luck they got, as they comprehensively beat England, despite batting first.

England’s chase eventually fizzled out as they chased Australia’s record T20 score of 209, a total powered by an unbeaten 88 from Meg Lanning, who does not have an average in this tournament, having not been dismissed throughout.

But practice, and perfection, showed up most in the difference between the fielding of the two sides since, once the batters got their hitting hats on, the bowling often seemed irrelevant. Alas for England, their newest players, Bryony Smith and Alice Davidson-Richards, were responsible for most of England’s fielding lapses, giving away boundaries and, on one occasion, letting a catch through the hands that might have made a more substantial difference to the result. Smith, in particular, had a tournament to forget, with both these fielding slips, and her lack of runs, proving a weak point for this young and developing England side.

As per usual, Australia’s Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney opened positively and took advantage of England’s slightly slipshod fielding. Then Tash Farrant had a huge slice of luck as Mooney was judged out to a delivery that, upon reflection, was clearly missing the leg stump. Later in the over though, the umpire didn’t make the same mistake, recognising the movement she got and rejecting an LBW shout for a delivery of prodigious movement, bowled from outside leg, pitching on middle, and turning so sharply it was missing leg.

Ash Gardner took full advantage of her let-off to join Healy in a stand that helped set up Australia’s monstrous total. Farrant lost her line entirely when put in on only her second over against the two “set” bats (it’s OK to call a batter “set” once she’s faced six deliveries in a T20, right?)

Luckily Gunn, taking pace off the ball, but not guile, induced a top edge that did for Gardner, and then had Healy going far outside leg and cutting onto her own stumps. But that was the last consolation England had, with Lanning and Elyse Villani joining each other at the crease.

Villani clearly has talent, and has worked on it over the last few years, making the most of what she has and turning herself into a bat that Australia can rely on. This is not to say that Lanning doesn’t work hard: it is just that when Lanning plays she seems to define the notion of timing, of using the crease, of easily making the bowlers look impotent. And she does it all with a cold-eyed look that could, you imagine, outstare the sun itself.

She put the English fielders under even more pressure than before, scoring fours apparently at will, down the ground and square of the wicket. Her timing and placement are so good she doesn’t seem to need the “360 degree” tricks of players like Tammy Beaumont. She never needed to sweep, or ramp a delivery; why would you when you can cut, loft and pull the ball for four?

When Villani finally got the opportunity to join her and get her eye in, we saw a slightly more conventional T20 innings, with two reverse swept fours followed by a conventional one to take advantage of the hole made when the fielder moved from fine leg to deep third man. In short, for fans of runs, runs, runs, this was paradise.

Dani Hazell was standing in as England captain for Heather Knight, who has a hamstring twinge. Knight’s form has not been such this series to believe that England missed her runs, but they may have missed her presence in the field: after all, the only match in their tour that Australia have lost is when Lanning didn’t play and Haynes was in charge. No matter what bowling changes Hazell made, Lanning gave us a masterclass in clean, frustratingly good, scoring. Hazell used up, perforce, her “gun” bowlers, Sciver and Gunn, through the middle overs, not because they went for fewer runs, but because they at least had the experience to know when they were up against an irresistible force and treat bowling triumph and disaster just the same.

The match did not involve India, so the free-to-enter crowd in the North Stand was down to a few hundred, if that. But the BCCI had helpfully brought in a number of school age spectators on an outing who took up a substantial amount of the West Stand near the Pavilion, and ensured the game was not played out to lone voices shouting in the wilderness.

Lanning and Villani, between them, showed how to bat first and set a target, to the extent that, even though Villani was out right at the last, and Lanning wanted to push the score along so much she actually forgot herself and hit a six, they still reached a record 209, now the highest score ever in a women’s T20 international.

So England were up against it right from the start. Here is where practice, or experience at least, again showed the difference between the two sides. Danni Wyatt started off, as always, brightly, like an Energizer Bunny on a 9 volt battery. She reminds one of the indomitable Gauls who populate the Asterix comics: nothing can hold her down. Until, of course, the inevitable happened and a lofted drive that should have gone straight through mid-on and to the boundary, was actually clasped by a leaping Lanning. Yes, that woman again, who ensured Wyatt’s adventure was cut off after 34 runs from 17 deliveries.

Even before that England showed that luck was not on their side, any more than experience and, maybe, big-match temperament. In the very first over Wyatt sent back the hapless Bryony Smith, who could only lose her footing disastrously and watch on all fours, as though nailed to the pitch, as she was run out by a delighted Jess Jonassen for a diamond duck. Tammy Beaumont, attempting to be positive, was out to the first ball she faced, nicking off while attempting an expansive drive against Ellyse Perry, who may not have the pace she once had, but can never be taken lightly.

Once Wyatt was out it was all down to Nat Sciver. Or could Amy Jones, perhaps, prove up to the task as well? Jones seems to have modelled herself on Sarah Taylor, standing up to the stumps at every opportunity when keeping and also using drives and flicks along the ground to get her innings going. Unfortunately for her, and England, while this technique, using a closed face of the bat for the most part, is very useful in ODIs, it doesn’t always answer the questions asked by a T20 chase. Eventually, after an innings that showed she has the ability to improvise, and talent to boot, she fell trying to push the rate along in an increasingly desperate chase, metaphorically opening the face of the bat and falling to a top edge to Villani at fine leg as she attempted a paddle sweep.

Even Sciver was not in a position, single-handedly, to somehow make a realistic chase of it for England. Forced to keep running quick singles and twos as the sharp Australian fielding relentlessly cut off the boundaries, she was red in the face and puffing by the time she reached her deserved half century. She was out, immediately after, trying to score in boundaries so she didn’t have to run.

After that it was a regular procession of wickets, with the admirable and excellent Megan Schutt easily having the best of the match figures (3-14), as England’s chase slowly deflated and they wound up 57 runs short, with just one wicket in hand. Schutt, for what it is worth, has not been called upon to bat even once in this Australian campaign, such has been the dominance of their top and middle order bats.

Of Australia’s newer additions Sophie Molineux and Delissa Kimmince have both had some success in wicket-taking, but for the most part they haven’t yet shown that they are up to the standards set by Perry, Schutt and Gardner, among others. For England, Davidson-Richards and Smith will probably want to forget this tournament altogether.

Eventually the ability to keep a cool head and perhaps the luck that comes with practice, ensured a comfortable win for Australia. England shouldn’t feel disgraced, but they know it is going to take a lot more practice before they can get as “lucky” as Australia. In the meantime, three slightly less pressured ODIs against India beckon. For Australia, Lanning can bask in the glory of the Player-of-the-Match award, well deserved, and Schutt in the equally well-deserved Player-of-the-Tournament award. They earned it.

INTERVIEW – Abbi Aitken Reviews Scotland’s Year

Jake Perry chats to Abbi Aitken

That 2017 will go down as a year of mixed emotions for Scotland’s Women is perhaps the most telling indication of the distance they have travelled. Their appearance at the Women’s World Cup Qualifier in February featured a victory against Papua New Guinea and a much-praised performance against South Africa while a table-topping performance on home soil in August secured a place in the final stages of an ICC Qualifying event for the third time in succession. There is, though, a tangible feeling around the Scotland camp that the true potential of this squad is yet to be revealed.

Of all their recent assignments it was the Global Qualifier in Sri Lanka which provided the sternest examination of Steve Knox’s side. It offered the most useful learning opportunities, too, as the team measured themselves against three of the top ten countries in the world game.

“It was an incredibly valuable experience,” said Scotland captain Abbi Aitken. “The opportunity to compete at another global tournament and put ourselves up against some of the best in the world was always going to be of benefit. 

“To play on different wickets and in different conditions, too, is an experience that the younger girls in the squad will have taken a lot from as well.”

In Scotland’s opening match a half-century from Kari Carswell backed by a tight performance in the field made much-fancied South Africa work hard for their six-wicket win. Subsequent defeats to Bangladesh and Pakistan were to put an end to any Scottish hopes of progression, however, although a seven-run victory over PNG at least provided some consolation.

“Playing South Africa will live long in the memory and to give them a bit of a scare was pretty cool,” said Abbi. “But overall I look back on that tournament with slightly mixed emotions as I think we let ourselves down against some of the lower-ranked teams. Although we beat PNG we let them get far too close to us, especially after we’d put in the performance we did against South Africa three days before. 

“It’s all about belief. I asked the girls to tell me many of them genuinely believed that we could win before the South Africa game. It’s easy for any group of sportspeople to say that they have belief but I think we learned as a group that if we genuinely believe then who knows what could happen? 

“PNG was the other side of the coin,” she continued. “We had confidence but faced a different issue in that we’re not used to being the favourite and there’s no doubt that that affected our performance.

“It is a mindset we need to change. We need to be comfortable being the favourite because if we continue to train and work as we are then there will be more games in the future where we are in that position.”

Scotland’s domestic summer saw progress matched by consolidation as the team secured a mid-table finish in Division Two of the NatWest Twenty20.

“Over the past two or three seasons of domestic cricket we’ve moved up, then down, then up again, so during pre-season we agreed that our goal for this year was to cement our place in Division Two,” said Abbi. “With Sri Lanka in mind we had focused on the fifty-over format the season before so we were happy to achieve that target in T20. 

“We’ll be looking to make a bit more of an impact next year though. Last time out we only showed flashes of what we are capable of so we’re looking to learn from the experience and go into the new campaign with the goal of winning the division. That would obviously be a great thing for us to achieve.”

Scotland’s year ended with the ICC Europe/Americas Qualifier for the 2018 Women’s World T20 against the Netherlands and USA. In a rain-affected week in Stirling the Scots secured one of the two available places at the upcoming Global Qualifier as winners of the competition.

“We had a great win against the Netherlands first up,” said Abbi. “They will no doubt have been disappointed by how they played but we put in an excellent performance. The pre-match words of the Dutch captain certainly helped us prepare, too.

“[Heather Siegers’] talk of exacting revenge for [Scotland’s victory] last year and coming over here to kick backside was definitely played in our changing room before the match and got the girls fired up a wee bit more!”

The seven-wicket win over the Dutch was followed by a nine-wicket victory over the USA, and although the Netherlands triumphed by eighteen runs in the final match of the competition Scotland had done enough to retain their trophy by virtue of a superior run-rate.

“We want to bring up a generation of players who continuously put in winning performances against teams like the Netherlands,” said Abbi. “Six or seven years ago I was brought into a Scotland team where we certainly weren’t the favourites to win these games. Although they came out on top in that last match it’s great that we have turned the tables over the past few years. It’s always a good competition with the Dutch and hopefully the overall picture continues to be one that’s in our favour.” 

Scotland has had to deal with some notable losses over the course of the year. The post-Sri Lankan retirements of Kari Carswell and Fiona Urquhart together with the unavailability of Kirstie Gordon have been significant, but as the matches in Stirling demonstrated others have moved to fill the vacuum. With 118 runs at 59 Lorna Jack proved to be a revelation at the top of the order, and with Sarah Bryce showing moments of brilliance in her new role behind the stumps, too, the remodelled side gives plenty of reason for optimism.

“Massive credit needs to go to Lorna,” said Abbi. “She has been a great wicketkeeper for us over the years but it was fantastic for her to finally cement her place in the batting line-up this year.

“After losing a few people we have needed players to step up and being a senior member of the squad it was great that Jacko did that. Fingers crossed that it’ll be a successful season for her next time as well.

“The Qualifier gave us an opportunity to bring a few younger girls into the set-up as well,” she continued. “Laura Grant came up from the U17s and for her to be around the team in Stirling and understand how a tournament like that works will stand her in great stead going forward. 

“It’s opportunities like that which are so important for the development of our players and as the seasons go by more and more are created. It’s exciting for the future.”

But for Abbi the year has been significant for more personal reasons, too, as in late October the news emerged that she had decided to step away from the national captaincy after seven years at the helm. It was a necessary decision, she says, for both her own future and that of the team.

“It’s been a difficult year from a personal point of view,” she explained. “Over the past year and a half I’ve struggled with a foot injury and my personal performance has suffered badly as a result. 

“Putting the captaincy aside I am picked in the team as a bowler and not being able to bowl a ball in the [Europe/Americas] Qualifier was tough for me. Without a doubt I had thoughts in my head that captain or not I was taking up a shirt. 

“To me the captain should be a main contributor to the team as well as the leader and I wasn’t doing that. I had probably lost a bit of my love for the game, too, and I felt that it wasn’t fair for me to continue as captain if my heart and my head weren’t fully in it.

“It’s a real compliment that Steve [Knox] kept me in the team whether I was bowling or not. Leading the side is a role in itself but I’ve always wanted to be a captain that can both lead and contribute. If I wasn’t able to do both then I didn’t want to continue in the role.

“I sat down with Steve and was completely honest. I told him that I needed to find my passion again. I’m certainly not ready to give up completely but something needed to change if I was going to start to enjoy the game in the same way again.

“To be honest it was probably time for a bit of a freshen-up as well. After hearing my voice for seven years the girls will probably be feeling a little bit relieved!” she laughed.

Abbi had been appointed captain as a nineteen year-old as Kari Carswell moved from the captaincy into the role of Head Coach.

“I had made my Scotland debut at fourteen so I was practically a veteran by the time I became captain!” said Abbi. “My initial reaction was probably ‘woah there’ but I was massively honoured to be asked at such a young age. There were a lot of players who were older than me and had played for much longer in the team so I naturally had doubts about whether I was ready to do it.

“But having Kari there was brilliant for me,” she continued. “She was still on the pitch as a player and to be fair to her she probably still did everything for the first couple of seasons. I did have to learn quickly but Kari always said to me that while tactical awareness would develop over time the fact that I had such a good relationship with the players was just as important. 

“I took that as a huge compliment. From a young age I’ve been able to understand how people work, I suppose, and that always helped me as captain.

“It was a role that taught me to be confident, even during those times when that confidence had to be faked, and if I was to pass on one piece of advice to my successor it would be to trust gut instinct. It always served me well.” 

The announcement of Abbi’s departure was met with heartfelt tributes from across the cricketing community. What pleases the twenty-six year old most, however, is that the legacy being passed to her successor is an environment in which Scottish women’s cricket is stronger than ever before.

“It’s been a whirlwind journey but the transformation of Scotland Women from seven years ago to where we are now has been huge,” she said. “We’re more knowledgeable, fitter and so much better supported from within Cricket Scotland.

“I’ll look back and say that my job over the past seven years has been to be a voice for the girls, to promote the fact that we’re here and on the up. The ultimate highlight for me was to be able to witness that journey. 

“The real highlight for Scotland’s Women is yet to come, though. Watch this space!”

And, with another outing on the global stage to look forward to next year, could it come as early as next summer?

“We’re very much focused on the [ICC Women’s WT20 Global] Qualifier,” said Abbi. “It looks like it will be in July which will dovetail nicely with our T20 Division Two campaign. 

“It will be an exciting couple of weeks. There has already been a shock with Uganda knocking Zimbabwe out of the tournament in the Africa Qualifier. Zimbabwe beat us in Thailand [in the 2015 WWT20Q] in the third place play-off so not having them there this time will make things interesting. 

“With two places available at the main tournament Ireland and Bangladesh will be the ultimate favourites as the two highest-ranked sides but I would expect it to be us ranked next. It’s definitely an opportunity for us. 

“We have never played Uganda before, it will be interesting to see what they have, and the Dutch are sure to bring a strong team, but fingers crossed we can put a bit of pressure on Bangladesh and Ireland and see what happens. 

“The Caribbean would be quite nice to head to in November!” she smiled.


Jake Perry writes on Scottish cricket for Cricket Scotland and CricketEurope and is a regular contributor to HoldingWilley.

Twitter: @jperry_cricket / Facebook: Jake Perry Cricket

INTERVIEW: Scotland’s Kathryn and Sarah Bryce Head to WBBL

Jake Perry Reports

Two of the brightest stars in the Scottish game will be rubbing shoulders with the best in the world as participants in the 2017/18 Rebel Women’s Big Bash League Rookie Placement Programme. Sisters Kathryn and Sarah Bryce will head to Australia to take up two-week placements with WBBL franchises Adelaide Strikers and Hobart Hurricanes in the third edition of the innovative joint venture between Cricket Australia and the ICC.

Each of the eight nominees is given the opportunity to experience women’s cricket at its very highest level, and with the added possibility of being called into the tournament itself in the event of an injury to a contracted player, too, the initiative opens up a unique window onto the elite world.

Both Kathryn and Sarah are looking forward to the experience.

“It was so exciting to get everything confirmed,” said Sarah. “It was unexpected for me at least and the family are very proud to have us both involved.”

“I’m really looking forward to visiting Tasmania,” she continued. “Being around such high-quality players and getting to see how they go about their training and everything else is really exciting.”

Whilst Sarah has been selected for the first time it will be a second trip in two years for Scotland vice-captain Kathryn, and the twenty year-old all-rounder is relishing the opportunity to be part of the programme once again.

“Having as much exposure as possible to that professional set-up helps my game a lot,” she said. “It is experience that I take back into my training and tournament play with Scotland.”

“[Last year] gave me an insight into the preparation and hard work that goes into cricket at this level. It’s not just what happens in games and in training, it’s the whole thought process that goes into it as well.”

Kathryn was placed with Melbourne Stars during the last campaign.

“I was given a bit of time to settle in then I fitted into all the training and gym schedules,” she said. “Last year I went along to watch some of the other WBBL games in Melbourne, too. The Renegades were playing as well as the Stars so I went and watched them and got to know a few of the girls, went out to dinner with them and so on.”

“I was living in the same hotel as other international players so I got to spend a lot of time with them as well. Just being in that environment and the routine of training, gym and everything else taught me a lot.”

“I had a couple of training sessions out on the MCG, too, which was fantastic. That outfield and the indoor nets are something else.”

“In Adelaide there is the main Adelaide Oval but I’m not entirely sure what facilities we’ll be using,” continued Kathryn. “But wherever it is it’ll just be good to be playing some outdoor cricket at this time of year!”

“I don’t know a huge amount about what it’s going to be like but I know the facilities and the coaches are going to be of a great standard,” added Sarah. “It will be interesting to see what resources they have and how they use them.”

The news crowns a memorable year for both players. As well as winning her fiftieth Scotland cap Kathryn scored 241 runs at 30.13 for Warwickshire in her first season in the Women’s County Championship, adding a 49-ball 73* in the T20 Championship for good measure.

Seventeen year-old Sarah also made great strides after taking over from Lorna Jack behind the stumps as both players helped Scotland to the ICC Women’s World T20 Global Qualifier.

“It’s been a really good season,” said Sarah. “Going to Sri Lanka at the beginning of the year for the [ICC Women’s World Cup] Qualifier and playing against teams like South Africa was incredible. Putting yourself up against those sorts of players was a challenge we all relished.”

“I think that having both Kathryn and me at the WBBL shows that the women’s game in Scotland is really on the up. In the past a couple of players were relied upon a lot whereas that’s definitely changing now. These days the whole team is contributing which says a lot about how we have progressed.”

“Speaking personally taking over the gloves has been great for me,” Sarah continued. “I’m just trying to keep improving all aspects of my game. Having Kathryn doing so well [has been an inspiration] and it’s nice to be able to follow in her footsteps to the WBBL this year.”

The end of the placement will not be the last Sarah sees of Australia this winter, either.

“I’ll be spending three months at the Perth Cricket Academy after the Big Bash so that will get me into a good routine of how to go about training and fitness and so on too.”

“The whole winter is going to be a great experience and both of us will be looking to bring back as much knowledge to Scotland as we can.”


Jake Perry writes on Scottish cricket for Cricket Scotland and Cricket 365 and has contributed to ESPNcricinfo and All Out Cricket.
Twitter: @jperry_cricket
Facebook: Jake Perry Cricket

THE GREAT DEBATE: Women’s Tests – The Case Against

By Richard Clark

With the Kia Super League done and dusted, all eyes are now turning to this winter’s Women’s Ashes in Australia, and the prospects of Mark Robinson’s squad regaining the trophy Australia took on these shores in 2015 to sit nicely on the mantelpiece alongside the World Cup.

As with the last three Ashes battles, the series will be decided over a multi-format campaign, involving three One-Day Internationals, followed by a four-day Test Match, and ending with three T20 games.

It’s a format that may be considered “tried and tested” to a point, albeit with some tweaks along the way – the Test Match has been moved from the beginning to the middle of the programme since it was first introduced in 2013, and has also been “downgraded” from six points to four to decrease the emphasis on one match.

The question that occurs to me, however, is “Why?”

Why is there a Test Match?

England’s women cricketers play nothing other than “short form cricket” – be it for their clubs, counties or internationally – other than during the Ashes (barring the one-off Test against India in 2014). Likewise the Australians, as far as I am aware. Whilst Tests are still considered (rightly) to be the pinnacle of the men’s game, they are virtually alien to the women’s version.

For any player making her debut in this winter’s Test – and there will be a few on both sides – this will almost certainly be their first experience of coming back the next day (and the next, and the next) to continue a match. It will be the first time they field all day, or attempt to play a “long” innings. And that’s before we throw in the floodlit aspect, too!

That won’t necessarily make for a poor match, of course. The 2013/14 Test – played in Perth – was a captivating tussle. Lowish scoring, perhaps, but fiercely contested, and in doubt until the final morning. It ebbed and flowed as Test Match cricket should, and there were key performances from Kate Cross and Nat Sciver that “announced” their arrivals.

The Test at Canterbury in 2015, however, was (and I’m a fan of women’s cricket, remember) fairly awful to watch, and to describe it as a poor advertisement for the game would be a kindness. It seemed clear that England in particular looked rudderless in their approach the game. Whilst some of the blame for that could be laid at the coach’s door, that only tells part of the story. Sheer inexperience paid a huge part.

So why play Tests? I can think of only two reasons. Firstly, because it’s what we’ve always done – the Women’s Ashes were exclusively Test-based until 2011, and a Test has been part of the three series since. Secondly, the multi-format series is the “USP” – it’s what marks the Women’s Ashes out from ANY other cricket contest, men’s or women’s (yes, I know the men have used it but it was largely ignored as a concept by all and sundry).

Are either of those arguments enough? I can’t think of another sport that uses such an alien format in one of its highest profile contests – apart, perhaps, from the foursomes segment of Golf’s Ryder Cup. Nobody would expect footballers to turn up every four years and play five-a-side for the World Cup!

It would undoubtedly be a huge shame not to see a Test Match on the calendar, but if we really want the players to produce a contest befitting the Trophy then surely they should be playing what they know best, and that is limited overs cricket.

(Tomorrow Raf Nicholson will present The Case In Favour).

INTERVIEW: Western Storm and Wales’ Claire Nicholas Reflects On KSL Victory

Ffion Wynne talks to Claire Nicholas.

Claire Nicholas was quite a remarkable and unique find of the second edition of the KSL – at 30 years old, a professional contract at such a late stage of her career came completely out of the blue, but the opportunity was one that she simply could not turn down. Nicholas, who has played all of her county cricket for Wales, comments upon the instrumental role of Western Storm’s Head Coach Trevor Griffin in her experience, due to his understanding of her different lifestyle to the other members of the squad. ‘I found fitting in training, conditioning and gym work all very challenging,’ she explains, ‘mainly due to the fact that I was holding down a full time job and bringing up a young family.’ This challenge did not restrict Nicholas, however, as she was trusted with the new ball by captain Heather Knight and finished with 5 wickets at an impressive economy of 5.92.

This responsibility of opening the bowling was described by Nicholas as her biggest challenge during the competition, due to the calibre of the players to whom she bowled (Suzie Bates, Sophie Devine and Hayley Matthews, to name a few!) and the fact that it was a very new role for her to fulfil. Nicholas names Devine (Yorkshire Diamonds) as the most difficult batsman she came up against during the competition, as she was dispatched for two consecutive sixes during her early spell, but the leadership of Knight allowed her to demonstrate resilience, change her plans and control the situation much more effectively.

The influence of the international stars, combined with the support of the coaching staff, also had a vital impact upon Nicholas’ performances, demonstrating the significance of the KSL in developing county players and providing them with an incredible opportunity to play with and against the world’s leading cricketers. ‘They brought so much experience, professionalism and character to the squad,’ Nicholas describes, ‘and I had to pinch myself during my first training session when I bowled at the likes of Heather Knight, Stafanie Taylor and Rachel Priest. They really inspired us non-international players to raise our own games to compete with them, and I have learnt so much that I hope to pass on to players in Wales.’

The inclusion of two Welsh players in the Storm squad (batsman Lauren Parfitt was also involved in their winning campaign) gives Nicholas great hope for the future of the county as she aims to inspire the younger generation to follow in their footsteps. ‘Cricket Wales is fantastic in its setup and the level of coaching that we receive as players is second to none. Now that Lauren and I have made that vital step into KSL cricket, it paves the way for others to do the same and I have no doubt we will see plenty more Welsh players involved in the future.’

The whole experience was surreal from start to finish for Nicholas, having been initially astonished to be given the opportunity to play professional cricket to finishing eventual winners, and playing a vital part in that success nonetheless. After their initial thrashing at the hands of 2016 winners Southern Vipers (having been bowled out for just 70), very few would have predicted that Storm would eventually win the competition, claiming revenge against Vipers in the process. Nicholas commends Knight’s strong leadership for the turnaround, highlighting her decision-making and the faith that she showed in all her players in difficult situations as the deciding factor in their victory, alongside monumental performances from Rachel Priest and Stafanie Taylor,

Storm’s county players also played a significant role in the team’s victory. ‘We all had to raise our game to contribute to the team’s success. From Sophie Luff’s countless dives on the boundary to save valuable runs, to Georgia Hennessy’s crowd-pleasing sixes, we all chipped in at some point to get us over the line,’ Nicholas states. ‘Away from cricket, we all got on so well as a team, which I also think was instrumental in our success. We grew as a team, and this allowed Trevor and the coaching staff to get the best out of us as a unit.’

After such a successful first taste of professional cricket, Nicholas is already looking forward to the challenges that next season will bring. Let’s hope that the next edition of the KSL will draw attention to plenty more county players aiming to make their mark in the competition.

NEWS: Lauren Winfield Special Guest at Cheshire Women’s End of Season Awards

Martin Saxon reports.

The Cheshire Women’s Cricket League was delighted to welcome Lauren Winfield as the special guest at its annual end-of-season presentation dinner, held this year at Hazel Grove Golf Club.

Before presenting the prizes, she told the audience how a ‘journey’ towards the 2017 World Cup win began after the England team’s disappointing exit from the World T20 in 2016. From that point, everything was geared towards the following year’s World Cup, and the England opening bat spoke at length about how the team put themselves in a position to challenge for honours once again, but also explained how they bounced back from setbacks such as losing an ODI in the West Indies via a horrendous collapse, and even losing the opening match of the 2017 World Cup campaign.

For the fifth time in the nine years since the League adopted the current awards format, Appleton’s Emma Barlow won the Division One batting award. She also shared the Division’s fielding award with Didsbury’s Hannah Jones, who also won the T20 bowling prize.

Barlow and Jones weren’t the only ones to receive more than one award either. Not only did Alison Smith captain Wistaston Village to the Division Two title this year, but she also had an outstanding personal season, finishing top of the batting and bowling rankings in Division Two, and coming second in the fielding category.

Kate Coppack scooped a bowling award in the league and a batting award for T20, as well as being chosen as the Coach’s Player of the Year for the Cheshire senior county team.

Another recipient of two awards was Chester Boughton Hall wicketkeeper Nic Capes.

Dawn Prestidge was second or third in as many as four of the CWCL performance award categories, but did not manage to bag a first place. However, Cheshire captain Prestidge did pick up the award for the county side’s Players’ Player of the Year, in a year when Cheshire hopefully started a revival in their fortunes by winning Division 3B of the county T20 tournament.

Players from nine different clubs received individual performance awards, but there were none for league champions Oakmere, whose successes this year really have been a team effort, with many different players contributing. For the first time in recent years, the Division One lead changed hands on a dramatic final day, and after Chester Boughton Hall’s four-run defeat by Didsbury, Oakmere were able to clinch the Championship by completing a seven-wicket win over Appleton.

There was one prestigious award for a member of the Oakmere club however when John Bone won the President’s Award for an Outstanding Contribution to Women’s Cricket in Cheshire. John has umpired many League matches over a long period, and has served on the League Committee as Umpires & Scorers Representative, as well as acting as a selector for the county side.

Many thanks also go once again to Di Totty and Alan Thomas for organising yet another superb event, and at the end of the formal part of the evening Di and Alan were presented with gifts to acknowledge their contribution to League Dinners over the years. This year’s event marked ten years since the first presentation dinner, held at The Tytherington Club in 2007. The CWCL likes to think of itself as a trailblazer in women’s club cricket, and believes it may be the only women’s club league that hosts a formal presentation dinner, not to mention the only one that runs three T20 competitions alongside the main league, and the only one that has a league representative eleven.


DIVISION 1 Emma Barlow (Appleton) Sammi Short & Kate Coppack (both Chester BH) Emma Barlow (Appleton) & Hannah Jones (Didsbury) Nic Capes (Chester BH) & Gaby McKeever (Stockport Trinity)
DIVISION 2 Alison Smith (Wistaston Village) Alison Smith (Wistaston Village) Megan Cureton (Oxton) Katie Bennett (Wistaston Village)
DIVISION 3 Rachel Warrenger (Hawarden Park) Alex Wilson (Woodley) Nicole Baker-Tunney (Stockport Georgians) Maz Linford (Didsbury 2nd XI)
T20 COMPETITIONS Kate Coppack & Ali Cutler (both Chester BH) Hannah Jones (Didsbury) Emma Royle (Stockport Trinity) Nic Capes (Chester BH)


Competition Winners Runners-up
League Championship Oakmere Chester Boughton Hall
League Division 2 Wistaston Vilage Leigh
League Division 3 Stockport Georgians Didsbury 2nd XI
T20 Divisional Competition Chester Boughton Hall Deemons Stockport Trinity Fire
Knockout Cup Chester Boughton Hall Deemons Didsbury Swordettes
Development Knockout Cup Didsbury 2nd XI Stockport Georgians
Indoor League Appleton Oakmere


Cheshire WCCC Coach’s Player of the Year: Kate Coppack

Cheshire WCCC Players’ Player of the Year: Dawn Prestidge

President’s Award (Outstanding Contribution to Women’s Cricket in Cheshire): John Bone

Tea Cup (Club with best matchday catering): Leigh

INTERVIEW: Scotland and Warwickshire’s Kathryn Bryce Reflects On An Impressive Year

Jake Perry chats to Kathryn Bryce

It has been a year to remember for Kathryn Bryce. With cricket in Australia, Sri Lanka and the Women’s County Championship, a fiftieth Scotland appearance and an international tournament win under her belt, all whilst completing her first year at Loughborough University, the classy all-rounder has reinforced her position as one of the brightest stars in the Scottish game. And with the third of a hat-trick of Women’s Scottish Cup winner’s medals to add to her collection, too, Scotland’s nineteen year-old vice-captain is able to look back over the past few months with particular satisfaction.

Prior to Scotland’s appearance at the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier in Sri Lanka Kathryn had the opportunity to work alongside some of the best players in the world as part of the ICC Associate Rookie Programme during the Women’s Big Bash, and with top-level cricket continuing back on home soil, too, 2017 has provided a priceless experience.

“The fortnight I spent with the Melbourne Stars was fantastic,” she said. “To be around that level of play and to see how they go about doing everything that they do within a competition was really great.

“And then I have been really lucky to be part of Warwickshire this year,” she continued. “It has been terrific to be around a few of the England girls and learn from them. Opening the batting with Amy Jones and being around high quality players more regularly has really helped my game.”

Bryce scored a Division One half-century against Nottinghamshire on her way to 241 runs at 30.13 as Warwickshire finished third in the table. With a 49-ball 73* for Birmingham Bears Women against Surrey in the T20 Championship, too, it represented an impressive first season.

“You get more good balls at this level,” said Kathryn. “There aren’t so many bad ones to put away so you have to find ways to score off those better deliveries. So the challenge is learning how to hit those good balls and be more precise, too, because the fielding is up a level as well.

“I am really enjoying being in this environment,” she continued. “Two Januarys ago I spent three months at the Darren Lehmann Academy in Adelaide which was probably my first experience of being in a setting that was totally professional.

“Doing fitness work four times a week and then training three or four times a week and playing matches on top of that was great for me going into Loughborough where there is a similar set-up. The facilities at both are outstanding.”

Scotland’s principle assignment of the summer was the ICC Women’s World T20 Europe/Americas Qualifier in Stirling where, despite persistent rain and a narrow loss in their final match, Steve Knox’s side booked their passage to the Global Qualifier as tournament winners.

With 81 runs at an average of 27 Bryce’s opening partnership with Lorna Jack proved decisive as Scotland’s victories over the Netherlands and USA secured what became an unassailable net run-rate. For Bryce, however, it was the way in which the team reacted to the stop-start nature of the week that proved most satisfying.

“It was so difficult for the girls with the weather,” she said. “Sitting around not knowing when you are going to get on is always tough.

“When we did, though, we came together and put on a good performance pretty quickly. That was really pleasing and to get the win against Holland first up was a great way to start.

“They didn’t have a great game to be honest but that was something else that we did well, we didn’t have that poor game to put ourselves under pressure.

“The Dutch were much better in the second game, particularly in their bowling which was much more difficult to get away. The pitch hadn’t been covered for most of the week [after the original pitch had had to be abandoned due to standing water] so if the ball was in a good area it was hard to score from.

“But it was interesting to see the USA for the first time because we had no idea what they were going to be like.

“They showed a lot of character and put up a real fight and I think they could be a good team. They showed some great fielding at times and had some strong batters, too, so things are looking good for their future.”

For now, though, Kathryn is relishing the opportunity to recharge the batteries before her return to Loughborough at the end of September.

“We have a little bit of time off just now which is nice because we’ve not really had much since we were in Thailand a couple of years ago,” she said. “So we’ll look to recover and then get ready to go again.

“We’re looking forward to the next stage already, though. I think everyone will be ready to put in a massive effort and really push teams like Ireland and Bangladesh to try and get that spot in the World T20.

“That would be incredible.”


Jake Perry writes on Scottish cricket for Cricket Scotland and CricketEurope and is a regular contributor to HoldingWilley.

Twitter: @jperry_cricket / Facebook: Jake Perry Cricket

George Watson’s College Win Women’s Scottish Cup

Jake Perry reports

George Watson’s College 107-2 (K Bryce 46*, L Steindl 1 for 8) beat Carlton 42 (G Henderson 3 for 5) by 65 runs

George Watson’s College claimed the 2017 Beyond Boundaries Women’s T20 Scottish Cup with victory in a surprisingly one-sided encounter with Edinburgh rivals Carlton at New Williamfield. An unbeaten 46 from Kathryn Bryce together with an outstanding performance in the field saw Sarah Bryce’s side triumph after the league champions were dismissed for just 42.

After their 90-run partnership had laid the foundation for the semi-final victory over Stirling County earlier in the day, GWC openers Kathryn and Sarah Bryce started well in the face of probing Carlton bowling. With a sluggish outfield putting boundaries at a premium – the legacy of a sharp shower shortly before play began – the Scotland duo put down a marker for their side with some aggressive running between the wickets as 36 came from the Powerplay.

The ninth over brought Carlton an important breakthrough, however, as Sarah Bryce (23) was bowled by Lily Steindl, and with Georgia Henderson (0) following nine balls later as she skied a Samantha Haggo delivery to Ruth Willis at midwicket, the momentum that was beginning to build was abruptly checked.

Progress was painstaking in the middle overs as the Carlton bowlers tightened the screws still further but with wickets still intact Kathryn Bryce and Nina Whitaker (19*) battled back superbly. Both found the boundary before Bryce cleared the ropes in some style as the innings moved through its closing stages.

The final total of 107-2 represented an excellent recovery from the GWC pair. As the chase began, however, it was the duo’s performance with the ball which was to prove crucial in setting their side on the road to victory.

Opening the bowling, Whitaker and Bryce blew away the top order as they quickly reduced Carlton to 3-3. Katie McGill (0) fell in the first over, followed in the second by Ruth Willis (2) and Charis Scott (1), and with Georgia Henderson adding the wickets of Samantha Haggo (9), Lily Steindl (3) and Christina Evans (4) soon after, crisis rapidly turned into calamity for the Grange Loan side.

No Carlton batsman reached double figures as their challenge subsided, GWC’s emphatic victory securing them the trophy for the third year in succession.

“It’s wonderful to get the hat-trick of wins,” said Sarah Bryce. “There were some great individual performances but we came together really well as a team and everyone contributed which was great.”

“Carlton are a really good team and they bowled really well so we had to be patient, work our way through the innings and take our time. Nina Whitaker came in at the end and had a great partnership with Kathryn.”

“I’m really proud of our bowlers. To get Katie McGill in the first over and then keep taking regular wickets was what won us the game in the end. I’m delighted.”    


Jake Perry writes on Scottish cricket for Cricket Scotland and CricketEurope and is a regular contributor to HoldingWilley.

Twitter: @jperry_cricket / Facebook: Jake Perry Cricket

CLUB OF THE MONTH: Spencer Women’s CC

Here at CRICKETher, we’re passionate about women’s cricket at all levels, including club cricket. It’s our mission to offer coverage of women’s (and girls’) club cricket wherever we can! Our ‘Club of the Month’ feature will focus on one women’s or girls’ club every month, giving you the lowdown on their highs, lows, and everything in between.

If you’d like to see your club featured here, get in touch – we’d love to hear from you!

By Tory Clarkson

Our 1st XI play on Fieldview, the main pitch at Spencer Cricket Club in South West London, and our 2nd XI play on the Openview ground, next door. The club has fantastic facilities, with a cheap bar and lovely terrace looking out over the main pitch. 2017 is the first year that the 1st XI have played all our home fixtures on the main club pitch – a recognition of the growing quality, size and stature of the Women’s section within the club.


Photo credit: Marie-Hélène Briens

Our current captain is Tamara Reeves, who joined the club in 2016. She has 4 ODI caps for South Africa & her quality and top-level experience has shown over the past two seasons. She’s tactically very astute and is a good role model for all members of the club. She has a terrible sense of humour, but we don’t hold that against her.

As well as Tam, quite a few of our team have high-level experience. Deepa Patel (Spencer’s leading runscorer) played professionally in India, for West Zone. Tor Cruickshank, the 2016 captain, played for Sussex and England Development for a time. Angela Bonora joined the club in 2016 and is an Italian international. Gemma Ware is an Italian international, Marie-Hélène Briens is a Hungary international, Natalie Wells used to play for Surrey, and I used to play for Gloucestershire Women before moving to London. Lots and lots of our juniors play age-group county cricket. Maddie Blinkhorn-Jones, an U14 girl playing in our 1st XI, plays for Surrey U17 Women and is one to watch. She scored her first century for the Women’s 1st XI this season.

One thing that really stands out for us is the varied background of our team. Based within easy reach of Central London, we have quite an international squad, as some of those names show. These names are playing alongside young women who grew up just around the corner from the club – it’s great to see. Equally, while quite a few of our team have played representative cricket, some of our 1st XI started playing only a couple of years ago! That sums up the accessibility of women’s cricket as a whole – the ability for newcomers to pick up the game quickly and have the opportunity to play with stars. If we get promoted, we’d get the opportunity to play against Charlotte Edwards, Ellen Burt and a few other international stars. That’s motivated everyone hugely!

We aim to be inclusive, social, and competitive and really take pride in bringing through juniors. We’re developing a pathway to guide our talented juniors (280+ girls) through to the senior sides. It’s important to us that we grow the club sustainably – making sure everyone can get something out of the club, whether they’re looking for good, competitive cricket, or social sport.


Photo credit: Marie-Hélène Briens

Our current oldest member is in her late 30s and our youngest player in the senior section is 13. We welcome members of all ages, however!

Our lead coach is Mark Costin, a L3 coach. He is supported throughout the year by a number of other coaches, including Alain and Kiyo Jason, as well as volunteers from the ladies section. We have our own training sessions on Wednesdays during the spring and summer, but train and play with the men on Thursdays and Saturdays too. There has been a real drive this year, led by Mark and Jon Speller, the Director of Cricket at Spencer, to get women playing more frequently in men’s matches as well as the ladies’ league. This is a reflection of the rising standards in our section, and the rising ambition for the club.

We don’t have a club mascot at the moment, but Tor Cruickshank’s whites, barely washed from season to season, are a sort of emotional crutch for the team.

Our 1st XI play in the Women’s Cricket Southern League Championship, and are chasing Horsham for the title and promotion. Our 2nd XI play in the Surrey Trust League. The girls section play in various Surrey Boys leagues, where they frequently claim a few big scalps, as well as in girls leagues.

In terms of highlights, one of this year’s performances stands out: a 275-run opening partnership by Maddie Blinkhorn-Jones (who’s only 14!) and leading runscorer Deepa Patel, against Guildford CC. Maddie has come through the ranks of Spencer Juniors and has really made her mark on the team. It’s up there with the 2011 unbeaten season as one of our proudest moments as a club.


Photo credit: Marie-Hélène Briens

What we’ve found this year is that as we move up through the divisions, we need more and more volunteers to help the club function on match days. Long gone are the days when our Number 11 could score for us or umpire from square leg! We are really grateful to our supporters, families and friends who help the club run on match days. This year, in particular, our supporters have provided in-play PlayCricket updates and ball-by-ball commentary on whatsapp on match days! That takes some dedication! It is also a reflection of how much people love this club that they will read 300+ whatsapp messages on a Sunday to keep up from afar with the score!

There are many, many people who’ve helped get Spencer Women where we are now – too many to name them all! So instead, we’d like to focus on this year’s helpers – Step Parikian, Mark Costin, Kiyo Jason, Alain Jason, Jon Speller, Marie-Helene Briens, Gregg Birrell, Patrick Wells, Martin Blinkhorn, Lis Jones, Brian Hurn, to name a few.

It has been really noticeable how the club has changed over the past five years or so. The juniors section is now massive – we think we might have the biggest girls’ section in the country – and the women’s section has expanded too. It used to be hard to find 11 to play & we would beg friends and parents to help us out, now we have genuine selection decisions each week between a highly talented squad.

To give an example, about five years ago, we were so short of players that one of our former members, then 6 months pregnant, insisted on playing! She fielded very energetically despite her big bump! Thankfully, mother and son were fine!

As often happens with sports clubs, as years pass & generations pass through the club, the history of how it all started has been lost. Anyone with more information about Spencer Women’s Cricket’s origins are invited to come forward!!

What everyone notices, whether they joined one week ago or 5 years ago (like me!), is that the club has a great spirit and culture. We’re good friends and we enjoy laughing and joking together, particularly in the end-of-match wrap.

The club has been really inclusive, but we still joke about a discussion with the men’s section from a few years ago about what to do for end-of-season event. One gentleman said, ‘We could do a dinner at the Oval, but the women do love a party!’ We’re still not quite sure what he meant!

Anyone wishing to join the club should get in touch with Tor Cruickshank on spencerwomenscricket@googlemail.com

Come find us on social media for more info on what we’re up to: