KSL: Thunder v Stars

Martin Saxon reports from Old Trafford

A winning margin of 55 runs is certainly a ‘thrashing’ when it comes to T20, and by triumphing by this margin Surrey Stars moved within one point of third-placed Lancashire Thunder. It was of course a much-needed victory for the Stars, while things are looking a bit more precarious for the Thunder, especially as they now face away trips to both of the top two sides.

When Sophie Ecclestone was deservedly named Player of the Series in the recent international tri-series, there was at least one batsman who had not been bamboozled by her bowling. South Africa and Stars opener Lizelle Lee is certainly a superb player of spin bowling, and it’s easy to imagine that she was licking her lips here against a Lancashire side who have only one seam bowling option, where once again Old Trafford’s playing area was akin to a postage stamp in size.

After a relatively sedate powerplay, Lee actually decided to accelerate once the boundary was well patrolled. Even her most ardent admirers may not suggest that the South African possesses an array of elegant shots, or that she scores all around the ground, however although her wagonwheel here would have showed a significant number of runs hit over ‘cow corner’, it really didn’t matter. Thunder posted the boundary riders in the right areas, but it didn’t seem to stop her at all – Lee just hit the ball way over their heads! Her blistering innings of 70 from just 37 deliveries included six maximums, and even Sarah Taylor was reduced to simply working the ball for singles to give her partner the strike.

Lee is certainly a major asset to any team at any level, but if she was English (or Australian), would she be rejected as an international player due to a perceived lack of athleticism?

After Lee had finally holed out in the deep, her brute force was replaced by some superb stroke making from both Taylor and Dane van Niekerk, whose combination of dabs, sweeps, ramps and more conventional shots such as drives and cuts ensured that the scoreboard operators remained busy. Taylor made 51 from 37 balls and although van Niekerk only made 19, she had certainly played her part in entertaining the crowd and the watching TV audience.

Five wickets fell in the last three overs, so the final total of 167-8 was lower than might have looked likely just a short time earlier. Emma Lamb added to her growing reputation as a spin bowler by finishing with 2-12 – she bowled two overs at the start before Lee had opened her shoulders, and one more after she had been missed. Kate Cross (1-27) and Ecclestone (2-32) also did a reasonable job, but Danielle Hazell and Alex Hartley suffered badly against Lee’s onslaught.

So Thunder needed 168 to win, which they shouldn’t have regarded as impossible, having made just 15 fewer on the same ground four days earlier. However, their reply never really got going – Nicole Bolton and Eve Jones came out and displayed an uncanny knack of hitting the ball straight to the fielders for most of the first five overs. 

Whether wickets were falling or not, the scoring rate remained pedestrian – Bolton and Jones took 9.4 overs to add 55 for the first wicket, then in the remaining 9.4 overs, the entire Thunder team were dismissed for the addition of just 57 more.

If the run chase was looking tough when Harmanpreet Kaur came to the wicket first down with the required rate around 11, it looked even harder when the Indian start batter had once again been run out for a duck. On this occasion she never even got to take guard; once again the call from her partner was ambitious to say the least, but once again Kaur seemed extremely slow out of the blocks.

Amy Satterthwaite came in at four looking like she meant business, striking her first two deliveries for four. She was the only Thunder batsman to record a strike rate of appreciably over 100, but fell for 21 from 11 deliveries, having tried in vain to single-handedly give the innings some momentum.

Van Niekerk’s 3-20 and Bryony Smith’s 2-9 from two overs were the best of a series of excellent Surrey bowling figures.

This is the fourth time Lancashire Thunder have played what might be described as a showcase fixture at Old Trafford, and all four have resulted in defeat. Indeed only the first of this year’s matches at the Test ground could be described as being in any way a competitive match. Seeing the home side thrashed year on year is not encouraging the people of the North West to come back and watch more elite women’s cricket, and the eerie silence amongst the crowd during the stuttering run chase was far from pleasant to experience.

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MATCH REPORT: Cavender stars as Scotland claim back-to-back wins over Germany

Jake Perry reports from Meigle Park

Match One: Scotland Women U21 161-6 (E Cavender 56, T Gough 2 for 24) beat Germany Women 54-8 (C Scott 2 for 6, I Farooq 2 for 6) by 99 runs (revised target)

Match Two: Scotland Women U21 139-5 (E Cavender 58*, T Gough 2 for 7) beat Germany Women 64-8 (T Gough 20, M McColl 2 for 9) by 75 runs

The old cliché of four seasons in one day was in evidence in Galashiels as Scotland Women U21 completed two comprehensive wins against Germany in the T20 double-header at Meigle Park. On a day which began in cloudy humidity and ended in hot sunshine, punctuated by a heavy shower, two magnificent half centuries from sixteen-year-old Emily Cavender put the icing onto what were two excellent performances from Gordon Allan’s young side.

The changeable weather added to the challenge of batting on what was already a tricky looking surface. From the outset several deliveries popped up off the soft, green track, and with the hot sunshine drying the pitch from the earlier rain, too, Scotland’s greater experience was to tell in both matches as Germany struggled to get their innings going.

In the first game of the day a superb partnership of 91 between Cavender (56) and Megan McColl (28) had formed the backbone of Scotland’s imposing 161 for 6. Sarah Bryce’s 23-ball 41 set her side on their way before Germany struck back with four quick wickets to peg the hosts back to 63 for 4, but with Cavender and McColl subsequently taking control, Cavender bringing up her first half century of the day off 36 deliveries, Scotland posted a total which was never likely to be threatened.

Left-arm seamer Tina Gough (2 for 24) bowled particularly well for the visitors, nipping the ball in off the soft, green surface, but with Scotland’s batters regularly finding gaps in the field the bowling side struggled to put their opponents under any sort of pressure.

Germany’s run-chase got off to the worst possible start as Karthika Vijayaraghavan (1) cut Laura Grant (1 for 3) straight to Ailsa Lister at point, and with Scotland captain Abtaha Maqsood (2 for 16) and Isobel Couttie (1 for 13) claiming early wickets, too, the visitors were soon struggling on 19 for 3 after nine.

The first ten overs of the reply featured no boundaries as Scotland tightened the screw, and despite the weather intervening to reduce Germany’s target to 154 off 19 a further flurry of wickets confirmed what had already become an inevitable outcome. Charis Scott (2 for 6) took two in an over as Germany lost three with the score on 51 before Ikra Farooq (2 for 6) put the seal onto a comfortable win with the wicket of Asmita Kohli (1) off the final ball of the innings.

After their 99-run win earlier in the day Scotland lost Scott (0), Grant (4) and Lister (16) within the first seven overs of the second match after being asked to bat first once again, but Bryce (28) and Cavender then picked up the pace with some aggressive batting. Bryce cleared the rope at midwicket for the first six of the day and although the wicketkeeping all-rounder was to fall two balls later Cavender continued the assault as Scotland pulled away. Cavender’s second fifty of the day arrived off only 27 balls and featured nine fours as the Scots finished on 139 for 5 off their twenty overs.

Faced with another target in excess of a run a ball Germany again faltered, losing Stephanie Frohnmeyer (0) in the first over as she mistimed a catch to Maqsood. Bianca Maes (2) soon followed, McColl (2 for 9) claiming her second wicket, and when Maqsood effected the run out of Karthika Vijayaraghavan (8) in the eighth, Germany were again in trouble at 19 for 3.

All-rounder Gough (20) and Anuradha Doddaballapur (11) offered brave resistance but after the two fell in close succession, the latter run out after hesitation in going for a quick single before a sharp catch by Maqsood at midwicket to dismiss Gough, Germany’s innings fell away quickly to confirm Scotland’s second win of the day.

“I’m very happy,” said Abtaha Maqsood. “We hadn’t really played together as a squad before, our first game together was only on Wednesday, but the way we all came together and played as a team was really nice to see.

“It was tricky to bat out there with the pitch and it was pretty windy too but we still got two good scores on the board. Bowling into the wind wasn’t easy so I’m really pleased with our performances.

“It’s been a good day. Everyone contributed and for Emily in her first game to get two fifties is amazing.”

“It’s been a great learning experience for us today,” said Germany captain Anuradha Doddaballapur. “Most of us don’t get to play on grass pitches in Germany so conditions-wise this is something for us to learn from.

“I think we did pretty well in our bowling and batting. It was good to play against spin because again we don’t have the chance to do that very often in Germany and that’s something we want to work on. There are quite a few young girls in the squad as well, for some it’s their first tour with the national team, so I think overall it was a great experience for everyone. It’s lovely to be able to play in Scotland, too, although it’s hard not to be distracted by the scenery!”

Germany’s tour now continues in the north of England.

“We’re based in Ashington for the next four or five days,” she said. “We have two games against Northumberland Women and then against Durham. It’s been really good for us and for German cricket, to see the standard we are pitching against.”

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Jake Perry is a cricket writer based in Scotland.

Twitter: @jperry_cricket / Facebook: Jake Perry Cricket

KSL: Thunder v Storm – Match Thoughts

From Martin Saxon at Old Trafford

Western Storm made it four wins from five by beating Lancashire Thunder at Old Trafford, in doing so ending the home side’s own winning run of three matches. The Storm look to have enough in all departments to really challenge for honours once again.

Thunder’s 153-7 may have looked more than respectable on paper, but here the boundaries were ridiculously short, even by recent standards in elite women’s cricket. Coupled with a lightning fast outfield it meant that scoring boundaries was relatively simple, and the total was certainly below par.

Most of the batsmen who had starred in previous Thunder matches failed to fire here. Eve Jones scratched around for four in 14 deliveries, Nicole Bolton hit two boundaries but failed to extend her stay at the crease, Harmanpreet Kaur was suicidally run out after only one delivery and Ellie Threlkeld and Emma Lamb failed to get out of the teens.

The only score of note came from Amy Satterthwaite, who made her second 50 of the tournament, finishing with an unbeaten 85 from 57 deliveries with 11 fours and three sixes.

Claire Nicholas had another good game with the ball, conceding 21 in her four overs, and it was noticeable that most of Storm’s non-international bowlers also kept Thunder’s scoring rate down, with Naomi Dattani and Freya Davies also impressing.

Kate Cross again struck in the first over for the Thunder, removing Rachel Priest, but her second over saw her hit for successive sixes by Smriti Mandhana. Although Stafanie Taylor’s 33 not out provided good support, thereafter it really was the Mandhana show as she reached her century off just 60 deliveries, hitting two further maximums, and finally departed when only two were required.

Much has been made of the successes of the Thunder spin quartet in previous matches, and here Lancashire actually tried six spin options in a vain attempt to break the momentum of the innings. Their only chances came in the 10th over, bowled by Sophie Ecclestone, when Mandhana was dropped twice – neither was straightforward but they were catches you would hope international players would have held on to.

As it was, the Indian’s mighty innings led the way as Storm got home with seven wickets and ten balls in hand.

INTERVIEW: Ireland’s Ciara Metcalfe Reflects On Her International Career And Ireland’s Future

Ireland’s Ciara Metcalfe – leg-spinner, coach and co-star of YouTube duo Hairy and Brains – speaks to Jake Perry.

The ICC World T20 in November is sure to bring mixed emotions for Ireland. Joy at participating in their third WWT20 will be tempered by the understanding that it will be the last hurrah for two of their greatest-ever servants, but as Clare Shillington and Ciara Metcalfe leave the international stage they will do so in the knowledge that Irish cricket has never been better placed.

The Global Qualifier in the Netherlands, which saw Bangladesh and Ireland secure the two remaining places in the West Indies, also brought a notable personal landmark for Ciara as she notched up her hundredth wicket for Ireland. Ranked twentieth in the ICC T20 bowling rankings and with a century of international wickets in sight, too, the thirty-eight-year-old leg-spinner is determined to end her nineteen-year playing career on a high.

“It’s taken a long time for me to get to this point,” she said. “When I started out we were playing maybe one game a year, three at most, which is something I don’t think the younger players today necessarily realise. Now these kids are playing so much cricket they’ll be catching me up at the age of nineteen or twenty!

“But it was a lovely milestone for me to reach. It was in the game [against Uganda] we needed to win as well so it all came together at the right time for the team too.”

After a one-off T20I and three-match ODI series against New Zealand, Ireland had completed their preparations for the Global Qualifier with a closely-contested T20I series against Bangladesh. That four of Ireland’s five bowlers in the first ODI against New Zealand were aged seventeen or under, says Ciara, bodes well for Irish cricket in the years to come.

“Having New Zealand and then Bangladesh over was really good for us,” she said. “There was a lot of quality learning for what was a very young team and although the results didn’t go our way for the most part the games will stand the youngsters in very good stead for the future.

“Against Bangladesh we finally got over the line in the third game after they had got away from us in the first two. That was really good because in winning that we peaked as we were going into the [WWT20Q] instead of before it.”

After going unbeaten in the group stages in Holland, Ireland beat PNG in the Semi-Final before losing to Bangladesh by 25 runs to finish as tournament runners-up.

“We had a nicely balanced team in the Netherlands, a mixture of older players coming back in alongside the youngsters,” said Ciara. “I actually think we put out one of the strongest teams we’ve seen in an Irish jersey for a long time.

“We played well although every game still gave us bits and pieces to work on. I don’t think we fired in all departments in every game and then in the Final I felt that we let Bangladesh win to be honest.

“We were in a great position having kept them to 125 or thereabouts but then we had a lot of soft wickets. Whether it was just the occasion, trying too hard to get over the final hurdle, I don’t know, but what was most important was that the job was done and we achieved our main goal which was qualification.”

Although the final places at the WWT20 were secured by the only two Full Member nations competing in the Netherlands, Uganda’s defeat of Zimbabwe in the Africa Qualifier, coupled with Thailand’s recent victory over Sri Lanka, provide evidence of an increasingly competitive international landscape. When it comes to those at the top of the tree, however, Ciara feels that the distance between the ‘best’ and ‘the rest’ is becoming ever more pronounced.

“It’s a hard one,” she said. “There have been some eye-catching results recently, but I’d say the gap is getting bigger when it comes to the top four or five teams.

“The standard that their players are able to play at consistently with the KSL, BBL and so on makes a huge difference. Having the same players playing against each other with top-level coaching all of the time has pushed them on even further. That’s my view anyway.

“I have always believed that teams like Uganda and PNG are just a money load away from being really good teams,” she continued. “We turn up to things like the World Cup Qualifier having no idea about a lot of the teams we’ll be facing, and if they get someone to invest in them they can turn up to a tournament like that and cause a surprise. Teams like that, they can play cricket, they just don’t have the structure and everything else behind them yet.

“Speaking about ourselves, with a little more structural change and a bit more investment we can definitely compete with the likes of Sri Lanka and Pakistan,” she went on. “I’m hoping that with Full Membership there’ll be some more money available which can support us in different ways.

“In time we will have to go down the central contract route. It won’t be in my time but I’m definitely one of the people who will still be around on the coaching side. It would make such a difference. We’d be up there with Pakistan and Sri Lanka straight away.”

Although Ireland’s elevation to Full Member status was marked by a men’s Test against Pakistan, Ciara was a member of the first Irish side to play Test cricket. At Dublin’s College Park she took 4 for 42 in the first innings as Pakistan were defeated by an innings and 54 runs in July 2000.

“When we played we thought it would be the first of many, but then it was forgotten about,” said Ciara. “Because of the way women’s cricket has shaped up over the last couple of years Test cricket hasn’t been on many people’s minds, so looking back it was definitely a special occasion to be a part of.

“It shows how far they have come. Pakistan were so far behind at that time but now they’ve overtaken us.”

For now, though, Ciara is looking forward to writing the final chapter of what has been an outstanding international career.

“Clare and I both said that the game against Bangladesh was our last home game and I think I can speak for both of us in saying that yes, the World T20 will be our farewell. It’ll be an emotional time, but it won’t be the last of Hairy and Brains!”

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Jake Perry is a cricket writer based in Scotland.

Twitter: @jperry_cricket / Facebook: Jake Perry Cricket

PREVIEW: Kia Super League 2018

The third edition of the Kia Super League – KSL03 – begins this weekend, with all 6 teams in action on Sunday afternoon: Stars v Vipers at Guildford; Thunder v Lightning at Southport & Birkdale; and Storm v Diamonds at Taunton.

We look at the squads… and make our predictions!

Southern Vipers

Last season’s runners-up, Southern Vipers have strengthened in all departments – out the door from the team that lost last year’s final go Georgia Adams, Hayley Mathews and Linsey Smith; replaced respectively by Tammy Beaumont, Sara McGlashan (ex-New Zealand, but playing as a “domestic” player on a British passport) and Amelia Kerr – significant upgrades in all cases. With Katie “Lieutenant” George’s rapid promotion up the England ranks since KSL02, they will have an all-international opening bowling partnership with her and Tash Farrant; and an all-international top 4 of Beaumont, Danni Wyatt, Suzie Bates and Mignon du Preez. Perhaps the only question is how much of a look-in England’s next generation (Charlie Dean, Maia Bouchier and Lauren Bell) get this season – carrying drinks may be a rite of passage… but it doesn’t bridge many gaps! [Syd Egan]

Suzie Bates, Tammy Beaumont, Danni Wyatt, Tash Farrant, Mignon Du Preez, Amelia Kerr, Katie George, Paige Scholfield, Maia Bouchier, Charlie Dean, Arran Brindle, Carla Rudd, Lauren Bell, Sara McGlashan, Fi Morris

Western Storm

Reigning champions Storm have a very similar squad to last year, which is a good omen given that their strength has always been a healthy team environment where overseas and non-overseas alike contribute fully. Assuming Anya Shrubsole is back to full fitness after missing the ODI series v New Zealand with a side strain, their bowling looks strong, with Sussex’s Freya Davies and Wales’s Claire Nicholas two of the best non-internationals in the competition. Meanwhile they’ve signed Smriti Mandhana to bolster their batting, as well as Naomi Dattani, whose innings v Surrey in the T20 London Cup this season was a sight to behold. They’ll make Finals Day for sure. [Raf Nicholson]

Heather Knight, Anya Shrubsole, Fran Wilson, Freya Davies, Rachel Priest, Stafanie Taylor, Smriti Mandhana, Sophie Luff, Claire Nicholas, Lauren Parfitt, Danielle Gibson, Naomi Dattani, Lissy Macleod, Amara Carr, Rebecca Silk

Surrey Stars

With their strong South African backbone of Lizelle Lee, Marizanne Kapp and Dane van Niekerk, the Stars are looking good for another visit to Finals Day, after their third-placed finish last season. Sarah Taylor’s arrival strengthens them further, although it isn’t great news for future England hopeful, wicket-keeper Rhianna Southby, who may find herself sitting on the sidelines as a result. Whether the Stars can go better than third this year may depend on how young-guns Sophia Dunkley and Bryony Smith step up – both have been in great form at county and for England Academy, and this is their chance to show the world what they can do on the bigger stage, so if they can grab it… who knows! [SE]

Nat Sciver, Dane Van Niekerk, Lizelle Lee, Marizanne Kapp, Aylish Cranstone, Grace Gibbs, Hannah Jones, Mady Villiers, Rhianna Southby, Sophia Dunkley, Eva Gray, Laura Marsh, Sarah Taylor, Bryony Smith, Gayatri Gole

Loughborough Lightning

It’s all change at Lightning this season with a shake-up both at squad level and with a brand new coach in Rob Taylor after Salliann Briggs left for pastures new in March. The loss of Ellyse Perry, who has elected to stay home in Australia, will be a big blow to their hopes, only slightly softened by the return of Sophie Devine from the Diamonds, fresh from her mammoth century in the 3rd ODI against England. Key to their performance could be the signing of Kirstie Gordon, who has deservedly picked up her first KSL contract on the back of a strong domestic season: she finished far and away top of our County Championship bowling rankings. A mid-table finish seems most likely, however. [RN]

Georgia Elwiss, Amy Jones, Jenny Gunn, Sophie Devine, Rachael Haynes, Elyse Villani, Izzy Cloke, Linsey Smith, Sarah Glenn, Georgia Adams, Tara Norris, Kirstie Gordon, Jo Gardner, Abi Freeborn, Lucy Higham

Yorkshire Diamonds

Yorkshire have yet to make it to a KSL Finals Day and although they have significantly reshuffled their squad, it is difficult to see that changing this season. Beth Mooney’s return could be significant – when she is at her explosive best she can win matches single-handed – and Lauren Winfield will be desperate to impress after sitting on the sidelines for England for much of the summer, but whether that makes up for the loss of Sophie Devine back to the Lightning is debatable. One to watch, if she gets a game [Do we sense a theme here? Ed.] may be Helen Fenby – she has impressed for the Academy, but this will be a very different stage to playing for Durham in Div 3 of the County Championship. [SE]

Lauren Winfield, Katherine Brunt, Beth Langston, Alice Davidson–Richards, Beth Mooney, Chamari Athapaththu, Delissa Kimmince, Helen Fenby, Katie Levick , Sophie Munro, Bess Heath, Thea Brookes, Alice Monaghan, Gwen Davies, Katie Thompson

Lancashire Thunder

The surprise appointment of Alex Blackwell as coach could be crucial to marshalling a team who have finished bottom of the table in both previous editions of the KSL. Bravely, they’ve persisted with the route of selecting their squad largely from local players who also play county cricket for Lancashire. Emma Lamb – who’s had a good season for Lancashire at county, finishing second in our Div 1 batting rankings behind only Suzie Bates – will presumably open again, alongside overseas stalwart Amy Satterthwaite. Nicole Bolton is their new overseas signing, playing in KSL for the first time, while Alex Hartley joins them from “down South”; but will that be enough to propel them to the opposite end of the table? I’m not convinced. [RN]

Danielle Hazell, Nicole Bolton, Georgie Boyce, Natalie Brown, Kate Cross, Rachel Dickinson, Alice Dyson, Sophie Ecclestone, Alex Hartley, Eve Jones, Harmanpreet Kaur, Emma Lamb, Natasha Miles, Amy Satterthwaite, Ellie Threlkeld

PREDICTIONS

Raf:

  1. Vipers
  2. Storm
  3. Stars
  4. Thunder
  5. Lightning
  6. Diamonds

Syd:

  1. Vipers
  2. Storm
  3. Stars
  4. Lightning
  5. Thunder
  6. Diamonds

 

PREVIEW: Scotland Hunting Another Piece of History as the WWT20 Qualifier Begins

Ahead of the ICC Women’s World T20 Global Qualifier in the Netherlands, Jake Perry talks to Kathryn Bryce, Sarah Bryce and Head Coach Steve Knox as they look to take Scotland to the final stages of a major tournament for the first time.

Eleven months after winning the ICC Europe/Americas Qualifier in Stirling, Scotland’s Women will begin the last round of their bid to reach the 2018 ICC Women’s World T20 at Amstelveen’s VRA Cricket Ground on Saturday. The group match against Uganda will be the first of three in the initial stages of the Global Qualifier as the national team looks to improve on the fourth-place finish they recorded in Thailand three years ago and reach the finals of a major ICC tournament for the first time in their history.

Steve Knox’s side goes into the competition in the best possible position having just completed the T20 leg of their domestic summer. Although promotion to Division One of the Vitality Women’s Twenty20 Cup was to ultimately prove elusive, the Scotland Head Coach is pleased to have had the opportunity to focus on the format for an extended period of time.

“It’s been a busy six weeks down in England but it’s been great in terms of getting time in the middle,” he said. “With the weather we’ve been having we’ve played every single game, too, so we couldn’t have wished for a better preparation.”

“T20 is a very tactical game. It’s about getting the right people into the right positions and that’s why the past few weeks have been so important. The girls are in form and everyone knows their role within the team, so now it’s just a case of performing on the day.”

With several regulars unavailable for the Netherlands, Scotland’s squad includes a number of international rookies alongside experienced campaigners.

“The senior players have really important role to play,” said Steve. “There are seven guys in the squad who have played fifty games or more and people like Abbi [Aitken] and Jacko [Lorna Jack] will be very important, especially with the new faces in the squad.”

“We know we’re still a work-in-progress but we’re definitely improving and we’re certainly [further on than we were] twelve months ago. But regardless of what happens over the next two weeks we’re moving in the right direction, and with it being such an inexperienced squad that’s going to continue [beyond this tournament].”

The Global Qualifier will also be the first major assignment for Kathryn Bryce as captain, and the twenty-year-old all-rounder is looking forward to the challenge that the next fortnight will bring.

“I’m really excited and a bit nervous but I’m taking it as it comes,” she said. “Putting together tournament performances is a bit different from going game-to-game so it will be a different challenge, playing [against Uganda] then resetting and going again the day after [against Ireland].”

“It’s quite a new squad compared to what we’ve had in global competitions before but we’ve been together since the end of last summer and we’re starting to see solid performances from a lot of people,” continued Kathryn. “Over the past few years we hadn’t really scored 120 many times before whereas this year we’ve been consistently doing that, especially over the last few weekends.”

With 203 runs at 40.6 in domestic T20 wicketkeeping all-rounder Sarah Bryce has been central to that success and the eighteen-year-old is keen to carry that form into the Qualifier.

“It’s been a pretty good season for me so far, I’ve had a couple of fifties and a really good opening partnership with Jacko,” she said. “But the whole of the top order has been chipping in with runs. We haven’t been relying on any one player in particular and that’s really important for us going into the tournament.”

“We won seven out of eight games down in England so we’ve got some momentum to build on.”

The Global Qualifier will be Scotland’s third in succession after appearances in Thailand and Sri Lanka, and the team will look to take advantage of what will be more familiar playing conditions this time around.

“Hopefully we can make the most of the conditions especially playing against teams like Bangladesh who we’ve previously played in conditions which are more familiar to them,” said Sarah. “All being well we can use that to our benefit.”

“It’s a bit strange to be playing the Qualifier in Europe because we were almost expecting to be somewhere like Sri Lanka or Thailand,” added Kathryn. “The conditions there are so different with the heat and everything like that, so it’s nice knowing that that we won’t be facing that this time.”

“We don’t know exactly what it will be like but it’s good to be going somewhere that will maybe give us a little bit of an advantage. Hopefully the ball is going to move around a bit early on and then the spinners will play a big role I think.”

The side will find inspiration in the achievements of their male counterparts, too, as they look to crown what has already been an historic summer for Scottish cricket with what would arguably be the greatest achievement of all.

“We were on our way back from Hampshire when the game against England was going on and the girls were absolutely buzzing,” said Steve Knox. “When the Channel Five highlights came on we stopped and had dinner and watched them on about six tablets and it was brilliant. You could see the girls almost puff their chests out a little bit more seeing what was possible and we’ll certainly be using that over the next two weeks, absolutely.”

And with recent results demonstrating the closing gap within the women’s game, too, Scotland will begin their campaign knowing that anything is possible.

“[Uganda’s win over Zimbabwe and Thailand beating Sri Lanka] shows how much women’s cricket has grown,” said Kathryn. “Two or three years ago those teams wouldn’t have dreamed of beating the others.”

“It also shows how a T20 game can go either way if you have a good day or a bad day, and I think that could be an advantage for us especially going up against Bangladesh and Ireland who are ranked above us.”

“Anyone is beatable and qualification is not out of reach at all.”

 

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Jake Perry is a cricket writer based in Scotland.

Twitter: @jperry_cricket / Facebook: Jake Perry Cricket

INTERVIEW: Scotland’s Katie McGill – We’re in a good place to cause an upset

Jake Perry speaks to Scotland’s Katie McGill

Ahead of the ICC Women’s World T20 Qualifier, experienced all-rounder Katie McGill talks to Jake Perry about her career so far and ambitions for the Netherlands.

Scotland’s Women fly to the Netherlands for the ICC Women’s World T20 Qualifier in confident mood. Despite the absence of several regulars the squad has been buoyed by some excellent recent performances, and with new talent coming through to add to the big-match experience of players such as Kathryn Bryce, Sarah Bryce, Lorna Jack and Abbi Aitken there is genuine belief that Scotland can go one better than their semi-final appearance at Thailand 2015.

Katie McGill is another who belongs in the same category, and as she prepares for her third Global Qualifier in Scotland colours the all-rounder is looking forward to seeing what the tournament will bring.

“The preparations have been going really well,” she said. “We’re particularly focused and clear on what we want to do and how we want to do it and we’ve had a good run of practice games which have given us a bit of momentum.”

“Different people at different times have been stepping up, too, and it’s really nice to know that we have that depth within the squad.”

Scotland go into the tournament on the back of their best-ever performance in the ECB’s domestic T20 competition after finishing third in Division Two of the Vitality Women’s Twenty20 Cup.

“It’s been a massive help mind and body-wise to have played the fifty-over competition in early season before moving to T20,” said Katie. “It’s nice to have been able to focus on that different pace of game, particularly for our batters.”

“To have had a good block of T20 coming into [the Qualifier], to be really confident that we have the skills for that and for us bowlers to have been able to get into the rhythm of going hard for four overs without having to worry about having to pace out eight over spells has been really good.”

Since her debut in 2015 the twenty-six-year-old has become a cornerstone of the Scotland team in both domestic and international cricket. Awarded her fiftieth cap in June, Katie scored her first half-century for the Wildcats in Division Three of the Royal London Women’s One-Day Cup against Cumbria before ending the Twenty20 Cup campaign as leading wicket-taker.

“I’ve always been a bit of an all-rounder, very much in the mould of jack-of-all-trades rather than master of one,” she smiled. “I was always a middle overs bowler as I’ve not really got the pace or movement of some of the others, but I have a bit more control I guess.”

“Spending a winter in New Zealand [with Northern Districts Women in 2016-17] was so good for my development. It opened up opportunities for me to bowl with the new ball which I’ve never really had before as even in club cricket I’d look to come in later and use change-ups and so on. But when I went out to New Zealand there happened to be an opening, so they got me opening the bowling.”

“It was a brilliant place to learn a new skill and I took that momentum and got a little bit of a go with it [at the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier] in Sri Lanka. I’ve never sat there and said I want to open the bowling, but I love doing it now when I get the chance. I have always liked a new challenge.”

“When something’s going well and you have confidence in one discipline you can work on the other,” she continued. “As I said I like a challenge and I like tinkering but I’ve learnt through time that it’s best to keep things simple. With the bat I just focus on hitting the ball. It doesn’t necessarily make for the best photos but if I’m scoring runs and supporting an in-bat then that’s my job done.”

“To have had the opportunity to get a bit more crease-time in the Regional Series has been a very good test as well. I’m in a place now where I’m really confident in the shots I’ve got and when and how to use them.”

In Cricket Scotland’s rebranded Regional Series Katie’s all-round credentials have been to the fore. With 45 not out in the first T20 match of the series and 4 for 12 in second, the Eagles captain has led from the front in what has already become an enormously significant competition for the development of women’s game in Scotland.

“It’s massive,” said Katie. “It gives it weight. Previously there were different franchise-type names like East and Rest, which particularly for the Rest felt like you were part of a bit of a hotchpotch, so to have good branding in place now has been a really important step.”

“But [the Regional Series] also cements the pathway. It’s already shown its worth when you have people like Charlotte Dalton, for example, who performed well at club level, got a shout at Regionals, performed there and got a shot with the ‘A’s, all within six months. Hannah Rainey, too, only debuted this year but is now going to her first international tournament, again thanks to her performances through that regional structure.”

“It keeps the established players on their toes as well,” she continued. “You know what is coming through and it keeps you pushing to elevate yourself. It’s just so good for our game that the competition is branded seriously, taken seriously by the players, taken seriously by the set-up and provides a genuine pathway for people who shine within it.”

And as her attention turns towards Scotland’s opening match against Uganda on Saturday, confidence is strong.

“We want to get to the World Cup and there’s no denying that there’s a genuine belief within the team that we can,” said Katie. “We sat down at the beginning of the winter and asked what our goal should be and if it was realistic and yes, we feel it is.”

“In the Regional Qualifiers there have been a few upsets and teams you would expect to be in this Qualifier haven’t made it, so it proves that up-and-coming teams like ourselves can leap-frog over others. We’re confident in our game and we’re definitely more skilful and more fit than we’ve been, so I think we’re in a really good place to go and cause an upset and get ourselves to the World Cup.”

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Jake Perry is a cricket writer based in Scotland.

Twitter: @jperry_cricket / Facebook: Jake Perry Cricket

INTERVIEW: Hannah Rainey Looking To Make Her Mark For Scotland

Jake Perry speaks to Hannah Rainey

It has been quite a summer for Hannah Rainey. After impressing in the Cricket Scotland Regional Series and the Vitality Women’s Twenty20 Cup, the Eagles bowler has the chance of an international debut at the ICC Women’s World T20 Qualifier after being called into the full Scotland squad for the first time. With twenty-first birthday celebrations and a third year at the Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies safely negotiated, too, 2018 is already turning into a red-letter year.

“It was so exciting to get the email to say I had been selected,” said Hannah. “I’d been training with the squad over the winter but I didn’t really expect to play, so when I got the call-up it was a huge thrill because it was so unexpected. 

“It’s such a good atmosphere to be in because the whole team is really supportive of each other and I’m very much enjoying being a part of it all.”

Hannah’s place on the plane to Holland represents the biggest accolade so far in a career which began in after-school Kwik Cricket a decade ago.

“I got into cricket quite late on I suppose,” she said. “I had moved to Scotland [from Kent] when I was ten and although my Dad was really keen on the game I’d never played before.

“But my best friend’s Dad was involved at Carlton Cricket Club and when they started up Kwik Cricket for girls on a Wednesday night I went along with her to that. At that time Leigh Kasperek was a teenager helping out with Eric Edwards who was one of the Dads. It was great and we went for weeks and weeks over the summer and came back year on year. 

“Then Eastern Under-16 Regionals were set up, and at the time Katie McGill and Ollie Rae were coaching it – I feel like they were my first proper coaches – and then from there I was asked to join the [Scotland] Under-17s, although I only had a season with them before I was too old. So I was quite late to serious cricket, certainly compared to someone like Kathryn Bryce who has been playing since she was very young, but once I got into it I kept playing.”

Hannah made her debut for Scotland ‘A’ against Durham in April 2017 but has advanced her case for a first full cap with some strong performances this season. The newly remodelled Regional Series is providing particularly valuable opportunities, she says.

“As a national team we have been told that we need to be prioritising the Regional Series because we need to be playing at the highest standard we can and obviously it provides really good preparation,” said Hannah.

“The rebranding of the competition has been excellent. A lot of my friends didn’t know anything about the regional competition last year but now they know all about the Eagles and the Stormers. It’s exciting for the younger girls who get called up, too, because it’s hyped-up a lot more and is a big thing to be involved in. 

“Speaking personally I’ve had mixed fortunes over the two days we’ve played so far,” she continued. “I took three wickets [for 34] in the fifty-over game which was nice but in the second I had to come off with a back injury. I’m still working through the physio of that now so, yes, that second day wasn’t the best for me unfortunately.”

Since that interruption, however, her path has continued upward. After taking 1 for 14 on her Wildcats debut against Charlotte Edwards’ Hampshire in the ECB’s domestic T20 competition, Hannah took 2 for 32 in the nine-wicket win over England Academy Women at Loughborough. Exposure to a higher level of cricket over the course of the year has, she says, brought immediate benefits.

“I’ve definitely become more tactically aware,” said Hannah. “I didn’t really know what field worked best for my bowling, for example, didn’t really understand why I should have particular fielders where, but I’m much more conscious of that now. I’m trying to get ahead of the batsman rather than reacting to them, and the senior girls and coaches have been a massive help in that.” 

And there will be no greater test of those skills than what lies ahead in the Netherlands as Scotland’s Women look to qualify for the final stages of an ICC global tournament for the first time in their history.

“I’m really excited and a bit nervous too I guess,” said Hannah. “But there’s a real buzz about the team at the moment. Our performances have been getting better over the past few weeks and hopefully we’ll peak at the right time. 

“We’re playing well and doing what we want to do but we still have more to give. That’s a positive thing. There’s a bit more in us and hopefully we can show that when the tournament begins.”

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Jake Perry is a cricket writer based in Scotland.

Twitter: @jperry_cricket / Facebook: Jake Perry Cricket

MATCH REPORT: Sussex and Yorkshire Dunked At Mill Hill As Sophia Makes England Case

By Raf Nicholson and Syd Egan

On a sunny day at Mill Hill School, Middlesex fought back from their relegation to Division 2 of the Women’s County Championship last weekend by proving their mettle as a T20 side, with convincing wins against both Sussex and Yorkshire.

The day’s real star was Sophia Dunkley who – with today’s scores of 34* and 57* topping off an incredible run of form this season – looks to be challenging for a spot in the England squad.

Middlesex v Sussex

Sussex started steadily, seeing off the initial overs by Hayley Brennan and Katie Wolfe, and reaching 29 in the first 5 overs; but their attempt to force the pace with quick singles ultimately backfired as Middlesex enacted 2 successive run-outs, including that of captain Georgia Adams (19).

The middle order then fell apart, leaving Sussex 50-5, but the away side were saved from embarrassment by no.7 Freya Davies, who with an unbeaten 27 finished as top-scorer. Aided by some wayward Middlesex bowling – including 17 wides – Sussex managed to reach 107-8.

In reply Middlesex were slow to get going and Sussex kept themselves in the game by removing openers Naomi Dattani (5) with a stonking catch by Paige Scholfield at midwicket, and Tash Miles stumped (21) thanks to a neat piece of glove work from Abi Freeborn.

But that brought Fran Wilson to the crease and she hit a quickfire 42 from 33 balls before Sophia Dunkley (34*) finished the job in the 18th over with three successive boundaries, including a six hit back over the top of Davies’ head.

Sussex v Yorkshire

Sussex fought back in the second game of the day, winning by 5 wickets thanks to a 79-run partnership between Abi Freeborn and Izzy Collis.

Opening bowlers Freya Davies and Linsey Smith put the pressure on early for Sussex, but the Yorkshire openers Jess Watson and Adrianna Darlow didn’t do anything silly and plundered 13 runs, including 3 boundaries, off the 5th over bowled by Paige Scholfield to take them to 24-0.

Watson was out well caught by Georgia Adams running back at mid on off Tara Norris for 17, and Darlow followed soon afterwards for 9, caught at point after getting a thick edge trying to pull Scholfield through midwicket.

After 10 overs Maddie Walsh and Rebecca Newark had taken Yorkshire to 54-2 and they continued to run hard between the wickets to take it to 80-2 after 15.

Walsh was eventually caught on the midwicket boundary by Scholfield for 38 off 34 balls, while Newark was stumped off Davies for 13, as Yorkshire progressed to 103-6 off the 20.

Sussex made a calamitous start to their innings, with left-armer Katie Thompson bowling Georgia Adams for a 2nd ball duck and Paige Scholfield LWB to Abi Glen for 1, leaving them 2-2 after 2!

Collis smashed Georgia Draper’s first ball for 6 over midwicket as things started to get moving for Sussex – Collis and Freeborn taking them to 56-2 after 10 overs.

Thompson returned to the attack in the 14th over to bowl Freeborn for 37 off 34 balls, leaving Sussex needing 23 off 36 balls, which Collis and Chiara Green began to proceed towards, before Collis was caught for 45 playing one leg-side heave-ho too many. Linsey Smith was then dismissed for a golden duck by Glen, who bowled out a wicket maiden to the incoming batsman Freya Davies, giving Yorkshire a glimmer of hope.

With 2 needed off the last over, Glen bowled a wide first ball and Green then stole a single to short extra cover off the second ball for the win with 4 balls to spare.

Middlesex v Yorkshire

In the final game of the day Middlesex made it 2 from 2 in a convincing 6-wicket win against Yorkshire.

Having lost the toss and been put in to bat, Yorkshire raced away to have 41 on the board at the end of the powerplay, helped by some poor fielding by Middlesex who put down a couple of chances in the infield.

Adrianna Darlow was one of those put down and went on to take full advantage, finishing as Yorkshire’s top-scorer with 26 (33 balls)

But the introduction of Bhavika Gajipra to the attack in the 11th over shifted the momentum back in Middlesex’s favour as she had Darlow caught at long on and then also accounted for Anna Nicholls and Hannah Buck, finishing with figures of 3-15.

Ultimately a couple of run outs ensured that Yorkshire only just scraped 100 from their 20 overs.

Naomi Dattani didn’t want to hang around, hitting Katie Thompson’s second ball for six over midwicket. Middlesex did have a couple of wobbles with both Fran Wilson and Beth Morgan dismissed without scoring but Sophia Dunkley was once again imperious, finishing things off in the 16th over with a straight drive to the boundary.

Afterwards Dunkley told CRICKETher that Middlesex were delighted with their start to the T20 Cup: “Especially after [relegation] last week, it was about coming out with a fresh mind and going and having fun.”

“I’ve been working hard on my T20 at the moment and it was nice to go out and bat with some freedom.”

OPINION: The Hidden Gem – Women’s County Cricket

By Richard Clark

There was no county cricket on Bank Holiday Monday.

Nothing.

Not a ball bowled anywhere in England or Wales.

We (that is, the wider public with an interest in cricket) know this because it has been discussed at some length in the cricketing press, blogs and social media. Beautiful weather, everybody off work, kids on half term… and yet no cricket to watch. It’s no wonder the ECB appear convinced that children don’t “engage” with the game if they can’t actually go and see it.

Yet we (and this is a much smaller “we” – those of us who cherish women’s cricket) also know that it’s bunkum.

For there was plenty of county cricket on Bank Holiday Monday – 18 matches, to be precise – in the Royal London Women’s One Day Cup (or County Championship if you prefer). Ample opportunity for those keen to spend a day in a deck-chair or on a bench absorbing the ebbs and flows of the game to get out and do so.

And not just in the “traditional” areas of the country. Monday’s matches stretched far beyond the confines of the 18 First Class counties, from Pontarddulais to Dumfries, and from Long Melford to Instow. They say you’re never more than six feet from a rat, but it’s quite possible that wherever you were in the country on Monday you would have been ever closer to a women’s county cricket match!

Yet there will have been few in attendance, beyond family and friends, at most of those fixtures. Why? Various reasons, but not least amongst them is the almost total lack of noticeable publicity.

The ECB doesn’t include fixtures on its own website and the mainstream media are not interested. “The Cricketer” only includes England and KSL matches on its pre-season poster (although, in fairness, the typeface is fairly small as it is!), and “The Cricket Paper” gives but scant coverage. These games might as well not exist.

Even “the Counties” (with exceptions) provide very little publicity for their women’s teams – perhaps not surprising given that the two are usually totally separate entities run by different bodies.

There is some cohesion, some element of “joined-up thinking”. In my own county (Worcestershire), for example, the women now wear the same kit with the same “Rapids” branding as the men, albeit with different sponsorship. That’s unarguably a step in the right direction, but there is very little publicity given to the women’s team via the County’s official website and social media.

County Boards largely do a good job – again to use my county as an example, they use social media well to publicise matches in advance, and, pleasingly, have been able to encourage the local press to run a few stories this season in particular, but for the most part they are very much preaching to those already within the tent. Their reach beyond their own existing sphere is limited at best.

Websites and blogs such as this one, and a handful of social media champions do a great job, but I’m sure Syd and Raf will acknowledge that by and large they too are preaching to the well-and-truly converted. Nothing wrong with that, and all praise to them for doing a great job, but it has a minimal impact in terms of spreading the gospel.

The question that needs to be asked is this. Do we want to keep the status quo, where England’s games are well marketed and well attended, the KSL (and whatever it morphs into in two years’ time) likewise, but the county game all but invisible? Or do we believe in the Championship and its T20 cousin? Are we happy to keep it as our own little secret, shared between a select group, or would we rather share it – as much as we can – with the larger cricketing family?

And this is the thing. There are, I’m convinced, people out there who would be interested in the women’s county game if only they knew about it, and who would be keen to sample one of their county’s fixtures. Some of them may well be aware that it exists, but have no idea how to go about finding out more. We (that’s the second “we”) know where to look, but if others don’t know where to look how do they find out where to look?!

At times I feel – wrongly, I’m sure – that there’s a fear amongst those of us “in the know” of shouting too loudly about the women’s county game. Is it because those of us who appreciate it want to keep it to ourselves, or because we worry about criticism from newcomers who compare it with the men’s game, or the sneering and knuckle-dragging responses from the “caveman element”? maybe we fear it turning into something that isn’t quite what we came to appreciate in the first place? I hope, and deep down believe, that I’m wrong about all that.

So what do we do?

Well, take this Sunday for example. There is another round of Women’s Championship fixtures – Divisions 1 and 2 only, of course. There are also a number of Men’s Royal London Cup games, but obviously not every county is at home, and two (Yorkshire and Somerset) don’t have a game at all.

In Yorkshire’s case, their women play Nottinghamshire at Harrogate, and the Yorkies are still in with a decent shout of the Division 1 Title. That’s a game worth shouting about, worth publicising, surely? Yet neither Yorkshire CCC’s website nor their social media platforms make any mention of the match. There is – to their credit – an impressive section on their website about the KSL Diamonds, but nothing on the actual county team.

Elsewhere on their website, however, a page on the women’s county team (which I eventually found after some time searching) includes a useful link to “Our Review of 2013”. Hmm…

Meanwhile, Hampshire’s men are away to Glamorgan, whilst their women host Middlesex at Andover. With Hampshire currently topping the table, surely some supporters would like to get along and potentially see them lift the trophy? And to Hampshire’s great credit as I write on Friday morning it is the lead story on their website, whilst they have also plugged the match through their social media. Top marks to them!

These two examples illustrate perfectly what can be done, and what is not being done. And we can play our part in making sure there are more Hampshires and fewer Yorkshires.

Those of us on social media can influence the way counties behave in this area. Badger them, tag them in when you’re mentioning matches, remind them, make it hard for them to bury their heads in the sand.

Similarly, use Facebook pages and forums to mention games at every turn. Irritate people. Learn to appreciate the boneheaded comments from those still dwelling in the 17th century, for the one thing they tell you is that you’re being seen and heard. Besides, you know the answers to every snark and snipe. Take those jibes at face value and argue them down. It may not make a difference to that particular individual’s view, but others reading will take it in.

Women’s county cricket has so much going for it. Free (or very cheap) admission – making it affordable for a family, and also meaning you don’t feel you’ve wasted a load of money if you can only pop in for an hour or so – a friendly “traditional cricket” atmosphere, usually a bar (this is very important!), a chance to mix with and talk to the players to an extent, more often than not space for the children to run around unhindered…

But you know all this. I’m off on a converted-preaching mission again. It’s time we started to be proud of this game, and began to tell the world about it.

Follow Richard Clark on Twitter @glassboy68