WWT20 Qualifiers: Scotland Claim Second Win v USA

Scotland 111-1 (L Jack 46*, S Ramautar 1 for 18) beat USA 110-2 (S Bhaskar 51*, KE Bryce 1 for 10) by 9 wickets

Jake Perry reports

Scotland’s women made it two wins out of two with a comfortable victory over USA in the second match of the ICC Women’s World T20 Europe/Americas Qualifier. In overcast conditions in Stirling another excellent performance with both bat and ball sealed a nine-wicket win for the tournament hosts with sixteen balls to spare.

After Scotland’s top order had made light work of their chase against the Netherlands the previous afternoon USA captain Sindhu Sriharsha’s decision to bat was a bold one, but openers Nadia Gruny and Shebani Bhaskar found it difficult to get their side’s innings off the ground in the face of accurate bowling from Katie McGill and Kathryn Bryce. The fourth over was add further problems, too, as the dangerous Gruny (7), having survived a confident shout for LBW in Bryce’s first over, was trapped in front by the final ball of her second.

Bryce was finding conditions much to her liking, swinging the ball prodigiously as both batsmen struggled to time the ball, and with USA at 19-1 at the end of the Powerplay scoreboard pressure started to tell in a series of swipes and misses as Bhaskar and Onika Wallerson attempted to break the shackles. Too few boundaries, however, were taking their toll.

The introduction of spin tightened things still further and the leg-spin of Abatha Maqood soon brought the second wicket as Wallerson (11) skied the ball to Priyanaz Chatterji at mid-on. New batsman Sriharsha (31*) made her intention plain with a confident pull for four, however, and with Bhaskar finding the rope with more consistency, too, the scoring began to pick up at last as the two added fifty together in rapid time.

Bhaskar (51*) brought up a good half-century as the visitors posted 110-2 at the end of their twenty overs. The third wicket pair’s careful placement and sharp running had shown what might have been, but USA’s slow progress at the top of the innings had left Scotland very much in control of the game.

Having played the supporting role to Lorna Jack’s half century against the Dutch, Kathryn Bryce immediately looked in fine touch as Scotland made a confident start to the chase. Light rain at the back end of the USA innings had continued into the beginning of the next, and the twenty year-old all-rounder unfurled a series of good-looking shots as Scotland quickly got ahead of the Duckworth-Lewis requirement. Jack was soon into her stride again, too, cutting Samantha Ramautar’s first ball for four as Scotland posted 40 in the Powerplay.

Both openers looked untroubled as they manoeuvred the ball to rotate the strike, and with inconsistent bowling finding its way to the boundary, too, USA’s total was put further into context. Despite Kathryn Bryce (37) falling within sight of the line, Jack (46*) and Sarah Bryce (7*) saw Scotland home at the beginning of the 18th over.

“The team is feeling really good,” said Kathryn Bryce. “Obviously it is tough having to sit around for a couple of days in the rain but it’s good to get out and play some good cricket.”

“The pitch is playing pretty well, it’s coming on quite nicely. If the bowler gets it into a good area it’s tough to get away, though, so [with the ball] I was looking to get as many balls into that area as I could.”

“We’re hoping to continue [our form] on into the next couple of games,” added Bryce. “To win [both games] with just a few wickets down is really good.”

It was another clinical victory for a Scotland side who have yet to be tested in the tournament, and with two spots at the ICC World Qualifier now up for grabs after the revamp of the regional event Steve Knox’s side will be confident that they have already gone a long way toward securing their berth in the next stage of the competition.

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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

WWT20 Qualifiers: Scotland Away to a Flying Start as Rain Relents in Stirling

Scotland 113-3 (L Jack 60, R Rijke 1 for 15) beat Netherlands 112-5 (HW Rambaldo 32*, LI Wilkinson 2 for 18) by 7 wickets

Jake Perry reports

After heavy rain put paid to the attempt to complete the opening cycle of matches at the ICC Women’s World T20 Europe/Americas Qualifier on time, Scotland recorded a comprehensive seven-wicket victory in their rearranged match with the Netherlands at New Williamfield. A magnificent half century from Lorna Jack anchored a comfortable chase for the tournament hosts as they secured victory with more than four overs to spare.

With residual moisture still affecting the outfield the Netherlands openers found runs hard to come by as they struggled to pierce the field, and Scotland’s decision to bowl first was further rewarded by Sarah Bryce’s sharp stumping of Stere Kalis (3) in the third over off the bowling of Katie McGill.

Dot balls from Kathryn Bryce, Priyanaz Chatterji and Samantha Haggo kept up the pressure on the visitors and when Haggo claimed the wicket of Babette de Leede (19), caught at point by Lois Wilkinson, the Netherlands found themselves in deep trouble at 39-2 after ten overs.

Wilkinson was soon in on the act with ball in hand, too, as Cher van Slobbe (22) edged behind to crown a wicket maiden, and although the incoming Heather Siegers (25) looked to counter-attack she was also to fall to the off-spinner, bowled by the last ball of Wilkinson’s final over.

The Dutch skipper’s cameo had at least succeeded in raising the tempo of her side’s innings, but despite Helmein Rambaldo (32*) picking up the mantle with some late boundaries of her own the Netherlands final total of 112-5 looked below par.

Just how much so became quickly apparent as Scotland openers Kathryn Bryce and Lorna Jack punished some wayward Dutch bowling to plunder 33 from the first four overs. The experienced pair made their intent clear from the outset, working the ball fluently around the wicket to push the Netherlands further and further out of the game, and although Bryce (21) was to fall lbw to Robine Rijke in the ninth over their partnership of 72 had put Scotland firmly in control.

Jack, playing on her home ground, repeatedly found the boundary with cuts and sweeps on her way to bringing up a 40-ball half-century in the twelfth over. It had been a terrific innings full of character and aggression, and although Leonie Bennett was to have the final word as Jack departed in the fifteenth, the inevitable was by then only five runs away.

“That was my first ever fifty for Scotland Women and it was a great time for it to happen,” said a delighted Jack.

“Kathryn and I got off to a really good start, we just looked to pick the gaps and hit a few boundaries where we could, and I’m just really proud to have helped the team over the line.”

“We knew that if two of the top five could make it into the twenties then push on we had every chance,” she continued.

“But we bat to number eleven, so even if I hadn’t done it today I would have backed the girls all the way.”

The tournament now moves into the reserve day, with USA playing Scotland then the Netherlands tomorrow (Wednesday) to complete the first cycle of matches in the double round-robin format.

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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

KSL: James Piechowski’s Big #KSL17 Preview

James Piechowski takes an in-depth look at the 6 teams competing for the 2017 Kia Super League.

Lancashire Thunder

Thunder look to be significantly stronger than last season and should offer a much bigger challenge for a top 3 finish. This is a good thing, as they finished bottom of the pile last time out. They are one of the more nicely balanced sides now, and have a good mixture of youth and experience.

Top of the billing will be the England wicketkeeper and World Cup winning hero Sarah Taylor, who is something of a specialist in T20 cricket as well. She has an excellent international T20 average of over 30, and will be very welcome back into the Thunder line-up. The top of the batting order will also include internationals Satterthwaite and Jonassen, and the very promising Emma Lamb, with perhaps Eve Jones and then Brown and Miles competing for the remaining spots.

Spin bowling is well catered for, and Thunder have one of the stronger spin attacks, boasting England’s Dani Hazell and Sophie Ecclestone, plus fellow left-armer, Australia’s Jess Jonassen. The pace attack is slightly more limited but will feature New Zealand international quick Lea Tahuhu after a move from Surrey Stars, and England’s Kate Cross. Neither are particularly known for their economy rates, although they can take those all-important early wickets. If Thunder do leak a few too many runs though, their batting is more than capable of making up for it.

It will be interesting to see if Taylor does keep wicket for Thunder or if that job is given to Ellie Threlkeld, who may earn herself a place in the team on her own merit in either case. Thunder kick-off with a tough Roses battle away at Headingley, but then have the relative luxury of 3 home games on the bounce. They will be hoping to already be through to finals day, by the time they face their tricky final league fixture away at Western Storm. But I have a feeling that the final group match could be a crucial battle, as these two sides might be neck and neck challenging for qualification. Thunder will be hoping they can get the upper hand, but home advantage will be with Storm.

Prediction: 4th

Strongest XI: Lamb, Taylor, Satterthwaite, Jonassen, E. Jones, Miles, Hazell, Tahuhu, Threlkeld, Cross, Ecclestone.

Loughborough Lightning

After a solid showing in the first edition of KSL, in which they came third, Lightning ‘s squad for this year shows they remain a strong side, who could at their best put up a challenge for another appearance on finals day. However, they might not make it this time – the squad, whose England players didn’t see much action in the World Cup, hasn’t been improved as much as some other teams.

Last year Lightning’s squad had a glut of all-rounders, so it’s interesting to see that this time they’ve gone for a more specialist overseas trio. It’s all Australian, with world-class all-rounder Ellyse Perry returning, and she brings with her compatriot leg-spinner Kirsten Beams, and destructive hard-hitting batsman Elyse Villani.

Lightning’s England contingent might not have featured in the World Cup winning run, but they are still very good players who are more specialised for T20 cricket. Georgia Elwiss will probably resume her opening role, and expect to see all the internationals and probably Scholfield and Brookes (who both impressed in KSL 2016) with Boyce possibly given an opportunity as well in the middle order. Their batting is powerful, and their bowling has a good mix of pace bowlers. Spin is a bit more limited, with only Beams and Grundy as recognised turners, although they’re both very capable performers who’ll probably max out their overs in each game. Seeing as spin is likely to be such an effective option though, both to contain batsmen and take wickets, this is a potential weakness.

To make things harder still, Lightning face 3 away games this season. They start with a potential stumbling block at Taunton against the Storm, although at least they will be able to rely on what is always a good batting pitch. Things don’t get any easier as they face Vipers next, followed by Diamonds and finishing with another tough trip to the Oval to play Stars. Lightning will have done very well to qualify this year I feel.

Prediction: 6th

Strongest XI: Elwiss, Villani, Perry, Jones, Odedra, Boyce, Brookes, Scholfield, Beams, Langston, Grundy.

Southern Vipers

Vipers are the defending champions and look to be strong contenders again this year. They should be able to reach finals day, but the main concern appears to be the lack of specialist bowlers available if any of the all-rounders start to spray it around. If they do concede more runs though, their spruced-up batting line-up might well be able to make up for it.

Vipers’ middle order will miss the experience of Greenway and McGlashan. They have more dashers this time around in Matthews and Wyatt, so may be able to elevate their totals; but with Edwards, Bates and Du Preez, the latter especially impressing in the World Cup with her improved ability to work the ball around and pick the gaps, they still have plenty of solid runs in the side. That’s not even mentioning former England international Brindle, or promising Senior Academy member Adams. Overall, I have few concerns about the batting, but more about the bowling.

Much of the bowling may fall to Farrant, George and Smith, all relatively inexperienced; with all-rounders Brindle, Bates and Matthews possibly asked to contribute a lot with the ball as well. Like Lightning, they do not appear to have many spin-bowling options available, and may have to even call on Wyatt to put the odd over in (she does so competently for Melbourne Renegades).

Vipers have been given the rub of the green in terms of their fixtures. with the advantage of 3 home games for the second year running. They will know just how to play on an Ageas Bowl pitch which is often quite slow and sticky. Vipers open up against Storm and then play away at Lightning. They finish against Diamonds in a fixture scheduled to be played at the picturesque Arundel.

Prediction: 2nd

Strongest XI: Bates, Matthews, Edwards, Adams, Wyatt, Du Preez, Brindle, Rudd, George, Farrant, Smith.

Surrey Stars

Having just missed out to Lightning in qualification for last year’s finals day, Stars will be looking to go one better this time around, and on paper it certainly appears that they have the squad for it. With some explosive batting and accurate wicket-taking bowling available, Stars will be looking for a much improved performance this year, and should be serious contenders for the title.

Stars have 4 full England Internationals, and 3 very capable overseas imports as well. With a dashing top order capable of  taking the game away from any side, Stars have a strong and long batting line-up. Expect more than a runs feast or two from Beaumont, Smith and Lee at the top of the order. Sciver will be a player to look out for as well, although I don’t think we’ve really seen enough of what she can do in T20 cricket yet. Her T20 record so far is not as impressive as that in 50 over games.

Stars’ bowling is very well served, with Kapp and Farrell certain to turn in some impressive figures. There is also the England spin duo of Marsh and Hartley to contend with, who confounded so many in the World Cup with their flight and turn. They work splendidly in tandem. Expect Sciver to also usually put four overs in, although after that the bowling options start to dry up – the next most likely to turn their arm over is probably Sophia Dunkley. Perhaps their main weakness may be a tendency to batting collapse – as one of the younger sides, there isn’t as much experience available in the middle and lower order. I can see them being restricted to a much lower total if they lose early wickets.

It is also worth noting that Surrey Stars do have some of the stronger county players available – the likes of Cranstone, Griffith, Dattani and White perhaps have an edge over some of the squad players available to other sides. Stars could feasibly play any 2 of their county players on top of the 7 Internationals (or in Farrell’s case, former internationals) and 2 England Senior Academy players available – so they have good depth to their squad as well.

Stars have been given the fillip of 3 home games this year, and will play all of them at The Kia Oval. First they take on Diamonds, then they travel up to Manchester to play Thunder at Old Trafford, in what is sure to be a humdinger, as they say. Stars finish their league campaign with another home game against Lightning.

Prediction: 1st

Strongest XI: Smith, Beaumont, Lee, Sciver, Kapp, Dunkley, White, Griffith, Farrell, Marsh, Hartley

Western Storm

After losing out to Vipers in the final last time out, Storm will be looking to make it to finals day once again and go that extra step to the title. Their squad is very capable, with a strong mix of solid and aggressive batsmen and some serious bowling to contend with too. It would be unwise to discount them from the final reckoning.

Storm have strengthened their bowling attack this year with the inclusion of Kiwi quick Holly Huddleston. This is a smart move, as their pace attack (apart from Shrubsole) was too limited last time around. However, as Lee has now moved to the Stars, Storm are stuck with promoting their more inexperienced middle-order players up a position. This may result in Wilson, Luff and Hennessy moving out of their comfort zones a bit.

Pace bowling is now well catered for, with Shrubsole and Huddleston likely to open up, and Davies and Hennessy offering solid changes. Storm will however be concerned about Shrubsole’s injury worries which may see her missing vital matches, in what is after all a very short league. The bulk of spin bowling is likely to be from Knight and Taylor, with Dibble perhaps contributing overs if she makes it into the team.

Storm have only been granted 2 home games this time, and I can see them facing a tough start away to Vipers. They play Lightning at Taunton next, then must travel all the way up to York to face Diamonds. Their final fixture is against Thunder at Bristol. Qualification may be somewhat more challenging than the way they cruised through last time. It could be tight between Storm and Thunder for possibly the third qualification spot – and maybe Shrubsole will be the determining factor for Storm.

Prediction: 3rd

Strongest XI: Priest, Taylor, Knight, Wilson, Luff, Hennessy, Macleod, Shrubsole, Huddleston, Dibble, Davies

Yorkshire Diamonds

After a disappointing first season, there’s hope that Diamonds will be much more competitive this year, and some good reasons to think that they will. Their squad is experienced and more in-form and potent this time out, and if things go really well, they are in with a decent shout of a qualification place.

With Brunt and Gunn two of England’s strongest performers in the World Cup winning side, there is reason for positivity for the Diamonds. Despite the loss of Mooney, Hazell and Blackwell, the signings have been shrewd. Kiwi Sophie Devine is always capable of winning matches with her clean striking, big hitting and also her potential to take wickets. Sune Luus can also perform well with both bat and ball, and the late inclusion of Chamari Attapattu could be a game-changer too. A wild card for sure, the Sri Lankan tends to be unpredictable but she has undeniable quality with the ball and especially with the bat.

Diamonds now have one of the strongest sets of all-rounders in the KSL. Other players like Armitage, Levick and Davidson-Richards are all on an upwards curve, and may be looking to push for further recognition by England. Their batting line-up is suitably experienced and explosive now as well. Both spin and pace bowling are well catered for – the Diamonds have, on paper, done an admirable job at ironing out their main weaknesses. Now it’s all down to how well they perform.

It will be a big early test for the Diamonds as they take on Thunder in the local derby first up. They next travel to Stars and then Lightning, the first 2 of 3 tricky away fixtures which finishes with a real challenge, taking on Vipers on the final day. If the fixtures had fallen kindly for Diamonds I might have given them more of a chance to qualify, but as it stands I think they will do well to push for a top-3 spot.

Prediction: 5th

Strongest XI:  Winfield, Armitage, Devine, Attapattu, Davidson-Richards, Brunt, Gunn, Luus, Graves, Butler, Levick

Kia Super League 2017 Preview

Syd Egan and Raf Nicholson talk to the key players and give an overview of each side’s prospects.

Plus for the in-depth view, check out James Piechowski’s Big #KSL17 Preview!

Lancashire Thunder

Dani Hazell (C), Sarah Taylor, Kate Cross, Amy Satterthwaite, Jess Jonassen, Lea Tahuhu, Sophie Ecclestone, Emma Lamb, Eve Jones, Ellie Threlkeld, Natasha Miles, Natalie Brown, Alice Dyson, Rachel Dickinson, Ella Telford

Last Year: 6th

The Big Signings: Dani Hazell, Sarah Taylor*, Jess Jonassen, Lea Tahuhu, Eve Jones

Dani Hazell Says: “We’ve got a good squad together. Hopefully we can enjoy the fact that it’s Twenty20 cricket, it’s exciting, and the crowd get behind you.”

“We’ve got a few of the Academy girls in – we’ve got Emma Lamb, Eve Jones, Ellie Threlkeld – some really good youngsters coming through. This is a really good chance for them to put their name out there – you never know when you’ll suddenly get called into an England squad, so it’s good for them to play under the pressure of being on Sky, on the radio, in front of crowds.”

Raf Says: Thunder struggled last year, especially losing Sarah Taylor in the run-up to the tournament, but the World Cup proved that the world’s best wicketkeeper is back, and in form to boot. Lancashire have also just been crowned County T20 champions, and this is a squad which includes many of those same players – now is their time to shine in KSL too.

Prediction: Runners-Up

Loughborough Lightning

Georgia Elwiss (C), Amy Jones, Beth Langston, Ellyse Perry, Kristen Beams, Elyse Villani, Paige Scholfield, Thea Brookes, Georgia Boyce, Becky Grundy, Sonia Odedra, Marie Kelly, Sarah Glenn, Lucy Higham, Abi Freeborn

Last Year: 3rd

The Big Signings: Kristen Beams, Elyse Villani, Marie Kelly

Amy Jones Says: “Our squad’s been together a lot recently, and our pre-season started a bit earlier than some of the other teams, which hopefully can stand us in good stead. We just missed out on the final last year – I think the occasion maybe got to us a bit. We didn’t play as we had going in. We’ve been working a lot on treating each game as it comes, playing with freedom, knowing our strengths and sticking to those really.”

“Georgie Boyce was in our team last year, but didn’t get a go – I’d like to see her in the team this year because she’s such a talented batter and she hits the ball very hard. And Marie Kelly, my Warwickshire captain, is in the team for the first time this year, which is very good to see – she’s a really good all-rounder, and a good person to have around.”

Syd Says: I think they are going to struggle with the bat – they’ve lost Dane van Niekerk, Sophie Devine and Eve Jones this season, who between them accounted for 40% of their runs last year – whilst van Niekerk was probably also their best bowler – which leaves an awful lot resting on the (tired?) shoulders of Ellyse Perry.

Prediction: Group Stages

Southern Vipers

Charlotte Edwards (C), Tash Farrant, Danni Wyatt, Arran Brindle, Suzie Bates, Mignon du Preez (Replaces Dane van Niekerk), Hayley Matthews, Georgia Adams, Katie George, Linsey Smith, Ellen Burt, Tara Norris, Izzy Collis, Carla Rudd, Charlie Dean

Last Year: Winners

The Big Signings: Danni Wyatt, Mignon du Preez, Hayley Matthews

Tash Farrant Says: “One of our sponsors is Southampton Uni and we stay in accommodation there. That really helped us – we really gelled as a unit. Team dinners, Come Dine With Me nights. Hopefully this year will be the same.”

“We’ve got a really good young bowling side – Linsey Smith, who did so well last year; and Katie George as well – they’ll want to hit the ground running like Linsey did last year.”

Raf Says: This looks very similar to the side who won the inaugural trophy last season, and in such a short competition, a side who have already gelled together is always going to be at an advantage. With Charlotte Edwards, Suzie Bates and Arran Brindle there’s also a huge amount of wisdom in this side – the issue might be that, compared with other sides in the competition, most of their “big names” haven’t spent all that much time in the middle lately.

Prediction: 3rd

Surrey Stars

Nat Sciver (C), Tammy Beaumont, Laura Marsh, Alex Hartley, Marizanne Kapp, Lizelle Lee (Replaces Harmanpreet Kaur), Rene Farrell, Bryony Smith, Sophia Dunkley, Grace Gibbs, Aylish Cranstone, Cordelia Griffith, Hannah Jones, Naomi Dattani, Kirstie White

Last Year: 4th

The Big Signings: Lizelle Lee, Kirstie White*

Tammy Beaumont Says: “There were so many performances where we’d go alright with the bat and then not so good with the ball, like in the Storm game where we got 160 and then didn’t defend it, and then at the Vipers game we only ended up getting 90 but we actually bowled pretty well. It’s a case of trying to put both things together. To finish 4th in the end was a good effort, but we’re hoping to go a bit better this year.”

“We’ve got a couple of new faces in the squad. Hannah Jones is one to watch – she’s certainly developed well with her batting and her bowling, and she’s a bit of a gun fielder – hopefully she’ll go well. Sophia Dunkley missed out last year with concussion, but she’s a decent leg spinner and a very aggressive batter. Bryony Smith went really well last year opening the batting with me, some really great cameos – and she’s been on the England Academy programme this winter.”

Syd Says: Tammy Beaumont and Alex Hartley were, of course, two of the stars of England’s World Cup win; whilst Marizanne Kapp is probably the best fast bowler in the world right now; but it is the quality of the Stars lesser-known players that might just end up making the difference this season – the experienced Kirstie White, the smart Aylish Cranstone, and (alas!!) the young Surrey duo of Smith & Jones.

Prediction: Winners

Western Storm

Heather Knight (C), Anya Shrubsole, Fran Wilson, Holly Huddleston, Stafanie Taylor, Rachel Priest, Georgia Hennessy, Sophie Luff, Freya Davies, Danielle Gibson, Claire Thomas, Lauren Parfitt, Jodie Dibble, Amara Carr, Lissy Macleod

Last Year: Runners-Up

The Big Signings: Holly Huddleston, Lissy Macleod

Heather Knight Says: “We’ve added to our squad – we’ve got Lissy Macleod, a very talented cricketer who plays for Berkshire, hopefully we can get the best out of her. We’ve got a few Welsh girls too, Claire Thomas and Lauren Parfitt. We were probably a little bit batting heavy last year – Sophie Luff and Fran Wilson both coming in too far down the order – so that’s why with the overseas we’ve gone for Holly Huddleston: a bit more firepower and bowling at the death.”

“Freya Davies learned a lot from last year. She’s improved her skill level a lot. She came along to quite a few of the net sessions during the World Cup and seeing her bowl, it’s quite exciting to see how she’ll go. She’s developed her slower ball even more and is a lot more tactically astute than she was last year. Georgia Hennessy as well is a player that you never quite know what’s going to happen, but you know something is going to happen! She’s got that X factor, she’s a brilliant character – she bats, she bowls and she’s quite fiery as well!”

Raf Says: Lissy Macleod is a great addition to this side – she’s held many an innings together for Berkshire, and her county captain Heather Knight will know by now how to get the best out of her. But Storm relied heavily last year on some great performances from Stafanie Taylor, and she’s surely going to be severely demoralised after her team’s World Cup performance, so I think they could struggle.

Prediction: Group Stages

Yorkshire Diamonds

Lauren Winfield (C), Katherine Brunt, Jenny Gunn, Chamari Atapattu (Replaces Beth Mooney), Sune Luus, Sophie Devine, Hollie Armitage, Alice Davidson-Richards, Anna Nicholls, Katie Levick, Katie Thompson, Steph Butler, Laura Crofts, Teresa Graves, Maddie Walsh

Last Year: 5th

The Big Signings: Chamari Atapattu, Sune Luus, Sophie Devine, Laura Crofts

Lauren Winfield Says: “This year we’ve got more depth in our batting than we had last year, which will hopefully come in useful.”

“In terms of young players, we’ve got a number of players who could make a name for themselves this tournament and it’s hard to choose just one; but look out for Alice Davidson-Richards, Hollie Armitage and Laura Crofts.”

Syd Says: The Diamonds have some top, top players – I’m a huge fan of Sune Luus and Sophie Devine is a big signing for them – but despite their Yorkshire county core, they still feel like a team who somehow won’t quite be as strong as the sum of their parts.

Prediction: Group Stages

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* Back from injury

NEWS: Samantha Haggo and Lorna Jack Reach 100 Caps For Scotland

Jake Perry reports

Scotland’s thrilling victories over Wales and Worcestershire in Division 2 of the ECB Twenty20 Championship crowned a day of particular significance for the game north of the border as Samantha Haggo and Lorna Jack became the fourth and fifth Scottish women to reach the landmark of a hundred caps for their country.

In the process of joining fellow centurions Kari Carswell, Kathryn White and Abbi Aitken the duo have become integral members of the national side, and as they look forward to Scotland’s first home fixtures since 2011 they also look back on their respective international journeys with considerable pleasure.

“I’m honoured and very proud to have played for my country for the last ten years,” said Jack.

“It’s been a long road with lots of injuries on the way but to finally reach a hundred caps is a real thrill.”

“When I saw Kari, Kathryn and Abbi reach that number I just thought, wow, that’s legendary status,” added all-rounder Haggo.

“I never thought I’d win that many. I’m absolutely delighted to have done so and it’s really special that Lorna and I were able to reach the milestone together.”

Adding to the symmetry of the occasion the 24 year olds made their national debuts on the same day, too, as both were selected as teenagers to play against Durham in July 2007.

“It was a bit of a dreich day at Sacriston,” remembered Haggo.

“My family all came down waving their Scotland flags. I batted at eight, got a duck and didn’t bowl so you couldn’t say it was the most memorable performance!

“I remember being so excited though. I was given a training top, we didn’t get the full tracksuit like the girls do nowadays, and when I got home I just didn’t want to take it off!”

“I got a cheeky wee nine not out going in at number nine,” said Jack. “We won the game too which was great.

“But it’s nice that after we made our debuts together Sam and I won our hundredth cap on the same day as well. It’s quite fitting.”

Both players agree that experience has brought with it a change in their outlook on the game.

“I would say that my temperament is a lot better now,” said Haggo. “When I was younger I struggled to get my emotions under control because I wanted to do well so badly.

“Over time, though, you learn to enjoy it more. It is a game after all.

“You play it because you enjoy it and I really enjoy being on the field with ten other girls who are also my friends.”

“I think my patience has evolved if anything,” said wicketkeeper Jack.

“As a young player everyone will tell you that I was a very hot-headed wee person. I still am a little bit but I think I have matured over the years. I used to get hung up on moments that didn’t really matter in the long run whereas now I won’t let my head go down.

“My skills are improving too,” she continued. “We’ve lost a few players through retirement and this season availability has been a bit unpredictable as many of the girls are establishing themselves in new jobs.

“I’ve been punted up the batting order as a result. The first time it happened I felt I had a nosebleed coming on! But I like the challenge and I’m quite happy to play that kind of role.

“I just try to go in and do whatever I need to do.”

The past decade has featured a variety of highlights for Scotland’s women, with league wins and appearances on the international stage the reward for increasingly consistent performances.

“Winning the ECB Division 3 in 2014 was really special. We had a great season that year,” said Haggo. “Speaking personally my first fifty for Scotland stands out too, especially as I’ve not had too many since,” she laughed.

“But getting the opportunity to go to the World Cup Qualifiers in Bangkok and Sri Lanka was very special. Obviously the results weren’t quite what we wanted but for the team to get to play on the world stage was a real buzz.”

“Those competitions were amazing,” agreed Jack. “It was brilliant to play in that kind of atmosphere and finishing fourth in Thailand was a massive achievement for us.

“Whitewashing Holland last year to get to Sri Lanka was another high point as we’d never done that before. I had also played against most of that team as an Under 17 so it was good to see how we had advanced since those days.

“Catching Charlotte Edwards [against Hampshire] is a moment that has stood out this season,” she smiled. “Katie McGill bowled, Charlotte nicked it and I caught it. Not a bad wicket!”

For now, though, attention is focused on Scotland’s upcoming matches. After playing Ireland at MacKays Forthill for the Celtic Cup at the beginning of August Steve Knox’s side take on the Netherlands and USA in the ICC World Cup European/Americas Qualifier in Stirling.

“We’ve not really hosted Ireland for a series before so this is a fantastic opportunity,” said Haggo.

“Ireland are probably a step above us so it will be good to see if we’ve improved since we last played them in Dubai last January.

“It’s important that we don’t think about the opposition too much, though. Sometimes there is a danger of playing against a particular player rather than focusing on the ball you’re facing or the ball you are about to deliver.

“As long as we do the basics well and control what we can control then I know we’ve got the skills to perform and get the results we want.

“The experience of Thailand and Sri Lanka has helped the team massively,” she continued. “Playing against teams like Zimbabwe, South Africa and Pakistan lets us see where we are and gives us something to aspire to.

“We want as many opportunities to play at this level as we can get because they are so important for how we develop in the future.”

Scotland has the chance to reach the same stage again through the ICC Qualifier and as they prepare for the task ahead both players are excited that the team has the opportunity to showcase its skills on home soil once more.

“It’s so good to be playing in Scotland and at Stirling too because that’s where I play my club cricket,” said Jack. “We haven’t played at home for a long time so it will be amazing.

“The Qualifier is going to be an exciting series. We know the Dutch very well but we have never seen the USA side before which will make it very interesting.

“But we are confident that we are a good team with some very good players. We know our skills are there, it’s just a matter of us showing them on the day.”

“Whenever we go down south people squint at the Cricket Scotland badge and say that they didn’t know Scotland had a cricket team, never mind a women’s cricket team,” added Haggo.

“Hopefully this will raise a little more awareness of what we do and, who knows, maybe inspire some more girls to get involved in cricket too. That would be brilliant.”

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Reproduced by permission of Cricket Scotland

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

2017 Women’s County Championship Preview

The Women’s County Championship begins this weekend with two rounds of games across the Bank Holiday. The counties will be missing all their England players, who are at a training camp in Abu Dhabi – but that is something they are going to have to get used to, as the home World Cup in June/ July, followed by the KSL in August, means that is likely to be the rule rather than the exception this season.

WHO’S GOING TO WIN IT?

Raf Nicholson: Sussex – The County Championship has almost always been a two-way fight to the finish between Sussex and Kent, but Sussex’s main rivals have now lost Charlotte Edwards, Suzie Bates and (probably) Lydia Greenway in one foul swoop. Meanwhile Sussex are pretty much at full strength, with a solid contingent of non-England players (including Academy stalwarts Freya Davies and Georgia Adams) in a season where that will really matter. They’ve got to be favourites.

Syd Egan: Lancashire – With the star names missing across the board, this looks set to be the closest County Championship in years. I’ll be massively surprised if anyone wins all their games, and in fact I think we’ll see a four-or-five-horse race for the title. The last time Lancashire were promoted, two seasons ago, they lost all their matches and went straight back down again; but that’s not going to happen this time. They have the same core squad, but with two years more experience; and although the re-signing of Alex Hartley is probably moot, as she’ll be playing for England most of the summer, grabbing Eve Jones from relegated Staffs is a major coup; and they will also have Amy Satterthwaite behind the guns for a few games too prior to the World Cup. Are Lancashire racing certainties? Absolutely not! Do they have as good a chance as anyone? Yes!

WHO’S GOING DOWN?

SE: Nottinghamshire – The bottom of the table is likely to be just as close as the top – I reckon everyone will win at least a game or two, and the fate of relegation is likely to be decided by the random cruelty of bonus points, which sadly are so dependent upon the weather and the state of the pitch, because they are absolute (how many runs/ wickets) not relative. As a Berkshire fan, I refuse to believe they are going down, so I’m afraid I’m tipping newly promoted Notts to drop back into Div 2 again this season.

RN: Berkshire – Sorry, Syd, but life isn’t looking particularly rosy for the Beavers right now, especially in the bowling department. Amanda Potgieter, now living in New Zealand, will no longer be steaming in with the new ball; Rachel Hardy has gone off to America on a soccer scholarship; Daisy Gardner is still struggling with injury; Linsey Smith has recently defected to Sussex. With the prospect of Heather Knight unlikely to feature much, if at all, it’s going to be a tough season and, much as I’d like them to, I’m not sure they’ll be able to survive in Div 1.

WHO’LL GET PROMOTED?

RN: Somerset – Somerset have got to be in with a shout. They went down last season only as a result of the triple-demotion ruling, and they still have most of the players available (including Sophie Luff) who in 2015 secured promotion by not losing a single game.

SE: Hampshire – I watched Hampshire absolutely hammer Middlesex in their pre-season friendly last weekend… and the thing was, Middlesex weren’t actually that bad. Hampshire were just very good – they batted first, timing their innings perfectly to put 223 on the board; and then they were sharp as razors in the field to bowl Middlesex out for 82! They are a young side, and last year wasn’t quite their time, as they missed out narrowly on promotion; but Charlotte Edwards will have them well-organised, and Suzie Bates will add even more firepower when she is available prior to the World Cup – if they don’t make the top 2, it will be a massive surprise.

T20 WINNERS

SE: Yorkshire – If you thought the 50-over County Championship was going to be close, the T20 Cup is likely to be even closer. But I’m tipping Yorkshire for this one – they will be in the mix for the WCC too, but I think maybe the T20 is where they can come good – like everyone else, they will miss their England players, but they have a strong youth system and the T20 format often favours that.

RN: Birmingham Bears (aka Warwickshire) – As with Sussex they have a good number of established players who won’t be distracted by England duty, not least Becky Grundy and Georgia Hennessy. Pipped to the post at the last minute by Kent in 2016, they’ll be looking to go one better this year, and are in with a good shot at doing so.

BREAKTHROUGH KID?

RN: Emma Lamb (Lancashire) – This could be a make-or-break season for Lamb, who has been on the verge of making the jump to international cricket for a while now and was actually in the squad for England’s tour of Sri Lanka (though her debut remains elusive). She was a standout player for Lancashire Thunder in KSL, the only non-international player to feature among the top ten group-stage run scorers. She’ll be out to prove her worth in this season’s County Championship.

SE: Lauren Bell (Berkshire) – Lauren Bell is something of a veteran already – despite being only 16, this will be her third season at the top level. Having been selected for England’s Academy program over the winter, she has been working hard up at Loughborough, where she has added a yard of pace to a ball which was already pretty quick – making her one of the fastest bowlers in the women’s game. With bounce (she’s well over 6 feet tall) and movement off the pitch she can be unplayable on her day… and her day is coming!

BEST OVERSEAS BUY?

SE: Holly Huddleston (Middlesex) – The Hudd Missile is back again for Middlesex this season, having basically resuscitated a career there which looked to be somewhat on life-support when she first arrived a year ago. She has since been recalled for New Zealand and seems virtually certain to be a big part of their World Cup squad. Her bowling may not be “fast” fast, but it’s nippy enough, and she is very consistent – she’s a very “English” bowler in a sense, and it isn’t just Middlesex who will reap the benefits of that in 2017 – watch out for her in the World Cup Final too!

RN: Suzie Bates (Hampshire) – Not only is Bates one of the best cricketers in the world, but she’s shown she can cut the mustard in English conditions. Across last year’s English summer she scored 678 runs at an average of 42, and took 30 wickets, helping Kent “do the double” and win both the County Championship and the T20 Cup. Hampshire will benefit hugely from having her around.

OVERALL MVP?

SE: Eve Jones (Lancashire) – An opening batsman who has been part of the Academy setup for a while, Jones was one of only two players to score a century in Div 1 last year. Unlikely to figure for England, she should be available for most matches and she has the temperament to have a big impact – if Lancashire do indeed win the Championship, she is likely to have been a big part of the reason why.

RN: Charlotte Edwards (Hampshire) – Given that most internationals will have very little chance to play county cricket this season, someone with as much top-level experience as Edwards is going to be invaluable. England’s loss is Hampshire’s gain!

NEWS: Pakistan World Cup Squad Announced

Hamadullah Sohu writes:

The PCB have announced Pakistan’s 15-woman squad for the forthcoming World Cup, which will be played in England from 24 June to 23 July.

They have also confirmed that Pakistan will feature in two warm-up matches before the main event, against West Indies and Australia on 20 and 22 June respectively.

Sana Mir, Pakistan’s captain, said: “The warm-up matches provide us with just the kind of chance we need to fine-tune our game ahead of the ICC Women’s World Cup. We get to play last year’s finalists Australia and the West Indies in these matches and look forward to using the opportunity to prepare well for the tournament ahead.”

Pakistan qualified for the tournament at the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2017, played in Colombo in February this year, along with India, South Africa, and Sri Lanka. They play their first game of the campaign against South Africa on 25 June at Grace Road, Leicester.

Full Squad:

Ayesha Zafar

Bibi Nahida

Marina Iqbal

Bismah Maroof

Javeria Khan

Syeda Nain Fatima Aabidi

Sidra Nawaz (WK)

Sana Mir (Captain)

Kainat Imtiaz

Asmaviiya Iqbal Khokhar

Diana Baig

Waheeda Akhtar

Nashra Sandhu

Ghulam Fatima

Sadiya Yousuf

Sabih Azhar (Coach)

 

 

Rising Stars: Up And Coming Talent From The England Women’s Academy, Part 2

Ffion Wynne continues her profiles of some of the top future England prospects.

(Catch up with Part 1 here!)

3. Alex Travers

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The great confidence of 16-year-old Alex Travers is remarkable for such a young age. Having played her county cricket at Surrey since the Under 11 age group, the winter of 2016/2017 has been her first in any England set-up, and her enjoyment in the squad is evident in her enthusiasm. “It was quite a big adjustment at first,” Alex explains, “but I learn so much from being around this environment, and I know exactly what I need to do to improve further from being here.”

She speaks highly of the set-up and the supportive nature of the coaching staff, demonstrating its importance in supporting the development of future England hopefuls. Similarly to Charlie Dean, Travers claims that the being a younger member of the squad doesn’t hinder the experience in the slightest, and that challenging herself against the best of her age will undoubtedly improve her skills.

Travers has also been included in the Regional Development Centre of the Surrey Stars, and is highly motivated to participate in the KSL during the next few years of her career. “It would be amazing to play in the Super League and I’d love to play for England eventually. Just from being involved in these camps over the past few months, I feel like I can improve so much,” Alex says.

Despite the high hopes for her future, Travers remains focused and is determined to keep enjoying her cricket as much as she currently does. Having made her way into Surrey’s first XI last summer, Travers’ clear enthusiasm for the game and willingness to learn will undoubtedly make her a regular performer this season, aiding her progression towards her KSL and England dreams.

4. Izzy Cloke

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Kent’s young talent Izzy Cloke concludes the trio of 16-year-olds, but this winter already marks her third in any England set-up. This experience is evident in Cloke’s enthusiasm and confidence, as she describes her aim to fully establish herself in Kent’s first XI this summer, after playing her first two games last season. “It’s a really strong team, which made it quite daunting to begin with,” Cloke says, “but Lydia Greenway was captain and she was really helpful in making me feel included. I bowled three overs on my debut at Arundel, which went really well and gave me a lot of confidence.”

Last winter, Cloke emerged onto the Development Programme from the Under 15s, which she describes as initially quite difficult as many of the girls were much older, and had been in the programme together for a while. However, Cloke also states that the supportive nature of the coaches cannot be faulted in providing a friendly and welcoming environment, where the correct amount of pressure is applied without being too overwhelming for the younger members of the squad. Alongside her England experience, Cloke trains alongside Alex Travers in the Surrey Stars Development Centre.

As she is currently studying for her AS Levels, Izzy is firmly focusing on her cricketing and academic future. “Loughborough is definitely one of my university choices,” she explains, “because I really want to stay on an England programme, and it would be useful to combine that with a really good course, but I am looking at quite a few others at the moment.”

Further along the line, Cloke does aspire to be involved in the KSL, as her experience as a spectator watching the Stars demonstrated its status as a great competition, and would really allow her cricket to develop further. With high hopes to progress into the Senior Academy over the next few years, Cloke’s positivity and the maturity of her attitude suggests that her cricket will continue to go from strength to strength.

Rising Stars: Up And Coming Talent From The England Women’s Academy, Part 1

Ffion Wynne profiles some future England prospects.

Towards the end of a successful summer, notably due to the emergence of the KSL, the England Women’s Pathway introduced a few changes to their system. For what used to be called the England Women’s Development Programme, the Academy aims to prepare young and talented individuals between the ages of 14 – 19 for the Senior Academy, the KSL and hopefully for international honours.

With the professionalisation of the women’s game firmly in place, alongside securing Sky Sports coverage for the next edition for the KSL, the future is looking extremely bright for the England women’s side. With this in mind, we decided to get an insight into the life of an Academy cricketer and catch up with some up-and-coming stars from the Academy to discuss their experiences in the setup and their hopes for their futures in the game.

1. Anna Nicholls

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Aged 19, Anna Nicholls is one of the Academy’s older and more experienced members, with plenty of Division One cricket under her belt for Middlesex already. However, with a recent move to Leeds to study Medicine, Nicholls has transferred to Yorkshire for the upcoming season and is hoping for first team selection in order to continue her progress at such a high standard.

A promising batsman and former pace bowler, Nicholls has been around the England set-up for nearly four years, when the Under 15 programme was still in place. “In the Under 15s, we only trained 3 weekends over the winter,” she explains, “but I’ve been in this development programme, which used to be the Under 19s, for a while now and we have camps about once a month plus a summer competition.” For Anna, the best part about the programme is being able to challenge herself against better players, and using scenario practice to improve her knowledge and tactics of the game.

In the 2016 season, her talent was evident from her selection for the Yorkshire Diamonds in the KSL, notably featuring in their final game against Western Storm. Nicholls speaks emphatically about the competition, and describes the incredible experience of being surrounded by such high profile elite cricketers, notably her teammate Alex Blackwell, and the importance of learning from them. The professional environment, and the amazement of Blackwell’s ability to create shots “out of nowhere”, succeeded in inspiring Nicholls immensely.

With an intense few years at medical school awaiting her, alongside cricketing ambitions, the future looks extremely bright for Yorkshire’s latest arrival. “There is definitely a challenge ahead,” Nicholls states, “but at the moment I’m just determined to push my cricket and medicine as far as they can both possibly go.”

2. Charlie Dean

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Hampshire’s Charlie Dean has been involved at the county since she was 11 years old, and now at 16, has started her first year in the Academy programme, having progressed from the Under 15 set-up the previous winter. Alongside the monthly England camps, the talented all-rounder trains several times a week with the Hampshire Academy. Despite being a younger member of the squad, she seems unfazed by the challenge. “The environment is really positive and friendly,” Charlie says, “and I think it’s actually making me a much better player being one of the younger ones. It’s good to challenge myself against the older and more experienced girls.”

Dean’s heavy cricketing schedule is boosted by her inclusion in the Young Vipers squad, the development centre for the KSL team. The squad trains every Saturday over the winter, preparing players for long term development into the Super League. With the vast amount of winter training for Hampshire, Vipers and England, it seems that Charlie has a very exciting and promising summer ahead of her. Such promise at such a young age suggests that her progress will develop immensely over the next few years, and with aims for reselection into the Academy before hopefully progressing into the Senior Academy, it seems Dean will be a vital asset to Charlotte Edwards’ Hampshire squad this summer!

INTERVIEW: Scotland’s Kathryn White Retires From International Cricket

Jake Perry reflects on the end of an era for Scotland.

As Scotland’s Women arrive home from Sri Lanka and begin to plan for the 2017 season they do so in the knowledge that they will be without the services of their two most experienced campaigners. The retirements of Kathryn White and Kari Carswell (nee Anderson) either side of the ICC Global Qualifier will be keenly felt both on and off the field as an era ends in Scottish cricket.

With a collection of caps second only to Carswell, White has been one of the most consistent performers for her country for the best part of two decades. In 132 appearances she scored 2165 runs at 20.62, with five fifties and a best of 99, and claimed 126 wickets at 22.02. It has been a career full of highlights and the decision to bring it to an end did not come easily.

“It was very difficult,” she said. “But I suppose I got to that point where I realised that having not been selected for Sri Lanka the time was right to make the call.

“I’m thirty-eight now, I have a four year old at home and I work full time, so I was trying to get that balance of full time job, family as well as putting in all my training and it reached that point where something had to give.

“It was hard. Cricket has been a huge part of my life for so long.”

Since her debut in 2000 White has watched the funding and profile of the women’s game change almost beyond recognition. The all-rounder has been part of the Scotland team from its very earliest days and she looks back over the evolution of the side with pride and considerable satisfaction.

“Both myself and Kari know where we started all those years ago, we know how few games we played and how few women were playing at the time,” she said.

“To see where we have got to now, to see the team and the set-up we have, the Under 17s coming up behind us, the regional squads and so on, and then watch us perform on the international scene as we have over recent years is very satisfying.

“In Scotland there is much more professionalism now. The support we get from Cricket Scotland has totally changed over the last five or six years in terms of the facilities that we use, how often we get to meet together and so on. We’ve now got our strength and conditioning coaches, we get help with travel allowances… It’s the things like that that make a huge difference.”

And although sad to no longer to be a part of it, White is excited at the prospect of how the team might continue to develop.

“I think we’re in a really strong position,” she said. “Yes, with 284 caps between us it is a loss losing myself and Kari so close together but there are plenty of girls coming up behind us.

“Abbi [Aitken] has already reached a hundred caps and most of the remaining squad are if not already past fifty caps then certainly nearing it. So there is a lot of experience there and there is a chance now for new people to step up to the plate and produce the goods too.”

As to the future, White will continue to be around the game she loves.

“I’m still going to be involved in cricket. I’d find it really difficult to move away from it totally,” she said.

“I was lucky to get an extra year out of what I could have. I had a potentially career ending injury eighteen months ago and I worked very hard to get back on the pitch. Cricket was so much of my life that when I was almost told that I wouldn’t play again I was determined to fight to get that opportunity again.

“I’m still going to be involved with the Scotland Under 17s as Assistant Coach/Manager. I do a lot of coaching myself down in the Borders, too, and I’ll still be playing club cricket.

“But I’ll miss the friends that you make. Some of the girls that I’ve had the opportunity to play with for Scotland and in club cricket I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet otherwise, friends that I now have for life.

“Kari, for example, it was a huge decision for her to have to take as well. She has had a fantastic career and I’ve enjoyed every second of being on the pitch with her.

“I’ll miss it all, the team spirit and being together on the field representing your country. There’s really no better feeling.”

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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