The CRICKETher Weekly – Episode 165

This week we discuss the start of the Lottie Cup:

  • The evolution of batting in English domestic cricket
  • Who is winning the race to be England wicketkeeper in the Ashes?
  • Is Heather Knight MIA?
  • Plus, do the ICC’s new Playing Conditions about mandatory helmets go far enough?


The CRICKETher Weekly – Episode 164

On Women’s County T20 Finals Day, we continue our deep-dive into women’s domestic cricket:

  • New contracts for Scotland – and how the ECB can help grow Scottish cricket via the regions
  • The problems with women’s club cricket…
  • …and what that means for the future of women’s county cricket

The CRICKETher Weekly – Episode 163

This week:

  • It’s the end of an era as Katherine Sciver-Brunt retires
  • Round 4 of the #RHFTrophy – why is Syd on the phone to the ECB?
  • Plus, we ask you: If the Hundred really is ending, what should the future of women’s domestic cricket look like?

OPINION: The soccer TV rights row is a significant moment for women’s sport… but not for the reason you think!

The ongoing row between FIFA and the TV companies over the value of broadcast rights for the upcoming Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand this summer (or this winter, if you are actually in Australia or New Zealand) is a watershed moment for women’s sport, and a dangerous one. But the real danger isn’t quite what everyone wants you to think it is.

In a nutshell, FIFA are threatening to withhold the TV rights to the Women’s World Cup from European broadcasters unless they pony-up significantly more cash, insisting that the rights are worth something much closer to what the TV companies pay for the men’s tournament. In a spectacular display of chutzpah, they are invoking equality to make their argument – suggesting that the TV companies are now the ones holding back the growth of women’s sport.

The broadcasters in return argue that they just don’t have any more money.

And the thing is… the broadcasters have a point.

The BBC in particular can’t just pop down to Cash Converters and magic-up more wonga – it can’t sell more ads, or put up subscriptions – its income is based on the license fee, which is currently frozen until 2024, at a time when inflation is running at well over 10%. Every penny it spends on buying the rights to the Women’s World Cup is a penny it can’t spend on other things… like… cricket.

ITV isn’t quite that constrained, but the emphasis is on “quite” – it would have to sell a lot of adverts (at some not-exactly-prime times, given the schedule of a tournament on the other side of the world) to justify paying more. Again, if it does, that’s probably money that is going to come from something else too.

So we’ve reached a crossroads – one where we must face an important question. But what is that question?

If you ask FIFA, the question is: Are the rights to the women’s tournament worth the same as the men’s?

But the real question is this: Are we going to take let FIFA blackmail us into taking yet more money from other sports (like… say… random example… cricket!) and giving it instead to the richest sport on the planet?

In short: Are we going to continue to let football eat everything?

And when you look at it like that, I think we probably know what the right answer is.

So how can we cut through and reach a solution?

We all (well… everyone reading this site, anyway) want more money for women’s sport, and FIFA do have a point that the rights for the men’s and women’s tournaments should be of equal value.

But as someone once said, there is no magic money tree! Increasingly, the only way to find more money for women’s sport is going to be to cut some of our spend on men’s sport.

In this particular case, the broadcasters have wayyyy overpaid for the rights to the (men’s) World Cup – an event that legally has to be shown on free-to-air TV – for far too long, and that needs to change. So the answer is for the BBC to offer FIFA more money for the Women’s World Cup – but only if they accept a corresponding deduction in the value of the men’s rights.

Long term, that is the only sustainable solution for a fair balance not only between men’s and women’s sport, but also between football and every other game on the planet.

MATCH REPORT: Sparks v Vipers – Adams Adds ‘Em Up at Wormsley

It may have been the 1st of May, but no one had told the weatherman, who served up a morning of April showers at Wormsley as Central Sparks trudged towards a sub-par 183-9. But the sun came out to shine on the Vipers’ pursuit, as they survived a couple of wobbles to chase down their target with 3 wickets and the better part of 9 overs to spare.

Sent in by Vipers captain Georgia Adams, Sparks openers Eve Jones and Chloe Brewer were ready to get the game underway at 10:30 before a violent rain shower sent everyone rushing back to the thatched-roofed Wormsley pavilion as the covers were rushed on, delaying the start of play by twenty minutes.

With the match finally underway at around 10:50, Eve Jones played out a maiden to Lauren Bell’s first over, before Charlie Dean opened at the opposite end – a match-up likely intended for Jones, who Dean has got out twice in regionals. But it was Chloe Brewer who found herself heading back early, caught and bowled by Dean for a two-ball duck.

This brought Abbey Freeborn to the crease, who put on 56 with Jones on her way to a slightly tortuous 43 off 96 balls.

Jones herself was adjudged LBW to Georgia Elwiss for 34 in the 19th over. Replays suggested the decision was arguable, with the ball looking to be going down leg, but with no DRS in regional cricket, Jones had to go; and there was no doubt whatsoever about the dismissal of Davina Perrin two balls later – comprehensively bowled by Elwiss with middle stump pegged-back.

Freeborn continued in partnership with Ami Campbell, who led Sparks’ brightest phase of the game. An over from Elwiss went for 9, and one from Alice Monaghan for 10, putting Sparks 88-3 at the half-way mark, still with a shout of passing 200 if they maintained their pace; but they couldn’t do so, and Freeborn ultimately became the first of Georgia Adams’ 4 victims in the 35th over.

Katie George did her best to liven things up in a brief cameo, which included her and Campbell sending a rare Danni Wyatt over for 15. But even though George’s 23 off 28 represented by far the best strike rate of the Sparks innings, it was still only 82, and once she was dismissed the wheels really started to rattle as Sparks subsided to 183-9, some way short of a par total these days in domestic cricket, albeit in conditions which were not ideal.

Sparks’ only hope was to bowl Vipers out, and they got off to the perfect start – Grace Potts catching McCaughan for 0 off Emily Arlott in the opening over. Having made quick runs at the back end of the Vipers innings on Saturday, Elwiss found herself in very different territory trying to navigate the powerplay with Maia Bouchier. Elwiss defended and defended, never really looking comfortable against the pace of Arlott or Potts, and was next out in the 9th over for 6 off 28 balls, with Vipers 13-2 off the first 9 overs.

A 9-run 10th over made the powerplay look slightly better, but at 22-2 Vipers were still far short of where Sparks had been at the same stage – 30-1.

Danni Wyatt came and went, unable to resist a classic Issy Wong full toss – planting it into the hands of Chloe Brewer – and Bouchier followed shortly afterwards for 25 off 39 balls. At 46-4 Vipers did not look comfortable, and a repeat of their season-opening loss to Sunrisers could definitely have been on the cards.

But a 115 run partnership between Georgia Adams (50) and Charlie Dean (42) turned the tide, taking them to within touching distance of the target at 161. It wasn’t champagne cricket… it wasn’t even prosecco cricket… but it was effective cricket, as Adams and Dean dialled down the risk meter to get the job done.

The dismissals of Adams and Dean in consecutive overs gave the Sparks a bit of hope, but Emily Windsor (10) and Rhianna Southby (8 off 7 – the only innings in the game with a strike rate of 100) carried Vipers home for their second win of the bank holiday weekend.

The CRICKETher Weekly – Episode 162

This week:

  • We’re at Beckenham watching Vipers get back on track in the RHF
  • Raf chats to Player of the Match Lauren Bell
  • Rumours that The Men’s Hundred could be abolished… but what about the women?
  • Why we’re uncomfortable about the proposed overseas draft in WBBL

The CRICKETher Weekly – Episode 160

This week:

  • WPL set to clash with WBBL – what happens now?
  • Players to watch out for in the RHF Trophy
  • New report into the finance of English cricket – is The Hundred sustainable?
  • West Indies sack Courtney Walsh, but was he the problem?
  • (Also… Syd is angry with the rain!)

The CRICKETher Weekly – Episode 159

This week:

  • #WPL going home and away
  • Frustrating pay disparities in England men’s & women’s cricket
  • We’ve FINALLY got some red ball domestic cricket… but why are the ECB keeping it so quiet?

PS – Can you guess the two players on the backdrop today, playing in a Super 4s game a few years back?