NEWS: Original Hartley & Invincible Farrant Among First Wave of “Domestic” Hundred Signings

The ECB have announced a raft of “domestic” signings for The Hundred, including ex-England contracted players Alex Hartley and Tash Farrant, who will play for the Manchester Originals and the Oval Invincibles respectively.

These are the first wave of non-“marquee” players signed for the competition, with established county “pros” like Marie Kelly (Birmingham Phoenix) and Naomi Dattani (London Spirit), both of whom captained their counties last season, joining young guns like fast bowlers Lauren Bell (Southern Brave) and Issy Wong (Birmingham).

For the likes of veteran Katie Levick (Northern Superchargers) The Hundred is an opportunity for a final hurrah in the spotlight; whilst for others like Eve Jones (Birmingham) and Sophie Luff (Welsh Fire) it represents a chance to impress new England coach Lisa Keightley, who name-checked them both in her first press conference at Lord’s last week, promising to cast the net wide in terms of selection next summer.

With 8 new Centres of Excellence currently being established, loosely partnered with The Hundred sides, these players will likely all be allocated to the corresponding “CoE”, and so unsurprisingly almost all of these selections are driven by where the players currently live.

A key exception to this though is Yorkie Hollie Armitage, who will be joining the Oval Invincibles, and who we understand is currently taking lessons in the correct pronunciation of “Sarf Lundun” and “innit”.

Birmingham Phoenix

Evelyn Jones, Isabelle Wong, Marie Kelly, Ria Fackrell

London Spirit

Aylish Cranstone, Charlie Dean, Hannah Jones, Naomi Dattani

Manchester Originals

Alex Hartley, Ellie Threlkeld, Emma Lamb, Georgie Boyce

Northern Superchargers

Bess Heath, Georgia Davis, Helen Fenby, Katie Levick

Oval Invincibles

Georgia Adams, Hollie Armitage, Rhianna Southby, Tash Farrant

Trent Rockets

Beth Langston, Kathryn Bryce, Sarah Glenn, Mady Villiers

Southern Brave

Fi Morris, Lauren Bell, Paige Scholfield, Sophia Dunkley

Welsh Fire

Alex Griffiths, Claire Nicholas, Georgia Hennessy, Sophie Luff

NEWS: Kent Honour Pioneering Early Players

Kent have announced the first five of 45 past and present stars that will receive County Caps during the club’s 150th anniversary season in 2020, recognising some of the pioneers from the early days of the Women’s Cricket Association.

Kent’s first recorded match took place against a Civil Service Women’s XI in 1935, and the county has provided talent for England representative sides since the inception of Test cricket in 1934.

1: Carol Valentine

England career: 1 Test, 1934; Kent Women career: c.1930-1935

Born in Blackheath in 1906, Carol Valentine was much more than the sister of former Kent captain, Bryan.

Valentine played for Kent and Middlesex in the early 1930s as a prolific right-arm medium pace bowler, also featuring for many Invitational XIs at the request of other pioneering women’s players at the time. She was a dual international, who also represented England at lacrosse, touring the USA with England in 1934.

She was a part of the first ever Test side that sailed to Australia in 1934, receiving England cap number 11 and taking the wicket of Kath Smith in her five overs bowled in the match.

2 & 3: Barbara & Joan Blaker

Barbara Blaker’s Kent Women career: c.1934-1951; Joan Blaker’s Kent Women career, c.1936-1952

Born in Lewisham in 1913, the Blaker twins formed a formidable middle-order partnership during the early years of the Kent team. Their father, Kent Men’s player and later Kent CCC President Richard Blaker, was originally horrified by his daughters’ interest in cricket – “He didn’t think it was a game for girls”, the sisters later recalled – but fortunately they ignored his advice.

Both sisters played for Kent for 15 years, also featuring in Invitational XIs and touring teams across the world. They were both involved in Kent’s match against Australia Women in Gravesend in 1937, where the scorecard notes that Australian opener Peggy Antonio was dismissed “caught Blaker, bowled Blaker” for 53.

4: Betty Archdale

England career: 5 Tests, 1934-1937; Kent Women career: 1937

Born in 1907 to leading suffragette Helen Archdale and goddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, Betty Archdale was the first ever captain of England, leading the side on their tour of Australia in 1934/5.

As England’s first ever Test captain, she therefore has the honour of being cap number one for England Women in Test cricket.

Archdale played one match for Kent in 1937, against a touring Australia national team, top-scoring with 68 runs for the hosts despite Kent’s 84-run defeat.

Her Invitational team, “H.E. Archdale’s XI”, played 30 fixtures between 1934 & 1939, the last match coming just before the outbreak of the Second World War.

During the war, Archdale served as a wireless operator in Singapore. In 1944, she was awarded an OBE for helping nurses escape from the conflict.

After moving to Australia in 1946, she was listed as a ‘National Living Treasure’ by the National Trust of Australia in 1997. In March 1999, Archdale was one of the first ten women to be granted Honorary Life Membership of the MCC.

5: Mary Richards

England career: 3 Tests, 17 matches in total, 1934-1935; Kent Women career: 1937

Marjorie “Mary” Richards was a part of England’s pioneering tour of Australia in 1934/5. She made three Test appearances for England on that tour, and is England Women’s 12th Test cricketer. In 17 matches for England in different formats, Richards took 17 wickets at an average of 8.58, and averaged 33.33 with the bat in Tests.

Though she played most of her matches for the West, she opened the batting for Kent Women against Australia at Gravesend in 1937, and also played one match for H.E. Archdale’s XI in 1936.

Summer 2020 Fixtures Announced As Keightley Offers Hope To Farrant & Luff

England have announced their summer fixture schedule, with 4 ODIs and 2 T20s against India in June/ July, and South Africa in September.

Tipping the balance to play more ODIs makes sense, not just with a 50-over World Cup on the horizon in New Zealand in early 2021, but also because the demise of the County Championship means there will be precious-little other one day cricket played next summer. (Albeit the Centres of Excellence will in theory play a one day comp in September, logistical issues with this remain unresolved, with the continuing dependence on amateur players who will have just taken a 6-week sabbatical from their day-jobs to play in The 100.)

In terms of venues it is largely the usual suspects, but there is one match at Headingly, which is the first fixture scheduled in The North™ since 2018 – a fixture which is perceived to have been disappointing from a commercial perspective, though the clash with a big men’s football match, which (let’s be honest!) England were not expected to be playing in, didn’t help to be fair.

Although England named a fairly conservative squad for the T20 World Cup, new coach Lisa Keightley has told CRICKETher that the net will be cast wide open in terms of selections this summer, with a way back for players like Tash Farrant and Sophie Luff who might have felt overlooked in the recent past.

“I’ll be looking at anyone who’s performing,” said Keightley.

“There’s some really good players I’ve worked with: Sophie Luff – she’s played in two Storm wins; Eve Jones has done quite well; and I really like the look of Holly Armitage – I think if she can get her leg spin going, she can hit quite strong and she’s great in the field. Then you’ve got Tash Farrant who is there or thereabouts.”

“It’s really open,” Keightley emphasised. “If you can score runs, take wickets and you can field well, and if you’re performing at that next level, it’s really exciting to see who can put their hand up!”

INDIA

Thursday June 25

1st Vitality IT20: England Women v India Women, The Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton, 19.00

Saturday June 27

2nd Vitality IT20: England Women v India Women, Bristol County Ground, 19.00

Wednesday July 1

Royal London Series, 1st ODI: England Women v India Women, Blackfinch New Road, Worcester, 11.00

Saturday July 4

Royal London Series, 2nd ODI: England Women v India Women, The Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford, 11.00

Monday July 6

Royal London Series, 3rd ODI: England Women v India Women, The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence, Canterbury, 14.00

Thursday July 9

Royal London Series, 4th ODI: England Women v India Women, The 1st Central County Ground, Hove, 14.00

SOUTH AFRICA

Tuesday September 1

1st Vitality IT20: England Women v South Africa Women, The 1st Central County Ground, Hove, 18.30

Friday September 4

2nd Vitality IT20: England Women v South Africa Women, The Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford, 18.30

Tuesday September 8

Royal London Series, 1st ODI: England Women v South Africa Women, The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence, Canterbury, 13.00

Friday September 11

Royal London Series, 2nd ODI: England Women v South Africa Women, Pattonair County Ground, Derby, 13.00

Sunday September 13

Royal London Series, 3rd ODI: England Women v South Africa Women, Emerald Headingley, Leeds, 11.00

Wednesday September 16

Royal London Series, 4th ODI: England Women v South Africa Women, The Fischer County Ground, Grace Road, Leicester, 13.00

T20 WORLD CUP: England Squad Announced – Elwiss Is Alive!

England have announced their squad for the Twenty20 World Cup, and the preceding warm-up Tri-Series with India and Australia, with the return of Georgia Elwiss being the only change from the squad that recently whitewashed Pakistan in Kuala Lumpur.

Seam all-rounder Elwiss replaces left-arm spinner Kirstie Gordon in the squad, with new coach Lisa Keightley citing the conditions England are likely to face in Australia:

“I thought we probably had too many spinners for what we need out in Australia, so we’ve opted for a couple of seamers over some selections with spin.”

Elwiss’ experience out in Australia was also a factor in her coming in, with Keightley saying:

“Georgia’s played in Australia in the WBBL and done really well out there. So for me she is an important inclusion into into our team, to give us options and a player who’s got experience out on Australian pitches.”

Pace bowler Freya Davies, and spinners Mady Villiers and Sarah Glenn all keep their spots in the squad, with Davies looking likely to play a big part:

“I think Freya will go pretty well,” said Keightley. “I’ll be telling her to play how she’s played, and not to go too far away from that – she’s done it in the KSL, and she’s bowled to a lot of players that play international cricket, and if she can do it there that will hold her in good stead.”

England fly out to Australia next week, with fans in England able to watch the Tri-Series on BT Sport, while the T20 World Cup will be shown by Sky.

Full Squad:

  • Heather Knight (Berkshire)
  • Tammy Beaumont (Kent)
  • Katherine Brunt (Yorkshire)
  • Kate Cross (Lancashire)
  • Freya Davies (Sussex)
  • Sophie Ecclestone (Lancashire)
  • Georgia Elwiss (Sussex)
  • Sarah Glenn (Worcestershire)
  • Amy Jones (Warwickshire)
  • Nat Sciver (Surrey)
  • Anya Shrubsole (Berkshire)
  • Mady Villiers (Essex)
  • Fran Wilson (Kent)
  • Lauren Winfield (Yorkshire)
  • Danni Wyatt (Sussex)

The CRICKETher 2019 Christmas Quiz

England v Pakistan 2nd T20 – Good… But Could Time In The Eye Gym Help England Do Even Better?

England clocked-up a huge 84-run win against Pakistan in the 2nd T20 today in Kuala Lumpur, after Amy Jones (89) and Danni Wyatt (55) put on 120 for the first wicket in just 11.2 overs.

It was a stupendous start from Jones and Wyatt, and I was just reaching for my laptop to look up whether two hundreds had ever been scored in the same innings before, in men’s or women’s T20 internationals, when Wyatt was dismissed. (The answer appears to be “No”, by the way.)

Following Wyatt’s departure, England’s Run Rate dropped off somewhat, as the worm shows:

Having been going at almost 11-an-over, they dropped back to a little over 7, and a total that had been heading for well over 200 fell back to “just” 185.

It was still plenty enough of course – Pakistan’s highest ever score in a T20 is 177 – that was in Kuala Lumpur too, but versus lowly Malaysia, and against England their top order pretty-much folded in the face of the size of the ask in front of them. Aside from a battling 38 off 35 balls from Iram Javed, the only other positive they could really take is that the tail clung on to “go the distance” as they finished 9 down.

So England will be happy… but could they be happier? Should they have got closer to 210-220?

It is normal of course for players to take a few balls to “get themselves in”, but Sciver and Knight chewed-up 14 balls between them at a Strike Rate of less than 75 – that’s two-and-a-bit overs, which could be crucial in a big semi or final in Australia next year. So how could this be addressed?

The Telegraph’s Women’s Sport section’s list of Women of the Year, published this week, included an interesting name I’d never heard of: Sherylle Calder. Calder has (as far as I can see) never played top-level sport, but she’s on the list because she worked with England’s men’s rugby team at this year’s World Cup in Japan as a “vision specialist” – improving the players’ hand-eye coordination, among other approaches by using a specially developed set of video “games” called EyeGym.

A top player would never dream of going out to bat without warming-up her body, and they might take a few “throw-downs” as well to get the feel of leather on willow, but could the use of something like EyeGym help to get their vision closer to “the zone” before they have to actually face a ball in anger?

It wouldn’t be a cure-all – there’s lots you can’t account for, especially the pitch – but in a game of fine margins, it might be worth a run or two an over; and while that might not have mattered against Pakistan today, against Australia at the MCG next spring, it could be all the difference in the world.

England v Pakistan 3rd ODI – Glenn Spinning In The Rain

ICC Championship Played Won Lost Tied / N/R Points Max*
Australia 18 17 1 0 34 40
England 21 14 6 1 29 29
India 18 10 8 0 20 26
Pakistan 18 7 9 2 16 22
South Africa 15 7 6 2 16 28
New Zealand 15 7 8 0 14 26
West Indies 21 6 14 1 13 13
Sri Lanka 18 1 17 0 2 8

* Max = maximum possible points achievable.

England will finish in 2nd place in the Women’s International Championship after rain washed out the final match of their ODI series with Pakistan in Kuala Lumpur, with none of the side below them able to get more than their 29 points.

As we stand, India now also appear all-but certain to automatically qualify for the World Cup, with the latest gossip from ICC Towers suggesting that the points are looking likely to be shared between them and Pakistan for their unplayed series. (Last time around, the ICC awarded all the points to Pakistan, but the rules have been tweaked since then, with the BCCI now able to argue that it was outside their control, because it was the Indian government (not the BCCI) that prevented the series going ahead.)

Finally, this also means that South Africa need just two more wins from their 6 remaining matches against New Zealand and Australia to join the automatic qualification party, so you’d think it will probably (but by no means certainly, yet) be Pakistan who will join Sri Lanka and the Windies at the qualifiers.

But I digress…

England won the toss again, for the third time in the series, and opted to bowl this time. Perhaps they were just bored with batting? Or perhaps they had seen the forecast and wanted to chase in a potential Duckworth-Lewis situation?

Pakistan got off to a good start – Nahida and Javeria trotting along at 6 an over, until the introduction of Freya Davies, making her ODI debut, in the 9th over. Davies began by bowling a maiden to Javeria, keeping it full on middle / middle-and-leg stumps; and went on to concede just 7 runs in her first spell – bowling just one bad ball in 4 overs. A second spell saw her finish with 0-19 off 7 overs – an Economy Rate of just 2.71, having made a really impressive start to her ODI career.

The one thing Davies didn’t get was a wicket in reward for her efforts – they were all going into Sarah Glenn’s bag, as she picked up a 4fer in her 3rd ODI. If she’s honest… and I’m sure she will be, because the best players generally are… Glenn will likely admit that this was actually not the best she has bowled in the series – there were a few loose deliveries, and she was a tad fortunate to end up with an Economy Rate even lower than Davies at 2.25 – better batsmen would have punished her in the runs column. However, you can’t argue with the wickets – the last in particular was a beauty which turned just enough to pass the bat and clip off stump.

Anya Shrubsole also grabbed 3 wickets, including two-in-two, and was looking dangerous for more with her inswingers before the rain came down with Pakistan 145-8. Shrubsole’s assured place in the side is actually under a bit of pressure for the first time in several years, with Brunt still doing what she does, Cross bowling sharply, and now Davies making a case too; but Shrubsole is a big game player and England will want that in Australia, so it was a good time for her to find some form.

We now move on to the T20s next week – Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Perhaps expect Glenn to be given a rest and Kirstie Gordon to get the chance to have a crack at the Pakistani batsmen for the first time on this tour, as England play their final matches before selection for the T20 World Cup. (They will play a tri-series v Australia and India prior to the World Cup, but the squad will be the same.)