NEWS: KSL 2018 Fixtures Announced

The ECB have announced the fixture list for the new “Super-Sized” Kia Super League, with sides playing each other both home and away in 2018, extending the season to 32 matches, compared with just 17 this year.

The competition begins at the County Ground in Taunton, with the Western Storm playing the Yorkshire Diamonds on Sunday July 22nd; and concludes just over a month later, on Bank Holiday Monday August 27th, at the County Ground in Hove with the now-familiar 3-team Finals Day.

The season will feature 8 double-headers with men’s T20 Blast matches, at venues including Headingly, Old Trafford and (for the first time) Edgbaston, which will host Loughborough Lighting v Western Storm, on same bill as Birmingham Bears v Lancashire Lightning.

The TV schedules on Sky are “TBA” but we’d assume that it will be at least the 8 double-headers, plus the opening fixture and Finals Day.

Double Headers

Friday July 27 @ Headingley – Yorkshire Diamonds v Lancashire Thunder & Yorkshire Vikings v Birmingham Bears

Sunday July 29 @ Taunton – Western Storm v Loughborough Lightning & Somerset v Middlesex

Tuesday July 31 @ The Oval – Surrey Stars v Lancashire Thunder & Surrey v Glamorgan

Friday August 3 @ Old Trafford – Lancashire Thunder v Western Storm & Lancashire Lightning v Leicestershire Foxes

Tuesday August 7 @ Old Trafford – Lancashire Thunder v Surrey Stars & Lancashire Lightning v Durham Jets

Wednesday August 8 @ The Ageas Bowl – Southern Vipers v Yorkshire Diamonds & Hampshire v Somerset

Tuesday August 14 @ Hove – Southern Vipers v Surrey Stars & Sussex Sharks v Glamorgan

Wednesday August 15 @ Edgbaston – Loughborough Lightning v Western Storm & Birmingham Bears v Lancashire Lightning

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WNCL Round-Up – Big-Hitting Breakers Top The Table In Australia

Australia’s 50-over WNCL goes into the WBBL “break” with 17-times champions the New South Wales Breakers atop the table and already looking odds-on to make a 22nd consecutive final.

WNCL Played Won Points
NSW Breakers 4 4 20
Western Fury 4 3 13
Queensland Fire 4 2 11
SA Scorpions 4 2 10
ACT Meteors 4 2 9
Vic Spirit 4 1 4
Tasmania Roar 4 0 0

The Breakers opened their season with a 6-wicket victory over the Queensland Fire, powered by a 93-ball century from Rachel Haynes; and Haynes was in the runs again, top scoring with 83 in a 90-run win over the Vic Spirit.

Following the Women’s Ashes it was Alyssa Healy who led the charge for the Breakers with 99 off 89 balls in a 7-wicket smackdown of the Western Fury; and then it was Ellyse Perry who stood up with 127 in a 97-run thumping of ACT Meteors, despite 4-24 off 10 overs bowled by the Meteors overseas star, South Africa’s Marizanne Kapp.

Second-placed Western Fury were run close in the opening game against the South Australia Scorpions – after the Fury posted 323-4, with centuries from Elyse Villani and Nicole Bolton, it looked to be all over for the Scorpions at 168-5, before a century partnership from Amanda Wellington (116) and Tabatha Saville (53) took the Scorpions close… but not quite close enough, as they were bowled-out in the 49th over, just 21 runs short.

The Fury had a rather more straightforward win over the Tasmania Roar, easily chasing 222 with 11 overs to spare; but were again run close by the ACT Meteors – Kate Cross the hero for the Fury that day, taking 3-22 as the Meteors were bowled out 23 short of a 237 run target.

In third place, the Queensland Fire may have one less win than the Fury, but sit just 2-points adrift of final qualification, after picking up 3 bonus points with big wins against the Roar and the Scorpions – Jemma Barsby taking 4-7 as the Scorpions were bowled out for just 104, chasing 163.

The Scorpions and Meteors, also with 2 wins each, will still believe they have a chance too if they can win both their remaining games and other results go their way; but it is probably game-over for the Vic Spirit already, as it is for the winless Roar.

The competition now takes a break whilst the players go off to their WBBL teams – not resuming until mid-February, when we have the last two rounds, with the final on February 24th.

STATS: Women’s Ashes Bowling Rankings

There is no doubt in our mind as to who should have been Player of the Series in this Women’s Ashes instead of Heather Knight. Not that Knight had a BAD series, of course – she scored four fifties, and played two particularly crucial innings – batting out for the draw in the Test and backing up centurion Danni Wyatt in the remarkable last T20.

But for us, the outstanding performer over the series was Aussie quick Megan Schutt, with 18 wickets – a full third of the “bowling” wickets taken by Australia across the 7 games – in conditions where England’s celebrated pace duopoly of Shrubsole and Brunt could muster just 10 wickets between them.

England’s leading bowler was Sophie Ecclestone, with 9 wickets at an Economy Rate of 4.35. Jenny Gunn took more wickets (11) but was the most expensive front-line bowler on either side over the course of the series – going for 6.37 an over.

Ellyse Perry underlined her status as the world’s leading all-rounder, coming in 3rd in the bowling rankings in addition to her 4th-place in the batting rankings.

The only other player to make both “Top 10s” is Katherine Brunt, who is looking like an increasingly key player in England’s line-up. It is difficult to see Brunt carrying on to the next World Cup, when she’ll be 36, but maybe it is possible if England can manage her more as a batting than a bowling all-rounder going forwards, hints of which emerged when she came on 1st change in the 2nd and 3rd T20s. (She opened in the 1st, but presumably only because Anya Shrubsole wasn’t playing.)

Player Matches Wickets Economy
1. Megan Schutt 7 18 3.6
2. Jess Jonassen 7 10 3.2
3. Ellyse Perry 7 10 3.9
4. Sophie Ecclestone 6 9 4.4
5. Jenny Gunn 6 11 6.4
6. Katherine Brunt 7 7 4.5
7. Tahlia McGrath 4 4 2.9
8. Alex Hartley 4 7 5.3
9. Laura Marsh 2 3 2.8
10. Amanda Wellington 6 3 3.4

Bowling Ranking = Wickets / Economy

STATS: Women’s Ashes Batting Rankings

On reading the table below, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that our rankings system doesn’t really work in a mulit-format series. Difficult… but not impossible! The other way of looking at it is that Danni Wyatt and Beth Mooney “hacked the system” with their remarkable innings in that unprecedented final T20, and that is what has landed them at the top of the list. Wyatt and Mooney’s huge Strike Rates in those innings propelled them ahead of both Ellyse Perry – 200 in the Test – and Heather Knight – four 50s in the series – both of whom scored far more runs over the 7 games.

In the battle of the ‘keepers, Alyssa Healy just pips Sarah Taylor – interestingly they ended the series with exactly the same Strike Rate, but the Aussie scored 43 more runs, despite actually batting one less innings.

Another player whose ranking is boosted by maintaining a good Strike Rate is Katherine Brunt. Brunt’s Strike Rate of 97 is by far the highest of any player on either side who played in all 7 games (the next highest is Rachel Haynes’ 84) and means she edges ahead of Nat Sciver in the rankings, as she continues to push her claim for all-rounder status at international as well as domestic level.

Player Matches Runs Strike Rate
1. Danni Wyatt 3 169 155
2. Beth Mooney 4 247 101
3. Ellyse Perry 7 351 63
4. Heather Knight 7 335 62
5. Alyssa Healy 7 238 81
6. Sarah Taylor 7 195 81
7. Rachel Haynes 7 187 84
8. Tammy Beaumont 7 227 53
9. Katherine Brunt 7 113 97
10. Nat Sciver 7 139 72

Batting Ranking = Runs * Strike Rate

Random Thoughts – Women’s Ashes 3rd T20

Live Wyatt

Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote that Danni Wyatt was Mark Robinson’s Biggest Challenge Yet – she had just come off the back of a poor series against Sri Lanka, making scores of 4, 4 and 0 against the weakest of the “top” sides in the women’s international game, and was surely heading (again) for the last-chance saloon.

But just as he did with Tammy Beaumont, Mark Robinson kept believing in her, and today he got his reward. It wasn’t “just” 100 off 57 balls – a Strike Rate of 175 – it was the pressure she did it under: England were 30-3 at the end of the PowerPlay – their own mums wouldn’t have given them a prayer, staring down the barrel of a Required Rate of over 10-an-over at that stage in the game; but what followed was quite literally history, as England recorded the highest ever successful run-chase in a women’s T20 international.

What’s Next To The Mooney

[I think that’s enough AC/DC song title puns now – Ed.]

Spare a thought though for Beth Mooney – she played the innings of her career – the highest women’s international T20 score ever against a “top” side – and in some ways a better “cricket” innings than Wyatt, who took her usual share of risks; but then saw it eclipsed by Wyatt, as (if we are honest) her team mates threw it away with a hat-full of awful-looking dropped catches – yes, the lights were clearly a factor; but at a professional level, that shouldn’t really be an excuse these days.

Powerage?

[Ok… that’s it – you’re grounded – Ed.]

It will be interesting to see if this game, and indeed this T20 series, marks the start of a new dawn for women’s international T20 cricket, where the “power game” comes to the fore? We are going to be watching a lot of T20 cricket in the next year or so, leading up to the World T20 in the West Indies next autumn, with England playing not one but two T20 Tri-Series – v South Africa & New Zealand and v Australia & India; and you can bet some other sides will be playing even more as they ramp-up to WWT20.

Before today, we only had four centuries scored in nearly 400 women’s T20Is – we’ve just added another two to make it six – how many will it be this time next year? My guess is as good as yours; but if it is still six this time next year, I’ll be very surprised!

Random Thoughts: Women’s Ashes 1st T20

Knightmare

England have lost the Women’s Ashes, and there can’t be any excuses; but the gods were not on their side today. Heather Knight’s wicket was a nightmare for all concerned, not least the umpires who gave her out, then not out, and then out again. Yes it is complicated but they are paid to know the laws, and Law 27.3 is pretty clear:

“The wicket-keeper shall remain wholly behind the wicket at the striker’s end from the moment the ball comes into play until a ball delivered by the bowler touches the bat or person of the striker or passes the wicket at the striker’s end or the striker attempts a run.”

“In the event of the wicket-keeper contravening this Law, the striker’s end umpire shall call and signal No ball as soon as applicable after the delivery of the ball.”

Zooming-in on the moment the ball hit the bat, it is pretty clear that Healy’s gloves are marginally ahead of the wicket.

Yes, it is “marginal” but the 3rd umpire has a high-definition camera perfectly positioned to make these kinds of decisions, so you can only assume he didn’t know the law, which is… not great, to be honest.

Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp – the romanticised hero of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral – was in real-life a reckless gambler who was always looking to make a fast buck. Danni Wyatt on the other hand… Well, joking aside, she can actually play big, sensible innings – we’ve seen it at county. But for England in the T20 format her role has always been to chase fast runs; and a career strike rate of over 100 attests that she has actually been quite successful in that regard – never more so than today when her 50 off 36 balls got England to a position where the game was defendable.

Bark At The Mooney

It was a defendable target, but ultimately not even the Prince of Darkness himself could have stopped Beth Mooney today – she pushed on well past 50, maintaining a Strike Rate of 150 which saw Australia win the game by a country mile. Of course, Meg Lanning will be straight back into the team as soon as she is fit again, but with so many different Aussie batsmen standing up at different times in this series, it might be a close call if she wasn’t the captain!

Heather Is Human

Heather Knight’s “game-face” never slips in front of the media, but it did today in the post-match interviews – for once you could see how much it really mattered to her, and I don’t think it will do too much harm for people to know that there really is a human under that implacable mask. It hasn’t been the Women’s Ashes result she (or we) wanted, but she’ll be back… and so will England!

OPINION: Women’s Ashes Test – England Beaten By Perry, Not The Pitch

Following the drawn Women’s Ashes Test in Sydney, England coach Mark Robinson talked a lot about the pitch in his post-match interviews:

“We want to play on better wickets,” he said. “It wasn’t a fresh wicket [and] fresh wickets make such a difference.” He then went on to draw a contrast between Coffs Harbour, where England won the 3rd ODI – “a great wicket [with] bounce and carry” – and North Sydney Oval where “the bowlers ran in hard [but] in the end, the wicket beat us.”

His comments have been echoed by many in the media, with for example Charlotte Edwards tweeting “pitches need to be looked at moving forward”.

But was the pitch that bad? Or was it just that one batsman was that good?

Ellyse Perry’s monumental innings – which Robinson rightly praised as “something special” – was 213 off 374 balls. If Perry had “only” scored a hundred, rather than a double, this would still have been by some way the biggest innings in the game. But Australia would have posted a lead of only around 50 and there would also have been an additional 70-odd overs in the match, if you include the overs “lost” in the final session when they called it quits.

Under those circumstances, England could (and likely would) have taken a few more risks to bat themselves into a position where they could have declared, with either result then still a genuine possibility.

It’s all “ifs and buts” of course – it is true that there have been better pitches, and maybe we need to also look at having more “new balls” in pink-ball Tests; but in all honestly England were not beaten by the pitch – they were of course not beaten at all – but if they were beaten by anything, they were beaten by Ellyse Perry, not the pitch.

Random Thoughts: Women’s Ashes Test – Day 4

Knight In Shining Armour

This is the second time in her career that Heather Knight has saved a Test for England, albeit in quite different circumstances. In 2013 at Wormsley, England were staring down the barrel of the follow-on at 113-6, after Australia had posted 330 in the 1st innings; this time the circumstances were perhaps a little less dramatic, but no less perilous – with the Ashes at stake, Knight had to dig in, and her and Georgia Elwiss did what they had to do. It was a “proper cricket” innings from Knight, demanding all her mental and physical steel – the only disappointment being that she didn’t get the chance to put the seal on it by going on to 100. (We’d have liked to see her bat on at the end; but apparently we were alone in that regard!)

The Winner On Points

You’d have to say in one way that this was a clear “points victory” for Australia, having forced England into batting for the draw; but this is also a bit odd, because two of the four days clearly went to England – Day 2, when they had Australia 5-down and still 100 behind; and today, when the Aussies huffed and puffed but couldn’t get anywhere near blowing England’s house down. In fact, ultimately it would perhaps have been Australia who were slightly disappointed – they definitely felt they had the glimmer of victory in their sights with both the openers gone and England still a long way from safety – but in the end they didn’t have the bowling to force the win.

Pitch (Im)Perfect?

Was the pitch to blame for a “boring” end to the game? We don’t think so – it was the same pitch that gave us Ellyse Perry’s double-hundred yesterday, and we don’t remember hearing too many complaints about it then!! Obviously both sides played quite low-risk cricket, with the 10-over run rate averaging around 2.5, and only once climbing above 4 – but if you want to blame anything for that, blame the points system which, even at 4 points for a win, with only a single Test massively punishes defeat. Anyways… it was only boring if you didn’t really care about the outcome – speak for yourselves, we were glued to it!

Another Win For Robinson

Although England were once again outplayed by Australia… or outplayed by Ellyse Perry, at least… there was a difference from Canterbury in 2015 – England didn’t look like amateurs, out of their depth at this level. And lest we forget, this isn’t because they have played a pile of Tests in the meantime – having in fact played no Tests in the intervening two years. It is because they were well-prepared this time, by a coach with 20 years of experience playing and coaching tough, declaration cricket in the (Men’s) County Championship. And you have to chalk this up as another win for Mark Robinson, who has taken basically the same team, with 70% of the same players, and turned them up a notch – they aren’t up at 11 yet, but they are no longer at 2 or 3!

Random Thoughts – Women’s Ashes Test – Day 2

Two-Hundred-And-Eighhhhhhhhhty?

Word from inside the England camp is that they were pretty happy with their 1st innings total of 280 – in the entire history of women’s Tests, only one side has ever lost after posting a higher 1st innings total – New Zealand, back in 1969. [That’s so long ago it’s before you were born… just sayin’ – Ed.]

However, England have to have been a bit disappointed that it wasn’t a few more – no blame on the tail this morning, more on the batsmen who didn’t push on yesterday.

But having now seen the Aussies bat, it is clear that maybe this pitch isn’t the road everyone thought it was, as it has actually been England who have set the pace, as the worm shows:

🎵 Walking In A Perry Wonderland 🎵

(Yes… it is stuck in my head – and if it wasn’t stuck in yours before… it is now!!)

As the chart also shows, Ellyse Perry is the key player for Australia – they only started to catch up with the run rate when she got motoring in the period leading up to the new ball. England need to get her out not once, but twice, to win this Test match – that’s the key challenge – if they can do that, they will be in with a shout.

Aussies Under Marshal Law

Laura Marsh was exceptional today – bowling at the left-handers at the top of the innings, she got into a trance-like rhythm, and then just kept it there – tick-tocking through 23 overs for just 28 runs.

Bowling props also to Sophie Ecclestone (2-51) and Georgia Elwiss. (In fact, given her figures – 5 overs, 2 maidens, 0-7 – I’m surprised Heather Knight didn’t find a few more overs for Elwiss, with Nat Sciver not really looking like she was troubling the Australians too much.)

A Tail To Tell Tomorrow?

England need just one more wicket tomorrow morning and they are into the tail, with the Aussies still currently over 100 behind. Admittedly it is a tail that includes Jess Jonassen (99 in the last Test) and Amanda Wellington (116 just the other week for South Australia in the WNCL) but if England can grab almost any first-innings lead they will rightly be pretty chuffed with that, and they will certainly be the ones sleeping easier tonight after having a winning day today.

Random Thoughts: Women’s Ashes Test – Day 1

Gunn Fired

[That’s enough Jenny Gunn puns now Syd – Ed.]

We debated whether Fran Wilson would have to make way for Georgia Elwiss; but in the end it was Jenny Gunn who was left on the sidelines, with Mark Robinson clearly deciding that England needed Elwiss’s batting more than they needed Gunn’s bowling. Was this a good decision? Well… Elwiss didn’t exactly “fail” with the bat but it remains to be seen how we’ll feel if (when?) Australia are 300-3 this time tomorrow and all our front-line bowlers are exhausted!

Winfield Not Winning

Unlike Tammy Beaumont, Lauren Winfield has struggled to build on her 2016 purple patch – her numbers have reverted back to where they were pre-2016; and today she faced over 50 balls for just 4 runs, before getting out to a shot that she shouldn’t have gone near with a barge-pole, let alone her bat!

But… but.. but… who or what is the alternative? Heather Knight doesn’t want to open; Sarah Taylor shouldn’t open; and we’ve just got rid of all the “senior” batsmen in our Academy! If there was an easy answer, believe us, we’d be all over it – we are The Media™ – we love easy answers; but in this case there isn’t one – we just have to trust that Winfield will come good again in time.

A Way Back For England?

England just about edged the first session-and-a-half – Beaumont and Knight both played well for their 50s, but they couldn’t push on and Australia smashed the final session, as England melted in the darkness. 237-7 is not a good place to be, and you have to feel this is Australia’s game to lose now.

If there is a way back for England, it is to bat long enough tomorrow to prevent the Aussies piling on the runs during the day, and then hope that they too struggle under the lights in the evening session. In the last Test at Canterbury in 2015, Anya Shrubsole occupied the crease for over an hour for a 47-ball duck – it was widely derided at the time, but it would actually be quite a useful contribution here – the duck is intact, and she is 15 balls in already – maybe she can push on towards 50 (balls) tomorrow?