DEBRIEF: T20 Cup – Middlesex Go Clear At The Top

Div 1 Played Won Lost NRR Points
Middlesex 4 4 0 1.13 16
Warwickshire 4 3 1 1.6 12
Lancashire 4 3 1 0.49 12
Sussex 4 2 2 0.75 8
Kent 4 2 2 0.56 8
Nottinghamshire 4 2 2 -0.55 8
Worcestershire 4 1 3 -0.56 4
Surrey 4 1 3 -1.75 4
Yorkshire 4 0 4 -1.65 0

In the weekend’s T20 Cup action, Middlesex went clear at the top of Div 1 with wins over Lancashire and Worcestershire at Kidderminster.

Against Worcestershire, Gayatri Gole took 3-20 as Worcestershire were bowled out off the final ball with 111 on the board. Amara Carr and Maia Bouchier then both hit 34 as Middlesex knocked-off the runs with almost 5 overs to spare. Then against Lancashire, Naomi Dattani (40) and Carr (27) put on 77 for the first wicket to set up a total of 132-8, which Lancashire fell 9 short of in the chase.

In the other match at Kidderminster, Eve Jones was the only Lancashire batsman to make it to double-figures versus Worcestershire, but her 62* got them to 105-7, and although Worcestershire went the distance they finished lite on 99-9, with left-arm quick Millie Hodge taking 3-14 to add to the 4-12 she took against Middlesex to complete a memorable day for her on her senior debut.

Meanwhile at Harrogate, Teresa Graves top-scored twice, with 44 and 45, as Notts picked up wins against Warwickshire and Yorkshire; whilst Warwickshire beat Yorkshire in a rain-affected game to consign the winless White Roses to the bottom of the table.

Finally in Div 1, there was a win apiece for Surrey, Sussex and Kent on a very chilly day at Billingshurst.

In Div 2, Hampshire and Wales moved clear of the pack in the two promotion spots, with 4 wins from 4 – Rachel Priest hitting a century for Wales against Gloucestershire.

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England v South Africa – 3rd ODI – England Reduce South Africa To Stroppy Teenagers At Canterbury

In August 2015 England came to Canterbury for the Women’s Ashes Test – the pitch was lifeless and the press box WiFi wasn’t much better, as England lost by a country mile.

In the 3 years since, little has changed – the pitch offered little to the batsmen or the bowlers and the WiFi offered little to the press, though at least England fans had something to cheer this time as they took the game and the series!

South Africa made a very slow start, after having opted to bat. When Laura Wolvaardt got out early the other day, Lizelle Lee took on her role as the anchor and played really well; but when it was Lee that got out early today, it was too much to expect Wolvaardt to suddenly start slogging sixes over midwicket, especially when midwicket to one side was a good 70 meters! This isn’t to criticise Wolvaardt – she played her role – but when an opener is playing that “going long” role, then it really needs someone at the other end “going big” and neither Andrie Steyn nor Dane van Niekerk, really did this today.

Perhaps South Africa should look at sending Chloe Tryon in earlier in these situations, because she showed what she can do with a couple of huge sixes; but by the time she came in today there was too much to do, and South Africa collapsed from 197-4 to 228 all out, as batsman after batsman got themselves out, with England’s bowlers having to do little more than send the ball down, Sarah Taylor’s excellent glove-butlering besides.

In England’s reply, South Africa’s opening bowlers put the pressure on early, as they always do, and Marizanne Kapp really should get a credit in the scorebook for the wicket of Amy Jones, who was clearly so chuffed to have seen-off Kapp, who was giving her all sorts of problems, that she lost concentration and lazily popped Ayabonga Khaka’s first delivery up to square leg, giving Sune Luus the easiest catch she’ll take all year! It was poor from Jones, who looked good in the first two ODIs without getting a score, but this time looked scratchy and still didn’t get a score.

Then Sarah Taylor got out, and for a while South Africa were up in England’s faces in the field – darting around like daemons – stopping everything that was there to be stopped, and the required run rate climbed over 5 for a period; but South Africa still needed wickets and the pitch was offering them no help – they even turned to Sune Luus, who almost got a wicket with a full toss, which seems to be her stock wicket-taking delivery these days.

But gradually Tammy Beaumont and Heather Knight wore South Africa down and they collapsed mentally – all the energy drifted away from them, and everyone from the skipper down suddenly looked less like a professional cricket player and more like a stroppy teenager who has been asked to do the washing up.

In the end it was all too easy for England – Tammy Beaumont departed, but Heather Knight turned on the afterburners at the end to bring home the ICC Championship points and the Royal London trophy and leave a very good Canterbury crowd of over 2,000 cheering.

NEWS: Worcestershire Awarded Win In “Tied” T20 Cup Match

Worcestershire have been awarded the win in their “tied” T20 Cup match against Surrey at Edgbaston Foundation Ground on Sunday.

Confusion reigned after the sides finished level on 117 runs after their 20 overs, and it transpired that the officials didn’t know how to proceed to determine a result, whether by a Super Over or wickets down. Attempts to clarify the situation were hampered by lack of clarity in the T20 Cup playing conditions.

In the end it was decided not to play the Super Over, and the teams shook hands on a tie; but the ECB has now determined that the match should be awarded to Worcestershire by virtue of having lost fewer wickets, in accordance with the rules set out in the generic non-professional T20 Playing Conditions. (See the discussions here for why this looks to us like the correct decision.)

The revised Div 1 T20 Cup table now looks like this:

Div 1 Played Won Lost NRR Points
Warwickshire 2 2 0 1.67 8
Middlesex 2 2 0 1.16 8
Lancashire 2 2 0 1.08 8
Kent 2 1 1 0.93 4
Sussex 2 1 1 -0.19 4
Worcestershire 2 1 1 -0.17 4
Surrey 2 0 2 -1.5 0
Yorkshire 2 0 2 -0.9 0
Nottinghamshire 2 0 2 -1.88 0

NEWS: England Add Cross; Release Winfield & Hazell

England have added fast bowler Kate Cross to their squad for the final ODI against South Africa at Canterbury on Friday.

Cross hasn’t played for England since the Pakistan series in summer 2016; but she spent this winter in Australia playing for Western Australia, finishing the season the 3rd highest wicket-taker in the WNCL, with 13 wickets at an average of 19 and an Economy Rate of 3.88 – very respectable in a competition where runs tend to flow easily.

England have also “released” (but not “dropped”) Lauren Winfield and Dani Hazell – they will play for England Academy in a match on Thursday, and will therefore take no part on Friday.

England Head Coach Mark Robinson said:

“It’s important for Dani and Lauren that they get the chance to play more cricket so we’re freeing them up to play for the Academy. Kate will come into the group to offer another seam-bowling option.”

Barring injuries, our guess is that England will be hoping to go unchanged on Friday; but there are obviously worries about Katherine Brunt’s back and England will be desperate to ensure she doesn’t sustain a long-term injury leading up to the World T20 in November, so if we do see Cross at Canterbury that will likely be why.

OPINION: A “KSL Replacement” Domestic T20 Is DoA Without Full Professionalism

In her interview with TMS on Saturday at Worcester, the ECB’s Director of Women’s Cricket Clare Connor addressed concerns about the future of domestic T20 cricket when the Kia Super League ends and is replaced by The 100, pledging to deliver a new “equally worthwhile” T20 tournament in its place.

She also made a personal commitment to working towards full professionalism, acknowledging that this had to be more than the few-thousand pounds players outside the fully contracted England elite currently make from the game.

The long-term intent is the right one – we need an elite T20 competition which involves the England contracted players. To quote England captain Heather Knight:

“Obviously Twenty20 international cricket is huge in the women’s game, so we need to make sure that from 2020 the structure below the new competition is right.”

But unfortunately there is a problem…

The KSL ends in 2019, and Connor doesn’t see full professionalism until at least 2024; but without full professionalism you can’t have a T20 competition which involves the England players!

Why? Well, oddly, it isn’t the England players who are the problem, but the amateurs who (without full professionalism) will make up the majority of the squads in The 100.

You see, the amateurs are… well… amateur – they have other jobs! And whilst it might be feasible to take 6 weeks of unpaid leave to play in The 100, for which (during those 6 weeks at least) they will be well-remunerated, taking another 4 weeks to play in the new T20 as well just isn’t going to fly with most employers.

This means the new T20 is initially going to have to be played at weekends… and not during The 100 in July/ August, obviously… and not during the international window in June/ July, or the England players would not get any domestic T20… and not during the County Championship window, which is currently May/ early June.

So when are they going to play it?

January?

It’s almost like no one thought about the implications of this before they irrevocably committed themselves to the policy! (Remind you of anything?)

Of course, there is an easy way to solve this problem: make The 100 a T20 tournament for the women. You can still have the same teams; you can still call it “The 100” – just make 120 balls rather than 100 – then you don’t have to play an additional T20 tourny!

But something tells me that would be far too much like having your cake and eating it… and no one wants that!

DEBRIEF: T20 Cup – Farce At Edgbaston As Worcestershire & Surrey Finish Level… And No One Knows The Rules!

Div 1 Played Won Lost Tied NRR Points
Warwickshire 2 2 0 0 1.7 8
Middlesex 2 2 0 0 1.16 8
Lancashire 2 2 0 0 1.08 8
Kent 2 1 1 0 0.93 4
Sussex 2 1 1 0 -0.19 4
Worcestershire 2 0 1 1 -0.17 1
Surrey 2 0 1 1 -1.53 1
Yorkshire 2 0 2 0 -0.9 0
Nottinghamshire 2 0 2 0 -1.88 0

In the first round of the T20 Cup, the big excitement of the day took place off the field at Edgbaston Foundation Ground where Worcestershire, chasing 117 against Surrey made… 117. The question then was: what now? Super Over? Wickets down? Nobody there was sure, and a long discussion ensued, which included people texting us at Mill Hill, over 100 miles away!

We pored over the rules on our phones, alongside Martin from Women’s Cricket Blog, eventually concluding that we didn’t know either, because the playing conditions (which are in two separate documents – one general one for non-professional T20 in England, and one specifically for this competition) appear to have changed independently and now contradict each other.

The generic conditions suggest wickets down, whilst the T20 Cup conditions (which supersede the generic conditions) imply a Super Over, without actually explicitly saying so, because they refer to another section which… doesn’t appear to exist!

Only in women’s county cricket!!

In the end they decided not to play the Super Over and call it a tie, so that is how it has gone down for the moment, but this may change – we will keep you posted if it does!

(And yes – 4 points for a win, but only 1 for a tie.)

(And no… we’ve got no idea either!!)

On the actual field of play in Birmingham, Warwickshire beat Worcestershire and Surrey to go top on Net Run Rate. (Although in the final standings the result between the teams supersedes NRR.)

Middlesex avenged their County Championship relegation, beating Sussex and Yorkshire at Mill Hill with Sophia Dunkley continuing to press her case for a possible England call-up ahead of the T20 Tri-Series later this summer.

Finally Lancashire also took 2-from-2 with wins against Kent and Notts.

NEWS: General Lee Drives South Africa To Victory At Worcester

England huffed and puffed against South Africa at Worcester today, but a fine innings from Lizelle Lee was ultimately the difference between the two teams – South Africa winning by 7 wickets with 4 overs to spare.

Perhaps the turning point was Katherine Brunt’s disallowed catch, which would have sent Lee back to the pavilion on 68, leaving two new batters at the crease. Brunt certainly thought she’d caught it, telling the media after the game:

“I honestly believe I caught it, but obviously that’s not my decision – when it goes upstairs its their decision and I guess that’s the decision they made and that’s the one I’ve got to stick with.”

But in truth the match was arguably already long lost by that stage, with South Africa having done the hard work in the morning to reduce England to 64-6, with all their “proper” batsmen back in the pavilion.

Brunt’s innings of 72*, and in particular her partnership of 51 with Laura Marsh, did give them something to bowl at; and although Brunt’s innings wasn’t pretty, it was effective. It also came off the back of a half-century against Hampshire in the County Championship:

“That set me up for this game today,” she said. “I had to bat for a long time and the ball was seaming around, so it something that I’ve been doing. I’ve been waiting my whole career to be taken seriously in terms of batting and being a genuine all-rounder, and the more I can go out there and show that I can bat, I’m happy.”

And she believed England had done enough:

“I fancy our squad as a really good bowling side and I thought we could dig ourselves out from anything above 140. Once we got past 140 it was time to get as many as we possibly could and I truly believe coming out that we had enough to defend, because I back our bowlers.”

But that reckoned without Lizelle Lee, who played a quite untypical innings:

“It was a bit unlike her,” said Brunt. “She normally plays a lot more aggressively than that, so she didn’t give us as many opportunities this time. I thought she played quite sensibly and she took her opportunities when they came, but that’s what you can do when you are not chasing as many.”

As for Lee herself, she was typically modest, saying this was “up there” but not her best innings.

Did she think she was out to the Brunt “catch”?

“Honestly I did, but the guys called me from the top and said listen – wait – I think she could have dropped it, so I waited.”

“Then Dane [van Niekerk] started screaming at me: use this chance!”

And use it she did, finishing the match with a thumping 6 to consign England to defeat in their first home match since the World Cup final.

Interestingly, Lee thinks that South Africa are a better side than when England knocked them out in the semi finals on the way to their win at Lords:

“We’ve improved immensely! The World Cup was a great event for us – we batted well, we bowled well, and we didn’t do anything that bad in the semi-final – I think England were just a little bit better.”

“But now there’s 4 years to go until the next World Cup, so we have to go hard and use series like this teach you the confidence you need.”

And if one match can ever be a statement, this was it – South Africa are a serious side, with serious ambitions, and when it comes to the next World Cup they will be up there!

OPINION: England Hope For Triumph of Experience In Busy Summer

Charlotte Edwards will be in the commentary box at Worcester, as England take on South Africa in the 1st of six ICC Championship matches to be played in England this summer.

But the former England captain could be forgiven for a certain sense of deja-vu as she looks out onto the ground at New Road – all bar one of the England’s 14-player squad made their debuts under her or (in two cases) her predecessor Clare Connor. The “average” England debut for this squad was in 2009 – almost 10 years ago.

It will soon be three years since Mark Robinson was appointed England coach, and just over two years since Edwards was metaphorically left alone in a room at Lords with a bottle of Scotch and a loaded revolver. In that time, Robinson has handed out five “proper” debuts, to Alex Hartley, Sophie Ecclestone, Alice Davidson-Richards, Katie George and Bryony Smith, one “re-debut” to Fran Wilson, and awarded a new “rookie” contract to the so-far uncapped Freya Davies; but of these only Ecclestone will take the field today.

Of course, there is plenty more cricket to be played this summer – a fast and furious T20 Tri-Series against South Africa and New Zealand will offer opportunities to bounce back, as England look to rotate with half an eye on the New Zealand ODI series to come.

But it does have to be a worry that while the Australians are bringing on the likes of Beth Mooney and Ash Gardner, the pathway doesn’t appear – Ecclestone aside – to be producing the players they trust to go out there and score runs and take wickets for England.

That being said, this is still a very strong England team – the problem areas are mostly of the “nice problem to have” variety. Do you play Dani Hazell and Laura Marsh? What about Georgia Elwiss, who had a good game against South Africa for the Academy last week? Where do you bat Tammy Beaumont if Amy Jones opens with Danni Wyatt, which England seem to think might be the answer to Jones’ issues (which are clearly 99% in her head)? And of course you’d ideally want to fit in the ever-reliable Jenny Gunn, but where?

My guess is that England might go with:

  1. Wyatt
  2. Jones
  3. Taylor
  4. Sciver
  5. Beaumont
  6. Knight
  7. Brunt
  8. Marsh
  9. Hazell
  10. Shrubsole
  11. Ecclestone

This year will see no repeat of Pakistan 2016 – South Africa will be no pushover – though they will have breathed a sigh of relief that Laura Wolvaardt has decided for the moment to try to juggle cricket and medical school, because their batting can be as brittle as it can sometimes be brilliant without her indefatigability at the top of the order.

New Zealand will similarly push England hard, as you’d expect from a team led by the best player in the world (Suzie Bates) who can afford to drop one of the most destructive batsmen in the world (Rachel Priest) for “reasons” because when you’ve got Amy Satterthwaite and Sophie Devine too, that’s the kind of crazy thing you can do and still pull off the highest ODI score of all time against Ireland!

So… predictions? I think England will win more games than they’ll lose this summer, but they won’t have it all their own way.

The one certainty – for the neutrals, it should be a good one!

NEWS: Aboriginal Women’s XI Bring The Spirit of ’68 To Surrey

It was back in ’68 – 1868, to be precise – that a group of Aboriginal cricketers from Australia embarked upon the first ever cricket tour of England by an overseas side. It was a tough tour, by all accounts – one man, King Coal, died of tuberculosis and two others had to return to Australia due to ill-health. In all, the Aboriginals played 47 games, at grounds across the length and breadth of England, including The Oval – winning 14 matches, losing 14 and drawing the rest.

150 years later, two new Aboriginal XIs – men’s and women’s – have returned to follow in their footsteps – the men playing in shirts bearing the names of those original pioneers.

We caught up with Sally Moylan – formerly of Aussie state side ACT – who scored 24 runs against Surrey Women at The Oval.

“It’s a moment that I will cherish for ever,” she says.

“It means a lot coming to such an iconic ground as The Oval – it is where a lot of Test matches and famous cricket has been played, including the 1868 tour, which we hold dear to our hearts.”

“It is important, coming over here and reconnecting to that story and learning more about what took place here all those years ago – we went to Lords the other day and saw all the cases from that tour and the gifts that were brought with them.”

“So this tour has been 150 years in the making for us, speaking on behalf of the team. It is such a phenomenal moment and a moment that will live with us for ever – to come all that way to play here and to go on our own journey and start our own legacy, like those men did 150 years ago.”

“Hopefully in many years to come we will have more Aboriginal women playing the game and coming back here; and maybe in a hundred years I won’t be around, but we’ll see someone playing with Gardner on the back of their shirts.”

The Aboriginal Women’s XI were in the end well-beaten by a Surrey side which included England’s Bryony Smith, who hit 50 as Surrey posted 149-6 off their 20 overs, with Ashleigh Gardner talking 2-28.

Smith then went on to take a wicket with the first ball of the Aboriginal XI’s innings – Sara Darney caught by Priya Chatterji at cover – but it was captain Hannah Jones who was to steal the show with the ball, taking 5 wickets for 18 as the Aboriginal XI were bowled out for 113.

For Jones it was a nice warm-up prior to the County T20 Cup starting on Sunday:

“It was a good way to start our T20 season – we really enjoy playing at The Oval – and now we are looking forward to Worcestershire and Warwickshire on Sunday. Bryony Smith is in great form – nothing phases her and she continues to get runs, so we don’t mind her on our side!”

STATS: Women’s County Championship – Batting Rankings

Although Suzie Bates was arguably a bit less important to Hampshire this season than last – scoring 34% of their runs this year, compared with 38% in 2017 – she was still The Big Gear in the machine that clinched the County Championship last weekend. She was also the only player in Div 1 to score a century… and she scored two of them! Unsurprisingly, then, she tops our batting rankings.

At No. 2, Emma Lamb had another good season for Lancashire, opening the batting with Eve Jones who also makes the top 10. Lancashire’s problem is that they don’t have much else below them – between the two of them they scored almost half the county’s runs this season.

Middlesex’s Maia Bouchier had a breakthrough season – she spent last winter working hard in New Zealand, and seems to have come back with a little something extra about her – England really should be looking at her when they review the Academy squads this winter.

In Div 2, Kirstie White was the leading run scorer, but just pipped in the rankings by Nat Sciver after the England all-rounder’s crazy 180 off 98 balls against Derbyshire – doubtless not the most challenging bowling she’ll face this summer, but you can only play what they put in front of you, as the saying goes!

Div 1

Player Played Runs H/S S/R
1. Suzie Bates (Hampshire) 6 358 148 86.06
2. Emma Lamb (Lancashire) 7 339 91 81.69
3. Tammy Beaumont (Kent) 4 261 98 73.94
4. Amy Jones (Warwickshire) 5 193 68 99.48
5. Lauren Winfield (Yorkshire) 4 197 69 90.78
6. Maia Bouchier (Middlesex) 6 172 76 75.44
7. Alice Davidson-Richards (Kent) 7 223 61* 58.07
8. Leigh Kasperek (Yorkshire) 6 179 68 69.65
9. Thea Brookes (Warwickshire) 6 168 70* 66.93
10. Eve Jones (Lancashire) 7 193 61* 55.78

Div 2

Player Played Runs H/S S/R
1. Nat Sciver (Surrey) 4 273 180* 156
2. Kirstie White (Surrey) 7 331 94 70.28
3. Bryony Smith (Surrey) 7 256 119* 86.49
4. Gabby Basketter (Wales) 6 269 78 74.1
5. Sarah Taylor (Sussex) 3 200 88 93.46
6. Heather Knight (Berkshire) 3 190 105 89.62
7. Bess Heath (Derbyshire) 7 210 108 77.78
8. Georgia Adams (Sussex) 6 207 106 74.19
9. Rachel Priest (Wales) 6 174 88 86.57
10. Georgia Hennessy (Devon) 6 174 58 66.16

Batting Ranking = Runs * Strike Rate