MATCH REPORT: Finty Makes Minty As Hampshire Beat Sussex

Hampshire rebounded from a brace of defeats to Middlesex on the opening day of the county season with two wins against Sussex at the Aldridge Academy in Brighton, thanks to 7 wickets from 17-year-old newcomer Finty Trussler, and 50 runs from the bat of opener Ella Chandler.

Afterwards, Hampshire skipper Charlie Dean told CRICKETher:

“It was a tough start last weekend, but it is good to bounce back with a couple of really good wins.”

“It was a touch pitch to play on, and I think that showed from the scores that were set, but we managed to adapt to it slightly better and ended up on top.”

“Ella was brilliant – it’s good that she can bat through, and she’s really using that role at the top of the order.”

“Finty debuted against Middlesex last weekend – she’s a really exciting leg-spinner, and I think that showed with her figures.”

Having won the toss and elected to bat in the opening game, Chandler and Maia Bouchier got Hampshire off to a racing start. Vipers pro Tara Norris appears to have put on a yard of pace over the winter, but Chandler and Bouchier turned it to their advantage to hit her opening over for 9; and by the end of the powerplay Hampshire had reached 43-2, going at over 7 an over.

Hampshire couldn’t quite keep up that scoring rate, losing wickets periodically through the middle overs; but with Chandler playing the anchor role, batting through to the 18th over for 41 off 50 balls, they finished up on a respectable 114-8.

In reply, Sussex lost Georgia Adams early, bowled by Gemma Lane; but this brought Sarah Taylor to the crease. Taylor reached a characteristically effortless 28 off 24 balls, and looked to be threatening to take the game away from Hampshire, until she was bowled by Charlie Dean with one that kept low.

This opened things up for Trussler to come on and rip through the lower order, taking 4-12 from her 4 overs, including a magnificent low running catch at deep mid on from Western Storm pro Fi Morris to dismiss Millie Taylor – one of no less than four Taylors involved in the match – Millie, twin sister Mary, Southern Viper Charlotte and former England wicket keeper Sarah.

Sussex were eventually bowled out for just 67 from 18 overs, Hampshire winning by a massive 47 runs.

After winning her second toss of the day, Charlie Dean invited Sussex to keep batting, and they made a slightly better fist of things the second time around, reaching 90-5 – Sarah Taylor making 29* off 28, and Georgia Adams 29 off 44, as Trussler picked up another 3 wickets for 13 runs.

In the chase, Ella Chandler was soon into her stride again, but her innings was cut short after she was hit on the helmet by a bouncer that didn’t bounce from Tara Norris, leading her to sensibly retire not out for 9, due to the possibility of concussion.

This left it to Charlie Dean and Fi Morris to scamper home, which they did with 5 overs to spare, for the loss of just 1 wicket – Dean finishing 26* and Morris 47* off 41, to give Hampshire their second win of the day.

MATCH REPORT: Milly Hits Home Runs As Worcestershire Double-Up On Berkshire

Central Spark Milly Home was the star as Worcestershire beat Berkshire twice on the opening day of the county season at Falkland CC.

On a breezy day in West Berkshire, Home, whose ability to swing a stick has already earned her age group international honours with England on the lacrosse field, hit an aggregate 132 runs across two T20s, to lead the Rapids to a pear* of victories.

Speaking to CRICKETher afterwards, Home reflected:

“We got two wins, which is what we wanted. The first game we batted second, the second game we batted first, so it’s nice to know we can set and chase.”

“Because of COVID this winter we haven’t been able to train together, so we’ve had one-to-ones with the coaches. We’ve been working on hitting the ball straight with a lot of power – being forceful, using your feet, and backing yourself. I got lots of hitting in, so it was really nice to come to the middle and feel ready for the season.”

“I’m on loan from Warwickshire, so it was nice to open the batting – that gave me a bit of freedom to be able to bat for the 20 overs, and it was a good wicket, so it was nice to get a few runs.”

In the first match, Berkshire set off with some real intent, as Emily Cunningham – on her first day out of quarantine following her flight back from New Zealand – hit a quick 12 off 8 balls, using the pace of Emily Arlott to find the boundary twice in the first over. Mia Rogers (30 off 37) and Ash Muttitt (17 off 21) built on that start; but Berkshire were undone by a spell of 4-15 in just 3 overs from loopy offspinner Flora Bertwhistle, eventually limping to 102-7.

In reply, Milly Home (44) and Georgie Macey (nee Adcock) (33)** set off at a rate of knots, putting on 87 for the first wicket to take Worcestershire within touching distance; and although a mini-collapse followed, with Amanda ‘Steamer’ Potgieter taking 3-6 in two overs, the final result was never really in doubt by that stage.

Batting first in the second game, Worcestershire lost Macey for a first baller, LBW to Freya Johnson; but from then on it was all about Home, who carried her bat for a smashing 88* off 63 balls, supported at the other end by captain Chloe Hill (34). A slightly frantic run-a-ball 16 from Clare Boycott at the death helped set Berkshire an imposing 156 to chase.

Given the first result, it felt like a long shot; but perhaps freed by that knowledge, Ashley Muttitt and Amanda Potgieter, who came together in the 3rd over, kept up with the rate for the bulk of the innings, only falling behind when Worcestershire eventually brought on England Academy fast bowler Arlott towards the end. Muttitt and Potgieter both passed 50 – Muttitt making 51* (her highest ever score in a competitive county match) and Potgieter 61*, as Berkshire finished on 149-2 – just 7 runs short.

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* Sic!
** At the time of writing, the scorecard on Play Cricket has Home and Macey the wrong way around in the first game.

OPINION: Marketing, The Hundred… And Why The Aussies REALLY Got Katy Perry To Play At The G

Having watched a game of The Hundred for the first time this weekend, we have a confession to make: it really was a lot more like cricket than we expected.

To be fair, our friends at the ECB had repeatedly told us this (waves at Beth Barrett-Wild) but we’d been sceptical, partly because all the initial marketing had beaten into our heads that it WASN’T like cricket – it was completely new and different – that’s what all the Facebook ads and Instagram posts were telling us… and we believed them!

The fact that The Hundred is actually “just cricket” is both a blessing and a problem for the ECB.

It is a blessing, because I now think that “normal” fans will come around to it as a game pretty fast; but it is a problem because the rest of the world – the “mums and kids” who “don’t like cricket” – will also realise quite quickly that it is just cricket… and… well… they don’t really like cricket!

To help get over this, the ECB have a huge entertainment push on the cards – they are planning to make the game a spectacle around the field, even if it isn’t quite so entertaining on it.

Which brings us to Katy Perry, and the real reason why the Aussies paid what I believe the kids call “serious coin” to have her at The MCG last year for the T20 World Cup Final. Put simply, Katy Perry was an insurance policy – and one that, like many insurance policies, they didn’t actually need in the end.

Perry’s presence was insurance against Australia NOT making the final. The main concert was scheduled for AFTER the game, so that local fans, 99% of whom were of course Australian, would come (and crucially STAY) in the event of (say) an India v South Africa final.

But the point is, in order to do this, they needed KATY FREAKIN’ PERRY – one of the biggest stars in the world! Getting Ella Henderson* would just not have cut it; and the tournament organisers knew it.

(* No, I’ve no idea who Ella Henderson is either – I just googled who is currently top of the pops!)

Now back to The Hundred, which of course won’t have Katy Perry… or even Ella Henderson. And here’s the bad news: I’m just not convinced that even pulling out all the stops short of that – the juggles, the acrobats, the guys with bats on stilts – is going to make much difference to only thing that really matters – the cricket on the field.

But here’s the good news: the cricket on the field will be good. It will be the best players in the world, and they’ll be playing CRICKET. And the ads can scream all they want that The Hundred “Not Just Cricket”; but they will be wrong – it is “just” cricket; and as far as I’m concerned, that’s just fine.

VIDEO: The CRICKETher Weekly Vodcast – Episode 57

This week:

  • Why Raf interviewed Beth Mooney in a onesie
  • Should there be a separate Wisden 5 COTYs for women’s cricket?
  • England’s busy summer ahead
  • What does the Bristol Test mean for the future of women’s Test cricket?
  • Why Raf’s new book The Women in Whites should be on your Christmas list

OPINION: Wisden Cricketers Of The Year

Congratulations to Wisden’s 5 Cricketers of the Year for 2021: Zak Crawley, Darren Stevens, Jason Holder, Dom Sibley and Mohammad Rizwan. All five fulfilled the criteria of having had an outstanding impact on the English summer, and not having been chosen before; and all five awards were very much deserved.

It is notable however that the selection this year reverts to the traditional all-male list, after a run of 3 consecutive years where at least one woman was chosen, which we had hoped had set something of a precedent for always including a woman going forwards.

There are at least two women who could have been chosen.

One was Stafanie Taylor – a bona fide “all time great”, who faced-down coronavirus fears, at a time when England was seen as the basket-case of the world, to lead her West Indies side on a tour of England without which the women’s international summer would have been lost.

The other was Georgia Adams, who played one of the great innings in domestic women’s cricket history with her 150 versus Western Storm, scored three other 50s besides, and led her side from the front to victory in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy Final at Edgbaston.

Of course, the award is not based on number or stats or votes, still less what I think! It is 100% in the gift of the editor of Wisden, Lawrence Booth – a writer for whom we have enormous respect, and who has done a lot to improve the profile of women’s cricket in Wisden during his term of office.

Yet it is unarguable that both Adams and Taylor had a huge impact on the women’s game last summer, so the question is: is the women’s game on a par with the men’s… or not?

Perhaps the RHF Trophy is worth less than the Bob Willis? Maybe a women’s international T20 series is worth less than a men’s Test series. And yes – both were much shorter; but this is a structural issue – it is hardly Georgia Adams’ fault that she “only” played 7 One Day matches; nor Stafanie Taylor’s that the Windies played just 5 T20s.

Wisden were in a position this year to really challenge the narrative that the women’s game is intrinsically worth less than the men’s.

They didn’t.

And that’s a pity.

INDIA TEST: England Look To Overturn History At Home

It is Saturday 27th August 2005 – Tony Blair is the Prime Minister, McFly are Top of The Pops [Yay! Ed.], and men’s Tests are still being shown live on free-to-air TV.

In the second Women’s Ashes Test at Worcester, England are looking decidedly shaky at 39-4, with Cathryn Fitzpatrick having removed both Charlotte Edwards and Clare Connor. But with Katherine Brunt having taking 9-111 across both Australian innings, England are still in the game – they need 75 to win the match, the series and the Women’s Ashes – the latter for the first time in nearly 50 years. There are no further alarms – Arran Brindle and Lydia Greenway take their time but they get there in the end and England regain the Ashes.

It was the start of a mini resurgence for England – they won the Ashes again in Australia in 2008, and retained them in 2009; but they could only hold the Aussies to a draw at Worcester in ’09; and 2005 remains the last time England won a Test at home.

Since ’05, England have played 7 home Tests, recording no wins, 4 draws and 3 losses – having lost to India in 2006 and 2014, and to Australia in 2015.

Of those, 2014 was the big shock result. England had just turned professional, and were playing a young, inexperienced and largely amateur India side. Everyone expected England to win easily at Wormsley; but pride comes before a fall, with Niranjana Nagarajan taking 4 wickets as England were bowled out for 92, then top-scoring as India posted a first-innings lead. England made a better job of their second innings, passing 200, but India chased the runs with 6 wickets to spare, with Mithali Raj and the then-unknown Smriti Mandhana making 50s.

Now, eight years on, both England and India will meet in the Test arena once again in 2021 – at Bristol this time. Both sides are fully professional now, and no one will be underestimating India on this occasion.

With India having just been handed some humble pie of their own, with a brace of white-ball series losses to South Africa (albeit losses that perhaps look worse on the scorecard than they actually were), the Indians will be pumped to show that they can still lay claim to being the second-best team in the world.

Meanwhile England are palpably excited at the prospect of this match, even if it is a bit of a one-off, with Heather Knight telling us in an interview late last week:

“I remember [the Test at Wormsley] being a real occasion and I think it’s going to be the same this time – playing Test match cricket feels very special and it’s definitely rated very highly amongst the players.”

“There’s been loads of chat about the Test match here at Loughborough this week – all the girls are trying to get their heads around how they’re going to prepare for that Test match – how they’re going to be ready, and what skills they need to work on.”

It should be a good game – there will be plenty of runs on offer at Bristol, but there will be chances for the bowlers too. Perhaps we’ll see one last great hurrah from Mithali Raj or Katherine Brunt? Or a stunning Test debut from Shafali Verma (who has yet to play an ODI, but surely has to be on the card?) or Freya Davies?

Whatever it will be… we can’t wait to find out!