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.)

England v Pakistan 1st ODI – Banana Skin Avoided

Kuala Lumpur is the business capital of Malaysia, so it is perhaps appropriate that England turned-in a businesslike performance to win the 1st ODI versus Pakistan.

“Businesslike” may seem an unfair label for a display which included two centuries, for Danni Wyatt and Tammy Beaumont, in a 180-run opening stand, followed by a 4fer for Kate Cross as England bowled the Pakistanis out well short of their target; and perhaps our perceptions were coloured by watching it all on four hours’ sleep, but “entertaining” it was not!

Nevertheless, this could have been a banana skin – the first match of the tour, with the entire batting order having spent a hectic six weeks in Australia at the WBBL, while all the bowlers were stuck trying not to gather rust in the indoor nets at Loughborough. There was definitely scope for it all to go horribly wrong, and the fact that it didn’t is probably the important thing here.

This is not to subscribe to the Matthew Mott mantra of “Our Job Is Just To Win”. It really isn’t – your job is to get people to pay money to watch you, and that means entertaining them! But every once in a while you gotta do what you gotta do, and facing Pakistan in their home conditions, in oppressive heat and humidity, in the 1st ODI of the series, was maybe one of those times.

Heather Knight has talked a fair bit in the lead-up to this series of a “New Era” post Mark Robinson. She seems to be very-much in charge now, and it was interesting to hear Danni Wyatt after the match say:

Heather’s given me licence to play my game at the top of the order.” [Emphasis ours.]

Just a few months ago, it would have been Robbo giving her that licence.

So what did Heather do differently?

Well, she gave Wyatt back the spot at the top of the order that she wanted, and that certainly came off as she posted her first ODI hundred, at quicker than a run-a-ball. She played some nice shots, particularly driving inside-out over the top of cover / mid off, and looked confident in her game.

Alongside her Tammy Beaumont put in a more measured performance, and it took her a while to work out how to score runs outside of the powerplay, as her Strike Rate dropped to around 40 through overs 11-20, before picking up again to finish at around 75.

England’s (and I guess Heather’s) big decision was what to do at first drop? No 3 was Sarah Taylor’s role so someone needs to step into it now. Heather herself did that today, but was this based on the match situation, or will she do that job from now on? My impression is that it’s not a role she particularly wants, but she may have decided that she needs to take that responsibility anyway – it will be interesting to see what happens in the next couple of games.

With the ball, Sarah Glenn became the first player to make their international debut in an ODI since Alex Hartley in 2016, with England under Mark Robinson generally using T20s to blood new selections. Glenn pretty-much picked up where she left off in KSL – bowling tidily; making the batsman play and making them think. She wasn’t getting a huge amount of turn, but she picked up a couple of wickets towards the end, including a nice LBW which did do a bit, edging leg through the air, and then turning in off the pitch to hit more of middle than leg. (Diana, at the non-striker’s end, didn’t look impressed at the time, but she was wrong!)

The interesting question going forwards is whether England stick with the same XI for the rest of the series? Batting-wise, I’d guess they will – there aren’t too many options, though Lauren Winfield will be hoping to get an opportunity at some stage. Bowling-wise, it would seem harsh to “drop” Glenn, and I’d like to see her play all 3 ODIs; but with those 3 games coming in less than a week, they probably do need to rest the quicks at some point and bring in Davies, though they may wait until the 3rd ODI to do it – we’ll find out on Thursday.

PREVIEW: England v Pakistan – New Faces Knocking On The Door For England

ICC Championship Played Won Lost Tied Points Max*
Australia 18 17 1 0 34 40
England 18 12 6 0 24 30
India 18 10 8 0 20 26
South Africa 15 7 6 1 16 28
Pakistan 15 7 7 1 15 27
New Zealand 15 7 8 0 14 26
West Indies 21 6 14 0 13 13
Sri Lanka 18 1 17 0 2 8

* Max = maximum possible points achievable.

England travel to Kuala Lumpur for their final round of matches against Pakistan in the ICC Women’s Championship, with automatic qualification for the World Cup in New Zealand next spring already in the bag. (Four teams qualify automatically, along with hosts New Zealand; and while India, South Africa and Pakistan can all theoretically overhaul England, India and Pakistan, who play each other in their final rounds, can’t both do it.)

Whether England had this in mind when they selected their squad is an open question, but with four “newer” faces in the 15, with just a handful of caps between them, England do have the chance to roll the dice a bit against a Pakistan side who are probably better than when England thrashed them at home in the lead-up to the 2017 World Cup… but not that much better.

Pakistan will also be without their greatest ever player – Sana Mir – who taking a break from the game, which can only make England’s task easier.

What it won’t be, however, is “easy”. Kuala Lumpur is bloomin’ hot this time of year – the mercury will be hitting 31-33 degrees all week – and there is also a fair chance of thunder and rain having a say in proceedings.

England’s only uncapped selection for this tour is Sarah Glenn, a specialist leg-spinner who had an impressive KSL for Loughborough Lightning this summer. Former Head Coach Mark Robinson was always on the lookout for a leggie, and England might just have found a good one in Glenn, who doesn’t turn the ball as much as Amelia Kerr, but is a very tidy bowler who won’t give much away. Personally, if I had to choose one or the other, I’d play her in the ODIs rather than the T20s, but England’s inclination is usually to do the opposite and use the T20s to blood new caps, so we’ll see!

Mady Villiers got her first cap in England’s last international – the final T20 of the Women’s Ashes – and the T20s is probably where we’ll see her run out, hopefully with a chance to get a bat as well as a bowl.

Freya Davies meanwhile is turning into something of a South East Asian specialist. Having won all 3 of her previous caps against Sri Lanka in Colombo, she looks likely to add to that here – Heather Knight is a big fan, having played with her at Western Storm; and Knight was also no doubt influential in ensuring she grabbed her for the London Spirit in next summer’s Hundred. Barring an injury to one of the Brunt-Shrubsole axis, she probably won’t get a game in the ODIs, but the T20s are another matter, and with the T20 World Cup coming up next, there is an opportunity for her to stake a claim as an economical opening option for Australia.

Kirstie Gordon has yet to win an ODI cap, but has a good chance of collecting the final one of the set, having made her Test and T20 debuts already. With England playing 3 ODIs in the space of a week, picking all three current first-choice quicks (Brunt, Shrubsole and Cross) in that heat and humidity feels like cruel and unusual punishment – so expect to see “Commissioner” Gordon at some point teaming up with Sophie Ecclestone – they may both be orthodox lefties, but they offer something quite different, balancing each other with attack from Gordon and a little more defence from Ecclestone.

The batting line-up is much more settled, though England are likely to change the order up a bit: Danni Wyatt, coming off a pretty encouraging showing in WBBL, is likely to open in the T20s, but not in the ODIs. The only real area of debate is the duel between Lauren Winfield and Fran Wilson for the final spot in the late middle-order, with Wilson probably edging it, thanks in part to her exceptional fielding which often adds 10-20 runs to whatever she gets with the bat.

Overall, England really ought to be targeting a whitewash, certainly in the more predictable ODI format. However, there are some worries that the players who went to WBBL are tired, after racing round Australia at a million miles an hour for six weeks, while those who didn’t have been stuck indoors at Loughborough for three months and may be rusty, so don’t under-price Pakistan pulling off an upset in the 1st ODI. Even if they do, expect normal service to be resumed pretty sharply, with England winning the ODIs 2-1 and the T20s 3-0.

Fans in England will, we understand, be able to watch the action on something I believe the kids call “The You Tubes”, but a good supply of coffee will be essential, as the ODIs start at 1:30am on Monday, Thursday and Saturday, with the T20 series following the week after with 2am starts!