STATS: KSL 2019 Bowling Rankings

As we’ve seen in previous years, because two-thirds of overseas picks are batsmen, the field is a little more open for English players to shine as bowlers in the Kia Super League.

Top of the tree this season was Freya Davies, who broke the record for a KSL season with 19 wickets. Although Davies narrowly missed out on the Player of the Tournament award after getting slightly tonked by Danni Wyatt and Suzie Bates in the final, she has made a strong case for inclusion in England’s plans for the winter leading up to the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia next February.

Another player who will be hoping to make an appearance in Australia is leg-spinner Amanda-Jade Wellington, who lost her Southern Stars central contract earlier this year after falling behind Georgia Wareham in the pecking order. Wellington wasn’t even an original pick for the Vipers – coming in as a late replacement for Sophie Molineux – but she made a real impact to rank second with 15 wickets at 6.85.

Like Wellington, No. 3 ranked Tash Farrant also lost her central contract this year; but since then has won the County Championship with Kent and has had her best KSL season yet for the Vipers, taking 14 wickets at 6.62. There probably isn’t a way back into England colours for Farrant in the short term, but her signature must now surely be one of the most hotly contested amongst the non-international players for The Hundred next season.

Sophie Ecclestone, ranked No. 4, of course needs no introduction; but the name at No. 5 might: Sarah Glenn is a young leg-spinner who doesn’t turn it a mile, but bowls intelligently – adjusting her length and flight to keep the batsmen on their toes. Glenn finished the season with 11 wickets at 6.05 – the joint-second best Economy Rate in KSL 2019, behind only Marizanne Kapp (at 5.34) for bowlers who delivered more than 5 overs – and it will be interesting to see if she can push on next season, with England looking to add some variety to their bowling attack, which is currently heavy on right-arm seamers and left-arm orthodox spinners.

Player Matches Wickets Economy
1. Freya Davies (Western Storm) 11 19 6.43
2. Amanda-Jade Wellington (Southern Vipers) 11 15 6.85
3. Tash Farrant (Southern Vipers) 10 14 6.62
4. Sophie Ecclestone (Lancashire Thunder) 10 12 6.43
5. Sarah Glenn (Loughborough Lightning) 11 11 6.05
6. Kirstie Gordon (Loughborough Lightning) 10 11 6.05
7. Dane van Niekerk (Surrey Stars) 8 12 6.95
8. Claire Nicholas (Western Storm) 10 12 7.02
9. Anya Shrubsole (Western Storm) 10 13 7.93
10. Jenny Gunn (Loughborough Lightning) 11 10 6.71
11. Hayley Matthews (Loughborough Lightning) 9 9 6.14
12. Deepti Sharma (Western Storm) 11 9 6.62
13. Leigh Kasperek (Yorkshire Diamonds) 10 10 7.46
14. Katie Levick (Yorkshire Diamonds) 10 8 6.19
15. Kate Cross (Lancashire Thunder) 10 11 8.57
16. Stafanie Taylor (Southern Vipers) 6 8 6.26
17. Laura Marsh (Surrey Stars) 8 10 8.22
18. Katherine Bryce (Loughborough Lightning) 9 8 6.58
19. Emma Lamb (Lancashire Thunder) 10 10 8.32
20. Alice Davidson-Richards (Yorkshire Diamonds) 10 10 9.54

Bowling Ranking = Wickets / Economy

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STATS: KSL 2019 Batting Rankings

Player of the Tournament Danni Wyatt heads this season’s KSL Batting Rankings, with not only the most runs, but also the highest Strike Rate among the leading batsmen. (Overall, only Surrey Stars’ Eva Gray had a higher Strike Rate – exactly 200, having hit 8 off 4 balls faced in the tournament.)

Wyatt’s effortless 100 versus the Stars at Arundel was a personal highlight of 2019, though I’m told I might have changed my mind had I seen Jemimah Rodrigues match-winning 112 for the Diamonds against the Vipers at York. Rodrigues started the campaign slowly, with scores of 4, 20 and 2; but found her feet to finish second in the rankings with over 400 runs, including two 50s in addition to that 100. Interestingly, she did so despite hitting only three 6s, compared to Wyatt’s 18 – the joint lowest (with Smriti Mandhana) of any of the top 10 batters.

Rachel Priest, at No. 3, continued to make her case for a New Zealand recall for the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia early next year. It would obviously be a short-term move – Priest is 97 years old. [Ed: I think that’s a bit of an exaggeration, isn’t it?] But if they want to be in with a shout of actually winning the thing, they’d do it!

Just two non-internationals made the top 20 – Holly Armitage and Georgia Adams – though there were four more between 21 and 30: Sophie Luff (23), Emma Lamb (24), Maia Bouchier (29) and Ellie Threlkeld (30). Among the recent batting debutantes things were actually worse, with none of Sophia Dunkley, Bryony Smith or Alice Davidson-Richards even making the top 30. Batting depth remains a continued worry for England and it is hard to look on these numbers and argue that the KSL has really succeeded in its initial aim of “bridging the gap” in that department.

Player Matches Runs SR
1. Danni Wyatt (Southern Vipers) 11 466 166.42
2. Jemimah Rodrigues (Yorkshire Diamonds) 10 401 149.62
3. Rachel Priest (Western Storm) 11 365 145.41
4. Heather Knight (Western Storm) 11 392 111.36
5. Fran Wilson (Western Storm) 11 298 138.6
6. Mignon du Preez (Loughborough Lightning) 11 267 147.51
7. Smriti Mandhana (Western Storm) 11 268 137.43
8. Amy Jones (Loughborough Lightning) 11 309 114.86
9. Alyssa Healy (Yorkshire Diamonds) 10 248 135.51
10. Lizelle Lee (Surrey Stars) 9 213 148.95
11. Sarah Taylor (Surrey Stars) 8 260 120.93
12. Harmanpreet Kaur (Lancashire Thunder) 10 261 113.47
13. Nat Sciver (Surrey Stars) 9 233 120.72
14. Stafanie Taylor (Southern Vipers) 6 205 134.86
15. Tammy Beaumont (Southern Vipers) 11 239 110.64
16. Suzie Bates (Southern Vipers) 11 246 99.19
17. Thalia McGrath (Lancashire Thunder) 10 219 105.28
18. Holly Armitage (Yorkshire Diamonds) 10 233 96.28
19. Georiga Adams (Loughborough Lightning) 11 169 113.42
20. Georgia Elwiss (Loughborough Lightning) 10 171 108.91

Batting Ranking = Runs * Strike Rate

KSL Final: Heather Knight – A Colossus Over Roads

In a Women’s County Championship game earlier this year, Heather Knight was batting for Berkshire on her way to a match-winning century against Wales.

With around 10 overs remaining, the Required Rate was an easily manageable 5-an-over; and out in the middle, Knight was calm and confident – if 5 an over was what was required, 5 an over was what she was getting, and 5-an-over was what she would get!

But there was a problem: rain was threatening, and with Berkshire having lost 7 wickets, Knight figured correctly that they were probably behind on Duckworth-Lewis.

A “drink” was called for and Berkshire’s 12th was duly dispatched to the scorers box to determine exactly how far behind – the answer being around 10.

The following over was bowled by Claire Nicholas – Knight’s teammate at Western Storm, and no mug with the ball either. It went for 13. An over from Gabby Basketter was then sent for 10, before the charge was halted as suddenly as it had begun. With Duckworth-Lewis back in Berkshire’s court, Knight coolly resumed her 5-an-over service to see out the rest of the game towards Berkshire’s inevitable victory in the 48th over.

There is of course a difference between Division 2 of the Women’s County Championship and the Kia Super League Final; but apparently not much of one when you are Heather Knight!

In the 4 year history of the Super League, only one side – Yorkshire Diamonds last week against Southern Vipers – has ever successfully chased more than 172. (Though oddly, exactly 172 has now been chased 3 times.) But what’s history when you are Heather Knight? What’s 9-an-over, as the ask was at one stage?

Finishing on 78* off 53 balls, Knight made the KSL Final look like a picnic in the park, wrapping things up with a 4 off the last ball of the 19th over. She had help from Deepti Sharma at the back-end of the innings – her 39 not out was useful – but you got the impression that if Deepti had been 29 not out… or even 9… Knight would have still got her side over the line just the same.

It feels appropriate that in this final final, Knight became the only batsman to clock-up 1,000 runs in the KSL. Over these 4 years, she hasn’t ever been Player of the Tournament, she hasn’t made a century, and she’s a long way down the “Most Sixes” chart.

But what she has been is consistent, not just on a road at Hove, but on every other road too – like a Colossus over Roads, match after match, season after season, Heather Knight has bestrode the Super League.

The KSL has been her tournament.

The trophy has been her trophy.

And now, deservedly, she gets to keep it for ever.

KSL: Stars v Storm – Rach-ing Bull Priest Floors Surrey

A blitz of boundaries from Rachel Priest knocked Surrey out for the count in their last ever home Super League fixture against Western Storm at Guildford.

Western Storm may have already qualified directly for the final, at the Sussex County Ground in Hove next weekend, but despite the blistering 32-degree heat there was no holding back from Priest, who reached 89 runs in 55 balls, hitting all-but 13 of those runs in boundaries, dominating a 97-run partnership with England captain Heather Knight.

Knight herself also went on to a half-century, as the Storm posted 171-4 at a ground where 140/ 150 has been a winning score over the course of this tournament.

“I had a bit of a lean start to the tournament so it is nice to be contributing at the top at the time that matters,” Priest told us after the game.

Indeed, having begun with scores of 12, 12 and 4, Priest is now the 3rd highest run-scorer of this KSL season with 331, behind Jemimah Rodrigues (341) and Danni Wyatt (362); and is currently also 2nd in the “All Time” KSL list with 908, behind only Heather Knight (980).

Priest could, and probably should, have gone on to record her 2nd KSL hundred today, but was philosophical about the missed opportunity.

“In the moment I was a little bit frustrated not to reach 100, just because it was a silly way to get out – it was a tired shot – but as long as we get across the line it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day.”

The Storm were helped by a poor fielding performance from the Stars, who dropped 4 catches and let far too many runs past them in the outfield. This was in contrast to the Storm’s own performance in the field, which Priest believes has been crucial in their thus-far unbeaten season.

“Our powerplay bowling really helps – obviously if we get a good start with the batting that helps too, but it is the fielding that has been really, really good for us this year – our fielding has been phenomenal!”

With the Storm continuing to batter them, Surrey Stars crawled to 94 all out off 17.5 overs, including a 4fer for veteran all-rounder Sonia Odedra. It was possibly the poorest performance I’ve seen from a team playing in Surrey shirts… and I’ve seen the county side get bowled out for 25 in a T20 versus Middlesex!

There may be one round still to play, but with all 3 finalists now decided, after Southern Vipers held Yorkshire back enough to prevent them getting the bonus point they needed to keep their hopes alive, Rachel Priest and the Storm can now start to look forward to Finals Day, where they will meet either the Vipers or Loughborough Lightning in the final.

“We are the only team that’s made Finals Day every year, so that’s quite special,” said Priest. “It is always a fantastic day and a really great atmosphere, so hopefully things go well for us.”

OPINION: The Next England Coach – Everyone Has Their Price

The departure of Head Coach Mark Robinson leaves the ECB with some huge shoes to fill in the England camp.

The role the ECB will (presumably) be advertising is not an easy one. The Head Coach isn’t just a coach – they are responsible for running a squad which eats, works, and plays together for most of the year up at Loughborough. As well as being the head coach, you’re head of a family of twenty girls!

Oh… and you have to win cricket matches too!

On paper, the latter looks most important – England need someone with cricketing credentials, who has experience at the highest levels of the game – not necessarily as a player, but definitely as a coach.

But coaching women is not the same as coaching men – it has to be someone who understands that women are not just men with pony tails. In this regard, England massively lucked-out with Robinson, who despite having zero experience coaching women coming into the job, really did “get” this.

It is not just about the Playing XI though – it is about running a squad, which has to be constantly cultivated like a garden. The coach needs to know not just the England “team”… not just the England “squad”… but the levels below that in addition – identifying which players to bring in, and which players to sadly let go too.

That head of the family thing is pretty vital as well  – you are the boss, but you are also a counsellor, a confidante and a friend.

And finally, you have to do it all within the constraints of a fairly limited budget, at least compared to Australia, whose success you will always be measured against, as Robinson ultimately was.

Given all this, it’s amazing that anyone would want the role! (It is well paid, of course, compared to the jobs most of us do – but it isn’t in the realms of what you can earn at the highest echelons of the men’s game.)

But England need someone, and they need them fast, with the T20 World Cup coming up in Australia in less than 6 months, which will probably be closer to 3 months by the time they are appointed.

Looking around, there aren’t many candidates not currently under an expensive contract somewhere else.

But there is one.

A 3 times World Cup winner, who played 10 Tests and over 80 ODIs during a 10 year international career, who has since gone on to successfully coach at the highest levels of women’s domestic cricket, leading sides who consistently over-performed despite a limited budget.

She (and it is a she) is rated by everyone who has worked with her as a brilliant coach; and because she has worked almost exclusively in the women’s game, she knows the players, and they know and respect her.

She has a long-standing relationship with Heather Knight, who was her captain in WNCL and WBBL, and who credits her partly for becoming the player she is.

We are talking, of course, about Julia Price – Australia’s wicket-keeper during the glory-years around the turn of the century; who went on to coach Tasmania and Hobart Hurricanes; and is currently coach of the USA national side.

Mark Robinson will be a tough act to follow, but “JP” ticks all the boxes.

Frankly, the ECB should be beating down her door; because they say everyone has their Price… and England should too!

KSL: Stars v Diamonds – Katie Lev-itates In Opening Role

The Diamonds have tried a number of different opening bowling combinations this season, but it wasn’t until their match against Surrey Stars on Tuesday that Yorkshire’s “born and bred” leg-spinner Katie Levick was handed the ball up-top – and she came up with a match-winning performance at Guildford to justify the coach’s confidence in her.

“I got the nod this morning – ‘we want you to open the bowling’ – I’ve not done that yet so far this tournament,” Levick said afterwards.

Levick bowled the first and third overs, conceding 8 runs and taking the wickets of Bryony Smith (bowled) and Sarah Taylor (caught behind by Alyssa Healy) to put the Stars on the back foot early.

She then returned for two more overs in the middle period to finish with miserly figures of 4 overs, 2-13 – an Economy Rate of 3.25 in a match where no one else clocked below 4, with even the great Marizanne Kapp only managing 4.5.

“It was just not overthinking it,” Levick said of her performance. “It sounds so stupid, but just bowling at the stumps – that’s what we’ve not done for the last however many games.”

The bowlers had a little help from a pitch that, for once, did the batsmen no favours: “Usually they’re roads for the batters, but it was actually nice that we had a bit of something in the pitch!”

With a very short boundary to one side, over which Dane van Niekerk smashed one 6 that cleared the 20-foot fence completely, ending up in the car park of the National Trust property next door, bowler’s lines were more important than ever.

“All the chat before the game was about that ridiculously tiny boundary, but actually I don’t think it came into play that much because the bowlers did their jobs – we just bowled to the plan,” Levick said.

With the Stars finishing on 121, there was still a job to do for the Diamonds’ batsmen… and they made hard work of it – only passing the target off the penultimate ball, after losing 2 wickets in the final over.

That Yorkshire got there was mainly due to Indian overseas Jemimah Rodrigues, who has been growing in confidence as the tournament has progressed. After making 50 in a losing cause against the Lightning at the weekend, Rodrigues kept her cool to score 42* and hit the winning runs with a 4 driven over extra cover.

“We were saying how ridiculously clever she is for 18,” said Levick of Rodrigues. “Such a brilliant cricket brain!”

“She took a bit of pressure off herself getting that 50 in the last game – knowing she can do it in England – and she’s batted brilliantly today.”

The win means Yorkshire Diamonds still have an outside chance of making Finals Day.

“Hopefully today will be the turning point – but it’s stick or bust now,” Levick concluded. “From this point on it’s essentially knock-outs – lose a game and pretty much we rule ourselves out – but we’re not giving up hope!”

KSL: Mignon du Preez Keeps Lightning In With A Shout v Stars

Mignon du Preez’ 70 off 41 balls, including 13 fours, was the difference between Loughborough Lightning and Surrey Stars at Guildford.

160 looks to be a par score at Woodbridge Road – Surrey themselves chased 120 here last week against Lancashire Thunder in under 15 overs – so 120 off 20 overs felt somewhat light from Surrey.

Batting first, Surrey initially got off to a flyer, with Lizelle Lee smacking Tara Norris for 17 off the second over; but after the fall of Lee (25) and Bryony Smith (14) in quick succession, Surrey found progress harder.

Nat Sciver slapped her way to a slightly scrappy 23 off 27 balls before she became the second batsman after Lee to fall “st. Jones b. Matthews”; but it wasn’t until Mady Villiers (13 off 13) came in at the death, looking to score off every ball, that there was any real impetus to the innings, and by that point it was already a bit late.

Villiers still seems to be being treated more as a bowler than a batsman by Surrey, although England definitely see her as a batter primarily, and indeed she opened the bowling for the Stars, getting the early wicket of Hayley Matthews. With Amy Jones (5) and Chamari Atapattu (4) also falling cheaply, it felt like Surrey might actually be on course to defend their slightly meagre total.

That reckoned without Mignon du Preez.

The former South African captain has always seemed to be more suited to the longer formats of the game – she scored a century in her only Test against India a few years ago – but “Minx”, as she is known, has always been a bit of a “worker bee” and she was buzzing at Guildford today.

“I’ve been getting some starts but I haven’t converted, so today to finally get a conversion and help the team win is really special,” she told us after the game today.

“I’m not known as a person who clears the boundary, but I think in the shorter format there is also a place for somebody who can be busy in the middle and actually hit the pockets and run well.”

Du Preez seems to like Guildford – a year ago, playing for Southern Vipers, she took on the backup role to Tammy Beaumont, scoring 48 to Beaumont’s 62, as the Vipers beat the Stars here.

But this time she was tasked with playing the leading role, with Georgia Adams – who played very nicely, using her feet to get to the pitch of the ball and play some lovely Sarah Taylor-esque drives – riding shotgun on this occasion.

“It is enjoyable being the senior player,” du Preez reflected; “and it is nice when you can back it up with a performance.”

Du Preez’s 70 runs were scored at a Strike Rate of 170 – far in excess of her international “average” of 98.

“I think that is something that I needed to realise – there is space for my type of play within the game – if you place it well you can still get value for your shots.”

“Adding a bit of power to my game is something I’ve been working on – that’s how the game is evolving so I have to keep up! It’s still not where I’d want it to be but it came off nicely today and I’m happy with the result.”

And so she should be. The bonus point win for Loughborough opens up the middle of the table again; and though Western Storm may be soaring ahead – at time of writing they have TWICE as many points as second-placed Vipers – Surrey showed last year that all you need to do is qualify for Finals Day, by the skin of your teeth or not, to be in with a shout of walking off with that trophy. Du Preez is working hard to give the Lightning that shout with performances like today’s.