England v Pakistan 3rd T20 – England Spread The Batting Load Around

England once again showed the breadth of batting talent currently available to them in their 26-run win against Pakistan today, with the top 5 all making decent contributions  to complete a tour clean-sweep across both the ODI and T20 formats.

It’s been one of the hallmarks of this tour that it hasn’t been the same batsmen making all the running, with Tammy Beaumont, Danni Wyatt and Nat Sciver all adding to their century tallies, and Amy Jones, Heather Knight and Fran Wilson all falling just short of doing so with scores in the 80s. Wilson, whose place was in some doubt after missing out for much of last summer, has had a particularly good time of it; and shared an important late partnership with Beaumont in today’s game, the pair adding 44 runs across the last 4 overs of the England innings after things had stalled a bit in the middle period.

It looks a fairly safe bet that these 6 – Beaumont, Wyatt, Sciver, Jones, Knight and Wilson – will now make up the core of England’s batting in the forthcoming WWT20, with Lauren Winfield – who did get an outing today but unfortunately for her didn’t actually make it to the middle – looking like she will miss out.

The real question, then, is over the batting order. The thinking seems to be that we should expect the unexpected, with no one player “nailed on” to come in at number 3, even in similar match situations. In the first T20, with England losing their first wicket in over 4, Beaumont did the job; while today, with the first wicket going down in the 5th over, Knight was tasked with the role and Beaumont dropped down to number 5. Remarks on commentary suggest this is a deliberate strategy, designed to ensure maximum flexibility. It’s certainly an interesting approach, though I’m not sure I agree with relegating the best batsman (a title to which Beaumont certainly has a claim) to number 5.

With the ball, Sarah Glenn has enjoyed a memorable first tour in England colours, and continued her honeymoon period by picking up another couple of wickets in today’s game. Of course the real test – Australia in home conditions in February – still awaits her; but Knight has shown good faith in giving her a decent run to start her career, with signs that England might prefer to have a leg spinner in their armoury rather than a second leftie (Kirstie Gordon remaining on the bench for the whole tour).

Ahead of the tour we thought Pakistan had a decent shot at sneaking a win past England, but in truth they never really came close to a winning position in any of the 6 matches – credit to England for never taking their foot off the pedal. Of the Pakistani bowlers, Diana Baig had a good tour, with England struggling to score against her throughout; she finished up with a couple of wickets today, dismissing both Wyatt and Knight with some clever variations in pace. Leggie Syeda Shah, who made her debut in the T20 series, looks like a good bet for the future at just 15 years old. Pakistan’s main concern should be their batting – with Sana Mir MIA, Bismah Maroof was left to score the vast weight of the runs (24%), the rest of the order showing a worrying tendency to crumble around her.

Overall, England probably got out of the tour everything they could have hoped for – some decent match time (only one of the matches rain-affected in the end), a chance to expose their younger players to international cricket in a relatively low-stakes series, and the opportunity for their batsmen (still bruised after the heavy loss to Australia) to regain some confidence ahead of the World Cup.

England v Pakistan 1st T20 – England’s World T20 Team Takes Shape

Is today’s XI the team which will take to the field come February 23, England’s first fixture in the 2020 World Twenty20? It seems more than likely. Heather Knight may change things up later in this series, but for now, you’d say that this is the team she believes has the best shot at winning them the world title.

That means Amy Jones back at the top of the order, with Tammy Beaumont dropping down to 3, which is my personal preference, as I tweeted during the second ODI:

Jones certainly looked much more confident today, hitting a 38-ball half-century. It wasn’t a chanceless innings, featuring a couple of inside edges which she was lucky to get away with, but in T20 you need to take risks, especially when your partner at the other end is getting a bit bogged down.

For their part, Pakistan bowled well enough to restrict Tammy Beaumont to only a-run-a-ball. In particular, 15-year-old debutant Syeda Shah dazzled the England batsmen with her leg spin: Jones bowled after failing to read a straight one, while only a fumble by wicketkeeper Sidra Nawaz prevented Shah from also picking up the wicket of Nat Sciver in her next over.

Oddly, when Beaumont was finally dismissed in the 16th, England chose to send in Katherine Brunt at 5. With 4-and-a-bit overs still remaining, you’d think that Knight would back herself ahead of her frontline seamer; or even Fran Wilson, fresh from her unbeaten 85 in the second ODI. Not only is the England captain clearly the superior batsman, I’d also question whether it’s really worth knackering Brunt with the bat in this heat when you also want her to open with the ball? (Her economy rate today – 9 – seemed to suffer accordingly.) I’m not sure it’s a tactic I’d repeat.

As it turned out, when Knight did finally make it to the crease in the final over, she bludgeoned three consecutive boundaries. Of course England won easily – never in doubt? hmmm – but you’d hope they might be scoring upwards of 175 batting first against Pakistan, who are clearly a much weaker side.

One player who must surely have cemented her place in the WT20 squad after today’s game is Freya Davies. With Davies entrusted with opening the bowling for England, it seems that Knight has more faith in her Western Storm (and soon to be London Spirit) teammate than former coach Mark Robinson; faith that was repaid handsomely today. Bowling quickly and getting a touch of swing, Davies made as experienced a batsman as Javeria Khan look ridiculous – the opener totally exposing her stumps, swinging and missing completely as the ball clattered into off-stump. Davies’ ability to bowl dot balls in the powerplay – she managed 9 today – is also invaluable.

If this IS Knight’s first-choice XI, you’d expect England to go into the 2nd T20 unchanged, to give them another outing together ahead of their Australian odyssey. Mady Villiers and Kirstie Gordon might therefore have to wait a bit longer to get their first opportunity of the tour.

England v Pakistan 2nd ODI – Frantastic!

In what was a more convincing win than Monday’s “business-like” affair, England absolutely walloped Pakistan – Heather Knight laying the foundations for a strong total, while Nat Sciver (who hit her third ODI hundred) and Fran Wilson (who achieved her highest score for England) then delivered the knockout blows at the back end of the England innings.

England’s 300+ total was all the more impressive coming as it did after both centurions from match one fell cheaply today. As so often in Danni Wyatt’s career, famine followed feast, as her century in the last match was followed up by a limp dismissal in only the second over of this one – Wyatt plonking it straight into the hands of extra cover. Tammy Beaumont was also largely responsible for her own downfall, repeatedly swiping at wide balls outside off stump until at last she edged one out to backward point in the 14th over.

That left Heather Knight, England’s new number 3, playing the aggressor role. Knight’s strength is that she is more than capable of adjusting her game to the match situation at hand – a quality which is much-needed for the batsman coming in at first-drop – and this match was no different, the England captain timing the ball perfectly through the gaps to rack up a 49-ball half-century.

Unfortunately she got bogged down in the 80s – possibly with the thought of that impending century somewhere at the back of her mind? Or maybe it was just the crazy heat. Either way, with the run rate dropping below 5 an over thanks to a tight spell of bowling from captain Bismah Maroof, she decided to chance the arm of Sidra Amin at mid on, thus denying herself the chance to reach 3 figures.

That honour instead fell to Nat Sciver, who – to the delight of her teammates – achieved the milestone on the penultimate ball of the innings with a scrambled single (though oddly didn’t secure her the Player of the Match award, which went to Knight).

Despite that, the real star of the day (in my view) was Fran Wilson. Wilson has had a difficult time of late – playing no official role in England’s Test or T20 teams against Australia last summer, but still expected to be on hand in case they needed a “gun” substitute fielder – so to see her succeeding at international level is particularly pleasing. Her arrival at the crease today seemed to reinvigorate a slightly-flagging Sciver; and her strike rate (173) was far and away the highest of the match.

It was the Sciver-Wilson partnership which helped England finish with a bang instead of a whimper – on Monday they hit just 61 runs across the last 10 overs of the innings, while today they added 107 in the same period.

Pakistan’s problems are two-fold, judging by these first two matches. Firstly, their spin-heavy bowling attack has been unable to generate wicket-taking opportunities on pitches which don’t offer much turn. They are left with the option of trying to bowl tightly, restrict runs and hope that England make mistakes – as a strategy, it worked for a short time today and did generate a couple of wickets, but they couldn’t sustain it long enough to put them in a match-winning position.

Secondly, they just can’t bat at anything like the required rate, which means that even though they ostensibly had a good start today – losing just the 1 wicket in the first powerplay – you never quite felt like they were in with a chance of chasing down the total.

For England, the big question ahead of the 3rd ODI is whether, now that they have safely won the series, they will change things up selection-wise. Bringing in Freya Davies and Mady Villiers for the final match would make perfect sense – nothing to lose, everything to gain in terms of international match experience – but England’s selection policies of late have been notoriously conservative, so who knows?

NEWS: Sarah Glenn Called Up To England Squad For Matches Against Pakistan

England have today announced their squad for their matches in Malaysia in December against Pakistan, with the big news a first-time international call-up for 20-year-old leg spinner Sarah Glenn.

Glenn, who represented Loughborough Lightning in the last 2 editions of the KSL, was called up to the England Training Squad on the back of a strong 2018 season, and ranked as the fifth best bowler in our 2019 KSL analysis with 11 wickets at 6.05 – the joint-second best Economy Rate in KSL 2019, behind only Marizanne Kapp.

Fast bowler Freya Davies makes a return after missing out over the summer, having finished as leading wicket-taker in KSL 2019, while Mady Villiers – who made her debut against Australia at Bristol in July and looks set to be handed a central contract in January – also makes the cut.

However, Glenn’s fellow leg-spinner Sophia Dunkley misses out, as do senior pros Georgia Elwiss and Laura Marsh.

While the appointment of England’s new coach Lisa Keightley was announced recently, Keightley remains in Australia with the Perth Scorchers for now, with this squad presumably selected on the basis of recommendations from acting head coach Ali Maiden and captain Heather Knight.

However, Keightley will no doubt be keeping a close eye on proceedings in what will be one of the last opportunities for these players to make a case for themselves ahead of the WWT20 in February.

The full squad is as follows:

  • Heather Knight (Berkshire)
  • Tammy Beaumont (Kent)
  • Katherine Brunt (Yorkshire)
  • Kate Cross (Lancashire)
  • Freya Davies (Sussex)
  • Sophie Ecclestone (Lancashire)
  • Sarah Glenn (Worcestershire)
  • Kirstie Gordon (Nottinghamshire)
  • Amy Jones (Warwickshire)
  • Nat Sciver (Surrey)
  • Anya Shrubsole (Berkshire)
  • Mady Villiers (Essex)
  • Fran Wilson (Kent)
  • Lauren Winfield (Yorkshire)
  • Danni Wyatt (Sussex)

England will be playing 3 ODIs (with 6 available points on offer in the ICC Women’s Championship), and 3 T20s against Pakistan. The ECB have confirmed today that all 6 matches will be live-streamed and available to watch in the UK.

  • December 9: First ODI, Pakistan v England, Kinrara Oval, 1.30am GMT
  • December 12: Second ODI, Pakistan v England, Kinrara Oval, 1.30am GMT
  • December 14: Third ODI, Pakistan v England, Kinrara Oval, 1.30am GMT
  • December 17: First IT20, Pakistan v England, Kinrara Oval, 2am GMT
  • December 19: Second IT20, Pakistan v England, Kinrara Oval, 2am GMT
  • December 20: Third IT20, Pakistan v England, Kinrara Oval, 2am GMT

CLUB OF THE MONTH: Mote CC

Here at CRICKETher, we’re passionate about women’s cricket at all levels, including club cricket. It’s our mission to offer coverage of women’s (and girls’) club cricket wherever we can! Our ‘Club of the Month’ feature will focus on one women’s or girls’ club every month, giving you the lowdown on their highs, lows, and everything in between.

If you’d like to see your club featured here, get in touch – we’d love to hear from you!

This month we are featuring Mote Cricket Club in Maidstone, Kent as our Club of the Month, to celebrate the fact that, ahead of the 2020 season, they are launching Mote Girls & Women – a new club section specifically dedicated to growing and promoting girls and women’s cricket.

Four years ago the club numbered only 23 playing members: today they have 170 playing members (both male and female), 19 qualified coaches, and a raft of support and welfare volunteers.

“We are a thriving, growing club, as we should be given that we were once a mainstay of first class cricket, where Colin Cowdrey knocked off his 100th 100!” says Nick Aldrich, who manages Mote’s existing junior section.

Much of that growth has come about as a result of the increased numbers of girls playing, which swells every year. However, there is a a clear need to develop opportunities for these girls further.

Mote CC

“Our cricket teams are always mixed, from U9 and even to U13 we enter into the local leagues mixed teams and this works very well,” says Nick. “However, I am being asked and the need is increasing for us to develop girls teams to offer greater opportunity to our female players.”

“This isn’t as a replacement to mixed teams – as coaches, players and parents feel strongly that having mixed teams works well for us – but as the girls get older we want to be able to offer them competitive girls-only cricket, especially from U13 upwards. For this reason the timing is right to launch a girls section within the colts and then build this into a women’s section over time.”

Working with Anna Tunnicliff at Town & Malling Cricket Club, which has a thriving girls and women’s section, the two clubs will be combining their efforts and resources in launching Mote Girls & Women. Given the large playing space at the Mote, which is still of county standard, the aim is to meet the increased demand for female cricket in Kent’s county town.

Initially, the launch will be focused upon girls cricket, with new female and male coaches slowly building the teams from existing and new players, which the club hope to attract from local schools.

“Having also coached Kent Girls U11 and U13 I have established connections throughout Kent to ensure our new club will receive a warm welcome into the tournaments and festivals currently run by Kent Cricket, and we start with the aim of one U11 and one U13 side for 2020,” says Nick.

The aim is to lay the foundations for an U15 and U17 side to start in the 2021 season, with the hope that these players will transition into a new women’s team, as part of a longer term club commitment to girls and women’s cricket.

If you’d like to know more about Mote Girls & Women, you can contact Nick on nickdaldrich@gmail.com.

Good luck Mote and we wish you all the best with the launch!

OPINION: Will The Centres Of Excellence Be The Kia Super League Mark Two?

One of the major disappointments surrounding the launch of The Hundred (Women’s Competition) has been the simultaneous end to the highly successful Kia Super League.

In a relatively short space of time (four years), the KSL developed a strong fanbase – as evidenced by the sea of orange / green / purple / etc shirts sported by supporters at matches – and was able to attract good sized crowds, including two sell-out Finals Days at Hove. In one fell swoop the ECB appeared to have abolished the whole concept and all the accompanying teams in favour of their glitzy new format.

Or had they?

We now know that the 8 new Centres of Excellence will operate in the following areas: North West (incorporating Lancashire), North East (incorporating Yorkshire), West Midlands, East Midlands (incorporating Loughborough University), South West & Wales (incorporating Somerset / Gloucestershire), South Central (incorporating Hampshire), London & South East (incorporating Surrey), and London & East.

While we don’t yet know who the host counties will be for each region, there was a STRONG hint from Clare Connor at the launch that Loughborough might well end up as the host for the East Midlands region – “The whole process within regions is open to any cricket-minded organisation,” she said. “It might be that within the East Midlands region, Loughborough University are the regional lead for that region. It’s not wedded to the county structure.”

When you put it like that, it becomes apparent that 6 of these Regional Centres have something important in common: they represent the old KSL franchises – with bonus extra teams in London & East and in the West Midlands.

It really is the KSL Mark Two – only this time, the teams will also be playing 50-over cricket (as was originally the intention for the KSL).

There is an added aspect to this. The “Centres of Excellence” are as yet unnamed, but they will need a rebrand ahead of their launch in 2020 – “Regional Centre” isn’t exactly the catchiest title!

The strength of the KSL was that each of the 6 teams was founded on strong, solid branding – see for example the Ageas Bowl (home of the Vipers) becoming known as the “Snake Pit”, or Western Storm adopting a song about combine harvesters as their team ditty.

So… why not use what you’ve already got? The South West & Wales region can be the “Western Storm” CoE. The South Central region can be the “Southern Vipers” CoE. Assuming the ECB have no objection to the use of county names, the London & South East region could even be the “Surrey Stars” CoE. Etc, etc, etc.

This would not only save a whole lot of time and effort, it would save the Regional Centres having to reinvent the wheel and come up with shiny new branding, when they’ve already got quite enough to be getting on with (we’re only about 6 months away from the start of the new season and there are a LOT of logistics to sort out before then, not to mention player recruitment!)

In fact arguably, in order for the Regional Centres to be any more successful than the Women’s County Championship at attracting spectators, they NEED to focus on branding, and not simply consider themselves to be running a slightly more updated version of Super Fours – i.e. a development competition only. This will, after all, be the premier 50-over competition (and possibly after 2021 the premier 20-over competition) being played in England. As I see it, it’s a no-brainer: use the brands you’ve already got to market these new teams.

In fact, the more I think about it, the more I’ve a sneaking suspicion (having looked at the layout of the new regions) that this might even be what the ECB had in mind all along. Maybe it was never about getting rid of the KSL altogether – maybe it was always about ensuring that the Women’s Hundred and the KSL (Mark Two) would be able to happily co-exist?

NEWS: “Inspiring Generations”: The Details – Clare Connor Q & A

After today’s glitzy launch of the ECB’s new “Inspiring Generations” strategy for women’s and girls’ cricket, Clare Connor filled in some of the details. Here’s what she said:

Why are there less than 100 professionals, as the PCA claimed there would be?

“The feedback from lots of county meetings, and from talking to a lot of people and our own staff from a performance perspective, was that it would be better to have a smaller number of full-time pros, who aren’t trying to juggle further education or part time jobs. To have a group of pros underneath the centrally contracted group who are full-time cricketers is more powerful than having another 80 or so who are very part-time.

It’s not an end point – it’s the start point to try to get to somewhere near 100 professionals by the end of the strategy.”

How much are the 40 new contracts worth?

“They are in line with PCA recommendations for young male cricketers.* The PCA have been closely involved in all the conversations. They will be earning not far off what one of the lowest paid England centrally contracted players are paid currently.”

*NB: The PCA’s mandated minimum wage is £27,500.

Who will select the 40 new professionals?

“There will be 5 per region. We [i.e. the ECB] will have a big say in who the 40 players are – it would be crazy not to, because we will know them so much better than the majority of new regional directors of women’s cricket, or new regional head coaches.

Many of them will either be fringe England players, like Sophia Dunkley, or current members of the England Women’s Academy.”

Which counties make up the 8 new regions?

North West: Lancashire, Cheshire, Cumbria

North East: Durham, Yorkshire, Northumberland

West Midlands: Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire

East Midlands: Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Loughborough University

South West and Wales: Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Cornwall, Devon, Wales

South Central: Hampshire, Sussex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Dorset, Isle of Wight, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire

London & South East: Kent, Surrey

London & East: Essex, Middlesex, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Norfolk, Suffolk

Which county will be the host county in each region?

“The process we are going though right now and which should be concluded by the end of November is currently determining which of the counties will be the regional host in each region.

The whole process within regions is open to any cricket-minded organisation. It might be that within the East Midlands region, Loughborough University are the regional lead for that region. It’s not wedded to the county structure.”

What will the relationship be with the Hundred teams?

“I think that will depend on each region. There will be some alignment of players and staff. In each region, we’re funding an Operations Executive in the women’s game, and they will work across both the Hundred and the regional centres.”

Why are the Hundred salaries for the women lower than the men’s salaries?

“We’re really comfortable with where we are with the salary bands. What we must keep striving to do is keep closing the gap – no woman in this country had been paid to play cricket until 5 years ago, and while there’s no one more impatient than me in that area, we have to be realistic about where we are.

We’ve benchmarked the Hundred across lots of other women’s competitions – the FA Women’s Super League, Women’s Big Bash, the direction of travel for the Women’s IPL. And I think it’s a really good start point. There is huge commitment to close that gap as quickly as we can.”

Will the Hundred games be live-streamed?

“The WBBL has proved that the reach from streaming makes it a really good way to go.”

When will players be communicated with about next season?

“We realise that some messages will flow down very accurately from county staff to their players, and in other counties, less well. We’ve met now numerous times in the last year with a range of roles within counties, and in some of our meetings we’ve had a few players come, but there’s been a mixed communication flow.

We have talked about arranging a day in a big school hall where we invite players to tell them ‘we’re at this stage, this is what the schedule will look like, these are the changes’. That might be something we do in December, after the regional director posts have been put in place.”

Will there be an elite 20-over competition next season?

“No. We’re not starting the regional cricket until the end of next summer. Next season, county T20 cricket will run in the early part of the season, New Zealand are touring in the first half of the international summer, then the Hundred, then the new 8-team 50-over comp, and we’re playing India. The 20-over regional competition will begin in 2021.”

What happens to the County T20 Cup after 2021?

“We’ll review it. Our consultation has showed that it’s not a performance competition, and it won’t drive the performances that we need for the international game – it’s more of a participation experience. It’s done a really good job in the absence of competitive club cricket for women.

The investment into women’s club cricket – which is possibly our most important area in terms of really driving sustainable club experiences for women and girls – that in time, and Premier Leagues, and good recreational club cricket, needs to fill that gap.”

How will the £8 million be shared out for club cricket?

“There will be a small grants scheme, and there’ll be bigger projects that clubs through their county boards can bid into. We’ll be looking really strategically where money for club facilities needs to go.

We’ll be spending roughly £1m a year on a new workforce of club development officers. This year we are piloting, what are the success factors within clubland to make women’s and girls’ club cricket sustainable? We’ve just appointed Lauren Crozier as our Head of Female Participation, and she’ll be looking at what are those success factors, and how can we deploy an army of club development officers to support our ambitions around sustainable women’s club cricket?”

What about age group cricket?

“We are bringing in an England Under 19s programme next year, because from 2021 the ICC are introducing an ICC Under 19 Women’s T20 World Cup. So we need to make sure that we’re giving enough focus in that area.”