CLUB OF THE MONTH: Chester Boughton Hall

Chester Boughton Hall Ladies Cricket Team plays its cricket in the Cheshire Women’s Cricket League, playing Division 1 40-over league cricket, and plays T20 cricket under the name of Chester Deemons (after the river Dee that runs through Chester!)

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Chester Boughton Hall Academy

 

CBH are one of the most successful clubs in Chester. 2016 saw them going unbeaten in the Cheshire League, winning the league and also winning the T20 competition. Losing 1 game all season saw them knocked out of the Knockout Cup which stopped their pursuit of the treble, which they successfully won in 2014.

CBH are only the 2nd club in the Cheshire league to introduce a 2nd XI into Division 3 of the Cheshire League.  This is due to the excellent work done through their Academy set up by Jo Herbertson, who works tirelessly with the All-Stars cricket and grassroots cricket side of the club.  The future is definitely bright thanks to Jo’s work!

With the introduction of the 2nd team/Academy set up, CBHLCC can cater for all ages and abilities. Current ages range from their 5-8 year old All-Stars, through to the older Academy girls (8-15), then onto the senior players who are aged from 15 to mid 60s. They cater for anyone at Chester!

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Chester Boughton Hall 1st XI

 

England players Lauren Griffiths and Sophie Ecclestone both started playing their cricket at Chester and both still have close links to the club, with Sophie still putting in the odd appearance with the first XI.

Chester currently have 6 (7 if you count Sophie Ecclestone!) senior county players on their books, 5 playing for Cheshire and 1 playing for Shropshire, 2 U17 Cheshire county players and 2 U15 Cheshire county players.

All-Stars training is on a Tuesday evening, 5-15-6.15pm, Academy training then follows on, with the 1st team training 6.15-8ish, again on a Tuesday evening.

This season has seen local solicitor firm Cullimore Dutton enter into a 2 year sponsorship deal for Women and Girls Cricket, which the club is immensely thankful for.

If anyone is interested in playing cricket at Chester Boughton Hall, please contact Ali Cutler on alicut73@gmail.com or Jo Herbertson on Jo_herbertson@hotmail.co.uk

NEWS: Sarah Taylor Speaks Out Ahead Of World Cup Return

In her first interview since taking a break from cricket a year ago, Sarah Taylor has given the strongest indication yet that she will be back in England colours come the opening World Cup game on 24 June.

“To be back in time for the World Cup has been a hard journey but very worth it,” she said, in a video recorded by the ECB.

“It’s been a tough 12 months and lots has been learned in that time. In terms of where I am with my cricket, I’m incredibly comfortable to be back playing and the girls have been absolutely brilliant. It’s just nice to be back around them and the fact that the World Cup is at home as well makes it extra special.”

Speaking about her recent return to playing with her teammates in the UAE, she said: “In the UAE it felt like I was wearing that shirt for the first time. I’m almost looking back at my career and seeing this as a bit of a blank canvas.”

The real test for Taylor will come when she walks out in front of several thousand fans at Derby; she is confident, though, that she is ready for that:

“I feel like I’m probably mentally strong enough to deal with those pressures. I’m back and I’m ready to face the World Cup and the scrutiny that professional sport brings.”

She admits that she still suffers from social anxiety on a day to day basis, but says that she is “most comfortable out in the middle: batting, wicket-keeping and being around the girls.”

“Batting’s more fun now than it was back then! Once you eliminate all the things that are going on inside your head you’re able to just purely enjoy the game.”

Overall, she is cautiously optimistic about both her own comeback and England’s World Cup chances. “I’m proud that I’ve even put myself out there to do it,” she says. “I want to win as much as the next person – and I’m hoping that there’ll be success with my own mental health and we can see a trophy at the same time.”

INTERVIEW: Alex Hartley – “I Owe Middlesex My Career”

There aren’t many cricketers who have had a better year than England’s Alex Hartley. 12 months ago few people knew her name. Then she was called up to the England squad against Pakistan, went on to take 8 wickets in the inaugural KSL, and ended the year by breaking the record for the most number of wickets by any England player in a bilateral series (13 against the West Indies).

To what does she attribute her recent international success? She is pretty unequivocal about it: “I owe Middlesex my career.”

Until 2013, Hartley was based at her home county, Lancashire; but her resurgence, she feels, revolved around the difficult decision she made back then to commute from her home in Clitheroe down to London to represent Middlesex. Hartley had been selected for the England Academy aged 15, then dropped soon afterwards, but still harboured dreams of playing for England. At that point, back in 2013, Middlesex were in Division 1 and Lancashire were not. A move south seemed to be her best hope of reviving her international chances.

It turned out, though, that it was not just about the quality of cricket on offer at Middlesex. “It gave me a fresh start,” Hartley says. “I was always that person at Lancs that couldn’t bat, couldn’t field, but could bowl. Went down to Middlesex, didn’t tell them anything about me. They’d never seen me play before, and it just really kickstarted my career from there on in.”

“They gave me so much. They put me on the Academy, I was having one-to-ones with [former England coach] Mark Lane. It was just what I needed really.”

Slowly she clawed her way back into England contention – selected for the 2015 Academy tour to the UAE and then finally, under new coach Mark Robinson, given the chance to prove herself at international level. The support of Middlesex was key throughout.

Did that make it difficult, then, to come to the decision ahead of this season to head back to her home county, Lancashire, leaving North London behind?

“It was actually really heartbreaking. I didn’t want to leave. But the travelling, it’s just too far. Living back in Manchester it just made so much sense to move back to Lancashire.”

It doesn’t stop her feeling a certain sense of divided loyalty – even turning up to watch the London Cup match last week dressed in Middlesex colours. “I was like ‘come on girls!’ I felt like I was still part of that team. They’re just like family.”

Hartley is now firmly ensconced in the England set-up, awarded a central contract last December and having recently returned from Abu Dhabi on a training camp with the rest of the squad. She says that she has been working hard on her batting and fielding – as well as her bowling, of course. “It has been an intense six months. But hopefully I’ll peak at the right time and it will be worth it.”

It seems likely she will feature heavily in Robinson’s plans for the World Cup. Certainly when we sit down with her at Lords she has selection in the starting XI against India come June 24 firmly in her sights – and it is her success at county level on English pitches which has made it possible. “I’ve bowled well for a few years now, so knowing that I can bowl well on English wickets and knowing that I can take wickets on English wickets is a real confidence booster ahead of the World Cup,” she says.

So as someone who owes so much to county cricket, how does Hartley feel about the fact that she and her England teammates will be missing out on the vast majority of the county season this year?

“It’s hard, but we know it’s probably for the best. We want to be playing cricket, that’s what we do, it’s our job to play cricket. But the coaches assess our workload carefully and it’s important for us to get rest, which sometimes means missing matches.”

“It can get too much and you do need your time away. It is set up right, but it’s a shame our county season’s not any longer.”

The last point is a good one. This year’s county season is a mere 7 games long and the majority of those will have been played by the end of May. Indeed, with the introduction of the Super League, one does sometimes get the feeling that county cricket is considered somewhat of an irrelevance by those at the top.

But if the example of Alex Hartley is anything to go by, it seems pretty apparent that county cricket still has a vital role to play in nurturing the international stars of the future.

CLUB OF THE MONTH: Quatt 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!

Quatt Cricket Club’s (QCC) women’s team is currently in its fifteenth year and was formed in 2002. The women are an active part of QCC, a village club located in South Shropshire which was established in 1908.

The women’s section of the club was formed by Kelly Evans and Beth Evans in 2002. Kelly and Beth were the girlfriends of Quatt Men’s 1st XI players and brothers Adam and Ade Evans and were keen to not only play the game they loved watching but also grow participation in a sport that had no foothold in Shropshire at the time.

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Quatt CC, back in the day!

The women’s team played its inaugural game against Colwyn Bay in 2002, with future QCC captain Vicki Bale scoring a run-a-ball hundred on debut! In 2003 they joined the Women’s Midlands League, representing Quatt, and with it Shropshire, in Division 1.

QCC has been a mainstay club in the Midlands League ever since, taking the small Shropshire village to the heady heights of the Midlands Premier League in 2013. They currently play in Women’s Midlands Division 2 and the Shropshire Active Women’s League – a T20 development format played on weeknights to encourage new members and youngsters into the senior side.

They are coached by Louise Pugh, who has been a player and coach at Quatt since the mid-2000’s. “Pughy” is an ECB-qualified Level 3 coach and runs the Shropshire County Girls U11 side as well as supporting and playing in QCC Active Women’s and Midlands League fixtures.

QCC play at the Quatt Oval, a ground that has changed much since 2002 when the first women’s training session took place. Located on land owned by the National Trust’s Dudmaston Estate in the village of Quatt, QCC had a traditional village cricket feel about it until 2011 when the wooden and highly dilapidated cricket pavilion, complete with two small changing rooms, no electricity and no hot running water, was demolished and replaced with a state of the art cricket pavilion, delivered through a significant club fundraising effort alongside a package of grant funding from the ECB, Sport England, Shropshire Council, local charitable trusts and the parish council.

QCC now boasts some of the finest facilities in the county, having secured additional funding from Sport England and SITA Trust in 2014 to develop a second ground, two further changing rooms and new car parking provision adjacent to its existing pitch and main pavilion.

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The new pavilion

As the first Shropshire cricket club to form a women’s league team, Quatt has fielded many county representatives over the years, with its most famous member being Eve Jones, who has just returned from a tour to UAE with the full England Women’s team, having been part of the England Academy since 2014.

The club has a thriving junior section with over 120 members – not bad for a village with no feeder school and a population of only 219! Quatt juniors run mixed teams in U9, U10, U11, U13 and U15’s age groups. The club’s girls membership currently stands at 38.

The club has enjoyed welcoming a number of England women’s stars on domestic duty to its ground over the years including Amy Jones, Jenny Gunn, Danielle Wyatt and Georgia Elwiss. The highlight to date for Quatt, though, was reaching the Women’s Midlands Premier League in 2012 – an outstanding achievement for a small village club. For many of the girls, pulling up at Sheffield on a late summer’s day in 2012 a few days after England Women had won the Ashes to see half the Sheffield team being interviewed by Sky Sports in their England tracksuits was a daunting and intimidating highlight. Katherine Brunt, Lauren Winfield and Natalie Sciver were all in the Sheffield team that played Quatt that day and their wickets fell for 18, 11 and 14 respectively to Quatt’s Clare Pym (a serious career highlight!) This didn’t stop Sheffield racking up a massive score that Quatt failed to make a dent in, even if the fabulously gracious Katherine Brunt declared at tea that she wouldn’t be bowling at full pace and would bowl spin (collective sigh of relief all around from the Quatt girls to that announcement!)

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This year Quatt are looking forward to welcoming back a number of women into the team who have been absent over the last few years due to injury and pregnancy. Their aim for this season will be to finish in the top half of the league table. Overall they want to see Quatt continue to shine in the women’s game and be a beacon of all that is good about playing women’s and girls cricket.

Anyone interested in getting involved at Quatt, whether as player or in any other role, should contact captain Jenny Cotham on jcotham11@gmail.com.

INTERVIEW: Ashley Giles On His Vision For Warwickshire Women’s Cricket – “We’re All One Club”

You don’t see many county cricket directors in attendance at women’s county matches, but Ashley Giles isn’t just talking the talk when it comes to women’s cricket – in his new role at Warwickshire CCC as Sport Director, he’s walking the walk too. We meet him at the Edgbaston Foundation Ground, where he has turned up to watch Warwickshire’s first match of the Women’s County Championship, against reigning champions Kent.

“If we’re serious about women’s cricket – and we are – then I need to have an input, I need to come and watch, and see what’s going on,” he says. It’s great to see such commitment to the women’s game from someone so senior. What’s more, this isn’t just a one-off. “I was here the other day for one of the women’s pre-season days,” he tells us, “and presented to them my philosophies and my beliefs and explained what we’re doing at the top end. I need to be there to support [Warwickshire Women coach] Darren Franklin and his team and all the girls.”

What is his vision for Warwickshire women’s cricket? “Women’s cricket is in my job description, and that shouldn’t be a token gesture,” he says. “We need to be joined up – we’re all one club. I’d expect the behaviours and the culture to be similar, as similar as it can be, to what we do with the men. In Warwickshire these girls [the county team] are our ambassadors. They’ve got a big role to play.”

“We need to try and offer as much support as we can to our teams. And keep trying to improve the standard. If we can do that, it becomes a better spectacle, which becomes more marketable, which ultimately brings more money in.”

Giles freely admits that women’s cricket is “still very much the poor relation to the men”, but is already working to change that. This season he has overseen the introduction of meal money and travel expenses for the Warwickshire women’s side, something he says is long overdue. “It’s right. These girls are wearing the Bear. They’re playing for Warwickshire.”

He also highlights the importance of the provision of top-quality facilities, including new grass nets at Edgbaston and the new Foundation Ground at Portland Road, opened in 2015, where most of the women’s 1st XI home matches are now played. He makes clear that he wants to shore up the support on offer for coach Franklin and his team: “hopefully my experience as a player and a coach can be of benefit. And if we can in some way get other coaching support, or even some of our men’s players coming down from the first and second team, to support the ladies, then great.”

The benefits of the joined-up approach are already apparent: Warwickshire captain Marie Kelly sung Giles’ praises in a recent interview with CRICKETher. “We feel really part of the club,” she told us. “It is nice to be involved in the club and to know that we are fully supported.”

For Giles, a focus on the women’s game is important not just from a competitive point of view, but from a participation angle: “We want more girls playing cricket,” he says. He has personal experience of the difficulties involved in expanding opportunities: “My daughter played cricket at school, and went for Worcester trials. But I remember her going to a club to join in at nets and because she hadn’t realised there was practice on and she’d gone straight from school, she didn’t have her kit. She turned up in jeans and gets told to sit down, she can’t participate, because she’s not got the right kit.”

“Now that for me is just totally blocking playing cricket. It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing – just play cricket! I hope most clubs aren’t like that, but we need to make sure that girls are getting opportunities.”

One important point he does highlight is the need to make women’s cricket more available to watch – “that’s the way you get interested in something: by saying ‘I want to be more like them’.” It follows, then, that a key part of Giles’ joined-up vision for the club is double-headers: the Bears hosted two county T20 double headers at Edgbaston last season and will be doing so again this year (on 16 July). He is also hopeful that Warwickshire – who were disappointed to miss out on being awarded one of the six Super League franchises – will have a major role to play in the new men’s city franchise competition, which will start in 2020, and that this can provide more double header opportunities for the club.

Ultimately, for Giles, it’s about working towards a level playing field in women’s cricket. When I ask if that will, at some stage, involve contracts for Marie Kelly and co., he is cautious but optimistic. “That would be a great end game if we could get to that point. That’s going to take a lot more investment, but it would be brilliant if, by the time I finish this role, we’d got contracted female cricketers at Warwickshire.” Until then? “It’s all about those small steps.”

“I don’t think it’s going to be revolution,” he concludes. “But evolution? Certainly.”

INTERVIEW: Warwickshire Captain Marie Kelly

We caught up with the Warwickshire skipper – batsman Marie Kelly – following her match-winning half-century against Kent last weekend.

When Marie Kelly first captained Warwickshire, standing-in for Becky Grundy in 2015, the club’s status as a “Div 1” county looked precarious at best – they had survived the previous season by the skin of their teeth, thanks to an unlikely last-gasp play-off victory against Somerset; and the start of the 2015 season saw them lose their first 3 matches to leave them bottom of the Championship.

In retrospect the 4th match of the 2015 season – a nail-biting 5-run victory against Surrey – represented something of a turning point. The Bears pulled off a further two wins to avoid relegation; and by the start of the 2016 season, big changes were afoot. Warwickshire CCC took the decision to get serious about women’s cricket, and appointed Kelly as captain to take the Bears into the new era.

2016 began brightly, with the Bears topping both the 50-over and T20 tables after a string of victories; until they finally ran into the Suzie Bates-driven Kent juggernaut in both competitions, finally finishing 2nd in the T20 Cup and 3rd in the County Championship.

Ultimately, then, 2016 ended in disappointment; but looking back now, Kelly isn’t too downhearted:

“We’ve had a lot of reflection on last season – we were happy with how we played and this season we are looking to do exactly the same again if we can.”

A cancellation against Staffs, and then the long international / Super League break, meant that Warwickshire unbelievably went almost three months in 2016 with no 50-over cricket, between their initial run of victories in May and their loss to Kent at the end of August; and Kelly admits they didn’t handle it as well as they might have done:

“We just expected it to pick up from where we left off – expecting it all to just fall back in place – but we found it hard getting the momentum back.”

It is something they will try to avoid this time around, with a similar schedule in this year’s County Championship:

“Rather than having a month break without seeing each other, we’ll try and get a few friendly matches in; and then it is just about training – even if it is just bowling a few balls; hitting a few balls – doing something to keep the momentum going ready for our next games.”

For Kelly, one of the big advantages Warwickshire now have thanks to their closer relationship with the men’s club is a proper “home” at the Edgbaston Foundation Ground – a professionally curated facility they share with the men’s 2nd XI:

“We love having a home ground – somewhere we can come to and know how the pitch is going to play. It is always difficult going from ground to ground – you never know what you are going to get – whereas coming here we know exactly what we are going to get; we know exactly how it is going to play so there shouldn’t be any excuses!”

Does it give them an edge over other teams? Kelly believes so:

“100 percent it is an advantage – just to have the same changing room and the same environment – it settles you and that is one less thing to think about – you just get on with the job in hand.”

Additionally, this season Warwickshire are also providing travelling expenses and some kit upgrades:

“That’s really important – it shows that we’ve got their support – Ashley Giles, our Sporting Director, and Neil Snowball [Warwickshire CEO] are fully on board with everything, so we feel really part of the club and they are backing us.”

“We always go to the Chairman’s Lunch and we had a double-header at Edgbaston last year, and we’ve got it again this year, so it is just nice to be involved in the club like that and to know that we are fully supported.”

Having russelled-up (sic!!) a second victory against Sussex the day after our chat last weekend, Kelly’s side are repaying that support, sitting second in the Women’s County Championship table, just half a point behind the early pace-setters, Lancashire. There’s a long season ahead of course, and Warwickshire aren’t a side full of international, or even Super League, stars; but for Kelly, this is actually the point:

“At Warwickshire we’ve always been a “team” – we don’t just rely on a few people to score all the runs or take all the wickets – the team comes first. It’s a team game, and it is all about a team win, so we are just going to try and play as a team and use all of our players.”

It’s the kind of thing you’ll hear a lot of captains say, but on Sunday it was tested, as leg-spinner Nish Patel struggled with her length early-on. A different captain would have taken her off – bowled herself perhaps, to stay on the safe side – but Kelly persisted. Patel bowled out her 10 overs, but the real reward came the following day, as Patel took 3-19 to clean-up the Sussex tail and earn the win against one of their big Championship rivals.

That’s leadership; and if Warwickshire do indeed go all the way this season, Kelly’s leadership will have been a big part of why.

2017 Women’s County Championship Preview

The Women’s County Championship begins this weekend with two rounds of games across the Bank Holiday. The counties will be missing all their England players, who are at a training camp in Abu Dhabi – but that is something they are going to have to get used to, as the home World Cup in June/ July, followed by the KSL in August, means that is likely to be the rule rather than the exception this season.

WHO’S GOING TO WIN IT?

Raf Nicholson: Sussex – The County Championship has almost always been a two-way fight to the finish between Sussex and Kent, but Sussex’s main rivals have now lost Charlotte Edwards, Suzie Bates and (probably) Lydia Greenway in one foul swoop. Meanwhile Sussex are pretty much at full strength, with a solid contingent of non-England players (including Academy stalwarts Freya Davies and Georgia Adams) in a season where that will really matter. They’ve got to be favourites.

Syd Egan: Lancashire – With the star names missing across the board, this looks set to be the closest County Championship in years. I’ll be massively surprised if anyone wins all their games, and in fact I think we’ll see a four-or-five-horse race for the title. The last time Lancashire were promoted, two seasons ago, they lost all their matches and went straight back down again; but that’s not going to happen this time. They have the same core squad, but with two years more experience; and although the re-signing of Alex Hartley is probably moot, as she’ll be playing for England most of the summer, grabbing Eve Jones from relegated Staffs is a major coup; and they will also have Amy Satterthwaite behind the guns for a few games too prior to the World Cup. Are Lancashire racing certainties? Absolutely not! Do they have as good a chance as anyone? Yes!

WHO’S GOING DOWN?

SE: Nottinghamshire – The bottom of the table is likely to be just as close as the top – I reckon everyone will win at least a game or two, and the fate of relegation is likely to be decided by the random cruelty of bonus points, which sadly are so dependent upon the weather and the state of the pitch, because they are absolute (how many runs/ wickets) not relative. As a Berkshire fan, I refuse to believe they are going down, so I’m afraid I’m tipping newly promoted Notts to drop back into Div 2 again this season.

RN: Berkshire – Sorry, Syd, but life isn’t looking particularly rosy for the Beavers right now, especially in the bowling department. Amanda Potgieter, now living in New Zealand, will no longer be steaming in with the new ball; Rachel Hardy has gone off to America on a soccer scholarship; Daisy Gardner is still struggling with injury; Linsey Smith has recently defected to Sussex. With the prospect of Heather Knight unlikely to feature much, if at all, it’s going to be a tough season and, much as I’d like them to, I’m not sure they’ll be able to survive in Div 1.

WHO’LL GET PROMOTED?

RN: Somerset – Somerset have got to be in with a shout. They went down last season only as a result of the triple-demotion ruling, and they still have most of the players available (including Sophie Luff) who in 2015 secured promotion by not losing a single game.

SE: Hampshire – I watched Hampshire absolutely hammer Middlesex in their pre-season friendly last weekend… and the thing was, Middlesex weren’t actually that bad. Hampshire were just very good – they batted first, timing their innings perfectly to put 223 on the board; and then they were sharp as razors in the field to bowl Middlesex out for 82! They are a young side, and last year wasn’t quite their time, as they missed out narrowly on promotion; but Charlotte Edwards will have them well-organised, and Suzie Bates will add even more firepower when she is available prior to the World Cup – if they don’t make the top 2, it will be a massive surprise.

T20 WINNERS

SE: Yorkshire – If you thought the 50-over County Championship was going to be close, the T20 Cup is likely to be even closer. But I’m tipping Yorkshire for this one – they will be in the mix for the WCC too, but I think maybe the T20 is where they can come good – like everyone else, they will miss their England players, but they have a strong youth system and the T20 format often favours that.

RN: Birmingham Bears (aka Warwickshire) – As with Sussex they have a good number of established players who won’t be distracted by England duty, not least Becky Grundy and Georgia Hennessy. Pipped to the post at the last minute by Kent in 2016, they’ll be looking to go one better this year, and are in with a good shot at doing so.

BREAKTHROUGH KID?

RN: Emma Lamb (Lancashire) – This could be a make-or-break season for Lamb, who has been on the verge of making the jump to international cricket for a while now and was actually in the squad for England’s tour of Sri Lanka (though her debut remains elusive). She was a standout player for Lancashire Thunder in KSL, the only non-international player to feature among the top ten group-stage run scorers. She’ll be out to prove her worth in this season’s County Championship.

SE: Lauren Bell (Berkshire) – Lauren Bell is something of a veteran already – despite being only 16, this will be her third season at the top level. Having been selected for England’s Academy program over the winter, she has been working hard up at Loughborough, where she has added a yard of pace to a ball which was already pretty quick – making her one of the fastest bowlers in the women’s game. With bounce (she’s well over 6 feet tall) and movement off the pitch she can be unplayable on her day… and her day is coming!

BEST OVERSEAS BUY?

SE: Holly Huddleston (Middlesex) – The Hudd Missile is back again for Middlesex this season, having basically resuscitated a career there which looked to be somewhat on life-support when she first arrived a year ago. She has since been recalled for New Zealand and seems virtually certain to be a big part of their World Cup squad. Her bowling may not be “fast” fast, but it’s nippy enough, and she is very consistent – she’s a very “English” bowler in a sense, and it isn’t just Middlesex who will reap the benefits of that in 2017 – watch out for her in the World Cup Final too!

RN: Suzie Bates (Hampshire) – Not only is Bates one of the best cricketers in the world, but she’s shown she can cut the mustard in English conditions. Across last year’s English summer she scored 678 runs at an average of 42, and took 30 wickets, helping Kent “do the double” and win both the County Championship and the T20 Cup. Hampshire will benefit hugely from having her around.

OVERALL MVP?

SE: Eve Jones (Lancashire) – An opening batsman who has been part of the Academy setup for a while, Jones was one of only two players to score a century in Div 1 last year. Unlikely to figure for England, she should be available for most matches and she has the temperament to have a big impact – if Lancashire do indeed win the Championship, she is likely to have been a big part of the reason why.

RN: Charlotte Edwards (Hampshire) – Given that most internationals will have very little chance to play county cricket this season, someone with as much top-level experience as Edwards is going to be invaluable. England’s loss is Hampshire’s gain!

CLUB OF THE MONTH: Appleton Tigers

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!

The Appleton Tigers are part of Appleton CC, who play their home games at their Lyons Lane ground in the village of Appleton, in the south of Warrington, Cheshire. Appleton have promoted women’s cricket ever since 1996, when – as part of the Lottery Sports Fund application to purchase the ground – the club’s development strategy included increased participation and opportunities for girls to play cricket. By 1999 there were enough players for Colin Smethurst to start a junior girls’ team.

Over the next four years the number of players and the standard of cricket continued to rise and the team played friendlies against Appleton boys, private schools and other local clubs who were trying to start girls’ sections. By 2002, four of the team were playing league cricket for Brooklands and Birkenhead Park, alongside their friendly matches with Appleton CC. Colin decided that the time was right to give the squad a new challenge by joining the Cheshire Women’s Cricket League in 2003.

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Sue Barlow subsequently took over managing the team and worked tirelessly for over ten years to make Appleton into one of the most successful and best integrated women’s sections in the county. Sue is also the oldest player to have represented the club, aged 67 at her most recent appearance in which she scored a career best 11 runs. Several players have made their women’s debuts at the age of 12, including Natalie Lyons, Jen Regan and current rising star Georgia Heath. They are currently coached by Jess Lewis, who is also the Women and Girls Development Coaching Officer at the Cheshire Cricket Board.

Appleton play in Division 1 of the Cheshire Women’s Cricket League and have won it 4 times in the past 7 years. After joining the league as a very young team in 2003, Appleton developed into a force to be reckoned with, winning their first trophy in the form of the T20 Plate in 2008. The 2010 season was the best in Appleton’s history as they won Division 1 for the first time as part of a league and cup treble. Their achievements was recognised when the Tigers picked up the Warrington Guardian Sports Personality Team of the Year award and Sue Barlow was honoured as Unsung Hero of 2010.

cup-final-win-2010

2010 Cup Final win

Girls as young as seven years old enjoy training at Appleton, who compete at under 11, under 13 and under 15 age groups in both the Cheshire Junior Girls League and as part of mixed teams in the North Cheshire Junior Cricket League Cheshire County Cricket League. The thriving girls’ section has been a key factor in Appleton’s success by providing a series of key players to the senior side.

The club’s success has been built on the backing they have received from those on the club committee at Appleton CC, especially Al Rogers, Ant Hurst and Dave Hurst. When the girls’ team started they had a small pavilion with very basic facilities, until in 2006 the club built a modern new pavilion with the help of member loans and grants. Since the arrival of the Cheshire T20 Cup competitions in 2008, the team have gone by the name Appleton Tigers and been roared to success by an array of soft toy tigers and face painted supporters.

Jess Lewis batting 2016.JPG

For more information about the club you can contact current captain Nathalie Long by email at appletoncricket@gmail.com or check out the club website, www.appletoncc.org.uk. They describe themselves as “a friendly club welcoming anyone who wants to give cricket a go, from total beginners through to county standard players.”

WBBL: Our Champagne Moments

Amy Satterthwaite’s Hat Trick

T20 cricket is about fine margins, and the difference between a total of 115 and one of 125 can be everything. The Sydney Thunder, batting first against the Hurricanes, must have been hopeful of 125+ going into the last two overs at 108-5, but Amy Satterthwaite had other ideas. A single was followed by two dots and then wicket, wicket, wicket. The Thunder had been silenced, leaving a final total of just 115, which the Hurricanes chased down with an over to spare – basically, the over Satterthwaite had bowled! [SE]

Sophie Devine’s Boxing Day Gift

Up against the Hurricanes on Boxing Day, the Strikers had conceded 143 in the field, and it looked a formidable total, especially after they lost 2 wickets with just 5 runs on the board. Enter a totally unfazed Devine, who proceeded to tear apart the ‘Canes attack, accumulating the second ever WBBL hundred in just 48 balls. Charlotte Edwards described it as the best T20 innings she had ever seen. The result: an easy win for the Strikers, coming off just 16.3 overs. [RN]

Corinne Hall Holds Her Nerve

In the Hurricane’s “winner takes it all” chase against the Stars, with the score on 123-4, chasing 135 with 8 balls to go, Corinne Hall knew that all she had to do was play the supporting role to Amy Satterthwaite – the big-hitting New Zealander at the other end. Two balls and two wickets later, suddenly Satts was back in the dugout and Hall was the senior partner. A single off the 4th ball of the final over, left Hall on strike needing 4 off 2 – the pressure was on, but she held her nerve magnificently, driving the 5th ball straight along the floor to the boundary to take the Hurricanes into the semis. [SE]

Deandra Dottin’s Comeback

3 weeks previously Deandra Dottin had suffered a horrific head clash with teammate Laura Harris as both of them attempted to prevent a boundary. Following surgery on her face she was, incredibly, allowed to play in the final two group games – fortunately for the Heat. In their must-win last clash with the Strikers, it was Dottin – complete with protective face mask – who was selected to bowl both the final over of the Strikers innings and then the requisite Super Over, in which she dispensed with Megan Schutt and Bridget Patterson, and conceded just 3 runs. Impossible to get away and bang on the money with every ball, the Comeback Queen thus sealed Heat’s place in the semi-finals. [RN]

Haidee Birkett’s Dolphin Dive

The Heat’s Haidee Birkett had quite a game in the field versus the Thunder – 2 run-outs, a C&B and 2 other catches, of which this was the pick – a dolphin dive running towards a sharply dropping ball at deep midwicket to dismiss Naomi Stalenberg. Will you see a better catch this summer? Well yes, actually… but you won’t see two!! [SE]

 

WBBL: James Piechowski’s Big #WBBL02 Catch-Up

James Piechowski reviews the last 2 days’ action in WBBL02, and how each side finished.

Team Played Won Lost NR NRR Points
Sixers 14 9 5 0 0.44 18
Scorchers 14 8 6 0 0.3 16
Heat 14 8 6 0 0.05 16
Hurricanes 14 7 6 1 -0.03 15
Stars 14 7 7 0 0.26 14
Thunder 14 6 7 1 -0.05 12
Renegades 14 6 8 0 -0.52 11.5
Strikers 14 3 9 2 -0.54 8

Thunder’s consolation win not enough; Scorchers blaze into home semi-final

It was the 24th January 2016, and the Sydney Thunder women’s team had just won the inaugural Women’s Big Bash (WBBL01) tournament. Lauren Cheatle and Claire Koski were in the middle and celebrated emphatically as they made it to their target of 116 with 3 balls remaining. They then watched their men’s side follow up that victory with one of their own. It was a fantastic achievement from all the players in light green.

Much was expected from the likes of Kaur, Taylor and Blackwell this time around, too.  With a batting line-up packed with experience and full of Australian internationals, and up-and-coming Shooting Stars, as well as a generous sprinkling of overseas talent, qualification for the semi-finals in the sophomore edition of the league seemed incredibly likely. 361 days later though, and both the Thunder men’s and women’s sides are out – they’ll play no further part in the BBL.

Thunder went into the first match of their pair against the Scorchers over the 20-21 January, desperately needing a win to keep their slim hopes alive. They won the toss and inserted the Scorchers, who went on to make 149/5 thanks largely to an excellent 74 from 55 balls by Elyse Villani. It was a magnificent display of hitting. Early in the Thunder reply, Shrubsole effected a crucial run out, catching the dangerous Stafanie Taylor out of her ground after running through following her delivery stride. Harmanpreet Kaur’s amazing big hitting was once again the highlight of the Thunder innings. She slammed a remarkable 64* off 37 balls including 6 big sixes. Apart from Blackwell (39 off 37) there was not enough support for her, though, and the Thunder middle order of Stalenberg, Carey and Osborne crumbled quickly again. Agonisingly for Thunder, they fell 4 runs short in a tight finish.

In the second game, Thunder took the honours. Scorchers had already qualified, and may have taken their foot off the gas a little. They failed to make quite as challenging a target this time, settling for 131-4. Bolton scored 53 off 43 balls, but Bates was strangely subdued in her innings of 28, which used up 36 balls, only striking 1 boundary – albeit a six. The Scorchers total proved a few short this time, as a Thunder side determined to go out on a high got home with 5 balls to spare, thanks to 62 off 54 balls from Stafanie Taylor. It was scant consolation though for a season that promised much but never quite turned out how they wanted. Scorchers must now get their “A” game back, for a tough encounter against Heat at the WACA in the semis.

Where did it go go wrong for Thunder? A feature of WBBL02 has been how close the league has been – sides have been separated by small factors, and fine margins. These stats might shed some light on their problems.

Thunder had the 3rd lowest run total (1611) over the course of the league, but scored a good amount of boundaries (157 fours and 25 sixes) so their failure to rotate the strike enough might have been a factor. Their players only feature once in the highest run scorers (Blackwell with 386) and once in the wicket-takers list (Carey with 14). However they featured twice in the most expensive bowling (Carey and Cheatle) and only Sam Bates featured in the top 10 cheapest bowling economy (5.45 RPO). Thunder scored none of the top 10 opening batting partnerships. Carey – a promising all rounder on the verge of the Southern Stars squads – scored only 64 runs with a top score of 20 and Stalenberg, a specialist batsman, with a full international cap, just 80 runs with a best of 24. Stafanie Taylor, one of the best bowlers in the KSL last summer, only bowled 12 overs and took 2 wickets.

Sixers confirm top spot with revenge victory over spirited Renegades

A Sixers team that had already qualified faced the lowly Renegades on the 20th and 21st January. The ‘Gades won a remarkable first match in which they chased down 149, but their slim hopes were soon extinguished after Heat completed their win over the Strikers. For Sixers, Ellyse Perry was injured whilst being out stumped for 7, and was not able to take to the field. She will reportedly miss the semi final.

The Sixers innings was anchored by a big partnership of 88 between Ash Gardner and Sara McGlashan, but when Renegades came out to bat, suddenly it didn’t look enough. Priest made 44 in quick order, and what stood out to me for the Renegades was Sophie Molineux. Just 19 years old, Molineux, a left-hander, looks really classy with the bat and has beautiful touch and timing, as well as plenty of power. She is a wonderful player to watch, and, if she can construct longer innings, I think could have a big future. It will be a good investment to focus on her batting because there is plenty of promise there. The other Renegades player that impressed me was Maitlan Brown, who with her accurate pace bowling and big hitting is also a prospect to watch.

In the Renegades reply, a few fielding errors were creeping in for the Sixers. It was a great innings by Britt 31 (23) but Maitlan Brown came in and cracked it everywhere, in particular taking the normally economical Aley to town, getting 30 off 15 balls including a massive six over midwicket to win the game! Sixers have had a couple of sluggish performances in the field, and sit at the top of the “dropped catches list” with 13 spills to their name. They will be eager to iron out these imperfections before the season climax.

In the second meeting between the sides there was less of a feeling of tension, as the qualification fate of each had already been decided the previous day.  Sixers came out on top comfortably this time; the main feature of their innings was a superbly powerful and inventive knock of 84 off 56 balls by Alyssa Healy. Using her feet well and hitting strongly over the top, Healy was imperious, and the total of 158 proved too many for a weary Renegades side. Molineux again impressed though, top scoring with 24.

Sixers now face the Hurricanes in the semis at the Gabba, in a strange result of the way the fixtures are arranged for the double headers with the men. Surely Sixers should have a home draw, but both they and Hurricanes will have to adjust to the less familiar conditions quickly.

Super-over win against improved Strikers fires Heat into semis

The Brisbane Heat faced the bottom-placed Adelaide Strikers in their final pair of fixtures at the Gabba. They needed one win, and possibly two depending on other results. Having won the toss, Kirby Short stuck the Strikers in to bat in the first game.

It was a familiar story for Strikers, who were reduced to 63/5 after 13 overs and looking at a total of maybe 110 or so. However, they then managed to piece together a recovery partnership of 71 between Beaumont (50* (42)) and Wellington (46* (25)) to lay a total of 139, which was maybe 10 runs short of ideal, but still competitive. It was a big improvement on their previous sub-100 run efforts.

Unfortunately for the Strikers it was the largesse of their bowlers that allowed the Heat to get away quickly in their reply, and they never looked back. Schutt proved very wayward in her early bowling, her line all over the place; likewise Sarah Coyte lost her radar also. There was a lot of short bowling, too, from the side in blue. The problem for Strikers has been they can’t seem to string together bowling and batting performances.

Sophie Devine had a bad day at the office. Out stumped second ball earlier, the Kiwi looked to have popped a finger out of joint dropping a hard chance off Schutt in the field. She then couldn’t bowl, which likely didn’t help Strikers. Wellington’s 2 overs for 15 runs was the most economical performance, Coyte’s 2 overs for 25 being the least. Heat’s win, after just 15 overs, was comprehensive and they looked semi-final bound, unless Strikers could turn this around.

The second match on Saturday began as almost a mirror image of Friday’s  game. This time Strikers put the Heat in, and they struggled early on, then recovered, making 127/6. It was Deandra Dottin this time with the chief contribution, smashing 51 from 41 balls before being run out. Dottin’s early return to action, following her terrible injury only a few weeks ago, shows her determination and bravery, and must be very welcome for the Heat. The next highest score was 19, but importantly none of the other Heat players chewed up too many deliveries.

It wasn’t the case for the Strikers. Edwards (21 off 19) got things off to a brisk enough start but after she was run out in unlucky fashion, everyone else struggled to get the ball away. Beaumont had to stick around for a long while, as the Strikers’ middle order was blown away by the Heat’s work in the field – there were 4 run-outs in total.  It wasn’t long after the halfway point that the required rate was already over 9 an over. But in came McPharlin and the captain-keeper hit 23 off 20 balls with 4 boundaries; and with Beaumont (58 off 54) launching against the spinners too, the Strikers were back in the hunt.

In the end, the death bowling expert Dottin (2 for 8), complete with protective face mask, bowled the last over. She nailed her yorkers well – Strikers only managed 5 off it, tying the game.

Unluckily for the Strikers their super over was a bit of a non-event, as they limped to just 4, losing 3 wickets in the process. Again, the absence of Devine seemed to really hurt them but with Dottin hitting the block-hole with metronomic efficiency, it would have been incredible for anyone to score many off it.

Heat secured their place in the semis in simple fashion. In their super over, after a Dottin single, Mooney creamed the ball through the covers for four. The Heat were through, despite fighting performances from the Strikers in these last 2 matches. It had been a big improvement  from the Adelaide side – if only this level could have been reached from the start, it could have been them rather than the Brisbane outfit that would be progressing.

The Heat, an unfancied side in the lead up, have proved the doubters wrong, and now join the men’s side in the semi final line up. They now face a very challenging task away at the WACA against the Scorchers. Aside from the dominance of Mooney with the bat, a player dominant to leg and seemingly unstoppable when she gets going, the fact that their non-international players like Kirby Short (212 runs) and Jemma Barsby (16 wickets) enjoyed successful campaigns has helped them a lot.

Hurricanes through; Stars blown out of semis in last over

The Hobart Hurricanes’ adversary for their final 2 fixtures was the Melbourne Stars. Hurricanes were put into bat by Meg Lanning and made 115/3 in 14 overs in a rain-affected innings, Knight top-scoring with a fine 45 off 31 balls. The Stars target had to be re-calculated, but Emma Inglis must have eaten a good breakfast on Friday morning because she came out all guns blazing, striking the ball sublimely well. All signs of the scratchiness of recent innings dismissed, it was pure power hitting from the 28 year-old Melbourne native as she smoked 51 from 31 balls, 360 degrees around the Blundstone Arena.

Lanning was subdued at the other end, until she clipped Hunter tamely to mid-on for 8. What followed after another rain delay and a reduced target for the Stars of 98 off 12 overs, was astonishing. They continued to lose wickets and the ‘Canes looked on top. Stars needed 15 off the last over bowled by Satterthwaite, whose slow bowling had proved tough to get away; and then 12 off the last 2 balls with Cameron, previously looking out of nick, on strike. She showed her hitting capability with a slog-sweep for six over cow-corner. Satterthwaite, coming around the wicket, then made the costly mistake of moving too wide on the crease, bowling a no-ball which must have been called for the position of her back foot. This delivery was also smited for four straight down the ground by Cameron. Jess then dinked the final ball to square leg for a single, and Stars had won an incredible match. The live stream commentators at Hobart went delirious. They really were showing all the emotion you might expect from a World Cup final! If you’ve not seen the highlights, I recommend it.

The next day, following the events at Brisbane, all eyes turned to the Blundstone Arena in Hobart. It was now a simple eliminator. As Heather Knight so aptly put it: a Quarter-Final. Hurricanes had to win.

Another strange lop-sided innings from the Stars ensued. Lanning scored most of the runs – 81 off 55 balls. It was another superb knock and enough to win her the player of the match award. She is so strong all around the wicket but particularly square on the off-side. The Stars middle order got bogged down again though, with only Cameron making double figures, and Mack using up 16 balls for her 7. Hurricanes were electric in the field, as has often been the case, effecting 3 run outs as the Stars got more and more desperate to rotate the strike.

Lanning was visibly fuming after the run out of her younger sister Anna. Using her feet to follow a wide ball she could have left, Lanning only fooled her sibling into thinking a quick run was on. It wasn’t, and Anna was some way short trying to scramble back. This seemed to spark something in the Australian captain though, as she then hit 4 consecutive fours. Stars were well on their way again. Lanning senior was finally dismissed when a full ball which appeared to be above waist height from Hayley Matthews, was called legitimate by the umpire, and was hit hard towards square leg only to be brilliantly caught by a diving Julie Hunter. She simply plucked it out of the air. Knight then took a superb diving catch of her own to dismiss Kearney, and Stars finished on 135/8, a challenging total that was a few more than they might have made, based on 86/4 after the 16 over mark.

The Hurricanes reply got off to a brisk start, but they soon found themselves 19-1 after 4 overs. Kristen Beams was the main danger for Stars, taking 3-11 as the other bowlers struggled to make an impression against a strong ‘Canes batting line up. Knight (35 off 26) continued a splendid recent run, sweeping and lapping with aplomb as she struck four fours and a six, top-scoring for the ‘Canes. The England captain has now scored 31, 34*, 45 and 35 in her last 4 innings and sits 8th in the WBBL02 top run scorers with 331, the best-placed Englishwoman. Encouragingly, these runs have come at a strike rate of almost 120. Only her bowling has disappointed, and she has opted to not bowl regular overs herself in recent games.

And so it came down to the final over, the Hurricanes needing 12 runs to win. Hall and Thompson played it expertly, striking 8 off the first 4 balls. After an incredibly close game the previous day, it was truly amazing that this one went the distance too, Corinne Hall hitting the penultimate ball from Triscari straight back past her to the rope. Cue jubilant scenes from the Huricanes – they had emerged victorious from this encounter by the smallest of margins, booking a semi-final place for captain Knight and the ‘Cane train. The contrasting emotions for Stars were pronounced – poor Gemma Triscari looked inconsolable. Having seemed a good bet for qualification, the Stars somehow missed out at the last hurdle. The ‘Canes now need to psyche themselves up for what should be an epic encounter with the Sixers in the semi finals.

*

It’s been apparent as WBBL02 progresses that most of the England players have come into better form in the latter part of the competition. For example Edwards and Knight, and also Beaumont who finished with two 50s against the Heat. Those players arriving as late replacements – for example Winfield for the Heat and Jones for the Sixers, have looked busy but are yet to make any big contributions. We also have, unlike last year, at least 2 guaranteed England players featuring in the final, as each of the remaining sides have one or more in their ranks, and they are all likely to be picked, barring injury. This will be important experience under maximum pressure for all the players that make it through.

As far as the competition goes, it’s remarkable that 3 of the 4 sides progressing are the same in both the men’s and women’s formats. Sixers, Scorchers and Heat all have a shot at the same double attained by Thunder last year. Meg Lanning’s Melbourne Stars were so close to making it all four sides. I think this kind of solidarity between the formats helps raise the awareness and profile of the women’s game.