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.

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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.

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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.

CLUB OF THE MONTH: Woolpit Ladies Cricket Club

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 (or so!), 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 Woolpit Ladies Cricket team was formed in 2005, led by the future Suffolk captain Alice Parker, who went on to captain the Woolpit team for a decade, winning the Two Counties League in 2013. The junior girls section was created in 2014 and currently has over 35 girls aged between 8 and 15.

Woolpit currently play on a Sunday, in the Two Counties Ladies Challenge (a 35 over league). They are lucky enough to have two pitches at home in Woolpit, allowing them to play matches alongside any one of the 3 Sunday men’s teams, resulting in a good level of support on match days.

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Woolpit Ladies Cricket Club team photo – League Winners 2013. Photo Credit: Laura Moss.

The junior girls currently take part in the U13 Girls Suffolk Junior Cricket League and the U11 Boys Suffolk Junior Cricket League Division C. The girls won all bar one of their matches in the latter league and so took the title for 2016.

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Woolpit U13 and U11 girls teams after competing in the Woolpit CC Girls Tournament 2016, with the U13’s coming runners-up on the day. Photo Credit: Steve Unwin at DE Photos.

Many of Woolpit’s players have played county cricket, with 10 having represented Suffolk or Cambridgeshire, and are now being ably followed by the juniors, 8 of whom have been called up to play age-group county cricket.

Their current junior county representatives are as follows: Elizabeth ‘Wizz’ Firman, Sophie Utteridge, Millie Gale, Sophie Kubitzek, Lily Tillbrook, Florence West, Isobel Melville-Ross and Cara Swinburn.

The current ladies captain is Natalie Samuels, who has been at the club since 2013 and took over from Alice after her retirement from playing in 2015. She also coaches at the club and will be taking on the challenge of the U15 and U14 girls teams in the upcoming season.

The ladies train on a Wednesday evening during the summer, in Woolpit’s 5 lane net facility located at the club. During the winter, the ladies train at the net facilities at the Victory Ground in Bury St Edmunds, on a Friday night. The junior girls train on a Friday evening during the summer and they alternate between training on the outfield and using the nets as this is also when the junior boys train.

As a club, Woolpit have a good social scene with special nights organised by the committee, such as quiz nights, race nights and the annual awards dinner. They also have ‘girls only’ evenings, whether it is a night in the curry house, a BBQ at the club or a trip to see England play at Chelmsford.

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Dressed up watching a T20 at Chelmsford – Ladies Night Out 2014

The ladies team are very fortunate to have an array of helpers, putting the teas out at every home game and then coming to support at away games. There should also be a big thank you to Kathy Parker, for scoring for the ladies and always being the background with organising events, on top of her role as treasurer of the club and as the main sponsor for the ladies team via her business Grange Farm Bed and Breakfast.

The support for the ladies team at the club is continually improving and Woolpit are very proud of their ladies section, as they have been extremely successful over the years. Despite needing some new recruits for this season nearly all the fixtures were played, and that was down to the hard work of current ladies captain Natalie finding people to play. Their junior girls section is also going from strength to strength, and including friendly games they competed in 18 fixtures from April to August.

By the start of the 2017 season, the extension the club are having built to improve changing and kitchen facilities at Woolpit will be completed and the ladies will benefit from this. Woolpit’s aims for next season include enhancing their numbers through a mutually beneficial arrangement with Bury T20 ladies side, developing the U15 girls into a standalone team and challenging for the League title. The men’s section is setting up a 4th team on a Saturday, and this will allow ladies to play in a mixed team, giving them a greater opportunity for participation and improving their own performance through experience.

Woolpit’s annual U13 girl’s cricket tournament will run again on Friday 25th August 2017.

If you are an adult and interested in playing, please email nataliesamuels13@gmail.com. If you want to find out more about junior cricket, for girls aged 13 and under, then please contact Jo Ticehurst: jo_ticehurst@hotmail.com or 07956051992.

ANALYSIS: Spin City & The Pace Problem In The Women’s Game

A recent piece on Women’s Cricket Blog asked Do the Aussies have a seam problem? Basically concluding… yes they do – their pace options are limited and apparently ineffective!

In fact, looking at the stats for the Women’s International Championship, it might be argued that EVERYONE has a “pace problem”.

Just 4 of the top 10 wicket-takers in the Championship are pacers, with spinners occupying the first 3 spots:

Player Bowling Wickets
1. Jess Jonassen Spin 29
2. Heather Knight Spin 29
3. Anisa Mohammed Spin 25
4. Anya Shrubsole Pace 24
5. Shabnim Ismail Pace 22
6. Kristen Beams Spin 21
7. Marizanne Kapp Pace 21
8. Sune Luus Spin 20
9. Hayley Matthews Spin 20
10. Katherine Brunt Pace 20

And across the entire Championship, spin dominates – it takes more wickets than pace, more economically, and at a better Strike Rate:

Bowling Wickets Economy (Avg) Strike Rate (Avg)
Spin 58.02% 3.81 37.04
Pace 41.98% 4.19 40.22

Contrast this with the situation in the men’s game where, looking at ODIs over the past 2 years, spin has its place in keeping the runs down, but it is pace bowling which takes wickets and has the edge in Strike Rates:

Bowling Wickets Economy (Avg) Strike Rate (Avg)
Spin 32.36% 5.26 49.69
Pace 67.64% 5.90 46.02

The $64,000 question is why?

Here’s a theory:

At junior, club, and even at county level in the women’s game, pace can be intimidating, so it is an effective weapon by itself; but by the time you get to international level, the players are used to facing bowling machines which hurl it down, so international batsmen aren’t intimidated any more, leaving the pace bowler with two options.

One option, increasingly common in the men’s game, is to bowl it fast enough that actually seeing the ball becomes a problem, due to the limitations of the human eye; but to do this, you need to be touching close to 90mph, and no one in the women’s game is anywhere near close to this.

The other option is to add “something else” to the pace armoury – swing (e.g. Anya Shrubsole) or control of movement off the pitch (e.g. Katherine Brunt) – but that isn’t easy to do, especially if you are only suddenly confronted by this need when you reach the pinnacle of the system.

Add to this conditions around the world which often seem to favour the tweakers over the twerkers, and it is Spin City in the women’s game, as the spinners take the glory, whilst the pacers increasingly struggle to make an impact.

INTERVIEW: Stafanie Taylor On West Indies Women’s Cricket And (Finally) Winning A World Cup

What does it feel like to win a World Cup? Stafanie Taylor knows. “I was speechless,” she told us when we interviewed her over the summer, during her time playing for Western Storm in the inaugural KSL. “I couldn’t sleep at night! Every time I closed my eyes I kept thinking ‘we actually won the World Cup!’ And there were just so many messages from people back home, how they are very proud of us. It was really good to have that kind of support.”

For Taylor, who was named Player of the Tournament, her side’s victory in the Women’s World Twenty20 earlier this year has been a long time coming – the culmination of many ups and downs since she made her debut for West Indies back in 2008, aged 17. “Back then we were a fairly young team. Now I think we have evolved.”

“Over the last few years we’ve been playing against top teams and beating top teams [they’ve defeated England and India in ODI and T20 series’ since 2009]. Two times [in 2010 and 2012] we’d been in the semi-final, so I would say we’d had enough of that!”

Losing to Australia in the 2013 50-over World Cup final, she says, also spurred her team on all the more in April’s tournament final: “[In 2013] a lot of the players cried. We wanted to play Australia – it was so good to meet them in the final and come out victorious.”

It’s interesting to hear Taylor reflect on what she sees as the crucial steps on the road to the rise of Caribbean women’s cricket as a force to be reckoned with. The awarding of the first ever paid contracts to women players by the West Indies Cricket Board back in 2010, she says, was probably the most important factor:

“That was a huge step. A lot of us had been going to school and working, now we could see something coming in. It might not be much but at the end of the day we could go out and train and then after we could have a good meal.”

“Before the contracts I was going to school [university] – when you are trying to get schoolwork done and train it’s never easy.”

Better access to top-quality coaching has also been key. Taylor acknowledges that quality coaching in the women’s game was hard to obtain when she was first entering the game, but says her own development owes a lot to the appointment of ex-international Sherwin Campbell as national women’s coach between 2008 and 2015:

“He’s a wonderful guy, he knows the game inside out. He is very passionate about what he does. I remember one time when we lost a game at a World Cup his eyes filled with water. At that time when you have a coach like that you definitely want to keep them.”

And of course the Women’s Big Bash League played a role. Taylor – who represented eventual champions Sydney Thunder in the inaugural WBBL, hitting 372 runs and taking 10 wickets – laughs as she recalls the moment she found out she would be playing in the tournament:

“I got a call from Nick Cummins [Thunder General Manager]. I was actually in the bathroom! And I wasn’t going to answer the phone but I actually did! And he was like, ‘it’s Nick Cummins from Sydney Thunder. Would you be interested to come over and play?’ And I was like, “um, could you give me 10 minutes and I’ll ring you back?!” And then I called him back and we had a chat.”

Playing in Australia, she says, “has toughened me up. The way they play their cricket is a lot different to how we play it in the Caribbean. They are really tough.”

One positive outcome of the World Cup victory has been the shift in attitudes towards women’s cricket in the Caribbean. When Taylor was named the Jamaican Cricket Association’s Cricketer of the Year in 2009, having achieved the ranking of number 5 on the ICC’s list of female all-rounders within 12 months of making her international debut, there were many disgruntled voices at the time who claimed that a mere woman was undeserving of the honour. Taylor says her team’s World Cup victory has made a difference to these kind of attitudes. “For us as the older ones, we were like the pioneers. Things have changed now.”

What of the future? Taylor is excited. “This is just the start,” she says. “We have the Big Bash and the Super League, it is really good for the game, really good for female sport. And we hope that soon we will have a female CPL [Caribbean Premier League].”

For the time being, her focus will be on ensuring that West Indies win their ODI series decider against England, to be played later today. With Taylor at the helm – she made 85 and took 3-22 in the last game on Sunday – you wouldn’t bet against it.

INTERVIEW: A Tough Year At The Top For Surrey’s Kirstie White

The last match of the summer was something of a metaphor for 2016 as a whole for Surrey’s Kirstie White: she carried her bat for 98*, but Surrey went on to lose the game by 3 wickets; meaning that White finished the season as the leading run-scorer in Div 1 of the Women’s County Championship, with 337 runs, ahead of names like Heather Knight (308 runs), Tammy Beaumont (292) and Suzie Bates (206); but even so, Surrey were relegated to Div 2, finishing the season with just 1 win from 8.

White, now 28, has been around the scene for a long time – starting out at Hampshire, she made her first appearance in the Super 4s back in 2004. After taking an extended break from the game in her early 20s, she came back for Surrey in 2012, with her breakthrough season coming in 2014, when she scored 320 runs. She was the county’s leading run-scorer in 2015, and obviously again in 2016, when her contribution was recognised by the award of a coveted “baggy brown” by the county.

But it was the possibility of selection for the new Kia Super League which really motivated White coming into the 2016 season:

“I worked a lot harder this year over the winter – I put in a lot of my own time and [Surrey and Surrey Stars Coach] Jeremy [Greaves] worked really hard with me as well to get into some good nick. I wanted to get selected for the Super League, so I made sure I put a shift in!”

After a great start to the county season, with a 69 against Berkshire – a career-best which lasted only until the next round, when she bettered it with a 76 v Yorkshire – White was in a great place to shine in the Super League for the Surrey Stars.

Tragically, however, it wasn’t to be, as injury ruled her out of the tournament just days before it got underway:

“I was devastated – everything I’d worked hard for since November – I put in a shift, and then a freak injury occurred – it is just the nature of sport I guess, but what a time to get injured.”

A rapid rehabilitation, and a rescheduled County Championship match against Sussex, two weeks after the “official” end of the season, nevertheless offered some opportunity for catharsis, which White grabbed with both hands, making yet another career-best of 98*; but it wasn’t enough to save Surrey from the drop:

“We are disappointed to go down – especially when we’ve put in some good performances but just failed to cross the finish line a little bit – but it is time to rebuild and look to come back up next season.”

Meanwhile for White a well-earned holiday… and then a renewed determination to pursue her Super League dream again next year:

“I’ll take a little bit of a break – just keeping fit and making sure I don’t get too lazy – and then it is back into training – there is a long hard winter to put in again but I’d love to be a part of the Super League next season.”

INTERVIEW: NZ Captain Suzie Bates Talks Wisden, WWT20 Disappointment, The “Treble”, & England 2017

We caught up with White Ferns skipper Suzie Bates just hours before she flew back to New Zealand at the end of a golden English summer.

If you were going to pick a Player of the Season in domestic cricket in England this summer, it would be difficult to look beyond Suzie Bates. Stafanie Taylor might just have pipped her to the Player of the Tournament award in the Kia Super League, but across the whole of the domestic scene Bates has been an unstoppable force – scoring 678 runs, at an average of 42, and taking 30 wickets, at an average of 11. No one else’s all-round domestic numbers come close, and it is no coincidence that Bates flies back to New Zealand with a unique “treble” of trophies in her bag – the County Championship and the T20 Cup with Kent, and the Super League with the Southern Vipers.

This success was, of course, no surprise to the committee at Wisden, who earlier in the year had bestowed their accolade of Leading Woman Cricketer in the World upon the New Zealand captain:

“That was a bit of a shock,” she reflects modestly. “I remember being in Perth at the time – I was there with Charlotte Edwards and the Scorchers – and I said ‘Oh – Wisden are calling me!’ I went into my room and I remember it made me look back on the season – I knew I’d scored a few runs and taken a few wickets but to be recognised like that was pretty special. You don’t go through the season striving for those awards but when they come around you take your time to sit back and reflect.”

With Bates at the helm, and at the peak of her powers, New Zealand travelled to the Women’s World T20 in India in March, happy to carry the mantle of favourites:

“I thought that was our best chance at a World Cup since I’ve been leading the side – we had such good momentum leading into the tournament – we’d beaten Australia in a Twenty20 series, and there was just a really good feel in the group that we were the favourites and we were confident that we had the team to win.”

It wasn’t to be, however, as they fell short by 6 runs in an agonising semi-final defeat to the eventual champions, the West Indies:

“It was just a bit of a shame – a couple of things didn’t quite go our way, and we were on the opposite side of a pretty good West Indies team that hit their straps at the right time.”

“I can live with it, because I thought we went about our cricket how we wanted to, and Twenty20 can be a bit fickle; but if you want to win those tournaments you’ve got to turn up in the big games.”

Following the WWT20, the decision to come to England for the summer was an easy one:

“I just love playing cricket!” Bates says.

And the outcome has been phenomenal, despite a rocky opening weekend in the T20 Cup, when Kent lost both their matches against Lancashire and Berkshire:

“With Lottie [Edwards], Lydia [Greenway] and Tash [Farrant] we joked about getting all 3 trophies – the Twenty20 didn’t look all that bright from the start but we managed to come from the back; then the Vipers campaign – I loved every minute of that; and finally to win the 50 over comp as well makes coming over worthwhile!”

It wasn’t all about having fun though – with a World Cup coming up in England next year, it has been important preparation, getting used to the grounds and the pitches:

“For all the Kiwi girls – some have played in county and some in the Super League – playing and training at the grounds we might play at in 2017 is only going to be of benefit.”

And Bates thinks it might give them a key edge next year:

“A lot of the Australians didn’t come over and hopefully that puts us at a little bit of an advantage. At the World Cup, everyone is going to prepare the best way they think for their team, but I think we’ve had some good time out in the middle here leading up to it.”

That World Cup is obviously New Zealand’s key focus as they enter a domestic summer down south, and the recent announcement of extended contracts – more money for more players – is welcomed:

“We were perhaps a little bit behind England and Australia,” Bates admits. “But we are starting to build to where they are, and I think New Zealand Cricket realise the importance of investing now.”

Even so, tough decisions had to be taken, and clearly none more so than the dropping of Sara McGlashan, after 14 years and over 200 caps:

“It is a bit difficult – you want to look long term but we have a World Cup immediately around the corner and to lose experience like Sara McGlashan…”

Bates tails-off diplomatically, before continuing:

“I know they are looking forward to the future, but with Lottie and Lydia and Macca [McGlashan] in that Vipers team, it proves that in big tournaments you want that experience.”

Nevertheless, confidence remains high for 2017, that New Zealand can make up for the disappointment of the WW20 in 2016, by winning the World Cup in England:

“Can we win it? I think we can! England at home are always going to be tough, and to beat Australia at any World Cup you are going to have to play your best game; but our experienced players have played a lot of cricket and we’ve got a core group that have been in those big matches – if we play our cards right, fingers crossed, we can go all the way!”

INTERVIEW: Southern Vipers Coach Nick Denning On Bridging The Gap

Southern Vipers Head Coach Nick Denning is a familiar and popular face around the women’s cricket scene. A former Berkshire player – a bowler who also played a handful of List A games for Essex in the early 00s – Denning had been the Berkshire Women’s coach for a number of years before taking the reins at the Vipers for the inaugural Kia Super League this season.

In some ways it was a brave appointment – although the Vipers are theoretically a partnership between Hampshire, Sussex, Berkshire and Oxfordshire, Hampshire are very much the “senior service”, and with no experience at the top level of women’s cricket, the safer option might have been to select “one of the chaps” from the men’s game. That they didn’t was to their credit… and ultimately to their advantage, as Denning led the team to the top of the group table and subsequently on to lift the trophy on Finals Day.

Speaking to Denning after that triumph, we began by asking what the key differences were from coaching a county side:

“Professionalism!” he replies emphatically. “At Berkshire we got a £2,000 grant from the ECB and then we had to find the rest of the money – a bit from Berkshire and the rest from sponsorship – to run a £13,000 program. So when you go to a program that is as good as fully funded, it just makes a huge difference.”

Denning ticks off the items one by one:

“We get our Strength and Conditioning coach; we get our physio; we get all these specialist coaches; and we get great facilities at the Ageas Bowl.”

The Super League is of course not fully professional, but for Denning the important thing is to treat it as such:

“While this competition is semi-professional, the setup has to be professional – you have got to be all-in and do it properly.”

The same applies to the players:

“We said: Look, we are here to develop you – we are not here to be a 3-week thing – we are here to help you kick your cricket onto another level.”

In selecting the overseas players to augment his side, Denning looked for those who shared these values:

“With Suzie Bates and Sara McGlashan we knew we needed batters, but we also needed good people – we needed people who were going to buy into what we were doing – be good around the changing room and help the youngsters. Morna Nielsen [who came in as a late replacement for Megan Schutt] was also somebody we’d been talking about when we were selecting the squad – she was our next-in – and they’ve all been really, really good professionals. They have been fantastic around the changing room, but they’ve also come in and developed their games – they’ve learnt – they’ve asked questions to get better.”

The established internationals have been crucial obviously, but unlike some of the other franchises, the Vipers haven’t been afraid to throw in some of their youngest players, and actually let them play (rather than “just” field) such as 17-year-old Katie George:

“Katie has played four games and she has had two very good games and two games where she has possibly shown her inexperience, but she is seventeen so I’m not going to hold that against her – she will be a very, very good cricketer.”

Vipers’ glove-butler Carla Rudd is another younger player who has impressed in Super League. After being dropped from the England Academy program last year, Rudd was appointed girls’ coach at Felsted School, which has given her the opportunity to work with their boys’ coach – former England Test batsman Jason Gallian – in particular on her batting.

“Carla has always been a good ‘keeper, but she knows that if she is going to start pushing for an England place, it is her batting that needs to improve and she has been working really hard all winter with Jason.”

Someone else who Denning singles out for working really hard is Berkshire quick bowler Daisy Gardner, who ended up missing the entire competition through injury, despite the best efforts of the medical staff at the Ageas:

“It is just bad luck, and that happens with injuries in cricket; but she is still part of our squad and she has been as professional as anyone – if some of the other players had Daisy’s drive and her attitude they could be absolute world-beaters!”

Of course the Super League has been entertaining and has brought unprecedented attention to the domestic women’s game; but the ECB’s key aims also include “bridging the gap” between county and international cricket, and Denning is perhaps better-placed than anyone to assess whether this has been achieved. However, when asked he is cautious to emphasise that “bridging the gap” is a longer-term objective:

“I don’t think you can really tell until the county competition next year,” he says. “If the girls that were pulled in – not the Academy players or the internationals, but the girls that have been talent-ID’d from county cricket – go back to play county cricket and put some of the stuff they’ve learnt into that – then yes, we are bridging the gap.”

STATS: KSL All-Rounder Rankings

Player Runs Wickets
1. Stafanie Taylor (WS) 220 8
2. Suzie Bates (SV) 180 7
3. Heather Knight (WS) 141 6
4. Dane van Niekerk (LL) 112 5
5. Nat Sciver (SS) 181 3
6. Deandra Dottin (LT) 87 7
7. Katherine Brunt (YD) 71 6
8. Ellyse Perry (LL) 126 3
9. Sophie Devine (LL) 71 5
10. Arran Brindle (SV) 91 3

Ranking = Runs * Strike Rate * Wickets / Economy

In the battle of the international captains, it is West Indies’ Stafanie Taylor who comes out ahead of New Zealand’s Suzie Bates at the top of our All-Rounder Rankings. Taylor has scored more runs than Bates, at a higher Strike Rate, and has taken more wickets, though the New Zealander has a better economy rate.

With Heather Knight coming in at 3 on the leaderboard, maybe it is time for the nay-sayers to accept that she really is a genuine all-rounder, not just a batsman who has gotten a bit lucky with the ball since an injury forced her to trade her medium-pacers for off-spin a couple of years ago.

Also worth a mention are Katherine Brunt – a player whose ability to consistently crack off a few runs quickly makes her a real asset in Twenty20; and Arran Brindle – the only non-current-international on the list, who hasn’t quite “come out of retirement” to play in the KSL (she has continued to play (men’s) league cricket since her England retirement) but who has reminded us all why she is much-missed around these parts!

One final point… Loughborough Lightning clearly did some astute business in selecting their overseas stars – all three of them make the all-rounders list, and we suspect this isn’t a coincidence – perhaps showing the value in having a head coach who has been part of the England “Performance” setup for a number of years, and therefore knows the form-book better than anyone else?