WBBL08: Lessons Learnt and Trends – Everything Else

Part 3 of 3 in a series reflecting on WBBL08 by guest writer Andy Frombolton

Who gives a (bat) flip?

Received wisdom is that batting second in T20s constitutes a considerable advantage. However this presumes that teams are good at chasing. And also that team strengths are broadly equivalent .

What’s the WBBL data when teams win the toss?

Thus on average teams win half the time whether they bat first or second but behind the headline figures are some big differences by team in terms of strategy and success. For example, in 2022, Renegades won the toss 7x, fielded 7x and lost 5x, whilst Stars won the toss 9x and fielded first every time (3 wins, 3 losses, 3 NR).

If any team displays a strong preference, it’s fairly obvious what the oppositon is going to do when they win the toss. Also, if a team’s whole strategy is built e.g. around chasing, how will they ever develop their ability to post a score?

Most interesting is Sixers’ transformation from the least-successful flippers to the best. In contrast, Scorchers went from winning every game when they won they toss last year to losing two-thirds in 2022!

The bat flip doesn’t really make much of a difference – the best teams tend to win whether they bat or bowl first and vice versa.


Professionalism will invariably decrease the viability of someone being an all-rounder since to be a world-class batter or bowler will require specialism for all but the most gifted.

Hence genuine all-rounders will be increasingly rare and conversely desirable in team selections.

How many players make it into the top 25 lists (most runs and most wickets), and who are they? Some of the answers may surprise …

Long term presence Devine had a poor season – a SR of less than 100 (compared to a usual 128+) and just 8 wickets. McGrath just missed out on batting honours (26th) but injury precluded her bowling as much as previous years.

Knight (2020), like Edwards and Root before her as England captains, has tended to underbowl herself. It’ll be interesting to see whether she bowls even less after her hip-surgery which would be a great shame since she’s an (undervalued) all-rounder.

Career resurrections – Perry and Healy

Going into this tournament the T20 careers of both these great players looked like they were in terminal decline when you looked at their WBBL performances. Perry didn’t make the CWG squad but found some form in The Hundred, whereas Healy’s miserable WBBL07 form continued right through until this tournament.

(2022 stats include all T20s for Australia and The Hundred)

Beyond the treat for all cricket fans of seeing these two on the world stage for a bit longer than they might have feared, the broader message is that older players can adapt their games for the modern game.

As discussed in Part 1 Perry, Jonassen and Kapp are great examples of how many older players could be much better deployed in the middle/late overs using their great game experience to pace and judge the innings and with the freedom to play which this new role could bring.

Wicket-keeping standards

In the women’s T20 game, keeping is as much about keeping batters in their crease as taking stumpings but far too few keepers appeared confident in going up to the stumps for the medium pacers. Healy (and previously Sarah Taylor) repeatedly showed how it limits many batters’ options.

Overall though too few of the keepers are athletes – tending to remain fairly static and waiting for a return over the top of the stumps. Keepers need to ‘own’ the area behind them 20 degrees either side of the stumps and whilst comparisons with the men’s game aren’t always relevant in this instance there’s no reason why the best women keeper can’t emulate the standards of the best male keepers who regularly beat fielders not wearing pads to snicks and tickles heading for the boundary.

Heaven help the opposition when Australia finally select the Harris siblings

Their stats say it all.

Is there any other country where Laura Harris wouldn’t be in the national team by now?

Pedestrian powerplays

The average figures were:

  • 23.9 for 1 wicket 1st innings
  • 23.6 for 1.1 wickets 2nd innings

In the first innings, 6 of the teams hovered around the average. Sixers were the only team with a materially better average PP (27) and Thunder the only team with a materially worse average PP (20).

In the second innings the stats were slightly more spread out, Hurricanes and Thunder both had materially better average PP (28). Heat had a materially worse average PP (19). But the surprising outlier in all the data was Sixers with an average PP of just 16!

Overall, these figures are far too low. The PP should be the launchpad for the innings but as discussed the batters either don’t have the skills (or feel they can take the risk) to take on the bowlers and take advantage of the fielding restrictions. The answer is simple – either the current batters need to change their mindset or teams need to deploy different openers.

And finally … the ultimate TFC

In the shorter format there will inevitably be squad members who don’t get the opportunity to do much with the bat or ball, but one player’s figures stood out above all others this year. Angelina Genford of the Sixers: 15 matches, 3 innings, 7 balls, 4 runs and 3 separate bowling spells totalling 4-0-36-1.


WBBL08: Lessons Learnt and Trends – Bowling

Part 2 of 3 in a series reflecting on WBBL08 by guest writer Andy Frombolton

Teams posting 140 or less lose 3/4 of their games. Hence any bowling attack which can regularly restrict the opposition to this figure will win the vast majority of games. Chasing down 140 requires a collective SR of just over 110 (well within the capability of even the most pedestrian batting line up) whereas restricting teams to such a low total is much harder.

Hence this article posits that when assembling a team the priority should be securing the best bowling unit.

This is the total opposite of what happens today, with teams competing for the best domestic and international batting talent and generally being far less interested in ‘pure’ bowlers (especially overseas bowlers). The other noticeable theme is how many uncapped players feature in each year’s Top 25 wicket takers list (or conversely how often ‘marquee’ names disappoint).


* as of the relevant season

So, who were this year’s highest wicket takers?

What then constitutes a good bowling unit?

The first point is that, as noted above and unlike batting, international bowlers often don’t deliver the sort of performances expected. The stats are damning – in the past 5 seasons only 4 international bowlers (as opposed to all-rounders) have made it into the table of ‘Top 25 wicket takers’ (Tahuhu 2018, Glenn and Ismail 2020, Ecclestone 2022) (And Ecclestone should be an all-rounder!). So unless a team can secure the services of one of the top 3-4 overseas bowlers in the world the evidence suggests they’d be better off saving their money.

Equally interesting are the Economy Rates (ERs). Shouldn’t the ‘best’ bowlers have better ERs than the other bowlers? In fact, the ERs of the top 20 wicket takers, the next 20, and of all other bowlers are virtually the same and converging. In the past 3 years, the best bowlers are going for slightly more runs, the ‘change’ bowlers are holding steady and the bits’n’pieces bowlers are bowling less but becoming more economical.

Running counter to the men’s T20 game (where slow bowlers dominate the best ER tables and faster bowlers the best SR tables) the 2 best* (*rationale follows) bowling attacks in this year’s tournament (Adelaide Strikers and Brisbane Heat) employed very different approaches.

Adelaide Strikers: Schutt (fast), Wellington (slow), Barsby (slow), D Brown (fast) and Dottin (fast medium).

Of these, the hitherto-unspectacular Barsby was a revelation and is additionally interesting for being one of the new breed of ambidextrous slow bowlers (her occasional left arm accounting for Alice Capsey in one game).

Brisbane Heat: Jonassen (slow), Hancock (medium), A Kerr (slow) and Sippel (medium).

More important seemingly than the composition of the attack is that bowlers know their role and learn to bowl as a unit, which is what makes Adelaide Strikers truly unique – their 5 main bowlers bowled 92.6% of their overs i.e., the same 5 players bowled their full complement of overs in virtually every game. The closest analogy I can think of is the all-conquering Gloucestershire men’s side of the early 1990s. Similarly Heat had 4 bowlers who delivered 72.1% of their overs. Contrast this to Sixers whose core 3 bowlers always bowled their full allotment (59.4% of overs) but the bulk of the balance was shared between 4 bowlers. Sixers might counter that their approach demonstrated flexibility and greater depth in their bowling attack.

This is another area where performances in the women and men’s game diverge and hence so should tactics. In the men’s game, the best way to slow down the run rate is to get the top batters out (such is the difference in the SR of the top 4 batters compared to the next 4) which means teams need strike bowlers to perform this role (their ER being of less concern), but in women’s cricket (as discussed in the previous article) overall batting SRs are lower and hence dismissing a top batter has less impact (quantum) on a team’s eventual score.

Thus if bowling SR was the key determinant of an opposition’s score then Sixers might have a claim to have the most penetrative bowling unit. Sixers have 5 of the 23 bowlers (≥5 wickets) with a SR<20 with all the other teams having 3 (except Renegades which had 0, which perhaps explains why they conceded the 1st, 2nd and 4th highest scores in this year’s tournament).

But if instead keeping the run rate down is the priority, then a team needs a bowling attack able to do this consistently in all scenarios. Strikers’ top 4 bowlers had a combined ER of 6.4; far better than any other team and only once did a team batting first get on top of them (Stars’ 186, 3rd highest score of this season), otherwise they conceded 4 scores in the range 151-154 and 4 in the range (101-114). And when defending Strikers never got hit for more than 139.

Based on consistency and dependability, Strikers were the best bowling team and thus deserved champions.

The silver bowling award goes to Heat who bowled well in the first innings (only once conceding more than 140) but conceded more than 156 four times bowling second. It was their potential to wilt under pressure (not helped by some poor fielding at key moments) which cost them games.

Sixers also got hit for above par scores five times (three times bowling first and twice bowling second, although they went on to win 4 of these games so could contend this was ultimately irrelevant. The counter argument is that no team, however good their batting line-up, can afford to concede these sort of scores.) Equally telling was the three times they got taken apart in the death overs and only clinched victory each time courtesy of some equally-brutal hitting in their final overs. (Game 1, Heat hit the last 2 overs for 18. Sixers hit 19 off 11 balls; Game 42, Scorchers hit 22 off the last 2 overs, Sixers hit 23 off 12 balls; and Game 49, Heat hit 37 off the last 2 overs (and 47 off the last 3) and Sixers hit 28 (and 41). Hence their honourable bronze position in these bowling awards.

In concluding, what therefore would be the perfect bowling attack look like?

Look again at the list of top wicket takers. The stats say it all. Slow bowlers dominate the wicket-taking tables – 8 of the top 10 (with a collective ER of 6.7 and a SR of 15).


So team selection should start with a fielding set up capable of supporting your bowlers – a superb keeper and a minimum of three fielders who are great in the deep (trading a degree of run scoring ability for fielding prowess if necessary).

You need a fast bowler? Schutt, D Brown, Sippel or Strano. No other fast bowler has appeared in the Top 25 for 2 years in a row so you’re just taking a gamble on any other selection having a good year.

Add 1 all-rounder (more on that subject in the third article)

And finally 3 slow bowlers (or even 4 so you don’t even need to play your fast bowler when conditions don’t suit).

And then pick some batters!

WBBL08: Lessons Learnt and Trends – Batting

Part 1 of 3 in a series reflecting on WBBL08 by guest writer Andy Frombolton

The average 1st innings score in this year’s WBBL (in complete games) was 145, up slightly on 2021 (137).

Teams posting 144 or more in the first innings won 22/29 times whilst teams scoring 160 or more won 14/16. But the distribution of above-par 1st innings scores was highly skewed – only 3 teams managed it more than twice: Heat (7 wins from 8); Sixers (6 wins from 7); and, Hurricane (3 wins from 5). In contrast champions Adelade Strikers never posted more than 147 but defended 4 scores in the range 140-147 (twice against the Sixers) and their highest score in 6 successful chases was only 156.

The most obvious conclusion is that it’s bowling units which win games, not batters. Nevertheless batters are the focus of this first article.

There were 24 first innings scores of 150 or more (compared to 17 last season) but more interesting is who’s scoring the bulk of these runs. Intuitively you might imagine it would be the players with international experience – and this certainly used to be the case.


Slowly, uncapped players are being given, and are seizing, their opportunities. Disappointingly however this cohort (extensively coached in power hitting and 360 degree shot making) isn’t having the impact on run rates which might have been expected.

Top 25 run scorers WBBL 2022

(Orange – Australian former and current Internationals. Blue – former and current Overseas Internationals)

With the exception of Laura Harris, the uncapped batters are scoring their runs at about the same rate as the international players they’re incrementally displacing.

2022 RUNS 6511 4274 3109
% RUNS 47% 31% 22%
SR 119 110 102
2021 RUNS 7301 3560 2231
% 56% 27% 17%
SR 116 103 95
2020 RUNS 6844 3383 2070
% 56% 28% 17%
SR 115 101 97
2019 RUNS 8457 4063 2497
% 56% 27% 17%
SR 121 108 101
2018 RUNS 7805 4452 2853
% 52% 29% 19%
SR 124 109 100

Most teams pack their top order with dependable batters who can be relied upon to get their team to the sort of total which will win most games (144 this year, as noted earlier).

But 144 only requires a collective SR of around 112 (assuming 10 extras per innings).

So, if you’re a former international or a fringe player seeking to secure a WBBL or Hundred contract why take risks trying to score more quickly – even against weaker bowling attacks – when a pedestrian 112 will be seen as a good innings? With this attitude team scores aren’t going to grow.

In their defence, the top order could cite some statistics which seemingly justify their cautious approach:

Bat Result % runs (off the bat) scored by batters 1-4
1st Win 75.00%
Lose 53.00%
2nd Win 77.00%
Lose 54.00%

This seems to suggest that the team won’t win unless the top order scores the bulk of the runs. But a lot of these victories batting second were in pursuit of low scores and hence inflate the average contribution of the top order. Watching teams slowly overhaul below-par scores was a scenario seen far too often this tournament.

More relevant then is to see how the top batters cope when presented with a more challenging target. If you take the average of a team’s 3 highest first innings scores as an indicator of what they’re capable of when they play well (‘batting potential’, ‘BP’) there were only 11 occasions (in full length games) when teams exceeded their BP batting second and only 4 times did this result in a victory.

The conclusion is that most teams simply don’t know how to chase anything above an average score – primarily because their top order is full of established players playing ‘old fashioned’ cricket. Powerplays are squandered and acceleration is too slow; leaving the middle/lower order batters too much to do if the top order fail.

Comparisons to men’s cricket aren’t usually helpful, but sometimes they can serve to shine a light on issues. Looking at 2021 Blast data, the average SR for the top 4 run scorers in each team was 141, 128 for the next 4 and 113 for the rest. This raises two questions: Firstly, why aren’t the best women batters able to achieve SRs more akin to the best men batters (Mandhana and Wyatt dispel any argument that physical size is the primary explanation) and, secondly, why are the tails so long? If batters 6 onwards can barely strike at 100, then it’s little wonder than the top order batters in most teams play so cautiously (knowing that if they fail, their teams have little chance of success).

Let’s look at this year’s (4 over) Powerplays. The average PP (both innings) was 24; equivalent to a SR100 (with only 2 fielders out). That’s not good enough.

Consider 6 hitting. There were 235 6s hit in this year’s competition but just 13 batters accounted for half of them. 46 batters didn’t hit a single 6 (including 4 of the top 25 run scorers) whilst a further 16 hit just 1 (including another 3 of the top 25 runs scorers). This means that 7 of the top 25 most prolific run scorers can’t clear the ropes. Perhaps they don’t take the aerial route? Well, 8 of the 25 (including 5 internationals) score less than 50% of their runs in boundaries – which is the average for the top 85 batters!

Why is this important? Because boundaries win games. In comparison the number of singles has barely any impact. (The same hold true in the men’s game.) The one exception was the Sixer’s (record) 66 singles to beat Hurricanes despite scoring 5 fewer boundaries. Next best (65) helped propel Stars to an truly-underwhelming 114 against the same opposition!

In this year’s WBBL, 42 of the 52 full length games were won by the team which equalled or hit more boundaries than the opposition. (Regarding the other 10 games, in 4 of these the winning team only hit 1 less boundary.)

The players who can hit boundaries are coming in too late, with too much to do.

Kudos then to the handful of players in the top 25 run scorers with a SR>120 and a boundary % greater than 55%.

L Harris 270 22.5 205 84.00%
A Gardner 339 28.25 151 63.00%
EA Burns 295 32.77 145 63.00%
DN Wyatt 263 20.23 129 64.00%
A Capsey 259 25.9 129 58.00%
AJ Healy 330 25.38 125 60.00%
BL Mooney 434 43.4 121 57.00%
EA Perry 408 40.8 120 56.00%

The stand out names? Harris, Gardner and Perry; because they bat down the order after the top order have chewed up lots of balls (scoring slowly).

Looking outside the top 25 runs scorers provides a vision of a different future. There were 6 other batters with more than 75 runs and a SR above 120:

PLAYER SR Boundary % Av BF per innings
Flintoff 166 60.00% 10
Brown 162 67.00% 11
Ecclestone 159 56.00% 9
Kapp 143 66.00% 16
Jonassen 135 49.00% 9
Johnston 123 68.00% 7

How then to hit bigger scores? The starting point has to be to differentiate between scoring rates which are capped by a player’s skill levels and those which derive from the position they bat (top 4 dependency).

The (few) international top order batters who can take advantage of the powerplay must open, but partnered by players with defined roles to take on the bowlers and the limit on out fielders. ‘Success’ has to be to be measured in terms of SR, not average. Imagine the team willing to open with batters like Laura Harris (batting for 4 overs with field restrictions instead of just 2 during the ‘Surge’), Flintoff or Ecclestone with complete freedom from ball 1. Some games it will come off and most it won’t. When it does the team score will surge above the 145 and the team will probably win. In those games a team’s experienced International players will come in later – but with a different role (akin to that which Kapp and Jonassen perform). And when your hard hitters fail, they won’t have wasted many balls and the more traditional players can rebuild and aim for a defendable 140.

WBBL: The Power Surge – Is It Working? A Look At The Numbers

Updated November 6th 2022

With over 20 games now in the bank, thanks to the ever-awesome cricsheet.org, we have the chance to look at how the new WBBL Power Surge is working out.

The Power Surge has come into the Women’s BBL for the first time this season, meaning a reduced powerplay (overs 1-4) and then a second two-over powerplay taken by the batting side sometime during the second half of the innings – the Power Surge.

Here are the average run rates for the games we have so far:

Phase Run Rate
Innings 7.0
Powerplay 5.7 (-1.3)
Power Surge 9.4 (+2.4)

As we can see, the initial powerplay is typically slower than the overall run rate, by more than half a run per over – this is normal in women’s short-form cricket (though The Hundred this year bucked that trend).

But the Power Surge shows an increase in the overall run rate, of two-and-a-half runs per over – ie. five runs overall.

However, these calculations do mask a difference between the first and second innings.

Here are the numbers for the first innings:

Phase Run Rate
Innings 7.2
Powerplay 5.7 (-1.5)
Power Surge 10.0 (+2.8)

So in the first innings, the increase is closer 3 runs per over – about five-and-a-half runs overall.

Meanwhile in the second innings:

Phase Run Rate
Innings 6.8
Powerplay 5.7 (-1.1)
Power Surge 8.8 (+2)

In the second innings, the Power Surge bonus is significantly smaller – just 2 runs per over, or four runs overall.

The Power Surge was imported from the Men’s BBL where the numbers are similar – an overall increase in the Run Rate of around 2.7 runs per over, or a little over five runs per innings. In both cases it is essentially one extra boundary per innings.

Can you really call that a “Surge”? I guess if you are in marketing you can call it anything, and I freely admit that “Power Blip” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but in terms of the numbers a “Power Blip” really is all it is.

WOMEN’s ODIs: How Much Of An Advantage Is Winning The Toss? (The Answer May Surprise You!)

In yesterday’s ODI between England and India, India won the toss, and chose to bat second. This proved to be a good call on the day – they won the match with 5 overs to spare. But exactly how much of an advantage is winning the toss?

We looked at 100 ODIs between the “Top 5” (Australia, England, India, New Zealand & South Africa) since 2017 to find out what the data tells us*.

Intuitively, winning the toss feels like it ought to be A Good Thing™ – it’s called “winning” for a reason… right?

But surprisingly, the first thing that leaps out is that the team that wins the toss usually loses the match.

Toss Won Lost
Won 45% 55%
Lost 55% 45%

If your instant reaction to this is that I must have got my numbers wrong… welcome to the club – that’s what I thought too!

So let’s take England. They played 45 of the matches in the dataset, winning 25 of them – i.e. a win percentage of 56%. Across those matches, England won the toss on 26 occasions, winning just 12 and losing 14 of those games – i.e. a win percentage of 46% when winning the toss.

So it’s true – England are 10% less likely to win the match when they win the toss.

What’s going on then?

The toss is obviously a binary choice between batting and bowling; but these choices aren’t equal.

WG Grace is alleged to have said: “When you win the toss – bat. If you are in doubt, think about it, then bat. If you have very big doubts, consult a colleague then bat.”

But this definitely isn’t correct for modern women’s ODIs between the top sides, where the team batting second are much more likely to win the game.

Bat Won Lost
1st 38% 62%
2nd 62% 38%

This only applies to women’s ODIs between the top sides. In the RHF Trophy for example, there is a small (54%/ 46%) advantage to batting first.

So the numbers tell you that in Women’s ODIs, if you win the toss you “should” bowl, as indeed most captains do – 63% of the time, the winner of the toss chooses to bowl.

Toss Bat Bowl
Won 63% 37%

What appears to be happening is a very human thing – captains know the data, but they frequently think they are smarter than the data.. and they aren’t: when they defy the data and chose to bat, they lose almost ¾ of the time!

Toss Won Lost
Bat 27% 73%
Bowl 56% 44%

Interestingly, there is another way of “proving” (in inverted commas) that this is correct. Australia are the most data-driven side, and Meg Lanning is the most data-driven captain, and they almost always choose to bowl when they win the toss. On the 16 occasions they won the toss, they chose to bat on all-bar-three occasions – opting to bowl 81% of the time – THEY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING! (And the only two matches they lost out of the 16 games where they won the toss were two of the three occasions where they chose to defy the data and bat!)

So the bottom line (literally in this case) is that winning the toss is only an advantage if you make a sensible choice… and that choice is: When you win the toss – bowl. If you are in doubt, think about it, then bowl. If you have very big doubts, consult a colleague then bowl.


* Data includes almost… but not quite “all”… of the matches played between the Top 5, 2017-22 – thanks, as always, to cricsheet.org for the data!

INTERVIEW – Dia Nair: The 13-Year-Old Cricketer Breaking Barriers… And Stumps

Dia Nair is 13 years old and already knows what she wants to do when she finishes school: “I want to play cricket for England.” Judging by the collection of trophies she shows me during our interview, it’s an ambition that could well be within her grasp.

Dia with her trophies

Last year, Dia was named Colt of the Year by her club, Hampstead CC. It means that already, aged 13, she is considered to be the best cricketer under 16 – boy or girl – who plays at Hampstead. For a club which is one of the biggest in London and which, according to Play Cricket, fields 21 junior teams, that is quite some feat. In 156 years of the club’s history, Dia is also the first girl ever to win the award – “I was really proud of that,” she says.

Dia is an all-rounder, though she describes pace bowling as her “stronger point”; last season she hit her highest county score to date, 63 not out for Middlesex against Surrey, as well as taking “quite a few five-fors”. She nonchalantly drops into the conversation that: “I swing it both ways” (Anya Shrubsole eat your heart out!) She’s never been clocked on a speed gun, but at the age of 10, she bowled the ball so quickly in a match for Middlesex against Hampshire that she broke a stump clean in half. She still has the two pieces.

Dia with her broken stump

In some ways, Dia’s is a familiar story. She grew up playing cricket with her older brother in the garden at home, encouraged by two supportive parents – her mum also played as a girl growing up in India. Asked to name an inspirational coach, Dia immediately says: “My brother!” At the age of nine, she followed him to the local club (Hampstead); not long afterwards, she was sent to Middlesex trials, and made the Under-13s county side.

Dia and her brother
Dia Nair with her older brother, taken on the day she went to Middlesex trials

As a talented junior, she regularly plays for Hampstead’s boys teams, and just as Charlotte Edwards did three decades ago, she still sometimes encounters surprise when she turns up to open the batting or the bowling against an all-boys opposition. “They are always not expecting me or the other girls in my team to be quite as good as we are!” she says. Has she ever got one of them out? “Yeah, yeah,” she says, casually. “Most games!”

Has anything changed since the 1990s, then? Quite a lot, actually. For starters, there are enough other girls around to mean that Hampstead can turn out entire girls’ sides. The county structures in place for girls like Dia are also unrecognisable – she does a full programme of winter nets for Middlesex, and receives individual feedback every time. And she is benefitting from opportunities to play at school – she attends South Hampstead High School, who reintroduced cricket in 2018, and was recently named as a reserve in the Under-19s Girls’ Day School Trust team – one of the youngest players in the running for the squad.

“When I went to my GDST cricket trials all the girls there were really, really good, and it was a surprise – it was really nice to see,” she says. “And some of the older girls were saying how a couple of years ago when they trialled there were barely any people, and there were about 50 when I went and that was really cool.”

The interest is helped along by the fact that women’s cricket is regularly on TV these days. Dia watched the recent World Cup with her mum, cheering on England, and says she wants to bat like Heather Knight (although she also cites Ben Stokes, MS Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar as role models).

And of course there is now a regional structure in place – and with it, a real opportunity to go professional in just a few short years. Dia tells me, excitedly, that when she moves up to the Under-15s Middlesex team next year, “they start scouting for professionals, and our performances get recorded, so if we play really well we might get selected for this thing called Sunrisers!”

“I think that would be really cool,” she adds. She’s not wrong. There is not much that is cooler than hearing a girl like Dia talk about her ambitions to play cricket professionally, and knowing that the new domestic structure is providing the opportunities for her to do exactly that.

For now, she’d better keep hold of that broken stump – the pieces might be worth quite a lot of money one day!

Here Comes the Sun! – County Cricket in 2022

With the World Cup but a fading memory, thoughts inexorably turn to the coming summer.  And not before time, as the opening round of fixtures in this season’s ECB County T20 is now less than two weeks away!

The fixtures have been out for some time, and details of all but one venue have now been confirmed (as always, check Play Cricket for info, plus of course @WomensCricDay on Twitter!).  The East of England Championship fixtures were also released a while back, and more recently we have had confirmation of two more Regional 50-over competitions based – loosely – around the Sparks and Vipers regions.

So what have we got on the horizon?

The ECB County T20 will take place over four consecutive weekends in April and May, with matches taking place on 18th April (Easter Monday), Sunday 24th April and Monday 2nd May, with a ‘Finals day’ for each group on Sunday 8th May, with a format broadly similar to last season.

There has, however, been some ‘tidying up’ as you might describe it, to iron out some of the less desirable aspects of last summer’s format.

There will be eight groups this time around, broadly organised on a regional basis again, but this time numbered from 1 to 8, rather than given regional titles – thus avoiding “Since when has Somerset been in the West Midlands” type queries.

Seven of the groups (Group 1 being the exception, which we will leave to one side for now) will consist of four teams, and each will play the other three in double-header fixtures over the first three dates, followed by a Finals Day with semi-finals and a final for each group.

Unlike last season, therefore, when some counties in each group didn’t meet, there will be integrity to the final tables, and also a bona fide group winner in each case.  It means an element of genuine competition compared to what felt very much like a bunch of ‘glorified friendlies’ last time round.

Group 1 (the ‘North’ Group), however, consists of seven teams, including North East Warriors (Durham and Northumberland combined, for the uninitiated), and the Northern ‘Rep’ XI (essentially Lancs and Yorks combined ‘Reserves’).  It’s not ideal, but unavoidable given an uneven number of teams.  I can’t help but wonder whether Cheshire might have been persuaded to re-enter, allowing that group to be split in two and create a perfect structure of ten groups.  Ah well… 

It also means that group will have one standard ‘triangular’ fixture each weekend, and one ‘quadrangular’ where four teams meet and play two fixtures each.  Depending on the layout of the venue, it offers the chance to watch two games at once! 

One final point on the fixtures, incidentally.   It’s worth noting that whilst almost all fixtures are scheduled to be played at club or village grounds, there is one very notable exception on Sunday 24th April when – assuming Play Cricket is correct – Somerset will entertain Warwickshire at the County Ground, Taunton.  A nod to all at Somerset for this one!

Elsewhere, I’m yet to see a formal announcement of the London Championship for this summer… but the fixtures are on Play Cricket so one assumes it is happening!  The same five counties are taking part – there had been a little conjecture over Sussex given their involvement in the new ‘Vipers’ Regional competition, but that appears to have been unfounded.

Incidentally, Surrey’s website also confirms a date of Thursday 23rd June for the annual London Cup T20 Challenge match against Middlesex, this year at the Kia Oval.

The East of England Championship has expanded again, from six teams to seven.  Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Suffolk have joined the party, whilst Buckinghamshire have departed ‘on good terms’ to join the ‘Vipers’ regional competition, and Cambridgeshire have withdrawn, hopefully to return at some later stage.

Fixtures are spread nicely through the season, from mid-May to mid-September, which I have to say I really like.  With seven teams competing it feels like the East of England has a real narrative thread through the entire summer.

And finally we have the two new Regional 50-over competitions – The South Central Regional Cup and the West Midlands Regional Cup.

The former will include Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Dorset, Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Sussex, and whilst that may look a somewhat unbalanced group, the expectation is that Hampshire and Sussex in particular will use it as a ‘Development’ exercise alongside their London Championship commitments and the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy & Charlotte Edwards Cup.   Fixtures will all be played in midweek, on five days beginning on Monday 30th May and ending on Thursday 11th August.

The West Midlands Regional Cup is something of a misnomer, given that Wales will be competing alongside Staffordshire, Warwickshire & Worcestershire, but that’s a minor quibble.  Again, it will be a round robin, with fixtures on Sundays 17th July and 14th & 28th August.

With other counties likely to arrange friendly fixtures it adds up to a very busy summer, and a very positive one for the future of the county game.  With the demise of the Championship in 2019, and the successful introduction of the Regional structure, it was easy at that stage to foresee a bleak future with county cricket fading away.  In the event the reality has proved to be very different, thanks to the hard work of many at local levels up and down the country.

The addition of new competitions this season is yet more evidence of a growing realisation that the county system – alongside the regional academies – is an essential rung on the ladder between club and regional cricket.  Long may that be the case.

You may have seen the recent Twitter announcement that there will be no Women’s County Cricket Day this summer.  Life is such that over the past few months I haven’t had the capacity to take on a campaign ahead of the 2022 season, with all that entails.  However, @WomensCricDay will still be promoting county fixtures throughout the season, and we’re taking the view that EVERY DAY is Women’s County Cricket Day!  Choose your own WCCD, find a venue near to you – or not so near to you!  Have a day out, enjoy some cricket!

Play Cricket Links

ECB County T20 – https://ecbwcountychampionship.play-cricket.com/home

London Championship – https://womenslondonchampionship.play-cricket.com/home

East of England Championship – https://eastofenglandwcc.play-cricket.com/

South Central Regional Cup – https://scrcup.play-cricket.com/home

West Midlands Regional Cup – https://westmidlandsregionalcup.play-cricket.com/home


THE HUNDRED: Where Do Teams Need To Strengthen?

Yesterday’s look at the teams’ remaining budgets and key “free agents” begs the obvious question: where do the different sides need to strengthen?

The tables below map out some of the key metrics, with the colourisation indicating where teams are weak (red) and where they are strong (green). The tables are also ordered by an average of all the different indicators.

Stats aren’t everything, of course – in The Hundred, as with most cricket tournaments, it is also about handling the pressure to win big games, as the Invincibles did so convincingly in the semi-final and final in 2021. But the numbers always tell a tale nonetheless, and it is one the teams should be studying carefully.

The key story that stands out here is that as well as needing a wicket-keeper, the Invincibles desperately need to strengthen their batting – they are 100% a bowling side, topping the bowling table and coming flat-last in the batting table. With no overseas picks remaining, this is going to be tough – for obvious reasons, the other sides have mostly held onto their key local batters. Perhaps they will need to gamble and use the “wildcard” overseas pick? (But that would mean leaving one of Kapp, van Niekerk or Ismail on the bench!) Or is their bowling good enough that they can just rely on blowing everyone else away in key games once again? It is certainly a dilemma for their management to be pondering!

Last year’s group-stage winners, Southern Brave – first in batting, and second in bowling – probably just need to keep doing what they are doing, but get better at winning the big games. The 2021 final was a bitter pill for them, but as their coach Charlotte Edwards says: “There are good days and school days!” so hopefully it was a learning experience their 10 retained players can take into 2022.

Following the retentions announcement, there was some surprise that London Spirit let Tammy Beaumont, Deandra Dottin and Chloe Tryon all go; but the stats bear this out – their batting didn’t really click last season, and they’ve got all 3 overseas picks now to put that right.

A key metric which is not addressed directly by these numbers is fielding, but one possible proxy is the number of twos conceded when bowing. Southern Brave look good on that front, but Manchester Originals really need a gun fielder or two, and letting Mignon du Preez (who is a gun fielder) go unretained was an “interesting” move given that.

Finally, standing back to look more generally at these numbers, we do see clearly that T20 (which The Hundred basically is) is perhaps not the game of superstar batters that we always seem to think it is. It is something that Aussie commentator Chris Brooker (worth following on Twitter) has been saying about the women’s game in particular for some time, and it is one of those where the more you look at the actual numbers, the more it seems to stand out. Oval Invincibles won the trophy with their bowling, despite being the weakest batting side; and although Superchargers had by some distance the outstanding individual batter in the tournament – Jemimah Rodrigues – that wasn’t enough to carry their batting, or for them to reach the knockout stages. Perhaps it is time for a wider re-evaluation of the way we look at the game and select our teams?

Batting Balls Per… Avg Run Rate
Wicket Dot Single Two Four Six 1st Ins 2nd Ins PP
Brave 22 2.88 2.59 15 8 47 8.14 7.42 6.69
Originals 23 2.76 2.68 19 8 57 7.64 7.74 8.07
Phoenix 15 2.92 2.75 13 7 89 7.92 8.13 8.14
Rockets 17 2.72 2.60 23 7 40 8.23 6.98 7.52
Superchargers 18 2.89 2.63 15 6 112 7.51 8.80 6.48
Fire 15 2.88 2.47 16 9 91 6.76 8.10 7.21
Spirit 15 2.72 2.84 16 7 98 6.13 8.11 6.97
Invincibles 18 2.65 2.70 20 8 92 7.34 6.97 6.19
Bowling Balls Per… Avg Run Rate
Wicket Dot Single Two Four Six 1st Ins 2nd Ins PP
Invincibles 15 2.45 2.77 17 8 153 7.03 5.92 5.81
Brave 19 2.65 2.65 23 9 111 6.92 6.98 7.38
Spirit 23 2.60 2.80 22 7 54 7.59 7.03 6.55
Rockets 18 3.04 2.60 16 7 59 7.68 8.25 6.69
Originals 20 2.82 2.77 12 8 51 7.33 8.38 6.07
Phoenix 21 3.12 2.44 14 7 70 7.74 8.00 8.24
Superchargers 22 3.00 2.57 17 7 61 8.39 7.73 8.57
Fire 24 2.97 2.69 17 6 60 8.67 8.21 7.88

STATS: ODI Batting & Bowling Analysis 2018-2022

Batting Balls Per… Avg Run Rate
Wicket Dot Single Two Four Six 1st Ins 2nd Ins PP
Australia 46 1.98 3.21 23 10 113 5.59 5.27 4.80
England 39 1.91 3.24 23 12 203 5.10 4.56 4.51
South Africa 43 1.70 3.88 23 13 186 4.35 4.47 4.20
India 44 1.74 3.67 29 14 234 4.30 4.79 4.08
New Zealand 31 1.81 3.36 23 15 230 4.47 4.47 3.88
West Indies 34 1.63 4.15 23 17 202 4.06 3.97 3.34
Pakistan 32 1.65 4.01 27 16 282 3.96 4.12 3.75
Bangladesh 29 1.44 5.23 30 24 1599 2.59 3.35 2.42
Bowling Balls Per… Avg Run Rate
Wicket Dot Single Two Four Six 1st Ins 2nd Ins PP
South Africa 40 1.67 3.93 26 16 294 4.14 4.15 3.42
England 36 1.68 3.87 33 14 239 4.24 4.28 3.81
Australia 32 1.72 3.68 28 15 199 4.24 4.27 4.22
India 44 1.76 3.50 25 14 198 4.33 4.56 4.09
West Indies 43 1.83 3.45 19 16 229 4.74 4.28 4.15
Pakistan 45 1.78 3.67 23 13 162 4.89 4.40 4.03
New Zealand 44 1.88 3.41 22 12 155 5.01 5.05 4.54
Bangladesh 51 1.71 4.07 19 12 110 4.67 5.02 4.58


  • Based on matches between the World Cup sides, 2018-22
  • Derived from the Ball By Ball data at https://cricsheet.org

THE NUMBERS: Who Has Been England’s Most Impactful Player In Recent Years?

The last 5 years have been strange times for England. They won the World Cup at the start of that period, but were humiliated in the T20 World Cup final in the West Indies in 2018, and likely only avoided the same fate in 2020 because their semi-final was washed-out. They’ve won series against India, New Zealand and South Africa, and regularly thrash the likes of the West Indies, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, but have twice failed to regain the Ashes. Not even the players’ doting grandmothers would argue that England have been the best side in the world over the past 5 years; but they’ve nonetheless pretty conclusively proved themselves to have been the second best.

We’ll all have our own ideas of who have been England’s most impactful players of this era, but can the numbers give us a more definitive answer?

We used our ranking algorithm to determine the top 5 batters and bowlers, combining the T20 and ODI stats over the past 5 years. (The metrics are pretty basic – Runs multiplied by Strike Rate for batters; and Wickets divided by Economy for the bowlers – and you can certainly create more nuanced ranking systems, but they tend to largely produce the same answers in the same order!) In addition, we’ve added a new measure: Impact Percentage – the player’s percentage of the team’s total batting and bowling ‘scores’.


In the past 5 years, England have played exactly 100 white ball matches – 47 ODIs and 53 T20s – and only one woman has played all 100 – Tammy Beaumont. So it won’t come as too much of a surprise that Beaumont is England’s leading batter in that period, with 3,318 runs – a fair way ahead of Nat Sciver in second place, over 700 runs behind with 2,557; and Heather Knight in 3rd with 2,657. (Knight has scored more runs than Sciver, but Sciver’s better Strike Rate lifts her ahead in the rankings.)

Player Matches Runs Strike Rate Impact %
1. Tammy Beaumont 100 3,318 87 18%
2. Nat Sciver 97 2,557 104 16%
3. Heather Knight 95 2,675 94 15%
4. Danni Wyatt 85 2,062 118 15%
5. Amy Jones 83 1,868 100 11%


The fact that bowlers have it harder than batters in terms of injuries is something of a “truism” in cricket, but it is sometimes hard to appreciate just how true it is until you see the numbers – Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole have each missed over a quarter of England’s matches in the past 5 years through injury and rotation. Sophie Ecclestone has missed a similar number over the 5 year period, but of course was not part of the squad for the 2017 World Cup, when she was still in full time education. In the past 4 years, she has played 87% of the team’s matches; and she is the only bowler to have registered over 100 wickets in that period – ranking her at No. 1, some distance ahead of Brunt and Shrubsole.

Perhaps the one surprise across the lists is Kate Cross – ranking 5th in bowling, just a smidgen ahead of Sarah Glenn who has taken a couple more wickets (45) but at a significantly inferior economy rate (5.06).

Player Matches Wickets Economy Impact %
1. Sophie Ecclestone 79 114 4.58 19%
2. Katherine Brunt 73 87 4.71 14%
3. Anya Shrubsole 70 81 4.90 12%
4. Nat Sciver 97 68 5.12 10%
5. Kate Cross 30 42 4.58 7%

Overall Impact

Sophie Ecclestone’s wickets and economy give her an impact score of 19% – a touch ahead of Tammy Beaumont, whose runs and strike rate give her an impact score of 18%. Then again, Nat Sciver makes it into the top 5 on both lists, giving her a combined impact score of 26% – some way ahead of the other allrounders on the team, with Katherine Brunt and Heather Knight both scoring 19% combined.

So does this definitively settle all the arguments? No – bartenders of the world can breathe a sigh of relief that Martin from Women’s Cricket Blog and I will still have plenty to argue about over drinks late into the night for many years to come! And perhaps that’s actually a big part of the reason for England’s relative consistency and success over the Heather Knight era, Australia dominance notwithstanding? The best teams aren’t dependent upon one or two players. Sophie Ecclestone might have had a fifth of the team’s bowling impact, but the rest of the squad have had the other four-fifths… and that’s maybe the real lesson here.