VIRTUAL MATCH REPORT: CRICKETish Cup Glory for Fenby & Co As Warriors Weave their Magic

By Richard Clark

With “real” county cricket in abeyance, we got together with @WomensCricDay, @WomensCricBlog and WomensCricket.net to run the CRICKETish Cup – a virtual women’s cricket competition played in cyberspace!

On a thrilling night at Lord’s, North East Warriors carried off the inaugural Cricketish Cup, defying the odds to defeat favourites Surrey by just two runs!

Division 1 newcomers Warriors had already taken the scalp of Sussex in the semi-final and repeated that underdog victory as Laura Ellison defended 7 off the last over in a nail-biting climax.

Surrey had looked in control as Sophia Dunkley (19) and Aylish Cranstone (18) took them within 25 runs of victory with more than four overs left, building on the foundation laid by Bryony Smith (29) and Nat Sciver (25), but both were dismissed in the space of five balls and the Surrey lower order couldn’t find a way over the line from there.

Skipper Hannah Jones took two off each of Ellison’s first two balls to leave her side needing four from four, but when she fell lbw two balls later it left Rhianna Southby to find a boundary off the final ball. She could only find Lizzie Scott at midwicket and the trophy was off to the North East amid huge celebrations.

Earlier, openers Laura Hockaday (21) and Layla Tipton (22) produced another solid opening partnership of 44, only to be dismissed off consecutive deliveries, and when Warriors subsided to 74 for 5 after the unfortunate run out of Ami Campbell for 13 they looked in danger of falling short of a challenging score.

However, youngster Ciara Boaden (30) more than made up for her part in Campbell’s departure as she marshalled the lower order expertly and helped set a target of 131 for Surrey to win.

Jones took three wickets for the Oval side, but the pick of the bowlers was undoubtedly Beth Kerins with 2 for 13 off four miserly overs.

Warriors backed up an excellent fielding display in the semi-final with similar vigour here as they threw themselves at everything to keep Smith and Sciver from cutting loose. There were two wickets each for skipper Helen Fenby, Bailey Wanless and Lizzie Scott who finished as leading wicket-taker for the competition with eight, whilst Tipton topped the run-scoring charts with 108 across the three games.

The Player of the Match Award, meanwhile, went to Boaden for her excellent innings and two fine catches to oust Sciver and Cranstone at critical moments.

So the Trophy travels up to the North East, and it may stay there permanently if rumoured plans to play real cricket again one day come to fruition…

EXCLUSIVE: Retainers Worth £1,000 Per Month; Domestic Contracts Will Be Worth £18,000

The ECB’s new retainers, which will be awarded to 24 domestic players and will begin on 1 June, will be worth £1,000 a month; while the 40 new full-time domestic professionals – whose contracts will commence later in the summer – will earn £18,000 a year, CRICKETher has learned.

All of those awarded retainers will subsequently be upgraded to a full-time domestic contract once these kick in later in the summer.

The remaining contracts will be confirmed after the Centre of Excellence fixtures have been played in September, presumably based on player performances during the competition.

All CoE players, meanwhile – assuming at least some fixtures go ahead this season – will be paid a match fee of approximately £200 per game.

From 2021, the £18,000 will be supplemented by payments for The Hundred (Women’s Competition), which for domestic female players will likely range between £3,600 and £9,000.

This would still, however, mean that all domestic players would earn less than the PCA’s mandated minimum wage for full-time professional cricketers in England, which last June was set at £27,500.

NEWS: ECB Confirm Domestic Retainers From June 1st

As predicted in our weekly vodcast, the ECB have confirmed that domestic retainers will be introduced from June 1st, in order to partially compensate players who were hoping to receive one of 40 new domestic contracts, which were supposed to have started at the beginning of this summer.

The ECB have said that up to 24 women will receive a retainer, which will come with reciprocal obligations on the players to start work on taking their anti-corruption and anti-doping education modules online, as well as following strength and conditioning programmes at home throughout the lockdown.

The ECB have not said how much the retainers are worth or who will receive them, though the implication appears to be that the players will be selected by the Regional Directors of Women’s Cricket at the 8 new Centres of Excellence, which were also confirmed last week.

NEWS: Hosts For New Centres Of Excellence Confirmed

The ECB have confirmed the hosts for the 8 new Regional Centres of Excellence which will form the backbone of the new domestic structure in England and Wales.

As mooted by CRICKETher last October, the new teams will largely correspond to the previous 6 Kia Super League regions – with Surrey, Hampshire, Loughborough University, Lancashire and Yorkshire all acting as CoE “hosts”; while both Western Storm and Southern Vipers live on in an alternative guise. Both Storm (a partnership of Glamorgan CCC, Gloucestershire CCC and Somerset CCC) and Vipers have also registered as limited companies, reflecting the greater amount of autonomy granted to the CoEs compared to the KSL hosts.

Meanwhile the two “new” regional teams – London & East and West Midlands – will be hosted by Middlesex CCC and a partnership between Warwickshire & Worcestershire CCC respectively.

It is expected that the players selected for the new Centres will train and play at least some of their fixtures at the home grounds of the regional hosts, with the new domestic calendar therefore centring around Headingley, Old Trafford, New Road, Loughborough University, Taunton / Bristol, the Ageas Bowl, the Oval and Lord’s.

All 8 Regional Directors of Women’s Cricket are also now in place, with familiar faces Danni Warren (London & East), Richard Bedbrook (London & South East), Laura MacLeod (West Midlands) and Lisa Pagett (South West & Wales) joined by James Carr (North East), David Thorley (North West), Ian Read (East Midlands), and Adam Carty (South Central).

Carr previously worked at Cricket Scotland, while Carty had headed up Hampshire’s Boys’ Player Pathway; Thorley joins from England Boxing, and Read is the former Performance Programme Manager for Loughborough Sport.

The full list of hosts is as follows:

  • North East – Yorkshire CCC
  • North West – Lancashire CCC
  • West Midlands – Warwickshire & Worcestershire CCC
  • East Midlands – Loughborough University
  • South West & Wales – Glamorgan CCC, Gloucestershire CCC and Somerset CCC (aka Western Storm Ltd)
  • South Central – Hampshire CCC (aka Southern Vipers Ltd)
  • London & South East – Surrey CCC
  • London & East – Middlesex CCC

INTRODUCING: The CRICKETish Cup

The WHAT?

The CRICKETish Cup is a “virtual” women’s county cricket cup, played in cyber-space by the top 9 county teams! It will take place over the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of this month, with a play-off, quarter finals, semi-finals and a final.

The WHY?

With no women’s county cricket happening this month, thanks to You Know What, the CRICKETish Cup is a bit of fun to keep women’s county cricket in the spotlight.

The HOW?

The CRICKETish Cup will simulate matches, using real stats from last year’s County Championship, combined with a big random element to keep things interesting. Syd wrote the software, in a programming language called C# (pronounced “C Sharp” – like the musical note), and we’ve entered all the stats from Play Cricket into a database.

Alongside @WomensCricDay, @WomensCricBlog and womenscricket.net, we will be bringing you all the action “live” on Twitter, with score updates and match reports.

The WHO?

All 9 Division 1 T20 teams have agreed to take part and have submitted their teams: Wales, Hampshire, Kent, Lancashire, North East Warriors, Somerset, Surrey, Sussex and Warwickshire.

The SMALL PRINT

Although the CRICKETish Cup uses real stats, the outcome is very much down to luck, so don’t sweat it if your favourite player gets out for a duck or gets whacked for 30 off an over – it is just a bit of fun!

LIVE DRAW

FIXTURES

PLAY-OFF (Fri 22 May at 6pm) – Wales v Somerset

QUARTER-FINAL 1 (Sat 23 May at 11am) – Durham v Play-Off Winner

QUARTER-FINAL 2 (Sat 23 May at 11am) – Sussex v Lancashire

QUARTER-FINAL 3 (Sat 23 May at 3pm) – Kent v Surrey

QUARTER-FINAL 4 (Sat 23 May at 3pm) – Hampshire v Warwickshire

SEMI-FINAL 1 (Sun 24 May at 11am) – Winner of QF 1 v Winner of QF 2

SEMI-FINAL 2 (Sun 24 May at 3pm) – Winner of QF 3 v Winner of QF 4

GRAND FINAL (Mon 25 May at 6pm) – Winner of SF 1 v Winner of SF 2

NEWS: Clare Connor Looking At Retainers For Some Domestic Players; But Admits Men’s Cricket May Take Priority This Summer

The ECB’s Managing Director of Women’s Cricket, Clare Connor, has admitted that following the cancellation of The Hundred there may be no professional women’s cricket at all played in England this summer, but has softened the blow with the announcement that the ECB are looking to introduce interim “retainers” for some players below England level to help them through the COVID-19 crisis.

Speaking to members of the press via a Zoom conference call, Connor said that she remains steadfastly committed to her vision for the women’s game, in the face of the unprecedented possibility of a summer without cricket and a £380 million black hole in the ECB’s accounts.

Whilst admitting that “there is no part of the ECB that has been afforded ring-fenced funding”, Connor said that the £20 million allocated for women’s and girls cricket in 2020-21 was still the budget they were working to; and that the ECB was planning to address the financial worries of those who had been hoping for full-time domestic “Centres of Excellence” [CoE] contracts this season by awarding a number of “financial retainers” to tide them over.

Although these retainers would not quite be a full time salary, they would be part-way to full professionalism, with the players being expected to commit to a full Strength & Conditioning program, overseen by their CoE coaches, as well as undertaking mandatory anti-corruption and anti-doping education programs online.

With the ECB facing an enormous financial deficit, Connor conceded that bringing in revenue by playing men’s Tests, behind closed doors but on TV, may have to take priority over playing women’s internationals:

“We’ve got long-term ambitions for the [women’s] game that extend beyond this summer, and trying to protect as much investment as possible over the next five years is largely going to come down to how much international men’s cricket can be staged this summer.”

However, she said that she remained hopeful that at least some international women’s cricket could be staged this season.

England’s series against India has been postponed but at this stage not officially cancelled, and the later series against South Africa is in theory still on the calendar “as was”. But with only a limited number of bio-secure venues available, Connor admitted that prioritising the men’s games, which would bring in the money the game as a whole desperately needs, could be “a hit we might have to take”.

VIDEO: The CRICKETher Vodcast – Social Isolation Edition – Episode 7

Raf & Syd discuss the postponement of the Hundred to 2021; Cricket Australia’s centrally contracted player list for 2020-21; the possibility of the PCB raising a dispute with the ICC over the splitting of their Championship points with India; and might we see international cricket being played in July?

Plus… thanks once more to the magic of green-screen, we’re at a county match; but where and when? (It’s a tough one this week, so we’ll post a clue on Twitter later!)