NEWS: Western Storm Lives On As New “Centre Of Excellence”

As first mooted by CRICKETher back in October, it has been confirmed that the Kia Super League’s “Western Storm” will live on, becoming the name of the new South West & Wales Centre of Excellence who will field women’s teams in both 50-over and 20-over domestic cricket as of 2021.

The job advert [MS Word] for the South West’s new Regional Director of Women’s Cricket, who will work across Wales, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Devon and Cornwall, states that  the jobholder will be employed by the “Western Storm Board of Directors”, with Western Storm now registered as an official limited company with HMRC.

The web page accompanying the job advert states:

“Following on from four successful years in the Kia Super League, Western Storm has proudly become a household name across the South West. With existing strong links across the region, Western Storm has left an excellent legacy of programmes encouraging participation and support for women’s and girl’s cricket.

Five counties (Cornwall, Devon, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire) in the South West, and Wales have joined forces to lead the way in collaborative working for the greater benefit of performance and recreational cricket across our vast region.

With Western Storm’s existing legacy and the ECB’s new wider game strategy to Transform Women’s and Girls Cricket, this key appointment represents a substantial and exciting opportunity to play your part in both continuing and driving female cricket forward across our region.”

The new Centres of Excellence are due to launch shortly, acting as a replacement for the women’s senior county structure, with CoE sides to play against each other in September in a 50-over competition which replaces the Women’s County Championship. As of 2021, the CoEs will also compete in a 20-over competition. The Centres will serve as the base for the 40 new professionally-contracted domestic players and are a cornerstone of the ECB’s new Women and Girls’ Strategy.

It remains to be seen whether other Centres will follow in Western Storm’s footsteps and also adopt the name of their corresponding Kia Super League side. Nonetheless, if Western Storm can live on in a new guise, there seems no reason why Southern Vipers, Loughborough Lightning and the rest can’t do the same.

NEWS: Kent Honour Pioneering Early Players

Kent have announced the first five of 45 past and present stars that will receive County Caps during the club’s 150th anniversary season in 2020, recognising some of the pioneers from the early days of the Women’s Cricket Association.

Kent’s first recorded match took place against a Civil Service Women’s XI in 1935, and the county has provided talent for England representative sides since the inception of Test cricket in 1934.

1: Carol Valentine

England career: 1 Test, 1934; Kent Women career: c.1930-1935

Born in Blackheath in 1906, Carol Valentine was much more than the sister of former Kent captain, Bryan.

Valentine played for Kent and Middlesex in the early 1930s as a prolific right-arm medium pace bowler, also featuring for many Invitational XIs at the request of other pioneering women’s players at the time. She was a dual international, who also represented England at lacrosse, touring the USA with England in 1934.

She was a part of the first ever Test side that sailed to Australia in 1934, receiving England cap number 11 and taking the wicket of Kath Smith in her five overs bowled in the match.

2 & 3: Barbara & Joan Blaker

Barbara Blaker’s Kent Women career: c.1934-1951; Joan Blaker’s Kent Women career, c.1936-1952

Born in Lewisham in 1913, the Blaker twins formed a formidable middle-order partnership during the early years of the Kent team. Their father, Kent Men’s player and later Kent CCC President Richard Blaker, was originally horrified by his daughters’ interest in cricket – “He didn’t think it was a game for girls”, the sisters later recalled – but fortunately they ignored his advice.

Both sisters played for Kent for 15 years, also featuring in Invitational XIs and touring teams across the world. They were both involved in Kent’s match against Australia Women in Gravesend in 1937, where the scorecard notes that Australian opener Peggy Antonio was dismissed “caught Blaker, bowled Blaker” for 53.

4: Betty Archdale

England career: 5 Tests, 1934-1937; Kent Women career: 1937

Born in 1907 to leading suffragette Helen Archdale and goddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, Betty Archdale was the first ever captain of England, leading the side on their tour of Australia in 1934/5.

As England’s first ever Test captain, she therefore has the honour of being cap number one for England Women in Test cricket.

Archdale played one match for Kent in 1937, against a touring Australia national team, top-scoring with 68 runs for the hosts despite Kent’s 84-run defeat.

Her Invitational team, “H.E. Archdale’s XI”, played 30 fixtures between 1934 & 1939, the last match coming just before the outbreak of the Second World War.

During the war, Archdale served as a wireless operator in Singapore. In 1944, she was awarded an OBE for helping nurses escape from the conflict.

After moving to Australia in 1946, she was listed as a ‘National Living Treasure’ by the National Trust of Australia in 1997. In March 1999, Archdale was one of the first ten women to be granted Honorary Life Membership of the MCC.

5: Mary Richards

England career: 3 Tests, 17 matches in total, 1934-1935; Kent Women career: 1937

Marjorie “Mary” Richards was a part of England’s pioneering tour of Australia in 1934/5. She made three Test appearances for England on that tour, and is England Women’s 12th Test cricketer. In 17 matches for England in different formats, Richards took 17 wickets at an average of 8.58, and averaged 33.33 with the bat in Tests.

Though she played most of her matches for the West, she opened the batting for Kent Women against Australia at Gravesend in 1937, and also played one match for H.E. Archdale’s XI in 1936.

Summer 2020 Fixtures Announced As Keightley Offers Hope To Farrant & Luff

England have announced their summer fixture schedule, with 4 ODIs and 2 T20s against India in June/ July, and South Africa in September.

Tipping the balance to play more ODIs makes sense, not just with a 50-over World Cup on the horizon in New Zealand in early 2021, but also because the demise of the County Championship means there will be precious-little other one day cricket played next summer. (Albeit the Centres of Excellence will in theory play a one day comp in September, logistical issues with this remain unresolved, with the continuing dependence on amateur players who will have just taken a 6-week sabbatical from their day-jobs to play in The 100.)

In terms of venues it is largely the usual suspects, but there is one match at Headingly, which is the first fixture scheduled in The North™ since 2018 – a fixture which is perceived to have been disappointing from a commercial perspective, though the clash with a big men’s football match, which (let’s be honest!) England were not expected to be playing in, didn’t help to be fair.

Although England named a fairly conservative squad for the T20 World Cup, new coach Lisa Keightley has told CRICKETher that the net will be cast wide open in terms of selections this summer, with a way back for players like Tash Farrant and Sophie Luff who might have felt overlooked in the recent past.

“I’ll be looking at anyone who’s performing,” said Keightley.

“There’s some really good players I’ve worked with: Sophie Luff – she’s played in two Storm wins; Eve Jones has done quite well; and I really like the look of Holly Armitage – I think if she can get her leg spin going, she can hit quite strong and she’s great in the field. Then you’ve got Tash Farrant who is there or thereabouts.”

“It’s really open,” Keightley emphasised. “If you can score runs, take wickets and you can field well, and if you’re performing at that next level, it’s really exciting to see who can put their hand up!”

INDIA

Thursday June 25

1st Vitality IT20: England Women v India Women, The Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton, 19.00

Saturday June 27

2nd Vitality IT20: England Women v India Women, Bristol County Ground, 19.00

Wednesday July 1

Royal London Series, 1st ODI: England Women v India Women, Blackfinch New Road, Worcester, 11.00

Saturday July 4

Royal London Series, 2nd ODI: England Women v India Women, The Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford, 11.00

Monday July 6

Royal London Series, 3rd ODI: England Women v India Women, The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence, Canterbury, 14.00

Thursday July 9

Royal London Series, 4th ODI: England Women v India Women, The 1st Central County Ground, Hove, 14.00

SOUTH AFRICA

Tuesday September 1

1st Vitality IT20: England Women v South Africa Women, The 1st Central County Ground, Hove, 18.30

Friday September 4

2nd Vitality IT20: England Women v South Africa Women, The Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford, 18.30

Tuesday September 8

Royal London Series, 1st ODI: England Women v South Africa Women, The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence, Canterbury, 13.00

Friday September 11

Royal London Series, 2nd ODI: England Women v South Africa Women, Pattonair County Ground, Derby, 13.00

Sunday September 13

Royal London Series, 3rd ODI: England Women v South Africa Women, Emerald Headingley, Leeds, 11.00

Wednesday September 16

Royal London Series, 4th ODI: England Women v South Africa Women, The Fischer County Ground, Grace Road, Leicester, 13.00

T20 WORLD CUP: England Squad Announced – Elwiss Is Alive!

England have announced their squad for the Twenty20 World Cup, and the preceding warm-up Tri-Series with India and Australia, with the return of Georgia Elwiss being the only change from the squad that recently whitewashed Pakistan in Kuala Lumpur.

Seam all-rounder Elwiss replaces left-arm spinner Kirstie Gordon in the squad, with new coach Lisa Keightley citing the conditions England are likely to face in Australia:

“I thought we probably had too many spinners for what we need out in Australia, so we’ve opted for a couple of seamers over some selections with spin.”

Elwiss’ experience out in Australia was also a factor in her coming in, with Keightley saying:

“Georgia’s played in Australia in the WBBL and done really well out there. So for me she is an important inclusion into into our team, to give us options and a player who’s got experience out on Australian pitches.”

Pace bowler Freya Davies, and spinners Mady Villiers and Sarah Glenn all keep their spots in the squad, with Davies looking likely to play a big part:

“I think Freya will go pretty well,” said Keightley. “I’ll be telling her to play how she’s played, and not to go too far away from that – she’s done it in the KSL, and she’s bowled to a lot of players that play international cricket, and if she can do it there that will hold her in good stead.”

England fly out to Australia next week, with fans in England able to watch the Tri-Series on BT Sport, while the T20 World Cup will be shown by Sky.

Full Squad:

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

NEWS: Ali Maiden Steps Down; Lisa Keightley’s Coaching Team Takes Shape

The ECB have today announced that Alistair Maiden, the current England Assistant Coach, is stepping down from his current role to take up a post as Head of Talent Pathway at Leicestershire CCC.

Maiden has been part of the England set-up since 2011, initially as Lead Batting Coach, before becoming Assistant Coach in 2017. He played an important role in England’s World Cup win in 2017, and most recently served as Acting Head Coach for England’s whitewash of Pakistan in Malaysia.

Maiden’s sideways move to Leicestershire comes as no surprise: he worked closely with former coach Mark Robinson throughout his tenure as Assistant Coach, and following Robinson’s departure in August this decision was probably inevitable sooner rather than later.

It is also telling that Maiden is being replaced by Tim Macdonald, who has previously served as new Head Coach Lisa Keightley’s deputy at the Perth Scorchers WBBL. MacDonald – who will be in place initially only for the duration of the World T20 – appears to have been handpicked by Keightley to join the England set-up, with (as far as we are aware) no formal appointment process in place for the role.

Keightley and Macdonald’s first assignment will be the tri-series against Australia and India which begins in Canberra on January 31st.

BOOK LAUNCH: “Ladies and Lords: A History of Women’s Cricket in Britain”

On Wednesday 22 January, Raf will be launching her new book – Ladies and Lords: A History of Women’s Cricket in Britain.

The book is the first ever comprehensive history of women’s cricket in Britain, and covers the whole period from the first ever recorded match in 1745 to England’s World Cup triumph at Lord’s in 2017.

The launch is taking place in conjunction with the Cricket Society, and will be held at 7pm at the Union Jack Club in London (opposite Waterloo station). All are welcome to come along (no need to RSVP!)

The CRICKETher 2019 Christmas Quiz