WWT20 Qualifiers: Scotland Claim Second Win v USA

Scotland 111-1 (L Jack 46*, S Ramautar 1 for 18) beat USA 110-2 (S Bhaskar 51*, KE Bryce 1 for 10) by 9 wickets

Jake Perry reports

Scotland’s women made it two wins out of two with a comfortable victory over USA in the second match of the ICC Women’s World T20 Europe/Americas Qualifier. In overcast conditions in Stirling another excellent performance with both bat and ball sealed a nine-wicket win for the tournament hosts with sixteen balls to spare.

After Scotland’s top order had made light work of their chase against the Netherlands the previous afternoon USA captain Sindhu Sriharsha’s decision to bat was a bold one, but openers Nadia Gruny and Shebani Bhaskar found it difficult to get their side’s innings off the ground in the face of accurate bowling from Katie McGill and Kathryn Bryce. The fourth over was add further problems, too, as the dangerous Gruny (7), having survived a confident shout for LBW in Bryce’s first over, was trapped in front by the final ball of her second.

Bryce was finding conditions much to her liking, swinging the ball prodigiously as both batsmen struggled to time the ball, and with USA at 19-1 at the end of the Powerplay scoreboard pressure started to tell in a series of swipes and misses as Bhaskar and Onika Wallerson attempted to break the shackles. Too few boundaries, however, were taking their toll.

The introduction of spin tightened things still further and the leg-spin of Abatha Maqood soon brought the second wicket as Wallerson (11) skied the ball to Priyanaz Chatterji at mid-on. New batsman Sriharsha (31*) made her intention plain with a confident pull for four, however, and with Bhaskar finding the rope with more consistency, too, the scoring began to pick up at last as the two added fifty together in rapid time.

Bhaskar (51*) brought up a good half-century as the visitors posted 110-2 at the end of their twenty overs. The third wicket pair’s careful placement and sharp running had shown what might have been, but USA’s slow progress at the top of the innings had left Scotland very much in control of the game.

Having played the supporting role to Lorna Jack’s half century against the Dutch, Kathryn Bryce immediately looked in fine touch as Scotland made a confident start to the chase. Light rain at the back end of the USA innings had continued into the beginning of the next, and the twenty year-old all-rounder unfurled a series of good-looking shots as Scotland quickly got ahead of the Duckworth-Lewis requirement. Jack was soon into her stride again, too, cutting Samantha Ramautar’s first ball for four as Scotland posted 40 in the Powerplay.

Both openers looked untroubled as they manoeuvred the ball to rotate the strike, and with inconsistent bowling finding its way to the boundary, too, USA’s total was put further into context. Despite Kathryn Bryce (37) falling within sight of the line, Jack (46*) and Sarah Bryce (7*) saw Scotland home at the beginning of the 18th over.

“The team is feeling really good,” said Kathryn Bryce. “Obviously it is tough having to sit around for a couple of days in the rain but it’s good to get out and play some good cricket.”

“The pitch is playing pretty well, it’s coming on quite nicely. If the bowler gets it into a good area it’s tough to get away, though, so [with the ball] I was looking to get as many balls into that area as I could.”

“We’re hoping to continue [our form] on into the next couple of games,” added Bryce. “To win [both games] with just a few wickets down is really good.”

It was another clinical victory for a Scotland side who have yet to be tested in the tournament, and with two spots at the ICC World Qualifier now up for grabs after the revamp of the regional event Steve Knox’s side will be confident that they have already gone a long way toward securing their berth in the next stage of the competition.

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Jake Perry writes on Scottish cricket for Cricket Scotland and CricketEurope and is a regular contributor to HoldingWilley.

Twitter: @jperry_cricket / Facebook: Jake Perry Cricket

WWT20 Qualifiers: Scotland Away to a Flying Start as Rain Relents in Stirling

Scotland 113-3 (L Jack 60, R Rijke 1 for 15) beat Netherlands 112-5 (HW Rambaldo 32*, LI Wilkinson 2 for 18) by 7 wickets

Jake Perry reports

After heavy rain put paid to the attempt to complete the opening cycle of matches at the ICC Women’s World T20 Europe/Americas Qualifier on time, Scotland recorded a comprehensive seven-wicket victory in their rearranged match with the Netherlands at New Williamfield. A magnificent half century from Lorna Jack anchored a comfortable chase for the tournament hosts as they secured victory with more than four overs to spare.

With residual moisture still affecting the outfield the Netherlands openers found runs hard to come by as they struggled to pierce the field, and Scotland’s decision to bowl first was further rewarded by Sarah Bryce’s sharp stumping of Stere Kalis (3) in the third over off the bowling of Katie McGill.

Dot balls from Kathryn Bryce, Priyanaz Chatterji and Samantha Haggo kept up the pressure on the visitors and when Haggo claimed the wicket of Babette de Leede (19), caught at point by Lois Wilkinson, the Netherlands found themselves in deep trouble at 39-2 after ten overs.

Wilkinson was soon in on the act with ball in hand, too, as Cher van Slobbe (22) edged behind to crown a wicket maiden, and although the incoming Heather Siegers (25) looked to counter-attack she was also to fall to the off-spinner, bowled by the last ball of Wilkinson’s final over.

The Dutch skipper’s cameo had at least succeeded in raising the tempo of her side’s innings, but despite Helmein Rambaldo (32*) picking up the mantle with some late boundaries of her own the Netherlands final total of 112-5 looked below par.

Just how much so became quickly apparent as Scotland openers Kathryn Bryce and Lorna Jack punished some wayward Dutch bowling to plunder 33 from the first four overs. The experienced pair made their intent clear from the outset, working the ball fluently around the wicket to push the Netherlands further and further out of the game, and although Bryce (21) was to fall lbw to Robine Rijke in the ninth over their partnership of 72 had put Scotland firmly in control.

Jack, playing on her home ground, repeatedly found the boundary with cuts and sweeps on her way to bringing up a 40-ball half-century in the twelfth over. It had been a terrific innings full of character and aggression, and although Leonie Bennett was to have the final word as Jack departed in the fifteenth, the inevitable was by then only five runs away.

“That was my first ever fifty for Scotland Women and it was a great time for it to happen,” said a delighted Jack.

“Kathryn and I got off to a really good start, we just looked to pick the gaps and hit a few boundaries where we could, and I’m just really proud to have helped the team over the line.”

“We knew that if two of the top five could make it into the twenties then push on we had every chance,” she continued.

“But we bat to number eleven, so even if I hadn’t done it today I would have backed the girls all the way.”

The tournament now moves into the reserve day, with USA playing Scotland then the Netherlands tomorrow (Wednesday) to complete the first cycle of matches in the double round-robin format.

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Jake Perry writes on Scottish cricket for Cricket Scotland and CricketEurope and is a regular contributor to HoldingWilley.

Twitter: @jperry_cricket / Facebook: Jake Perry Cricket

KSL Lightning v Vipers: Talking Points

Vipers bt. Lightning by 46 runs

Suzie Bates

If anyone was still wondering where we got the crazy idea that New Zealand were going to win the World Cup, we present Exhibit A: Suzie Bates in imperious form once again, taking her second consecutive Player of the Match award of the tournament. Her 119 is the highest score ever made in a “pro” domestic T20, beating the previous record 103 held jointly by Sophie Devine (in WBBL02) and Grace Harris (in WBBL01). She then went on to take 3 wickets for 15 as the Lightning were bowled out off the final ball, with the (admittedly massive) target still a distant speck on the horizon.

Sarah Glenn

The 18-year-old was perhaps a surprise selection, given that Marie Kelly had acquitted herself pretty well on her debut v the Storm. Glenn has made a few runs for Derbyshire over the past couple of seasons in Div 2/3, but nothing to write home about; so it was fantastic to see her jump feet-first into the KSL with 25 off 21 balls.

“That” Run Out

Elyse Villani was given run out at the non-strikers end off Tash Farrant’s fingertip on the follow-through, but… did she or didn’t she? The ball certainly appeared to deviate on the replay from the umpire-cam; but the view from the other end looked a lot less conclusive. Obviously Farrant felt she had got a hand on it, but you’ll “feel” a ball travelling at that speed even if you don’t quite touch it. My impression is that she probably did make contact, though others will disagree; but the really interesting question is whether she meant to? If you are the Vipers, it was smart work… if you are the Lightning, Villani was unlucky – you pays your money and you takes your choice I guess!

That “Other” Run Out

There was no doubt about the other run out Farrant effected though – that of Ellyse Perry. Georgia Adams will get the credit on the scorecard, but the ball was missing until Farrant (standing in front of the stumps, as the England players are coached to do) gathered it and diverted it on in a single, brilliant movement. That is where all those hours of fielding drills make the difference for the pros – first judging that it was indeed going to miss, and then executing the move to change the course of the ball without losing anything but a fraction of its speed. Suzie Bates or no Suzie Bates, it was the Play of the Day for me!

KSL Storm v Lightning: Talking Points

Storm bt. Lightning by 5 wickets, with 5 balls remaining

Stafanie Taylor – 1…

If yesterday belonged to the journeymen, today belonged to one of the superstars – Stafanie Taylor looked like she was playing on a different pitch to everyone else. Having already run out Ellyse Perry (of whom more later) she then took the wickets of Elwiss, Odedra and Brookes in one over, to break the back of the Lightning innings, finishing with figures of 4-5. She then went on to top-score with 34 off 32 balls, as the Storm made slightly hard work of the chase to win with 5 balls to spare.

… Ellyse Perry – 0

The Lighting got off to a good start, but that was mostly down to Amy Jones, with 21 off 13 balls. At the other end, Ellyse Perry made four more runs (25) but they took her fifteen more balls! She then took 0-17 with the ball, at an economy rate of 5.36. She wasn’t awful, but if anyone paid their money today to see Ellyse Perry the World-Beating Superstar… they would have left a bit disappointed!

Marie Kelly

Kelly entered the fray on her KSL debut in an awful situation. Lightning had just collapsed to 59-5 – there wasn’t much batting to come, and there were still 10 overs left. She had to do one thing, and one thing only: stay there! And that she did – it cost balls (at one point she was 1 off 10) but it had to be done. Then, things having finally settled down, she began to push the boat out, finishing with 18 off 30 – i.e. 17 off 20 in the second “half” of her innings. Job done, as they say!

Freya Davies

Before the tournament began, Heather Knight was talking up Davies new slower ball, which we saw rolled-out* today. She ended up with just the one wicket (though it was the big one of Amy Jones) but more importantly in the T20 game a very good economy rate of 4.25, including 13 dots – bearing in mind 3 of her overs were bowled to Jones and Perry in the PowerPlay, that’s a pretty good return.

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* Rolled-out… as in rolled-out the back of her hand!!! No??? Oh… well I thought it was good, but never mind – I won’t roll that joke out again!!

KSL Diamonds v Thunder: Talking Points

Diamonds bt. Thunder by 28 runs

Some Internationals You Win… 

She might have been a last minute KSL selection, but Chamari Atapattu proved today that she should never be anyone’s second choice, hitting the ball just as hard as she did during the World Cup. With 41 runs, 4 overs and a catch to her name, it was a pretty solid start from the first Sri Lankan to play in an overseas women’s league.

… And Some You Luus

Presumably KSL captains have at least some say over the international players who are selected to play under them. It seems baffling, then, that Lauren Winfield not only chose to bowl home-grown talents Katie Thompson and Katie Levick ahead of her international leg-spinner Sune Luus, but that she chose not to use Luus at all. It seems we weren’t the only ones questioning her choice!

Alice Davidson-Richards

We’ve seen enough of ADR at Kent over the past couple of years to know that she’s a much improved player of late, and she certainly proved it today. 22 off 13 balls and 3-20 – at 23, maybe she won’t ever go on to play for England, but she still stacks up pretty well against the top internationals in this competition.

Helmet Help?

When Sophie Devine comes out to bat without a helmet, one is brought out for her pretty pronto because it’s against the regulations. But when Anna Nicholls decides she is going to keep wicket against Katherine Brunt – one of the fastest bowlers in world cricket – without any head protection, there’s nothing in the rules to stop her. Time for a rethink?!

#KSL17 – Bates Leads Vipers To Big Opening Win v Storm

New Zealand’s Suzie Bates put her World Cup disappointments behind her to hit 47 not out off 31 balls to lead the Southern Vipers to an opening-day bonus-point win against the Western Storm.

On a hot day at the Ageas Bowl in Hampshire, the Vipers won the toss and captain Charlotte Edwards elected to bowl, with her opposite number Heather Knight admitting the Storm would have done the same, with the pitch having sweated under the covers after several days of rain.

Opening the bowling, Tash Farrant, having played very little cricket during the World Cup hiatus, struggled a little bit with her line, but got slightly lucky when Rachel Priest flashed at a ball which would have been called for a second consecutive wide, but Priest got a thin edge and was well caught by Carla Rudd standing up to the stumps.

At the other end, Linsey Smith continued where she left off a year ago – bowling tidily and taking the wicket of Heather Knight with a classic Smith “Sucker Punch” – a ball which looked a good length to sweep but kept low, ducking under Knight’s bat to bowl her for 1.

Having faced dot after dot, Georgia Hennessy finally started to get going in the 9th over, hitting Aran Brindle for a 6 and two 4s. But Hennessy was out 2 balls later, and remarkably those were the only boundaries the Storm scored in their entire innings.

Fran Wilson (10) was the only other batsman to reach double-figures, as the Storm disintegrated – helped along their way by a some top-draw fielding – Charlotte Edwards taking the catch to dismiss Stafanie Taylor at mid off, before running out Sophie Luff for a 4-ball duck; and then Linsey Smith topping off her contribution with the ball with a fantastic direct hit to end Freya Davies’ late 7-run cameo, hitting the stumps from outside the ring at cover point, to bowl the Storm out for 70 – the 2nd-lowest total in the KSL’s (admittedly short!) history.

As Suzie Bates said afterwards:

“When you go out to bat after a start like that, you have a lot of confidence.”

It nearly didn’t happen for her, however, as Rachel Priest fluffed a straightforward stumping chance in the first over – fumbling the ball, giving Bates time to dive back into her crease and beat the 3rd umpire review by a whisker.

But the real gift however came from Holly Huddleston, who had one of those overs that will give her nightmares for years to come. After Hayley Matthews took a single off the second ball, Bates then proceeded to hit five 4s and a 6 as the Hudd Missile misfired for four no balls, going for 34 runs off the over – almost half the total the Vipers needed.

“It is never nice to see,” Bates admitted later. “The first two, to be honest, I was licking my lips at a free hit, but then you do start to feel for a player like that. Holly had a really good World Cup and she is an outstanding bowler so I feel for her – it is her first chance in one of these leagues and she’ll be really disappointed; but she is the type of character that will bounce back!”

Ironically, it was a Vipers player – Hayley Matthews – who then played probably the worst shot of the day. Trying to dink Stafanie Taylor over the top of midwicket, the ball ended up in the hands of Georgia Hennessy on the other side of the pitch at extra cover! But it was all academic by then anyway, as Bates and Georgia Adams played out the game, Bates finishing things off with a 6 for the win inside 10 overs!

Summing up, Bates concluded:

“That was a tough wicket – it was holding a little bit and fortunately we won the toss and it was a little bit drier when we batted.”

“I thought we were outstanding with the ball – that was our strength last year – we got off to a good start and we were able to contain them and take wickets.”

Meanwhile, the Storm’s Georgia Hennessy also admitted the toss played its part, but wasn’t making excuses:

“It was a good toss to win in T20 cricket; but we should have hit the ball the ball straighter and harder earlier on and backed ourselves.”

“It wasn’t our day with the bat or ball but we’ll have a break and go again.”

The big win gives the Vipers an extra bonus point for getting the runs at more than 1.25x the rate of their opponents, and has set down a marker that they mean business again this season.

KSL Vipers v Storm: Talking Points

Vipers bt. Storm by 9 wickets, with 66 balls remaining

Nobody Puts Lottie In The Corner

Down to bat at 7, before this game started it seemed likely Charlotte Edwards might well not get a look in. Not so. Not only did she take the catch to dismiss last year’s Player of the Tournament Stafanie Taylor, she followed that up the very next over by running out Sophie Luff with a direct hit from mid on. This might be her (probable) swan song but nobody puts England’s greatest in the corner.

Linsey Smith: Not Just A One KSL Wonder?

Was Linsey Smith’s performance in last year’s KSL just a one-off, based on the fact that she was a last-minute addition to the squad and nobody had quite yet got the measure of her? Not on the evidence of today. Just 9 runs conceded off her 4 overs – and the wicket of the England captain to boot. Knight was totally deceived: Smith, totally chuffed.

Famine vs Feast

Sometimes sides are bowled out for 70 because the other team bowl beautifully. It’s probably fair to say that Storm didn’t quite fall into that category today. If they’d left the wide ones alone and punished the mediocre balls, life would have been a lot rosier. As it was, Georgia Hennessy was the only player in the entire Storm line-up to hit a boundary.

Meanwhile Vipers knew they only needed to plod along at 4 an over but went for it hammer and tongs to finish things off with 11 overs still in the bank. “I wanted to be really aggressive,” Suzie Bates told us after close of play. “I’ve got the power and I’ve got to back myself to clear the boundary. When you see the men’s rope and then your rope, sometimes it is a little bit of a kick up the bum to prove that you can clear the men’s one.” The fact that she finished things off with a six really did epitomise the difference between the sides.

Storm Blown Over

Before the tournament Heather Knight explained Storm’s rationale for swapping Lizelle Lee with Holly Huddleston this time around: “We had too much batting – Sophie Luff and Fran Wilson both coming in too far down the order. With the overseas allocation we felt like we wanted an extra seam bowler.” After being bowled out for 70 in 18.5 overs today, with Huddleston’s second over of the day going for 34 runs, you sense they might yet come to rue that decision.

NEWS: Samantha Haggo and Lorna Jack Reach 100 Caps For Scotland

Jake Perry reports

Scotland’s thrilling victories over Wales and Worcestershire in Division 2 of the ECB Twenty20 Championship crowned a day of particular significance for the game north of the border as Samantha Haggo and Lorna Jack became the fourth and fifth Scottish women to reach the landmark of a hundred caps for their country.

In the process of joining fellow centurions Kari Carswell, Kathryn White and Abbi Aitken the duo have become integral members of the national side, and as they look forward to Scotland’s first home fixtures since 2011 they also look back on their respective international journeys with considerable pleasure.

“I’m honoured and very proud to have played for my country for the last ten years,” said Jack.

“It’s been a long road with lots of injuries on the way but to finally reach a hundred caps is a real thrill.”

“When I saw Kari, Kathryn and Abbi reach that number I just thought, wow, that’s legendary status,” added all-rounder Haggo.

“I never thought I’d win that many. I’m absolutely delighted to have done so and it’s really special that Lorna and I were able to reach the milestone together.”

Adding to the symmetry of the occasion the 24 year olds made their national debuts on the same day, too, as both were selected as teenagers to play against Durham in July 2007.

“It was a bit of a dreich day at Sacriston,” remembered Haggo.

“My family all came down waving their Scotland flags. I batted at eight, got a duck and didn’t bowl so you couldn’t say it was the most memorable performance!

“I remember being so excited though. I was given a training top, we didn’t get the full tracksuit like the girls do nowadays, and when I got home I just didn’t want to take it off!”

“I got a cheeky wee nine not out going in at number nine,” said Jack. “We won the game too which was great.

“But it’s nice that after we made our debuts together Sam and I won our hundredth cap on the same day as well. It’s quite fitting.”

Both players agree that experience has brought with it a change in their outlook on the game.

“I would say that my temperament is a lot better now,” said Haggo. “When I was younger I struggled to get my emotions under control because I wanted to do well so badly.

“Over time, though, you learn to enjoy it more. It is a game after all.

“You play it because you enjoy it and I really enjoy being on the field with ten other girls who are also my friends.”

“I think my patience has evolved if anything,” said wicketkeeper Jack.

“As a young player everyone will tell you that I was a very hot-headed wee person. I still am a little bit but I think I have matured over the years. I used to get hung up on moments that didn’t really matter in the long run whereas now I won’t let my head go down.

“My skills are improving too,” she continued. “We’ve lost a few players through retirement and this season availability has been a bit unpredictable as many of the girls are establishing themselves in new jobs.

“I’ve been punted up the batting order as a result. The first time it happened I felt I had a nosebleed coming on! But I like the challenge and I’m quite happy to play that kind of role.

“I just try to go in and do whatever I need to do.”

The past decade has featured a variety of highlights for Scotland’s women, with league wins and appearances on the international stage the reward for increasingly consistent performances.

“Winning the ECB Division 3 in 2014 was really special. We had a great season that year,” said Haggo. “Speaking personally my first fifty for Scotland stands out too, especially as I’ve not had too many since,” she laughed.

“But getting the opportunity to go to the World Cup Qualifiers in Bangkok and Sri Lanka was very special. Obviously the results weren’t quite what we wanted but for the team to get to play on the world stage was a real buzz.”

“Those competitions were amazing,” agreed Jack. “It was brilliant to play in that kind of atmosphere and finishing fourth in Thailand was a massive achievement for us.

“Whitewashing Holland last year to get to Sri Lanka was another high point as we’d never done that before. I had also played against most of that team as an Under 17 so it was good to see how we had advanced since those days.

“Catching Charlotte Edwards [against Hampshire] is a moment that has stood out this season,” she smiled. “Katie McGill bowled, Charlotte nicked it and I caught it. Not a bad wicket!”

For now, though, attention is focused on Scotland’s upcoming matches. After playing Ireland at MacKays Forthill for the Celtic Cup at the beginning of August Steve Knox’s side take on the Netherlands and USA in the ICC World Cup European/Americas Qualifier in Stirling.

“We’ve not really hosted Ireland for a series before so this is a fantastic opportunity,” said Haggo.

“Ireland are probably a step above us so it will be good to see if we’ve improved since we last played them in Dubai last January.

“It’s important that we don’t think about the opposition too much, though. Sometimes there is a danger of playing against a particular player rather than focusing on the ball you’re facing or the ball you are about to deliver.

“As long as we do the basics well and control what we can control then I know we’ve got the skills to perform and get the results we want.

“The experience of Thailand and Sri Lanka has helped the team massively,” she continued. “Playing against teams like Zimbabwe, South Africa and Pakistan lets us see where we are and gives us something to aspire to.

“We want as many opportunities to play at this level as we can get because they are so important for how we develop in the future.”

Scotland has the chance to reach the same stage again through the ICC Qualifier and as they prepare for the task ahead both players are excited that the team has the opportunity to showcase its skills on home soil once more.

“It’s so good to be playing in Scotland and at Stirling too because that’s where I play my club cricket,” said Jack. “We haven’t played at home for a long time so it will be amazing.

“The Qualifier is going to be an exciting series. We know the Dutch very well but we have never seen the USA side before which will make it very interesting.

“But we are confident that we are a good team with some very good players. We know our skills are there, it’s just a matter of us showing them on the day.”

“Whenever we go down south people squint at the Cricket Scotland badge and say that they didn’t know Scotland had a cricket team, never mind a women’s cricket team,” added Haggo.

“Hopefully this will raise a little more awareness of what we do and, who knows, maybe inspire some more girls to get involved in cricket too. That would be brilliant.”

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Reproduced by permission of Cricket Scotland

Jake Perry writes on Scottish cricket for Cricket Scotland and CricketEurope and is a regular contributor to HoldingWilley.

Twitter: @jperry_cricket / Facebook: Jake Perry Cricket

MATCH REPORTS: Lancashire Win T20 Cup v Surrey & Yorkshire

Lancashire battled their way to the T20 title on a windy day at Banstead Cricket Club in leafy Surrey, with victories over Surrey and Yorkshire.

Surrey v Lancashire

After heavy overnight rain, the first match between Surrey and Lancashire was delayed by a damp outfield and eventually reduced to 9 overs per side. After winning the toss, Lancashire reached 66-6 – Emma Lamb starring with 37 off 26 balls, as she found the boundary on 6 occasions, whilst for Surrey Beth Kerrins took 3-12 in the two (reduced) overs she was allotted.

Needing above 7-an-over, Surrey started off well enough with 7 off the first over, but quickly fell away, losing wickets at regular intervals, including 3 run-outs as they drifted towards a final tally of 45-7, 21 runs short.

Lancashire v Yorkshire

In the day’s second match, Yorkshire won the toss and elected to bat versus Lancashire; who already knew they were champions, after news of Warwickshire’s loss to Kent had come in via Twitter.

For Yorkshire, Jess Watson and Hannah Buck joint-top-scored with 20 each as the White Roses were bowled out for 87 in 17.2 overs. Natalie Brown and Rachel Dickinson took 2-apiece; but Sophie Ecclestone was really the pick of the bowling with 1 wicket for just 9 runs in her 4 overs.

It looked a massively under-par total compared with the previous game, with the ball flowing more feely over the outfield as it dried; but Lancashire actually made quite hard work of it – struggling to get the ball off the square as the Yorkshire bowlers pegged them back, led by leg-spinner Katie Levick who took 3-7 in her 4 overs. However, with Levick bowled out, Kate Cross (22*) and Sophie Ecclestone (14*) accelerated, taking Lancashire over the line eventually with 3 overs to spare, and time for the celebrations to begin.

Afterwards, victorious Lancashire captain Megan Fairclough told CRICKETher:

“We came here knowing we needed to win both games, depending on what happened elsewhere; but we took it a game at a time. The girls showed great character and worked well under pressure, especially towards the end of the last game. It feels fantastic.”\

Surrey v Yorkshire

The third match of the day was thus a dead rubber, but ended up a thriller, with Yorkshire needing 15 off the final over, and eventually falling just 4 runs short of their target.

Surrey originally looked to have set a formidable total, finishing on 138-8 having raced along at 7 an over for most of their innings to set up far and away the biggest run chase of the day. For Yorkshire, Katie Levick (3-21) once again starred with the ball, and at one point it looked like she had well and truly spoiled Surrey’s party, racking up 2 wickets in the space of 3 balls to leave her opponents 68-5 with 9 overs still left to face.

But a rallying effort from Surrey’s no. 8 and 10, Aylish Cranstone (29*) and Molly Sellars (20*), ensured a strong finish for the home side.

Yorkshire’s reply was held together by Maddie Walsh, as they pushed forward towards their target, keeping up with the rate but losing wickets steadily along the way. When Walsh was out for 25 in the 14th over, pushing the ball into the hands of Amy Gordon at midwicket, it looked as if her side might fall well short – 6 wickets down and still needing 50 runs – but some sloppy fielding from Surrey almost cost them dearly, with Yorkshire still in with a shout until the last ball of the match.

It was left down to captain Cecily Scutt to bowl the final over; and for a minute it looked as if Surrey might have thrown it all away, as her first two balls were dispatched to the boundary by Izzy Bunn. Bunn, though, was caught on the leg side trying to repeat the feat, and Scutt then kept her cool to ensure the last three balls each went for only a single – Surrey winning by 3 runs.

— Raf Nicholson

OPINION: KSL 50 Is Dead… So Make The County Championship Count!

The news that plans for a “KSL-50” – a 50-over Super League to accompany the T20 KSL – have officially been abandoned (link) means that the Women’s County Championship is set to muddle-along for the next couple of years at least.

The problem with the KSL-50 was that it was the wrong thing to do in practice – there was no space for it in the calendar and the overseas stars who make the KSL what it is were not going to be available for a much longer competition with a very small budget.

But in principle, an elite 50-over competition is a “must” if England are going to look to successfully retain their World Cup in four years time – somewhere to blood the new players we will need by then, given that several members of the current team are unlikely to make it to 2021.

When the KSL-50 was first mooted, the suggestion was that the County Championship would become an “Age Group” feeder competition; but in a way that has already happened – with the England players mostly unavailable due to World Cup commitments, this was always going to be a year when the counties needed to raid their age-group squads for new talent.

But ironically, the KSL has actually made things worse in some cases, as older “county” players have found the pressure of County + KSL + Job + Life too much, and have decided to call it a day with cricket.

So whilst Australia press-on with the full-scale professionalisation of their domestic structures – both 50 and 20-over – we have Div 1 counties fielding teams of teenagers, with a dearth of senior players to support them as they inevitably struggle.

The importance of having senior players on the pitch can’t be underestimated. Earlier this year, I saw a young fast bowler struggling, as she sent down two wides at the start of an over. She was wobbling; but New Zealand wicket-keeper Rachel Priest came over… had a chat… and the bowler bounced back to take 2 brilliant wickets in the spell!

But without those senior players, the County Championship will count for less and less.

The good news is that there is a relatively easy fix – arrange the calendar so that all the England players can play all of the County Championship. After all – it is in the name – it is a County Championship… so make it count!