WBBL: Batting Rankings – Sixers Hit ‘Em All For Six

Beth Mooney topped the WBBL batting charts for the second season in succession, after also coming 2nd in 2020, though emphasising the fact that it was a pretty middling year for batters, she did so scoring considerably fewer runs than in either of her past two seasons – “just” 434 from 14 games, compared with 528 from 13 group stage games in 2021 and 524 from 13 games in 2020.

After winning the tournament in 2021, Mooney’s Scorchers failed to qualify for the knockouts this year, showing how quickly things can change between one season and another. The Sixers have shown this from the other perspective, going from last to first in the ladder, with a massive 4 of their batters ranked in the top 6 to put them at the head of the team batting metrics.

Batting Balls Per… Avg Run Rate
Wicket Dot Single Two 4/6 1st Ins 2nd Ins PP
Sixers 24 3.12 2.42 16 6 8.16 8.06 5.60
Heat 20 3.01 2.64 14 7 8.16 7.32 5.90
Hurricanes 17 2.76 2.73 12 8 7.23 7.80 6.67
Scorchers 22 2.64 2.75 15 7 7.26 7.10 5.54
Stars 17 2.60 2.70 14 8 7.34 6.77 6.67
Strikers 21 2.53 2.81 17 8 6.85 7.11 6.11
Renegades 16 2.46 2.69 18 9 5.77 6.92 6.09
Thunder 17 2.42 2.70 22 9 6.22 6.63 6.23

Ash Gardner looks to be locked-in for Player of the Tournament, having also finished 2nd in the bowling rankings; Ellyse Perry’s resurgent form has earned her an unexpected place in Australia’s squad for the India T20s, after she sat on the side-lines for the Commonwealth Games; Erin Burns has burned up any suggestion that she is over the hill at age 34; and Alyssa Healy also appears to have rediscovered prime form after a disappointing outing in 2021. Getting all those players singing from the same hymn-sheet after flopping so badly in 2021 is quite the feat… remind me who is coach of the Sydney Sixers again?

The highest ranked overseas player is Mignon du Preez at 4, with 366 runs at a strike rate of 124, helping the Hurricanes achieve their best ladder finish since WBBL02. Alice Capsey was the top English player, coming in 12th thanks in part to that remarkable 80 off 52 balls she hit for the Stars against the Hurricanes – an innings which was notable for not being just a “smash-and-grab” but a perfectly timed slow build which saw her smack 17 runs off the 19th over, and then a 4 off the first ball of the 20th, to win the match virtually single-handed.

Player Played Runs Strike Rate
1. Beth Mooney (Scorchers) 14 434 121
2. Ash Gardner (Sixers) 14 339 153
3. Ellyse Perry (Sixers) 14 375 121
4. Mignon du Preez (Hurricanes) 14 366 124
5. Erin Burns (Sixers) 14 294 147
6. Alyssa Healy (Sixers) 14 329 128
7. Georgia Redmayne (Heat) 10 333 112
8. Laura Wolvaardt (Strikers) 14 341 107
9. Laura Harris (Heat) 14 193 186
10. Katie Mack (Strikers) 14 317 110
11. Annabel Sutherland (Stars) 14 304 114
12. Alice Capsey (Stars) 14 259 129
13. Suzie Bates (Sixers) 14 308 107
14. Phoebe Litchfield (Thunder) 14 280 118
15. Marizanne Kapp (Scorchers) 14 229 143
16. Grace Harris (Heat) 12 273 112
17. Lizelle Lee (Hurricanes) 14 249 119
18. Heather Graham (Hurricanes) 12 237 122
19. Amelia Kerr (Heat) 14 243 117
20. Deandra Dottin (Strikers) 14 271 105
21. Maddie Penna (Strikers) 14 260 107
22. Hayley Matthews (Renegades) 14 253 110
23. Lauren Winfield-Hill (Stars) 14 254 105
24. Danni Wyatt (Heat) 11 206 127
25. Tahlia McGrath (Strikers) 12 213 120
26. Maddy Green (Scorchers) 14 240 105
27. Georgia Voll (Heat) 14 229 110
28. Courtney Webb (Renegades) 14 252 97
29. Tammy Beaumont (Thunder) 12 194 119
30. Carly Leeson (Renegades) 14 211 107

Ranking = Runs * Strike Rate

NEWS: Winfield-Hill Back for Windies T20s

Just weeks after losing her central contract, Lauren Winfield-Hill has been recalled to the England squad for the T20 series versus the West Indies next month.

After an outstanding summer in domestic cricket in 2022, winning The Hundred with Oval Invincibles and leading Northern Diamonds to victory in the RHF Trophy, Winfield-Hill has also had her best ever WBBL season, scoring 254 runs for Melbourne Stars with a best of 74 v Brisbane Heat.

England have named separate squads for the ODI and T20 series, with all of the contracted players except Tash Farrant (who is still in recovery from a stress fracture) named in at least one of the squads. The non-contracted Alice Davidson-Richards is included in the ODI squad only, alongside Tammy Beaumont, Kate Cross and Emma Lamb; while the T20 squad adds Katherine Brunt, Sarah Glenn and Issy Wong as well as Winfield-Hill.

The omission of Brunt from the ODI squad is perhaps the other big surprise, suggesting that having already retired from Tests she may be intending to focus exclusively on short-form cricket going forwards.

ODI Squad

Heather Knight (Western Storm)
Tammy Beaumont (Blaze)
Lauren Bell (Southern Vipers)
Alice Capsey (South East Stars)
Kate Cross (Thunder)
Alice Davidson-Richards (South East Stars)
Freya Davies (South East Stars)
Charlie Dean (Southern Vipers)
Sophia Dunkley (South East Stars)
Sophie Ecclestone (Thunder)
Amy Jones (Central Sparks)
Freya Kemp (Southern Vipers)
Emma Lamb (Thunder)
Nat Sciver (Northern Diamonds)
Danni Wyatt (Southern Vipers)

T20 Squad

Heather Knight (Western Storm)
Lauren Bell (Southern Vipers)
Katherine Brunt (Northern Diamonds)
Alice Capsey (South East Stars)
Freya Davies (South East Stars)
Charlie Dean (Southern Vipers)
Sophia Dunkley (South East Stars)
Sophie Ecclestone (Thunder)
Sarah Glenn (Central Sparks)
Amy Jones (Central Sparks)
Freya Kemp (Southern Vipers)
Nat Sciver (Northern Diamonds)
Lauren Winfield-Hill (Northern Diamonds)
Issy Wong (Central Sparks)
Danni Wyatt (Southern Vipers)

WBBL: Bowling Rankings – She Schutts She Scores

Megan Schutt produced a come-from-behind win after taking a record 6 wickets in the Strikers’ final match of the group stages versus Thunder, to top this year’s bowling rankings with 23 wickets at an Economy Rate of 6.40 – pipping Ash Gardner (23 wickets at 6.42) by just 2 hundredths of a run.

Schutt led a Striker-Force (!) which topped the overall bowling metrics for this year’s competition, with their five core bowlers (Schutt, Wellington, Barsby, Darcie Brown and Dottin) doing almost all the work, bowling 93% of the Strikers overs between them.

Bowling Balls Per… Avg Run Rate
Wicket Dot Single Two 4/6 Wide 1st Ins 2nd Ins PP
Strikers 18 2.49 2.73 16 8 33 6.86 6.50 5.48
Scorchers 20 2.44 2.93 17 8 28 6.86 7.02 5.34
Hurricanes 22 2.79 2.42 20 8 35 6.26 7.21 6.21
Renegades 28 2.65 2.66 17 7 34 7.51 6.77 5.54
Sixers 18 2.65 2.82 14 7 36 7.68 7.20 6.87
Thunder 26 2.68 2.67 17 7 29 7.53 6.79 5.83
Heat 18 2.91 2.57 13 7 32 7.29 7.69 6.82
Stars 20 2.85 2.63 13 8 24 7.34 7.19 6.50

Undoubtedly the most surprising name in the Top 10 is that of Sasha Moloney – the 30-year-old journeyman transferred over to the Stars this season after spending her entire career with Tasmania/ Hobart, and had a golden six weeks in the Melbourne green. Initially bowling at first-change, she was then promoted to opening the bowling in the second half of the competition, finishing with 20 wickets at a better Economy Rate than either of the bowlers above her.

Amanda Jade Wellington came out on top in the battle of the Australian leg-spinners, taking 4 more wickets than Alana King; though King returned a significantly superior Economy Rate, which is likely what was influencing the Australian selectors when they picked the latter in their squad for the up-coming series against India.

Sophie Ecclestone, in her first WBBL season with the Sydney Sixers, was the highest ranked overseas bowler at 8, just ahead of Amelia Kerr at 9. Ecclestone’s success could be considered something of a personal triumph against the received wisdom amongst the Aussie commentariat that she struggles in Australia because her stock delivery is too quick to get any grip and turn on their fast, bouncy pitches – a view which misses the point that turn has never really been what Ecclestone is about anyway, and which we can hopefully put to bed now.

Player Played Wickets Economy
1. Megan Schutt (Strikers) 13 23 6.40
2. Ash Gardner (Sixers) 14 23 6.42
3. Sasha Moloney (Stars) 14 20 6.24
4. Amanda Jade Wellington (Strikers) 14 21 6.62
5. Molly Strano (Hurricanes) 14 18 5.76
6. Alana King (Scorchers) 14 17 5.91
7. Jess Jonassen (Heat) 14 20 7.02
8. Sophie Ecclestone (Sixers) 14 18 6.41
9. Amelia Kerr (Heat) 14 19 6.77
10. Jemma Barsby (Strikers) 14 16 5.86
11. Nicola Hancock (Heat) 14 22 8.38
12. Annabel Sutherland (Stars) 14 21 8.00
13. Lilly Mills (Scorchers) 14 15 6.81
14. Marizanne Kapp (Scorchers) 14 12 5.74
15. Lauren Cheatle (Sixers) 14 15 7.32
16. Sam Bates (Thunder) 14 12 6.02
17. Darcie Brown (Strikers) 14 13 6.59
18. Maisy Gibson (Hurricanes) 13 12 6.30
19. Kim Garth (Stars) 14 12 6.71
20. Lauren Smith (Thunder) 13 11 6.54
21. Sophie Day (Stars) 14 11 6.83
22. Nicola Carey (Hurricanes) 14 13 8.20
23. Shabnim Ismail (Renegades) 13 11 6.95
24. Maitlan Brown (Sixers) 8 12 7.81
25. Sophie Molineux (Renegades) 12 11 7.17
26. Sarah Coyte (Renegades) 13 10 7.20
27. Kate Peterson (Sixers) 12 10 7.29
28. Piepa Cleary (Scorchers) 14 11 8.03
29. Deandra Dottin (Strikers) 14 10 7.56
30. Alice Capsey (Stars) 14 9 6.98

Ranking = Wickets / Economy

NEWS: Bell, Capsey, Kemp, Dean, Lamb & Wong Earn First England Contracts

Six players – Lauren Bell, Alice Capsey, Charlie Dean, Freya Kemp, Emma Lamb and Issy Wong – have all earned their first England contracts in the biggest shake-up to the squad since professional contracts arrived in 2014.

Emma Lamb and Charlie Dean both made their debuts against New Zealand last September, with Lauren Bell and Issy Wong following in the Test versus South Africa this summer, whilst Alice Capsey and Freya Kemp were first called up for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

In terms of those moving on, in addition to Fran Wilson and Anya Shrubsole who had already been released from last year’s squad after announcing their retirements, England have stepped down Mady Villiers, Lauren Winfield-Hill, Georgia Elwiss and Katie George.

Of these four, only Winfield-Hill played for England in 2022, earning her final cap as a contracted player versus West Indies at the World Cup in March. Mady Villiers last played for England in a T20 v New Zealand in September 2021; Georgia Elwiss played in the Test against India at Bristol in June 2021, but hasn’t played a white-ball game since 2019; while Katie George was last capped in an ODI v New Zealand in July 2018.

All four will presumably step down to regional contracts (to be announced in due course), and having not formally retired there remains no reason why they couldn’t yet win further England caps down the line. Meanwhile the domestic setup will only be stronger for their presence, as the regions move closer towards full professionalism, with at least 80 players expected to be contracted to regional teams by next summer.

The full list of contracted players is below:

  • Tammy Beaumont (Lightning)
  • Lauren Bell (Southern Vipers)
  • Katherine Brunt (Northern Diamonds)
  • Alice Capsey (South East Stars)
  • Kate Cross (Thunder)
  • Freya Davies (South East Stars)
  • Charlie Dean (Southern Vipers)
  • Sophia Dunkley (South East Stars)
  • Sophie Ecclestone (Thunder)
  • Tash Farrant (South East Stars)
  • Sarah Glenn (Central Sparks)
  • Amy Jones (Central Sparks)
  • Freya Kemp (Southern Vipers)
  • Heather Knight (Western Storm)
  • Emma Lamb (Thunder)
  • Nat Sciver (Northern Diamonds)
  • Issy Wong (Central Sparks)
  • Danni Wyatt (Southern Vipers)

OPINION: Central Contracts – Lessons Learnt and Possible Options

The next round of central contracts is to be shortly announced and will run from November 1st. Securing one of these contracts is primarily about recognition, but it would be naïve to ignore the associated financial rewards.

The current batch of 17 central contracts was awarded following what the ECB described as “a comprehensive and objective process” which saw all the existing contracts renewed (except Kirstie Gordon, replaced by Sophia Dunkley).

A positive spin on this would be that this demonstrated that, upon fair review, the existing squad members were adjudged to still be the best players in the country. A negative spin would be that, despite all the money and resource invested in the regional academies and the KSL, the system had produced only one cricketer capable of displacing any of the incumbents.

Less easy to justify was the usually-long duration of these contracts – 18 months; timed “to align with the professional contracts at the eight regional teams”. The first (obvious) observation is that 6-month contracts could also have achieved the same alignment. More crucially, by awarding 18-month contracts the ECB was perpetuating the ‘closed shop’ for two more seasons; committing to the same group of players regardless of their individual form or evolving team strategies whilst also ruling out the ability to award a central contract to anyone else for this entire period. Effectively nothing anyone did during 2021 (including the first season of The Hundred) could secure them a central contract whilst, conversely, holders of a central contract were guaranteed their status (and pay) regardless of performances or their level of involvement in England matches.

So, what happened?

Games During Contract Period

  Tests ODI T20
Tammy Beaumont 3 25 8
Katherine Brunt 2 16 15
Kate Cross 3 23 0
Freya Davies 0 5 10
Sophia Dunkley 3 25 19
Sophie Ecclestone 3 25 19
Georgia Elwiss 1 0 0
Sarah Glenn 0 3 19
Katie George 0 0 0
Heather Knight 3 23 7
Amy Jones 3 25 19
Nat Sciver 3 21 16
Anya Shrubsole 2 16 4
Mady Villiers 0 0 5
Fran Wilson 0 0 0
Lauren Winfield-Hill 2 12 0
Danni Wyatt 0 22 19

Obviously no one would expect teams to be chosen solely from the centrally-contracted cohort – but the right squad of 17 should contribute the vast majority of any team.

In fact, 9 players without central contracts were called up to the various teams; winning 93 caps (just under 20%).

Games During Contract Period

  Tests ODI T20
Lauren Bell 1 3 2
Maia Bouchier 0 0 14
Charlie Dean 1 19 1
Alice Capsey 0 3 10
Alice Davidson-Richards 1 2 0
Freya Kemp 0 2 9
Emma Lamb 1 8 1
Bryony Smith 0 0 5
Issy Wong 1 3 8

In addition, Emily Arlott would have made her Test debut if she hadn’t caught Covid and it’s reasonable to surmise that Tash Farrant would also have played if she hadn’t been injured.

Could anyone have predicted in May 2021 which of these 9 (or 11) would have played for England in the next 18 months? Perhaps Emma Lamb? But six months later, by October 2021, Dean had already played 5 ODIs and Bouchier 2 T20s and most observers could have confidently predicted the names of several other players who’d win their England caps in the next 12 months.

So, with the next round of central contracts due to be announced imminently, what could be done differently this time?

England’s selection process is unquestionably far more sophisticated than the days of Kirstie Gordon and Linsey Smith’s short careers (or Bryony Smith and Alice Davidson-Richard’s first incarnations), in which case all 11 of these players must be assumed to be genuine contenders for a central contract.

Yet, the only certainty is that there are 2 contracts available following the retirements of Anya Shrubsole and Fran Wilson. And 11 doesn’t go into 2!

Some of the associated conversations will therefore be difficult with significant consequences for those affected (whether positively or adversely), yet surely there is an argument that, however fair and objective the selection process, the current structure is unnecessarily binary, restrictive and incapable of accommodating the very different teams which England might want to field for e.g., the world cup compared to the Ashes.

One easy improvement would be to have 2 types of central contracts. Instead of funding 17 full contracts (i) with the risk that some players don’t / rarely play) and (ii) having no ability to accommodate emerging talent, why not fund e.g., 12 full contracts for those players envisaged to form the core of any team across the formats and 10 incremental contracts for fringe players / emerging players / restricted format players (reserving 1 or 2 of these to be awarded based on performances after the World Cup or even the County Championship or Charlotte Edwards Cup).

This would give greater financial security to more players, increase the talent pool of centrally-contracted players, facilitate improved format-specific squad selection and provide the flexibility to recognise players who press their case for selection mid-term.

NEWS: Cheshire Women’s League Season Roundup – Leigh Go From Bottom To Top in 12 Months!

At the end of another exciting season, almost 200 players and officials from league member clubs came together for the Presentation Evening, held at the Halton Stadium in Widnes on Saturday October 1, for a chance to reward the teams and individuals who have been successful this year.

This may have been the league’s highest scoring season to date, with as many as 13 centuries in the first division alone, made by batters from seven different clubs. Ellie Mason reached three figures on three occasions, despite only playing five matches, but the overall highest run scorer was Rachael Walsh, whose 580 runs took Leigh to their first league title. The top-flight’s leading wicket taker was Emily Page, who played a major role in Appleton’s second place finish.

Leigh won this year’s league championship after finishing bottom of division one in 2021, becoming the seventh different team to finish as leaders in the top division of the CWCL in the last decade. The period starting from 2012 – the last of Appleton’s three titles in a row – has seen only one occasion when a club has retained the first division title. It all adds up to a level of competitiveness and unpredictability that is the envy of every other English women’s club competition! Indeed, with Leigh having finished bottom of division one last year, and only reprieved from relegation due to an expansion of the top-flight, this could be the League’s Leicester City moment!

Furthermore, 10 different clubs took home a team trophy this year, with no club winning more than one prize. The closest fought division was undoubtedly Division 2, where Upton edged out Lindow by a single point, despite a second division record of 432 runs across the season from Heidi Cheadle. Along with Leigh’s Jaimie-Lee Strang, New South Wales 2nd XI captain Cheadle heralded a new era in the league this year as one of the first women’s overseas players to come to Cheshire specifically to play for a club team.

The players winning two individual trophies this year were Appleton’s Emma Barlow (as wicketkeeper in both Division 1 and T20 competitions), Jenny Wallace of Langley (best bowler and fielder in Division 4) and Stockport Trinity’s Emma Royle (leading wicket taker in T20 and also tied for most fielding dismissals in the short-form competitions). After winning the division 1 batting award on numerous occasions – albeit not this year – Barlow has certainly won more individual trophies than anyone else since the league’s awards ceremonies began back in 2007.



  BATTING AWARD (most runs) BOWLING AWARD (most wickets) FIELDING AWARD (most catches and run outs as fielder) WICKETKEEPING AWARD (most catches and stumpings as ‘keeper)
DIVISION 1 Rachael Walsh (Leigh)

2nd Ellie Mason (Stockport Trinity)

Emily Page (Appleton)

2nd Ali Cutler (Chester BH)

Sophie Connor (Oakmere)

2nd Abbey Gore (Appleton)

Emma Barlow (Appleton)

2nd Jaimie-Lee Strang (Leigh)

DIVISION 2 Heidi Cheadle (Lindow)

2nd Lily Scudder (Upton)

Lily Scudder (Upton)

2nd Philippa Dagger (Upton) & Libby Ackerley (Lindow)

Rachel Warrenger (Hawarden Park)

3 players tied for 2nd


Ellen McGowan (Upton)

2nd Heidi Cheadle (Lindow)


DIVISION 3 WEST Flo Seymour (Nantwich 2nd XI)

2nd Gemma Rose (Chester BH 2nd XI)

Lucy McCarten (Chester BH) / Anna Bourne (Wistaston) Hannah Thorley (Chester BH)

7 players tied for 2nd

Alex Viggars (Porthill)

2nd Zoe Davies (Wistaston)

DIVISION 3 EAST Bethany Garforth (Greenfield)

2nd Helen Johnson (Didsbury 2nd XI)

Zoe Cuthill (Greenfield)

2nd Charlotte Peacock (Hayfield)

Charlotte Peacock (Hayfield)

2nd Jo Stephenson (Hawk Green)

Ruth Lomas (Hayfield) / Helen Johnson (Didsbury 2nd XI)
DIVISION 4 Carolyne Jones (Langley)

2nd Amy Shaw (Heaton Mersey & Cheadle)

Jenny Wallace (Langley)

2nd Charlotte Thompson &

Naz Hancioglu (both Lindow 2nd XI)

Jenny Wallace (Langley)

2nd Olivia Randles (Heaton Mersey & Cheadle) & Becky Scholes (Stockport Georgians 3rd XI / North East Cheshire)

Amy Shaw (Heaton Mersey & Cheadle)

2nd Kate Avery-Lofthouse (Stockport Georgians 3rd XI / North East Cheshire) & Emma Travis (Buxton)

T20 COMPETITIONS Ellie Mason (Stockport Trinity)

2nd Kate Harvey (Stockport Trinity)

Emma Royle (Stockport Trinity)

2nd Abi Lamidey (Stockport Trinity)

Nicole Fisher (Chester BH) / Emma Royle (Stockport Trinity) Emma Barlow (Appleton)

2nd Rosie Davis (Didsbury)

President’s Award (Outstanding Contribution to Women’s Cricket in Cheshire): Sarah McCann


Division 1 Leigh Appleton
Division 2 Upton Lindow
Division 3 West Porthill Park Northern Stars Chester Boughton Hall 2nd XI
Division 3 East Hayfield Greenfield
Division 4 Lindow 2nd XI Langley
Division 5 West Kingsley Alvanley
Division 5 East Macclesfield Treacle North East Cheshire
T20 Divisional Competition Appleton Tigers Stockport Trinity Fire
Senior Knockout Cup Nantwich Vipers Stockport Trinity Fire
Development Knockout Cup Greenfield Hayfield

More information on 2022 performances can be found in the Statistics document.

Alex Blake, who coached the Cheshire senior women between 2011 and 2014, was Master of Ceremonies for the event, which was once again superbly organised by Di Totty. Di chose Sarah McCann – league chair for more than a decade up until last year – as the recipient of the coveted President’s Award for an outstanding contribution to the sport in Cheshire.

The League was also delighted to welcome Laura MacLeod – currently director of West Midlands Women’s Cricket – as its special guest, and she presented the prizes to the winners and participated in a Q&A session with Alex, where she talked about her progression from grassroots cricket in Cheshire to an international career that included 13 Test matches, 73 ODIs and three IT20s. She spoke of the fact that women’s cricket can now be a career, but that sacrifices need to be made by those fortunate enough to make it to professional level. Laura also nominated an Ashes win in 2005 and her role in the first ever T20 international in 2004 as career highlights.

There was further recognition for a number of people connected with the League last Friday at the Lancashire and Cheshire Grassroots Cricket Awards and Lancashire Cricket Player of the Year Awards, where most of the league’s Officers were amongst the 750 attendees. At the event, held in Old Trafford’s The Point suite, Sarah McCann was again recognised for her 25-year commitment to the league and for the advances made during that time as she was the joint winner of Cheshire’s Growing The Game award. Long-time Alvanley CC stalwart Andy Bennion, now running the club’s women’s softball team, was the other recipient of this award. Stockport Georgians’ women’s manager Ray Bell scooped the Inspired To Play award, having also had a crucial role in the running of the league’s junior girls’ competitions in recent years.

OPINION: Poor Marketing and Media Coverage is Letting Regional Cricket Down

On Saturday MCC proudly issued a press release which stated that the crowd of 15,000 people at Lord’s for the England v India fixture was a record for a bilateral women’s fixture in England.

24 hours later, less than 500 people were present to watch the final of the 2022 Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy – a thrilling game of cricket which came down to the very last ball and saw Northern Diamonds triumph over Southern Vipers by just 2 runs. The cricket was phenomenal and the surroundings were iconic – but (almost) no one came.

This should have been the perfect marketing opportunity for regional cricket – a Weekend of Women’s Cricket to wrap up the season at Lord’s, with a captive audience present from the previous day and some of the same players in the England squad present on both occasions. Not least Charlie Dean, who after inadvertently finding herself the centre of attention on Saturday then played another 100 overs of cricket on Sunday – good on her!

But if we are purely judging by the size of the crowd, then… it flopped.

Of course, not everyone who might have been interested in women’s cricket was able to get to Lord’s – they could instead watch on Sky at home. Or could they? The game was pushed onto the red button after 3pm – it was still available on YouTube, but even so the decision suggests that someone at Sky felt that keeping it on a main channel was a “waste”.

That’s not even mentioning the quality of the coverage, which was more akin to a poor live stream. Firstly, it was fixed camera. Secondly, as a friend of ours watching at home said: “the sound went up and down like a yo-yo, and at times the ground effects microphones packed up completely. At others, you couldn’t hear the commentators.”

And this for a day which was supposed to be the pinnacle of the regional calendar. Imagine if T20 Blast Finals Day was treated like this?

The whole day was symptomatic of a wider problem. The new professional domestic structure is now three seasons old… and yet the marketing of regional cricket is still wildly inconsistent, part-time and in many cases almost non-existent. The replies to my tweet made this pretty clear:

If you’ve time, it’s worth reading the replies in full, but here’s a sample:

Perhaps more importantly, the disparity between attendance at the RHF Trophy final and the final of the Women’s Hundred a few weeks previously (20,000) highlighted more clearly than ever before the extent to which regional cricket is living in the shadow of The Hundred.

I’ve loved attending and covering both seasons of The Hundred. It’s been incredibly exciting to see the huge crowds for women’s cricket, and be able to watch the entire tournament from start to end on Sky and the BBC.

But for me, that was just Step One. Step Two is about translating those audiences into fans of the non-Hundred women’s teams as well. Because if the success of The Hundred, built on a vast marketing budget, is coming at the expense of regional cricket – then is it really success at all?

RHF TROPHY: Lauren Winfield-Hill Back To Her Best For Northern Diamonds After “Dark Winter”

Lauren Winfield-Hill said that she was “chuffed to bits” after top-scoring for Northern Diamonds in a hard-fought final against Southern Vipers on Sunday at Lord’s, which saw Diamonds secure their first ever regional title by just two runs.

“We’ve come close to the Vipers a few times now and we’ve got a few wounds against them,” she said. “We managed to hold our nerve.”

The match-winning performance came just a few weeks after she helped Oval Invincibles sweep to victory in the Women’s Hundred at the same ground – rounding off a prolific season with the bat.

She was the overall leading run-scorer in the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy with 470 runs; and earlier finished fourth in our Hundred batting rankings.

“My form this summer’s been the best it’s ever been, in terms of different competitions, different oppositions, different surfaces – I’ve adapted better than I ever have before,” she said.

The remarkable thing about her recent performances is that they have come after the most difficult winter of her career, during which she was dispensed with by England two matches into the World Cup.

“It’s no secret that I’ve found the winter hard, the bubbles hard, being dropped from England hard. I could barely even function as a human being. I was in a pretty dark place,” she said, after struggling to hold back tears in the post-match presentation.

“To be able to turn it around, fall in love with the game and take pressure off myself, enjoy what’s in front of me, has been the most enjoyable bit. I’ve loved every game, and that’s reflected in how I’ve performed. I’ve done a lot of work to get myself back into that place, and it’s nice seeing the fruits of that.”

What enabled Diamonds to finally get over the line after twice falling at the final hurdle to Vipers in the 2020 and 2021 RHF finals? Winfield-Hill pointed to the way that numerous players in the squad had stepped up at crucial times, including 21-year-old Bess Heath, who has had a breakthrough season in the middle order and scored 44 runs at No.6 in Sunday’s final.

“It’s not been a one-man band. That’s been our real strength,” Winfield-Hill said. “This year our preparation, how tight we’ve been as a team, how many people have contributed at different times was the difference this year that enabled us to get over the line.”

“I was in and out last year with England stuff,” she added. “It’s been nice to feel part of it this year, rather than the adopted one that just comes in every now and again.”

With an increasingly professional set-up at domestic level, it’s more important now than ever that consistency in regional cricket is valued on its own terms, rather than seeing runs in the RHF and CE Cup purely as a means to an end – that end being a place in an England squad.

The door may currently be closed on an England return for Winfield-Hill; but so what? Being instrumental in Diamonds winning their maiden title, and doing it at Lord’s – that’s a pretty good day to wrap up a monumental season at the office.

RHF TROPHY FINAL: Diamonds v Vipers – Diamonds Are Forever

After 5 years of hurt, with Yorkshire finishing runners-up the last 3 editions of the old Women’s County Championship, and Diamonds losing the past two RHF Trophy finals, it was finally their turn on the biggest stage in English cricket – Diamonds beating Vipers by 2 runs to lift the RHF Trophy.

Batting first, Diamonds got off to a solid start. Lauren Winfield-Hill has been batting at a strike rate of over 90 all season in the competition, but Lord’s is different and finals are different, and she understood that, making her way to 65 off 87 balls, at a strike rate of 75; with Linsey Smith doing a good job keeping her company for 19 overs for the first wicket.

At 114-1 at the end of the 28th over, Diamonds were sitting pretty; but the next 3 overs saw Vipers come back into it, as Diamonds lost 4-6 collapsing to 120-5.

That could have been the end of the game – Diamonds would probably have taken 175 at that point, which Vipers would have chased easily; but Bess Heath and Leah Dobson turned things around. Both started slowly and patiently, sussing out the wicket – at the 40-over mark, Heath was on 13 at a strike rate of 36, and Dobson on 12 at a strike rate of 48. But then the foot went down, pushing Diamonds on past 175… past 200… to 215.

Post 40-overs, Dobson hit 22 off 25 balls, at a strike rate of 88, while Heath smashed (at least by the standards of the day) 31 off 24, at a strike rate of 129, as Diamonds nailed the big finish they needed.

Ironically for a 50-over game, there was rarely a better illustration of The Hundred’s mantra of “Every Ball Matters” as Dobson ran two singles off the last 2 balls (a sacrifice allowing her to get back on strike for the final delivery) which turned out to be the exact margin of victory.

In reply, Vipers were tied down by Linsey Smith, who did exactly what she has been doing all season with the ball, taking 1-8 in an initial 6-over spell in the powerplay. From 18-2 at the end of the powerplay, Maia Bouchier and Georgia Adams progressed to 98-2 at the half-way mark. Both seemed comfortable, but neither looked commanding, almost as if they were fighting over the anchor role. With the pair having played out two consecutive maidens, Bouchier attempted to break the shackles by slog-sweeping Holly Armitage – absolutely middling it with the kind force a Jedi would have been proud of… straight to Linsey Smith on the ring.

Vipers still had batting to come – Emily Windsor, Charlie Dean and Paige Scholfield can all wield a blade. In this fixture last year, it was Windsor and Tara Norris (down to come in at 8) who had closed out the game for Vipers, but the difference today was that they needed to do a bit more than “close out the game”. It was only “a bit” more – they didn’t need anyone to lead a cavalry charge – but requiring 29 off 24, they did need someone capable of taking one big over from the final 4.

Diamonds meanwhile had gambled on saving their two best bowlers – Smith and Katie Levick – for those last 4 overs. The temptation is always there to bowl someone out when they are going well, but Diamonds captain Armitage held her nerve by saving 2 overs apiece from Smith and Levick, and they repaid her by holding their nerves to close out the game.

It was a well-deserved win for Diamonds – after all those years finishing second, it finally all fell into place this season, with a strong core of domestic players (Levick, Smith, Heath and Armitage) some promising young guns (fast bowler Lizzie Scott and spinner Emma Marlow, who both did their bit today) and of course Lauren Winfield-Hill, who now has both the big domestic trophies (the Hundred and the RHF) on her mantlepiece, having played a key role in the acquisition of both this summer.

Top-level sport has a cruelty all of its own, and Lauren Winfield-Hill knows that better than anyone. A place in the England XI is always ephemeral – but those trophies… like diamonds… are forever.

RHF TROPHY STATS: Batting & Bowling Metrics Point To Diamonds Final Win

Whatever happens in the RHF Trophy final at Lord’s today, there is little doubt that Diamonds have been the best team this year, and on form ought to overturn their 5-year-long run of finishing runners-up in the Women’s County Championship (2017-19 as Yorkshire) and RHF Trophy (2020-21).

Diamonds finished top of both the batting and bowling metrics, calculated across all of the group-stage matches.


Batting Balls Per… Avg Run Rate
Wicket Dot Single Two 4/6 1st Ins 2nd Ins PP
Diamonds 43 1.93 3.46 18 12 5.33 5.10 5.38
Stars 33 1.87 3.60 20 11 5.25 4.55 5.65
Vipers 38 1.98 3.30 20 12 5.30 4.98 4.15
Storm 34 1.79 3.93 24 12 5.10 4.88 4.18
Lightning 31 1.79 3.75 22 13 4.33 4.84 4.48
Thunder 36 1.83 3.52 20 15 4.69 3.65 4.45
Sunrisers 30 1.78 3.76 20 15 5.08 4.33 4.20
Sparks 34 1.74 4.05 23 15 4.53 4.24 3.97

The two leading run-scorers in the competition were both Diamonds – Lauren Winfield-Hill (405 runs) and Holly Armitage (329 runs) – and furthermore both scored their runs at a strike rate of over 90. (The average strike rate for the 10 batters scoring more than 200 runs in the competition’s group stages was 83.) With Winfield-Hill opening and Armitage coming in at 3 (but invariably an early 3, because Linsey Smith has struggled opening the batting alongside Winfield-Hill) the Diamonds have typically given themselves a huge platform for Bess Heath (179 runs at 95) to then come in later and pile-on even more runs with the freedom to play her natural hitting game.


Bowling Balls Per… Avg Run Rate
Wicket Dot Single Two 4/6 Wide 1st Ins 2nd Ins PP
Diamonds 36 1.76 3.88 20 15 27 4.39 4.59 4.40
Sparks 33 1.87 3.46 18 14 32 5.00 4.69 4.04
Vipers 35 1.94 3.06 22 16 28 4.36 4.88 4.45
Stars 31 1.86 3.47 35 13 21 6.12 4.39 4.43
Thunder 40 1.71 4.54 19 11 31 4.21 4.98 4.75
Lightning 37 1.83 3.72 19 12 31 5.34 4.00 4.50
Sunrisers 38 1.82 3.71 23 12 24 4.81 5.24 4.92
Storm 45 1.92 3.68 17 11 24 5.28 4.88 4.97

The leading wicket-taker in the tournament was Grace Scrivens (who was also the 3rd-highest run-scorer) but there were three Diamonds players in the Top 10* wicket-takers: Linsey Smith (11), Katie Levick (10) and Holly Armitage (9). Linsey Smith in particular also complemented her wickets by being one of the most economical bowlers in the competition – of the bowlers to send down more than 20 overs, she returned the second-best economy rate of 3.57 per over, bettered only by Scrivens 3.23.

(*Top 10… ish – Armitage  was one of 6 players in joint-tenth on 9 wickets.)