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

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
©CRICKETher.com/cricsheet.org

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

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
©CRICKETher.com/cricsheet.org

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.)

ENGLAND v INDIA: 3rd ODI – Mankad!

It was a record-breaking day for women’s sport in North London – over at the Emirates stadium in Highbury 47,000 watched Arsenal smash their local rivals Tottenham 4-0 in the Women’s Super League; whilst here in St John’s Wood 15,000 were at Lord’s to see England nearly pull off a miracle in the 3rd and final ODI versus India.

It was a hard-fought game of cricket, with some fantastic bowling from players on both sides, but it will really only be remembered for one thing: the mankad which ended the match.

My view is that it was within the rules, and should have been given out. Although the law as it currently stands is intended to prevent “fake bowling” the wording is simply that the batter must be out of her crease at the moment the ball would have been bowled, and Charlie Dean was (just) out of her crease when Deepti Sharma mankaded her.

But I think it was a terrible moment for Charlie Dean… a terrible moment of cricket… and actually a terrible moment for Deepti.

Let’s begin with the last of those. Deepti has probably severely damaged what’s left of her career. In the short term, who of the England players will want to play franchise cricket with her ever again now? In the longer term, that moment will follow her everywhere – it will be the only thing anyone ever talks about. And I can’t believe for one moment that’s what she’d want her legacy to be – an underhand piece of gamesmanship in a match which in the greater scheme of things really didn’t matter, as India had already won the series, and almost certainly will finish the ICC Championship qualifying easily, with or without those 2 points.

It won India the game, but in Jhulan Goswami’s last ever match, where she’d been given an unprecedented guard of honour onto the field by the England players, it finished with her being booed off the ground at the end. That’s what she’ll remember from her last ever international. What a pity.

Of course, many are defending the mankad, because it was “within the laws” but actually that doesn’t make it the right way to win a cricket match. After all… bodyline was “within the laws”.

I always liked football blogger Arseblog’s take on this kind of thing: If it was done to your team, how would you feel? I think it is pretty safe to say that most India fans would have been up in arms if England had done it to Smriti earlier in the day, for example.

The issue I have with the mankad is that it isn’t skill, or even luck – it is pure trickery and gamespanship. Deepti has form on pushing the laws like this – she frequently pulls out of her bowling action at the very last moment. The bowler is permitted to do this when they are distracted, or the batter moves; but Deepti does it to try to gain an unfair psychological advantage by unsettling the batter. The mankad at Lord’s was from the same playbook – it was (just-about) not “fake bowling” – I’m not accusing her of that – but it was as close to that line as it is possible to get.

I’ve also seen a few ex-players defend Deepti, effectively saying it was moral because it was within the laws which is particularly interesting, because they don’t actually believe this. If they did, they’d have executed tens of mankads in their careers, but they didn’t… because they knew at the time it was an underhand tactic and not the right way to play.

I do accept that there needs to be some sanction for the non-striker stealing ground, but the loss of the wicket is too harsh and too controversial a penalty, because there is no skill involved. Perhaps the answer is to write the warning, which is traditionally said to be given, into the laws – so the first time the batter is not out, but the umpire notes a “tick” (as they do for bouncers) and then a second dismissal is actually out?

The real pity is that it overshadowed some brilliant bowling performances from both sides. Kate Cross has returned better figures including two ODI 5fers, but she has rarely (if ever) bowled better – making use of the slope at Lord’s to move the ball with wonderful control, making mincemeat of some of the world’s best batters in the process, taking two wickets bowled and one LBW with that movement. (Though the wicket that got Smriti was a bit of a bonus – probably the worst ball Cross  bowled in the entire series – and Smriti’s reaction was priceless: you could see her thinking “Can I review that on the grounds that such a terrible ball didn’t deserve a wicket?!?!”)

Renuka Singh also bowled a high-class spell, and looks to have come-good at just the perfect time for India, with the retirement of Jhulan. She might not be the quickest, but speed isn’t everything – just look over to James Anderson in the men’s game, who Renuka reminds me of a little.

But the best ball of the day was from the spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad to Danni Wyatt – it turned exquisitely, just enough to beat the bat, but not too much to beat the off stump – the second time in the series Wyatt has been dismissed by an absolutely unplayable delivery.

But no one will remember any of this.

They’ll just remember the mankad.

ENGLAND v INDIA: 2nd ODI – England Canter-Buried

One year ago, almost to the day, a rampant England smashed New Zealand for a glorious 347 at Canterbury, before bowling the White Ferns out for 144 to win by over 200 runs – a result that New Zealand captain Sophie Devine memorably described afterwards as “one of those games that you just flush down the dunny”.

Today it was England’s turn to be on the receiving end of a hammering, as India took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series – the first time since 2007 that England have lost a home ODI series to anyone except Australia.

England did the right thing by opting to bowl having won the toss – as our analysis published earlier today shows, women’s ODIs between the top sides are more likely to be won by the team batting second, and attempting to defy gravity by choosing to bat first doesn’t usually end well. The fact that India won today doesn’t change that in any way.

Sometimes however you come up against a performance that takes on a life of its own. Australia found that out in the 2017 World Cup semi-final, and England found it out today, as Harmanpreet exploded like a volcano in the death overs – hitting her last 43 runs off just 11 balls, at a strike rate touching 400, to finish with 143 off 111 balls.

If this had been a frame of snooker, England would have conceded at that point – no one has ever successfully chased even 300 in a women’s ODI (though South Africa did once unsuccessfully pass 300 in a chase) and England weren’t going to do it today.

In fairness, they didn’t totally collapse – they cantered along at a pretty reasonable rate, and were actually “ahead” at 25 overs, albeit having lost one more wicket.

But it was “ahead” in 72-point finger-quotes – we didn’t believe it and they didn’t believe it – from the moment Harmanpreet left the field at the end of India’s innings, we were just waiting for reality to catch up with what everybody already knew – India had conquered Canterbury and England’s cathedral had fallen.

England’s white ball record this year reads: Played: 30; Won 16 (53%); which is actually… not great of itself, especially when you realise that fully half of those wins were against South Africa – Payed: 9; Won: 8 – against everyone else, their record is: Played: 21; Won: 8; Lost: 12. Not great at all.

To be fair, if there is a time to be losing games, this is probably it. 2½ years out from the next 50-over World Cup, England are starting to build a new side around the next generation of players, with Alice Capsey at the heart of it – the way she went out today and played with such positive intent, despite clearing being in some pain from the injury to her finger sustained whilst fielding in the deep, was remarkable. But as The Ed. put it: “Capsey Gonna Capsey”. (And equally… just at the point where you thought she was going to push on and play a really big innings, she was caught going for a big heave, because… well… Capsey Gonna Capsey!)

England’s other two youngsters, Freya Kemp and Lauren Bell, both took a battering today, but to a certain extent “that’s life” as a bowler in the modern game. For every performance like Harmanpreet’s today, or Smriti’s last week, there’s a bowler or two with a badly bruised ego; and they’ll both be back, hopefully at Lord’s on Saturday – the way for the management to respond to today is definitely to show faith in them, not to drop them.

Fingers crossed then that the weather plays along, and our big day out at Lord’s this weekend is everything we’ve been hoping for, for England’s first “normal” match in the capital since 2013. (They were scheduled to play India there in 2014, but the match was rained off without a ball being bowled.) It will be a good test of England’s ability to draw the kind of crowds we’ve seen for The Hundred, and which have encouraged the ECB to schedule not one but two Women’s Ashes matches in London next summer – though the official ticket site currently suggests that it is far from a sell-out with “plenty of tickets” still available, so… we shall see!

NEWS: Women’s Ashes To Feature Five-Day Test

The ECB have today announced the fixtures for the 2023 Women’s Ashes series – and the big news is that the Test at Trent Bridge will be held over five days.

The Test will be only the second in history ever to be played over five days, following on from repeated disappointment after a series of recent rain-affected draws – the most recent against South Africa in June.

The multi-format series will look similar to recent Women’s Ashes with one Test, three ODIs and three T20s – however, in a departure from previous series, the Test match will be played at the start, with the T20 leg in the middle, and the ODIs wrapping up the schedule. Two of the T20s will be played as evening games in London, at The Oval and Lord’s – the first time the Women’s Ashes has been played at these grounds.

It had previously been suggested that the question of a fifth day for women’s Tests was in the hands of the ICC, but the decision to host a five-day Test appears to have been taken by the ECB independently – there is no mention in today’s press release of any change to the ICC’s overall women’s Test match playing conditions.

It is also the first time ever that the Women’s Ashes fixtures have been announced at the same time as the Men’s Ashes fixtures, with the ECB running a new joint advertising campaign with the tagline: “One Epic Rivalry, Two Epic Ashes.” This marks an interesting point of difference from Cricket Australia’s strategy which aims to give the Women’s Ashes its own window, and to market it separately from the equivalent men’s series.

The full fixture list is below:

June 22 to 26 – Test match, Trent Bridge

July 1 – T20, Edgbaston, 6.35pm

July 5 – T20, Kia Oval, 6pm

July 8 – T20, Lord’s, 6.35pm

July 12 – ODI, Bristol, 1pm

July 16 – ODI, Ageas Bowl, 11am

July 18 – ODI, Taunton, 1pm

ENGLAND v INDIA: 1st ODI – England Don’t Like To Be Beside The Seaside

England paid the price for a slow start with the bat to go down to a comprehensive defeat in the first ODI versus India at Hove.

Batting first after being put in by India, they scraped together just 26 runs off the powerplay, losing both openers in the process – Emma Lamb for 12 off 26 balls (strike rate 46) and Tammy Beaumont for 7 off 21 (strike rate 33). One of the worries coming into this match was that most of the England line-up were being thrown into an ODI having played nothing but short-form cricket for the past two months, but ironically both Lamb and Beaumont played in the RHF Trophy last weekend – Lamb in particular making a decent 63 off 82 against Vipers.

There’s nothing wrong in principle with making a watchful start, but this was well short of “watchful” as Beaumont and Lamb allowed India’s opening bowlers to dominate the powerplay – Meghna Singh returning 1-18 and Jhulan Goswami 1-8 from 5 overs each.

Alice Capsey played an “interesting” cameo, as if she wasn’t quite sure how to approach her innings – scoring 1 off her first 6 balls, smacking 10 off the next 6, then drifting her way to 15 off 26 balls, before hitting out again, and falling to a good catch by Harmanpreet at midwicket.

England reached the halfway point at 91 for 4 – leaving themselves far too much to do in the back-half of the innings, although they did pick up the pace, with Alice Davidson-Richards playing a solid knock, which allowed Sophie Ecclestone and Charlie Dean to play with a bit more freedom at the other end to get England past 200. Dean was the only England player to hit at a strike rate of over 100.

But 227 wasn’t likely to be enough unless England could take key wickets early-doors and they were going to have to do so without their two best bowlers from the T20 series – Freya Davies and Lauren Bell. There’s a certain logic to picking Kate Cross for her experience, a certain logic to picking Issy Wong as a wildcard, and a certain logic to picking Alice Davidson-Richards for her batting… but picking all 3 at the expense of your two “proper” opening bowlers, when the key Indian wickets are their top 4, is baffling selection.

And India took full advantage.

With no real threat coming from the opening bowlers (Shafali Verma got herself out) Smriti Mandhana and Yastika Bhatia drove India forwards to 59 off the powerplay. Yastika in particular played one of the best knocks of her career – shot for shot, it was sometimes difficult to distinguish between her and Smriti, which is probably about the biggest compliment it is possible to pay to a left-handed batter. From that position, it really takes the pressure off the rest of the line-up – when the required rate is barely more than 4 per over, you know that you can play low-risk cricket – run the odd single, and take the boundaries when they come – and that’s what Smriti and (after Yastika was dismissed) Harmanpreet were able to do.

England needed to take wickets, but they seemed stuck on pre-agreed bowling plans, which meant Ecclestone was introduced too late – presumably saving up overs for the death… despite it being obvious that India were never going to reach the death: after that start, they were always going to either get the runs easily or get bowled out. Equally, they had also clearly pre-ordained that Capsey wasn’t going to bowl, so they persisted with Alice Davidson-Richards and Emma Lamb, when Capsey’s slower pace would have offered something genuinely different.

2007 was the year England last lost a bilateral home ODI series to anyone other than Australia – but unless they do something different on Wednesday, that’s going to change this week. That starts with selections – Bell and Davies have to play, giving England a proper opening attack. That doesn’t mean they will win the game – when it’s Smriti and Shafali at the other end, the odds are never in your favour – but it gives them a chance.

As for the batters, there aren’t a lot of selection options – Maia Bouchier is the only other batter in the squad – but there are opportunities to move things around – perhaps bringing ADR up the order with an explicit role as the anchor, and bringing Dean up above Jones into a proper batting position at 5. Canterbury has some mixed memories for England – Ellyse Perry’s 7-fer, but also Tammy Beaumont’s 100 setting up a 300+ total last year. India have shown today that England will need to be at their best to level the series – if they aren’t, they’ll lose it.

NEWS: Amy Jones To Continue As Captain For ODIs Despite Beaumont Recall

Amy Jones will continue as England captain for the three ODIs against India, despite Tammy Beaumont’s recall to the squad.

Jones had previously stated that she was unsure about taking on the role in the longer format, saying on Monday: “I’m not sure I’ll be throwing my hat in the ring. I think fifty overs is a whole other ball game.” It had been widely mooted that Beaumont, who is a former England Academy skipper and led the Welsh Fire in this year’s Women’s Hundred competition, might feel more comfortable taking up the reins in the ODIs.

However, the ECB appear to have opted for continuity, with Jones presumably set to continue filling in until Heather Knight returns from injury.

As well as Beaumont, Charlie Dean and Emma Lamb also find their way back into the squad, after missing out during the Commonwealth Games; while (of those who featured in the T20s v India) Bryony Smith and Sarah Glenn have been omitted.

That means that Alice Capsey and Freya Kemp have both earned maiden call-ups to the ODI squad – Capsey effectively making herself undroppable after a winning innings in the T20 series decider at Bristol on Thursday.

Interestingly, Maia Bouchier – despite being included in the ODI squad – has been released to play for Southern Vipers in Saturday’s RHF Trophy match against Diamonds, which will decide which of the two teams progresses automatically to the final.

The full England ODI squad is below:

  • Amy Jones (captain)
  • Tammy Beaumont
  • Lauren Bell
  • Maia Bouchier
  • Alice Capsey
  • Kate Cross
  • Freya Davies
  • Alice Davidson-Richards
  • Charlie Dean
  • Sophia Dunkley
  • Sophie Ecclestone
  • Freya Kemp
  • Emma Lamb
  • Issy Wong
  • Danni Wyatt

ENGLAND v INDIA: 3rd T20 – Capsey Digs England Out Of The Hole

At 70-0, chasing a low-ish 122, England were going along nicely at 70-0, two balls shy of the 10 over mark. Danni Wyatt, who had been happily playing second-fiddle to Sophia Dunkley, didn’t quite get everything on a pull down the ground and was caught in the deep. With the batters having crossed, Dunkley retained the strike with a single off the final ball of the 10th over to face Radha Yadav at the other end, with just a single required to add another international half-century to her trophy cabinet.

It should have been the moment to put the cherry on top of the cake, but instead Dunkley lost it completely – playing and missing at 6 dots from Radha, like a woman who’d totally forgotten how to bat. Alice Capsey jogged a single off her first ball to give Dunkley yet another chance to pass 50, but instead of just nurdling a straight delivery from Pooja Vastrakar into the off side, she tried to heave it over midwicket, missed it completely, and was about as comprehensively bowled as it is possible to be.

Dunkley was later named Player of the Series, having topped the run charts, but it was a series of performances that showcased her vulnerabilities as well as her talents – one minute she’ll be scoring all round the ground, the next she’ll look like someone who has accidentally wandered onto the field having taken a wrong turn on her way to the pub.

Amy Jones soon followed, playing down the District Line to a ball that took the Hammersmith & City, and England were suddenly in a bit of a hole – literally, a hole on the “Trend”.

Thank goodness then for Alice Capsey, who dug England out the hole and showed… yet again… why she is the most exciting young player we’ve seen since Sarah Taylor first emerged onto the scene 15 years ago at a similar age. Capsey ended with 38 not out off 24 balls – finishing the job for England for the second time in the series, after her 32 not out in the 1st T20 in Durham.

The assumption when Capsey was picked to debut in the T20 series against South Africa just two short months ago would surely have been that she would play the T20s, but give way for the ODI series; but how can England drop her now? Especially without Nat Sciver and Heather Knight (who sat quietly and surprisingly anonymously in the crowd this evening).

It would have been a much more straightforward chase for England if it hadn’t been for Pooja Vastrakar (19 off 11) and Richa Ghosh (32 off 22) battling away at the end. India had looked to be heading for a total south of 100 but Pooja and Richa put up some fight in the last 3 overs to get India past the 120 which is the bare minimum these days in this format.

First Ghosh turned Issy Wong’s pace against her in the 18th, hitting the speedster for 3 consecutive boundaries, before Sophie Ecclestone stepped in and presumably suggested that she try taking pace off, which Wong did for the last two deliveries of the over, conceding only two more singles in the process.

Then in the final over, it was Vastrakar’s turn to do some damage – hacking 15 off Freya Davies, who didn’t do a lot wrong, but still had to watch the ball disappear twice to the boundary.

With 122 on the board, India had a chance, and although it got quite cool by the end of the evening, it didn’t dew-up in the way it had done in Derby, so the gods weren’t totally on England’s side. But then… as we’ll probably find ourselves saying a few times in the next ten or fifteen years… who needs gods when you’ve got Alice Capsey.