THE HUNDRED: Another Ball From Lauren Bell (And One From Freya Davies)

Two years ago, I wrote a piece entitled One Ball from Lauren Bell. The thesis of that piece, which if anything has been reinforced over the past couple of years, is that although there are a lot of fast bowlers around, Bell is the most exciting because she has the ability to ball that “One Ball” which absolutely no one else can. Combining the pace of Lea Tahuhu, the inch-perfect line of Megan Schutt, and the swing of Anya Shrubsole, it is totally unplayable, as Rachel Priest discovered on that day in 2019.

Two years later, as they say in the movies, Trent Rockets are chasing 133 to beat Southern Brave. They are 75-2 – needing 59 from 37 balls. It sounds like a bit of an ask in traditional women’s domestic T20, but in this shorter format, with Nat Sciver at the crease, the game is starting to feel like the Rockets to lose. The Brave need a wicket, which is why captain Anya Shrubsole has brought back not herself, but Lauren Bell, into the attack – looking for a strike from the strike bowler.

Sciver, meanwhile, is looking to go on the attack, coming down the pitch and using the pace off the ball to hit out. After getting a single off the first ball of the over, and two off the third, Sciver targets the fourth. Looking to thump it over mid on, she opens up her front leg and swings through the ball…

Or rather, she swings through where the ball would have been if it had been a “normal” 70mph delivery from Bell. But this is another ball entirely – rolled off the fingers, it dies off the pitch, leaving Sciver swinging at thin air as the zing bails explode over her stumps.

It was such a different ball to that one from 2019, but it had exactly the same result – one of the best batters in the world was left looking like a chump.

The slower ball is becoming something of an art-form among fast bowlers – it isn’t just about bowling it slower, but keeping everything else about the action the same, so it comes out of nowhere. As the Monty Python boys might have said: Nobody expects the slower ball!

Bell does this by rolling the ball off her fingers – a bit like an orthodox spin delivery – but there’s another way too: out of the back of the hand, like a leg-spinner. You may have seen Katherine Brunt do this, but the master of this art is Freya Davies, as Shafali Verma discovered this weekend. Davies delivers a googly out of the back of the hand, which as well as dying on the batter can also turn into the right-hander off the pitch.

The ball from Davies floats through the air like it has hitched a ride on a hot air balloon, but it is a sucker punch for Shafali, who like Nat Sciver is left swinging in the breeze as her stumps fall apart behind her.

You’ll hear a lot during The Hundred about who the fastest bowlers are – the ones who are pushing 80mph, and targeting numbers beyond that even.

But perhaps… just perhaps… speed isn’t everything.

OPINION: Alice Capsey – A Star Is Born

Almost exactly four years ago, Alice Capsey was at Lord’s Cricket Ground to watch England beat India in the 2017 World Cup final.

Then aged 12, she had been playing age-group cricket for Surrey for less than 4 years. She could have had little idea that just a few short years later, she would be walking out to open the batting on the very same ground, in a moment that will go down in cricketing history – the first ever competitive women’s domestic match to be played at the Home of Cricket.

Even a week ago, when I interviewed her for The Guardian, she was caveating her answers with the suggestion that she might not even make it into the Oval Invincibles’ starting XI. Having watched her shine for Surrey and South East Stars in 2020 and 2021, I felt pretty sure that she would be. Fortunately, Invincibles coach Jonathan Batty agreed with me.

On Sunday, in front of 13,537 fans at Lord’s, Capsey outshone a host of established international stars – including England captain Heather Knight – in a sparkling, confident innings of 59 from 41 balls that announced her presence to a load of journalists, not to mention the aforementioned fans, who previously didn’t even know her name.

That’s the kind of stage that The Hundred has given her.

“It’s really special, especially to do it at the Home of Cricket,” she said, still dazed as she spoke in the post-match press conference. “At the moment I’m just trying to take it all in. To get a performance like that is mind-blowing.”

“There were a few nerves, but I just wanted to express myself, stay true to how I play, and do a job for the team.”

On the question of her newly-found fame, she displayed the level-headedness that you feel will take her far: “I wasn’t really expecting it! But I’ll take it all in and continue to keep focusing on myself and pushing my game forward.”

Perhaps the most important thing about Capsey’s innings was that it followed on from her premature dismissal in the first match of the tournament, in front of another rollicking crowd at The Oval on Wednesday evening. On that occasion, after slamming her first ball to the boundary, she fell second ball attempting a ramp shot – sending it straight into the hands of the keeper.

Another player might have been cowed – might have gone into her shell second time around. Not Capsey. “I want to keep expressing myself, playing my shots, and get us off to a good start,” she said. “At The Oval it didn’t come off, but on another day it might have come off. And it [the ramp] is one of my strengths, so I’ll keep playing how I’m playing, and try not to get too fazed.”

Capsey is already confident enough to have openly expressed her desire to “open or bat in the top order for England in all formats”. Nothing is certain in cricket (just ask Sophie Luff), but it doesn’t seem a stretch to suggest that this won’t be the last time we see Capsey play an innings like this one.

And if that England cap does come, those 13,537 fans, not to mention the handful of journalists sat up in the Lord’s Media Centre, will be able to look back and say that they were there on the day that a future star was born.

THE HUNDRED: Invincibles v Spirit – Capsital Punishment For The Spirit

The first “London Derby” of The Hundred ended with a big win for the Oval Invincibles versus the London Spirit at Lords.

The scorecard will tell you the Invincibles won by 15 runs; but this flatters the Spirit, after Dani Gibson and Charlie Dean had some fun slogging 27 off the last 10 balls, with the game essentially already lost.

There were two factors in the Invincibles’ win. The first, of course, was “Match Hero” Alice Capsey, who hit 59 off 41 balls in an 80-run partnership with Dane van Niekerk. Having won the opening game for her side with a half-century of her own, DvN was happy to play second-fiddle this time around, not even scoring at a run-a-ball, but giving Capsey the support she needed to play the key innings for the Invincibles.

The ramp may be the shot from Capsey that catches the eye… and occasionally the wicket-keeper’s eye, as it did on Thursday when she ramped straight into Ellie Threkeld’s gloves behind the stumps… but she actually scored the bulk of her runs straight today, in the arc between midwicket and mid off, picking the “holes” in the field to go safely over the top of the ring. It’s exciting cricket to watch, though it is certainly not risk-free, and she was eventually caught with 12 balls still on the clock.

So it really helped that Mady Villiers (again) and Jo Gardner both chipped in at the end for the Invincibles too – they might have only hit 8 and 9 respectively, but crucially it was off 3 and 4 balls – Strike Rates of over 200 – exactly what’s needed at the death in this quickfire format.

Nonetheless, it felt like the Invincibles were perhaps slightly short on 132-7, and they were going to have to bowl well to get the win. Which brings us around to the second factor, which was some quality work with the ball. Shabnim Ismail and Tash Farrant both opened the bowling with 10 balls straight apiece, and they nullified the Spirit’s opening batters in the powerplay. Naomi Dattani, who can be such a destructive player when she finds the middle of the bat, just couldn’t make it happen today, and finished with 8 off 14 balls. Even Deandra Dottin couldn’t make the impact she’d have wanted, also hitting at under 100… albeit only just with 14 off 15. And it was downhill from there really for the Spirit.

Heather Knight is usually the player to rely on in a chase, and she did her job today with 40 off 29, but she didn’t get the support she needed, as the Invincibles bowlers kept turning up the pressure. Chloe Tryon, having bowled very well earlier in the day, couldn’t get bat on ball today – when she was eventually dismissed for 9 off 16, it felt like a mercy-killing. Even more so than in T20, you can’t afford to take your time in this format – you really need to be going at a Strike Rate of 100 from the off and accelerating from there – there is little leeway to go at a Strike Rate of 50-something and hope you can make it up later if you stay in because even if you do accelerate later, you’ve already lost too many balls.

So it is the Invincibles that make the early running in the tournament, with 2 wins from 2. It is very early days of course, but it is also a very short tournament – games are coming at a million miles an hour, and momentum will be key. Right now, the momentum is with the Invincibles.

PREVIEW: Ross XI Takes The Lead, But Scottish Cricket Reaps The Benefits

Jake Perry looks ahead to Round Three of the Cricket Scotland Women’s Super Series

Forfarshire is the place to be this Sunday, as the Ross XI takes a 3-1 lead into Round Three of the Cricket Scotland Women’s Super Series at Forthill. After last weekend’s run-fest at Clydesdale, both they and the Sutton XI will be looking for more of the same in what has already been a hugely successful initiative. 

Every one of the 637 runs that were scored at Titwood provided a ringing endorsement of the aims and objectives that lie behind this new competition. Choosing the squads according to the balance of their players as opposed to their geographical location has seen three out of the four matches go to the wire – except for the very first game of the series, none has been a walkover, and while the Ross XI left Glasgow with two victories, their opponents know that that scoreline could very easily have been reversed. 

That was thanks in no small part to some of the younger batters on display. Fifteen-year-old Emma Walsingham, fresh from her unbeaten 123-ball 160 in the Under-18 Regional Series, impressed again with 42 not out in game one, while the confident hitting of Niamhs Muir and Robertson-Jack ensured the Suttons went down fighting as the second match drew to its conclusion. 

But it was the contribution of the more experienced players which was most striking – in all senses of the word – of all. Priyanaz Chatterji was outstanding, her 27-ball 56, featuring eleven fours and one six, so nearly seeing her Sutton side to victory in game two, while Charis Scott and Ellen Watson also scored their runs briskly at the top of the order. Watson’s opening partner Lorna Jack picked up from where she left off in Arbroath to move into second place in the batting averages with 117 runs at 29.25: her return to form is good news both for the series and for Scotland. 

Topping those averages is Abbi Aitken-Drummond, whose scores of 44 and 49 powered the Ross XI’s chase of 154 in game one then charge to 170 straight after. Becky Glen, Megan McColl and Katherine Fraser played important hands, too, and while Ailsa Lister was out for a duck in the morning, her never-say-die instinct to attack saw her set the tone in game two by scoring eleven of the twelve that came off the first over of the match. 

And it is that which has characterised these early stages of the competition most of all. The positivity and flair with which both sides have batted, facilitated last weekend by the excellent Clydesdale surface, is a hugely encouraging sign for the future. With a question mark hanging over international cricket for all but the very biggest nations in the short term, here is a mechanism which is allowing Scotland’s players the opportunity to both test and truly express themselves. Sunday promises to be another fascinating instalment.

The Cricket Scotland Super Series will be live-scored and streamed via CS Live. 

Team news: Katie McGill returns for the Sutton XI, replacing Niamh Robertson-Jack, who moves to the Ross XI in place of the unavailable Molly Paton. 

Ross XI: Abbi Aitken-Drummond, Ailsa Lister, Becky Glen, Megan McColl, Katherine Mills, Lois Wilkinson, Katherine Fraser, Hannah Rainey, Catherine Holland, Niamh Robertson-Jack, Anne Sturgess, Zoe Rennie. 

Sutton XI: Katie McGill, Priyanaz Chatterji, Ellen Watson, Samantha Haggo, Lorna Jack, Abbie Hogg, Charis Scott, Emma Walsingham, Emily Tucker, Orla Montgomery, Nayma Shaikh, Niamh Muir.

——

Jake Perry is the author of The Secret Game

Twitter: @jperry_cricket / Facebook: Jake Perry Cricket

The Cricket Scotland Podcast will include a round-up of the men’s and women’s league action from across the As part of our ongoing coverage of men’s and women’s domestic cricket, The Cricket Scotland Podcast will include a round-up of the Super Series every Tuesday, with analysis and player interviews along with those from other featured games. Follow @ScotlandPod on Twitter for all the latest information.

THE HUNDRED: First Impressions

So, it’s finally upon us – and after all our concerns about accreditation, we were indeed in the press box on Wednesday night for the first ever match of The Hundred.

What did we make of it all? Here’s some initial thoughts…

The crowd

Kate Cross’s post-match with the BBC said it all. “It’s the loudest, biggest crowd that I’ve ever played in front of on home soil – including international cricket”, she told Isa Guha.

It’s important to be historically accurate. Despite a boast by the ground announcer (which was repeated by Sky), 7,395 is NOT a record crowd at a domestic women’s match, in England or otherwise.

In the modern era, 12,901 fans were in attendance at the MCG for a WBBL match on 2 January 2016.

On the other hand, given that we were excited about 1,000 people showing up to the first KSL game, a crowd of almost 7,500 should go down as a BIG win for The Hundred. And it felt pretty amazing to be a part of it.

It’s cricket

When it came down to it, no one really paid any attention to Becky Hill’s “set” between the innings – they were too busy grabbing another ice-cream before play restarted. That tells you something important: they wanted to watch the cricket.

Ultimately, this was a cricket match between two teams of world-class players. If it wasn’t quite our sport at its finest from start to end – there were a few dropped catches that the Originals will want to swiftly forget about – it WAS a thriller, as Dane van Niekerk dragged her side over the line despite the WinViz predictor being very firmly not in her favour for almost the entirety of the run chase.

Say it quietly, but is it possible that the ECB have worried too much about gimmicks, influencers and musical acts… at the expense of offering decent money to the women’s players, who will be the ones who make or break the success of this competition?

The TV coverage

After all the talk about gender parity, it struck a bum note to have two people (Tuffers and Vaughan) doing the vast majority of the BBC TV commentary who clearly had no idea who any of the non-England players were. We’ve got nothing against male commentators reporting on women’s cricket – but when they wouldn’t be able to pick out the players in an ID parade, that’s when you’ve got problems.

The BBC’s misspelling of player names also didn’t help matters. The small things really do matter when you want a tournament to make a statement about gender parity in sport.

The gimmicks

Thumbs Up:

*The at-ground graphics, whereby players introduce themselves over the loudspeaker as they walk out to bat. Useful, and fun.

Thumbs Down:

*Having to look at opposite ends of the TV screen to see runs, wickets and the number of balls left. Seemed to us to make it MORE complicated to understand, not less.

*The umpire white cards, held up at the end of each “five” balls. Budget didn’t seem to stretch to providing proper laminated cards, and it looked a bit odd to have the umpires waving bits of notebook paper in the air.

*The Mady Villiers avatar. Rob Key did his best, but…

The jury’s out

The crowd was amazing, but the “newness factor” needs to be accounted for. The big question is, once the shiny novelty has worn off, will people still care about Oval Invincibles and the rest?

There’s still a way to go to prove that The Hundred is an advance on where we’d now be with the KSL, had it been allowed to continue growing.

There was also little sign of the “united team brands and identities” with the men which we’d been promised. None of the male players showed up at the ground to watch the game – OK, maybe Covid was a factor (?) but could they not at least have tweeted to show their support? (I’ve just checked and I can only find one player from either of the men’s teams who did so – kudos to Sam Billings.)

Overall positivity rating:

7/10. Solid start but still a long way to go.

PREVIEW: The Hundred (Women’s Competition)

Sasha Putt previews The Hundred (Women’s Competition)

With England’s series against India over, it is time to turn our attention to the biggest event in cricket this summer: The Hundred. With games set to commence on Wednesday, the tournament promises to be a month of exciting cricket, with some of the best international talent on display, despite the withdrawal of many Australian stars due to Covid concerns.

Before the tournament kicks off, here is a run-down of all eight squads ready to do battle this summer, and some pre-tournament predictions as well.

Birmingham Phoenix 

Most noticeable for Birmingham is the loss of Ellyse Perry, arguably the best cricketer in the world and someone who would have bolstered the side with a perfect all-round option. Despite this setback, the Phoenix squad does not lack star power: they have a host of internationals, spearheaded by one of the bright young stars in the game today – Shafali Verma. Backed by England internationals Amy Jones and Georgia Elwiss, with red-hot Evelyn Jones hoping to continue her domestic white-ball form and veteran Erin Burns earning a replacement call-up, the Phoenix top-order appears to be solid and able to score runs quickly.

A youthful bowling core could prove to be feisty as well, with Emily Arlott and Issy Wong both able to take wickets quickly and restrict the run-rate, while Abtaha Maqsood could inject some energy in those middle overs.

This is the squad that could be the most hit-or-miss; if Verma and co. can get firing they’ll easily put up big scores which would be difficult to chase, but an inexperienced bowling attack could prove to be an Achilles heel amongst the more well-rounded sides.

London Spirit 

Much like the Edgbaston side, the Spirit have a stacked batting line-up with a host of international stars at their disposal. The England duo of captain Heather Knight and Tammy Beaumont will both be confident after a series win against India, and so should look to anchor the top of the order. Perhaps an even more exciting prospect is to see the fantastic trio of Deandra Dottin, Deepti Sharma and Chloe Tryon in action together, making up what could be the best top-five of the tournament.

Although Dottin, Sharma and Tryon have offered something with the ball at times, this side will need its young bowlers to carry the load. In particular the duo of Freya Davies and Charlie Dean could prove to be difference makers, but the strength of the bowling attack comes in a clear second when considering the power up top.

This being said, the Spirit still have one of the strongest squads this summer, and only need two or three of their stars to get runs on the board to put up a total most sides would struggle to beat, marking them as an early contender for champions.

Manchester Originals

The Originals display a plethora of options in the bowling department, with England’s Kate Cross and world number one T20I bowler Sophie Ecclestone, backed by former international Alex Hartley, a fearsome attack that will look to take quick wickets early, whilst restricting any chances of scoring.

International imports reinforce Manchester’s batting, with Harmanpreet Kaur, Mignon du Preez and Lizelle Lee solidifying an explosive top order in plenty of form. Joined by Emma Lamb, the first centurion of the Charlotte Edwards T20 Cup and a very handy bowling option, and Cordelia Griffith capable of consistently chipping in with runs, the team at Old Trafford are one of the most complete sides of the tournament, with few weak spots besides potential depth.

Northern Superchargers

A return to top-heavy teams here with the Superchargers boasting an impressive collection of batters with Lauren Winfield-Hill, Laura Wolvaardt, Jemimah Rodrigues, Laura Kimmince, Sterre Kalis and Alice Davidson-Richards all having big scores in their locker. Key for the team will be to bat first and bat big, adopting a more aggressive approach from the outset due to the depth in quality and quick-scoring talent.

Beth Langston could prove to be a very useful pivot for the team, handy with both the bat and ball, but it’s difficult to see where wickets would come from with this side. However, that does set the ground for one of England’s young prospects to announce themselves in a high-profile domestic tournament.

Despite a solid batting core, barring the emergence of a young star I struggle to see this team making a serious impact unless they can consistently put up big totals.

Oval Invincibles 

If you’re a fan of the Proteas, then have I got the team for you. Three of South Africa’s greatest ever headline the South London side, with Dane van Niekerk, Marizanne Kapp and Shabnim Ismail a formidable core of players to build any team around. Although van Niekerk is returning from injury her experience will prove to be a lynchpin for the side, with Kapp currently the best ranked ODI all-rounder (third for bowlers) and Ismail the second best T20I bowler. The success of this Invincibles side is likely to come through this trio, particularly if they’re firing on all cylinders.

To call the rest of the squad a ‘supporting cast’ would almost be an insult, considering the talent available. England internationals Tash Farrant and Mady Villiers round out a very strong attack, and Fran Wilson provides experience with the bat.

Batting could be the Invincibles’ weakness, lacking the big-name stars of other teams in the tournament. However, Georgia Adams and Alice Capsey have both shown flashes of form, and so could be crucial for this top order to keep up with their bowling attack. The Invincibles are definitely a team that could surprise a few and make it to the knockout stages.

Southern Brave 

To me, this is by far the most exciting team in the competition. Above all is world number one ODI batter Stafanie Taylor, who comes into the tournament on a hot streak, having made 49, 105* and 43* in her last three outings. Deadly with the ball as well, the West Indies legend is a must-watch over the summer.

Even without Taylor the Brave roster would pose a problem for anyone. World Cup hero (and fellow Bathonian) Anya Shrubsole leads a fierce bowling attack, with Lauren Bell and Charlotte Taylor both able to pick up wickets regularly. Smriti Mandhana and Danni Wyatt have been in fine form during India’s recent tour of England and complement Taylor perfectly, and if Sophia Dunkley can continue her domestic form then this is a group of batters that could easily dispatch any bowling unit.

Even the Brave’s depth is strong, with Tara Norris providing a very useful left-arm option who has seen plenty of domestic success in the past couple of years. Clear favourites to win the tournament, a lot of pressure is surrounding this squad to perform.

Trent Rockets 

It seems like when drawing up their squad Trent Rockets management had just one word in mind: all-rounder, with 11/15 of their squad being listed as so. The Nottingham side was hit hard by the delay of the tournament, losing Beth Langston and Mady Villiers to other teams, then Elyse Villani and Sophie Molineux pulling out due to pandemic concerns.

As a result, the Rockets are left reliant on their England stars, which isn’t the worst consolation prize. World number one T20I all-rounder Nat Sciver is a perfect talisman to build around. Seamer Katherine Brunt and leg spinner Sarah Glenn can both tie up an end, and Australian replacement Heather Graham has been in excellent domestic form with the bat. New Zealand veteran Rachel Priest could establish herself as a fan favourite, particularly with her talent behind the stumps.

Aside from Teresa Graves, the rest of the Rockets’ depth could struggle if Brunt and Sciver aren’t dominating. Those stars could still help cause an upset or two, however, and so shouldn’t be counted out.

Welsh Fire 

Alongside the Rockets the Cardiff-based team have also been depleted by the pandemic. The losses of Jess Jonassen, Meg Lanning and Beth Mooney leave large gaps in both the bowling and batting departments. However, their replacements could still be exciting, with Piepa Cleary and Hayley Matthews solid all-round options, and keeper Georgia Redmayne in incredible recent form, averaging nearly 240 across her last 5 innings.

The loss of key stars doesn’t take away from the true draw of this side: the return of Sarah Taylor, undoubtedly England’s best keeper this century. Already finding her groove behind the stumps for the Diamonds in the Charlotte Edwards Trophy, the Hundred will provide an incredible opportunity for some fantastic glovework to appear on our screens.

Although lacking in big-name stars elsewhere, the Fire have plenty of domestic talent ready to break through. Sophie Luff and Georgia Hennessy have both shown themselves to be capable of building big innings, albeit in the longer limited-overs format, and Bethan Ellis has shown flashes with bat and ball.

It might just be my excitement to watch Sarah Taylor but this side looks poised to make some serious waves and cause a few upsets over the course of the tournament, and could sneak in to the final three.

Five Must-Watch Games:

  • Invincibles vs Originals – 21st July – first game and a South African showdown
  • Spirit vs Rockets – 29th July – contest between England’s stars at Lord’s 
  • Originals vs Brave – 5th August – two top teams squaring off 
  • Invincibles vs Spirit – 14th August – Battle for London with playoff implications 
  • Superchargers vs Phoenix – 17th August – a potential run-fest

(A full list of fixtures can be found here.)

Pre-tournament, will soon be proven wrong predictions: 

Winners: Southern Brave – bowling, batting, everything – where is this team’s weak spot? 

Final Three: Southern Brave, London Spirit, Manchester Originals 

Player of the Tournament: Sophie Ecclestone

International Star: Stafanie Taylor

Surprise Star: Charlotte Taylor

Worst team name: Manchester – When the Manchester Bees was floated as a potential team name anything else is a let-down 

Best/Worst Kit: Birmingham – I’ve been sat here for an hour trying to come up with a reason for why I like this jersey but have managed nothing. I still have strongly considered getting one. 

PREVIEW: All-Square Super Series Moves On To Titwood

Jake Perry looks ahead to Round Two of the Cricket Scotland Women’s Super Series.

The Women’s Super Series resumes at Titwood this weekend, where the Ross and Sutton XIs will battle it out in the third and fourth T20s of Cricket Scotland’s new representative competition. After a nail-biter of a day in Arbroath last Sunday, both teams will be keen to build on the positives of an entertaining first round which finished all square. 

Of the two it was probably the Sutton XI which left Lochlands the happier, having recovered from a trouncing in the first game to take a 10-run win in the second. That transformation was built on a far more dynamic showing with the bat – where the Ross bowlers had dominated the morning, with only three Sutton batters reaching double figures, game two saw each of the top three score at a strike-rate of above ninety as they posted a much more impressive total of 133 for 2. Ellen Watson and Lorna Jack led the way with an opening stand of 64, and although Watson was then bowled by a beauty from Hannah Rainey, Charis Scott, and in due course Katie McGill, made sure that that early momentum was carried through to the end. Most encouraging of all, though, was the form of Jack, who showed more than a glimpse of that attacking flair which first came to prominence in the World T20 European Qualifier back in 2017 – that her 46 runs came at well over a run a ball while containing only three boundaries said a lot about her busyness at the crease and aggressive running between the wickets.

The Suttons’ final total still needed some defending, of course, but fine catches from Emma Walsingham and Ikra Farooq and a slower-ball yorker from Niamh Robertson-Jack ensured they got off to a good start in doing so. It was Nayma Shaikh who was the star of the innings, however, with a hat-trick which kept the chasing team on the back foot. Shaikh had an excellent WPL as a batter – after finding plenty of movement in the air and off the pitch here, though, it is the development of her bowling in the shortest form which will be most fascinating to watch as the rest of the competition unfolds.

The Ross XI, meanwhile, can reflect on a performance in game one which shut the door on their opponents in emphatic style. Megan McColl’s burst of three wickets in eight balls left the Suttons reeling at 27 for 3, and with spinners Abtaha Maqsood and Katherine Fraser then turning the screws even tighter, any hope of a revival was quickly snuffed out. That the top three of Ailsa Lister, Abbi Aitken-Drummond and Becky Glen then set about the chase with such relish will have been particularly satisfying for Peter Ross – Glen’s unbeaten 21-ball 36, with its five fours and a six, must have pleased him most of all.

And there were plenty of plusses for the coach to take from the afternoon, as well, as the Rosses stayed in game two until the very last over. The middle-overs partnership between McColl and Emily Cavender ensured that the early damage was quickly repaired, and although Cavender then became the first of Shaikh’s memorable trio, McColl continued to play her shots as her side moved into three figures. The 20-year-old’s near run-a-ball 37 underlined her rapidly developing game – after her excellent showing with the national side in Ireland, the Arbroath all-rounder is already making her mark on this new competition.

Both Peter Ross and Daniel Sutton make two changes to their squads for Titwood. Lois Wilkinson makes a welcome return in place of the Hundred-bound Abtaha Maqsood, while Katherine Mills comes into the Ross XI in place of Emily Cavender. Samantha Haggo, a late withdrawal from round one, takes her place in the Sutton team instead of the unavailable Katie McGill, while Niamh Muir replaces the unfortunate Ikra Farooq, who is out for six weeks after breaking her thumb in the second match at Lochlands.

All in all, it promises to be another fascinating day. A stated aim of the Super Series is to give players at both ends of the experience scale the chance to showcase their skills – on the evidence so far, that is something that is already bearing fruit.

The Cricket Scotland Super Series will be live-scored and streamed via CS Live.

Ross XI: Abbi Aitken-Drummond, Ailsa Lister, Becky Glen, Megan McColl, Katherine Mills, Lois Wilkinson, Katherine Fraser, Hannah Rainey, Catherine Holland, Molly Paton, Anne Sturgess, Zoe Rennie. 

Sutton XI: Priyanaz Chatterji, Ellen Watson, Samantha Haggo, Lorna Jack, Abbie Hogg, Charis Scott, Emma Walsingham, Emily Tucker, Niamh Robertson-Jack, Orla Montgomery, Nayma Shaikh, Niamh Muir.

——

Jake Perry is the author of The Secret Game

Twitter: @jperry_cricket / Facebook: Jake Perry Cricket

The Cricket Scotland Podcast will include a round-up of the men’s and women’s league action from across the As part of our ongoing coverage of men’s and women’s domestic cricket, The Cricket Scotland Podcast will include a round-up of the Super Series every Tuesday, with analysis and player interviews along with those from other featured games. Follow @ScotlandPod on Twitter for all the latest information.

ENGLAND v INDIA 3rd T20 – Waggy Gets Her Swaggy Back

8 years ago, here at the Essex County Ground in Chelmsford in the 1st T20 of the 2013 Women’s Ashes, Sarah Taylor made her highest ever international T20 score – hitting 77 off 58 balls as England set Australia 146, going on to win the match by 15 runs. Taylor’s supporting act that evening was Danni “Waggy” Wyatt, who made 28 off 36 balls.

Today it was Wyatt herself topping the bill, walking off with the Player of the Match champagne for 89* off 56 balls. It is an indication of how much the game has changed that Wyatt faced two fewer balls than Taylor had faced in 2013, but scored 12 more runs. Moreover, this was “only” Wyatt’s 3rd best international T20 score, having previously made 100s against both India and Australia.

Prior to this evening, some were starting to question Wyatt’s place in the England side. Having not played in the Test, she was not recalled for the ODIs either, only coming back into the team for the T20s, scoring 31 and 3 in the first two games.

Meanwhile Emma Lamb has been owning it in domestic cricket, opening the batting for the Thunder, with a string of strong scores including two 100s and a 50.

True, Wyatt also posted some decent numbers in domestic cricket this year, including 3 consecutive half-centuries in the RHF, but she hadn’t looked quite herself this season… until today.

This was Danni Wyatt back at her absolute best – the glorious slog-sweeps and effortless inside-outs over the covers. When she’s not playing at the top of her game, those shots tend to end up in the hands of a fielder on the ring; but today they soared to the boundary. And there would have been more to come – surely a third international T20 hundred – if she’d been able to bat for the full 20 overs.

Wyatt’s T20 place now is surely secure for the immediate future – probably up until at least the Commonwealth Games next summer. England Captain Heather Knight has made no secret of the fact that she is 100% focussed on the big tournaments coming up in 2022 – the teams she is selecting this year are the ones she thinks will play in the World Cup in New Zealand and in the CWG in Birmingham.

The selection of Wyatt for this series was a clear indication that she remained part of the plans for the Commonwealths; but there was perhaps a small question mark by her name.

There isn’t any more.

ENGLAND v INDIA 2nd T20 – Sharma Drama

India kept the multi-format series alive (ish – they can’t win it, but they can still stop England from doing so) with a dramatic win under increasingly gloomy skies at Hove.

Those darkening skies doubtless reflected Heather Knight’s mood, after she was run out in what she evidently considered controversial circumstances by her once (at Western Storm) and future (at London Spirit) team-mate Deepti Sharma. Deepti clearly did impede Knight as she ran her out, but it wasn’t obviously deliberate, so it was down to Harmanpreet to withdraw the appeal, which she declined to do, leaving Knight to walk back to the dugout shaking her head in disbelief.

Harmanpreet was of course well within her rights under the laws; but for what it’s worth, as someone who has been watching Heather Knight captain cricket teams for 10 years, I think she probably would have withdrawn the appeal if she’d been in Harman’s boots. In a high profile game like this, with the series on the line, though… who knows for sure?

It certainly turned what had been looking like another England promenade into a proper game of cricket. At the start of that 14th over from Deepti, England needed just over 6-an-over, having been motoring along at 8. Tammy Beaumont had played really well again – making a run-a-ball half century – her 7th in an England shirt this year. She was a little unlucky to be given out LBW on “umpire’s call” – she was so far down the pitch that I don’t think the umpire would have “called” initially if DRS hadn’t been available; but, again, them’s the rules and England have to live with them.

With the Knight run out the next ball, England went from 2-down to 4-down in the blink of an eye, and although they kept up with the run-rate, wickets continued to fall, testing the policy of eschewing a 7th batter to give themselves more bowling options, ultimately to destruction. Ecclestone, Brunt, Villiers and Glenn can all bat – but when you need 7-8 an over, with a roaring crowd of Indian fans in the stands, and Poonam bowling her loopy turning deliveries a foot outside off stump, it’s suddenly not quite so easy, as one by one they discovered.

Overall, playing 5 bowlers probably is the right call, because of the flexibility it offers; and one extra batter probably wouldn’t have saved England’s bacon today anyway, but I do think England could have used their bowling options better. Katherine Brunt was given a second over in the powerplay, despite the first having gone for 11, and it went for 21, which in the context of a game which went pretty close to the wire, is not ideal!

(I guess the theory is that if you offer Shafali enough short balls, she’ll eventually sky one to a fielder… as she did! But in a T20 game it’s a dangerous tactic, because if that “eventually” takes 38 balls, she’s going to score a lot of runs in that time… as she did!)

All this should take nothing away from the Indians though – they closed out the game, against the odds, with Sneh Rana holding her nerve in the final over, in a situation where England, needing 14, could still have won. And it sets things up nicely for a finale at Chelmsford on Wednesday, in which the pressure will actually be more on England for once.

It will be interesting to see how they respond.