OPINION: England Hope For Triumph of Experience In Busy Summer

Charlotte Edwards will be in the commentary box at Worcester, as England take on South Africa in the 1st of six ICC Championship matches to be played in England this summer.

But the former England captain could be forgiven for a certain sense of deja-vu as she looks out onto the ground at New Road – all bar one of the England’s 14-player squad made their debuts under her or (in two cases) her predecessor Clare Connor. The “average” England debut for this squad was in 2009 – almost 10 years ago.

It will soon be three years since Mark Robinson was appointed England coach, and just over two years since Edwards was metaphorically left alone in a room at Lords with a bottle of Scotch and a loaded revolver. In that time, Robinson has handed out five “proper” debuts, to Alex Hartley, Sophie Ecclestone, Alice Davidson-Richards, Katie George and Bryony Smith, one “re-debut” to Fran Wilson, and awarded a new “rookie” contract to the so-far uncapped Freya Davies; but of these only Ecclestone will take the field today.

Of course, there is plenty more cricket to be played this summer – a fast and furious T20 Tri-Series against South Africa and New Zealand will offer opportunities to bounce back, as England look to rotate with half an eye on the New Zealand ODI series to come.

But it does have to be a worry that while the Australians are bringing on the likes of Beth Mooney and Ash Gardner, the pathway doesn’t appear – Ecclestone aside – to be producing the players they trust to go out there and score runs and take wickets for England.

That being said, this is still a very strong England team – the problem areas are mostly of the “nice problem to have” variety. Do you play Dani Hazell and Laura Marsh? What about Georgia Elwiss, who had a good game against South Africa for the Academy last week? Where do you bat Tammy Beaumont if Amy Jones opens with Danni Wyatt, which England seem to think might be the answer to Jones’ issues (which are clearly 99% in her head)? And of course you’d ideally want to fit in the ever-reliable Jenny Gunn, but where?

My guess is that England might go with:

  1. Wyatt
  2. Jones
  3. Taylor
  4. Sciver
  5. Beaumont
  6. Knight
  7. Brunt
  8. Marsh
  9. Hazell
  10. Shrubsole
  11. Ecclestone

This year will see no repeat of Pakistan 2016 – South Africa will be no pushover – though they will have breathed a sigh of relief that Laura Wolvaardt has decided for the moment to try to juggle cricket and medical school, because their batting can be as brittle as it can sometimes be brilliant without her indefatigability at the top of the order.

New Zealand will similarly push England hard, as you’d expect from a team led by the best player in the world (Suzie Bates) who can afford to drop one of the most destructive batsmen in the world (Rachel Priest) for “reasons” because when you’ve got Amy Satterthwaite and Sophie Devine too, that’s the kind of crazy thing you can do and still pull off the highest ODI score of all time against Ireland!

So… predictions? I think England will win more games than they’ll lose this summer, but they won’t have it all their own way.

The one certainty – for the neutrals, it should be a good one!

Advertisements

OPINION: The Hidden Gem – Women’s County Cricket

By Richard Clark

There was no county cricket on Bank Holiday Monday.

Nothing.

Not a ball bowled anywhere in England or Wales.

We (that is, the wider public with an interest in cricket) know this because it has been discussed at some length in the cricketing press, blogs and social media. Beautiful weather, everybody off work, kids on half term… and yet no cricket to watch. It’s no wonder the ECB appear convinced that children don’t “engage” with the game if they can’t actually go and see it.

Yet we (and this is a much smaller “we” – those of us who cherish women’s cricket) also know that it’s bunkum.

For there was plenty of county cricket on Bank Holiday Monday – 18 matches, to be precise – in the Royal London Women’s One Day Cup (or County Championship if you prefer). Ample opportunity for those keen to spend a day in a deck-chair or on a bench absorbing the ebbs and flows of the game to get out and do so.

And not just in the “traditional” areas of the country. Monday’s matches stretched far beyond the confines of the 18 First Class counties, from Pontarddulais to Dumfries, and from Long Melford to Instow. They say you’re never more than six feet from a rat, but it’s quite possible that wherever you were in the country on Monday you would have been ever closer to a women’s county cricket match!

Yet there will have been few in attendance, beyond family and friends, at most of those fixtures. Why? Various reasons, but not least amongst them is the almost total lack of noticeable publicity.

The ECB doesn’t include fixtures on its own website and the mainstream media are not interested. “The Cricketer” only includes England and KSL matches on its pre-season poster (although, in fairness, the typeface is fairly small as it is!), and “The Cricket Paper” gives but scant coverage. These games might as well not exist.

Even “the Counties” (with exceptions) provide very little publicity for their women’s teams – perhaps not surprising given that the two are usually totally separate entities run by different bodies.

There is some cohesion, some element of “joined-up thinking”. In my own county (Worcestershire), for example, the women now wear the same kit with the same “Rapids” branding as the men, albeit with different sponsorship. That’s unarguably a step in the right direction, but there is very little publicity given to the women’s team via the County’s official website and social media.

County Boards largely do a good job – again to use my county as an example, they use social media well to publicise matches in advance, and, pleasingly, have been able to encourage the local press to run a few stories this season in particular, but for the most part they are very much preaching to those already within the tent. Their reach beyond their own existing sphere is limited at best.

Websites and blogs such as this one, and a handful of social media champions do a great job, but I’m sure Syd and Raf will acknowledge that by and large they too are preaching to the well-and-truly converted. Nothing wrong with that, and all praise to them for doing a great job, but it has a minimal impact in terms of spreading the gospel.

The question that needs to be asked is this. Do we want to keep the status quo, where England’s games are well marketed and well attended, the KSL (and whatever it morphs into in two years’ time) likewise, but the county game all but invisible? Or do we believe in the Championship and its T20 cousin? Are we happy to keep it as our own little secret, shared between a select group, or would we rather share it – as much as we can – with the larger cricketing family?

And this is the thing. There are, I’m convinced, people out there who would be interested in the women’s county game if only they knew about it, and who would be keen to sample one of their county’s fixtures. Some of them may well be aware that it exists, but have no idea how to go about finding out more. We (that’s the second “we”) know where to look, but if others don’t know where to look how do they find out where to look?!

At times I feel – wrongly, I’m sure – that there’s a fear amongst those of us “in the know” of shouting too loudly about the women’s county game. Is it because those of us who appreciate it want to keep it to ourselves, or because we worry about criticism from newcomers who compare it with the men’s game, or the sneering and knuckle-dragging responses from the “caveman element”? maybe we fear it turning into something that isn’t quite what we came to appreciate in the first place? I hope, and deep down believe, that I’m wrong about all that.

So what do we do?

Well, take this Sunday for example. There is another round of Women’s Championship fixtures – Divisions 1 and 2 only, of course. There are also a number of Men’s Royal London Cup games, but obviously not every county is at home, and two (Yorkshire and Somerset) don’t have a game at all.

In Yorkshire’s case, their women play Nottinghamshire at Harrogate, and the Yorkies are still in with a decent shout of the Division 1 Title. That’s a game worth shouting about, worth publicising, surely? Yet neither Yorkshire CCC’s website nor their social media platforms make any mention of the match. There is – to their credit – an impressive section on their website about the KSL Diamonds, but nothing on the actual county team.

Elsewhere on their website, however, a page on the women’s county team (which I eventually found after some time searching) includes a useful link to “Our Review of 2013”. Hmm…

Meanwhile, Hampshire’s men are away to Glamorgan, whilst their women host Middlesex at Andover. With Hampshire currently topping the table, surely some supporters would like to get along and potentially see them lift the trophy? And to Hampshire’s great credit as I write on Friday morning it is the lead story on their website, whilst they have also plugged the match through their social media. Top marks to them!

These two examples illustrate perfectly what can be done, and what is not being done. And we can play our part in making sure there are more Hampshires and fewer Yorkshires.

Those of us on social media can influence the way counties behave in this area. Badger them, tag them in when you’re mentioning matches, remind them, make it hard for them to bury their heads in the sand.

Similarly, use Facebook pages and forums to mention games at every turn. Irritate people. Learn to appreciate the boneheaded comments from those still dwelling in the 17th century, for the one thing they tell you is that you’re being seen and heard. Besides, you know the answers to every snark and snipe. Take those jibes at face value and argue them down. It may not make a difference to that particular individual’s view, but others reading will take it in.

Women’s county cricket has so much going for it. Free (or very cheap) admission – making it affordable for a family, and also meaning you don’t feel you’ve wasted a load of money if you can only pop in for an hour or so – a friendly “traditional cricket” atmosphere, usually a bar (this is very important!), a chance to mix with and talk to the players to an extent, more often than not space for the children to run around unhindered…

But you know all this. I’m off on a converted-preaching mission again. It’s time we started to be proud of this game, and began to tell the world about it.

Follow Richard Clark on Twitter @glassboy68

OPINION: The 100 Is English Cricket’s Vietnam

“It became necessary to destroy the town to save it,” an American general is reported to have said in the wake of the annihilation of the city of Ben Tre during the Vietnam War in 1968.

There were really two disclosures made yesterday by the ECB, as they revealed details of The 100 – the new City “T20”.

  1. The 100-ball format
  2. The disbanding of the Kia Super League

The second of these announcements had been widely expected – the news last September that Kia’s sponsorship of the competition would be extended only until 2019 was an omen which was effectively confirmed by a job description posted on the ECB’s web site in December. The suggestion that one of the KSL coaches didn’t know anything about it is frankly bizarre, considering that players in New Zealand did.

However, on a personal level, this official confirmation is still massively disappointing. We invested in the Super League – with our time, our hearts – and now it is being torn up in our faces.

It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.

Did it?

Time will tell, but try saying that to the Western Storm fans and the Loughborough Lightning fans as you try to get them excited about teams that simply won’t exist any more in two years time.

If the KSL had been a failure – if it had gotten county-sized crowds and no wider coverage – we could understand.

But it wasn’t a failure – it was a fantastic success. The atmosphere at Hove for Finals Day last year was positively bubbling. With three-and-a-half thousand people packed into the county ground, the pressure was so great that it actually broke one of the players; and there were correspondents there from the BBC, the Telegraph, the Mail, the Times and more.

This is really something, I remember thinking – this is what top level sport is – not the sleepy village of county cricket, but the hustling and bustling of a city filled with life!

And now…?

It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.

But if we thought the the disbanding of the KSL was a kick in the guts, we were really not prepared for “The 100” – the 100-ball format, which doesn’t divide into any number of overs, and leaves 10 “mystery” balls to be distributed somehow, like baubles on a TV game-show.

The concept is so bizarre that when we first read the headline, we assumed it was about a new recreational format – some sort of Last Man Standing / Prosecco Cricket affair to try to get the grass-roots buzzing.

And then the reality sank in – this isn’t a late April Fool; they are actually serious. They want to literally break cricket – re-write the laws which require 6-ball overs; re-write the scoreboards; re-write the statistics; and re-write history… until it just isn’t cricket any more.

It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.

Really?

Call me old-fashioned – the ECB will – but there are certain elements to cricket which are sacrosanct. Yes, we’ve had 4 ball overs in the distant past, and I actually remember 8 ball overs. [So… the distant past too? Ed.] But 6 has been the more general consensus for a long time now, and never have there been different lengths in the same game.

And what did cricket need saving from, anyway? The game itself isn’t the problem – look at the IPL and the BBL/WBBL for models of success, without changing one of the most fundamental rules.

It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.

Well… the Americans did destroy the town… and then another town… and then another… to “save” them.

But they failed.

And this will too… possibly taking the whole game with it.

See also: 100-Ball Cricket A Nuclear Disaster For The Women’s Game

OPINION: BBC Team Award Ends 30 Years Of Hurt For England Women

The BBC Sports Personality Team of the Year award finally went to England’s women’s cricket team last night, following their 2017 World Cup win, atoning for nearly 30 years of hurt after they lost out in controversial circumstances in 1993 and again (though less contentiously) in 2009.

In 1993 England won the World Cup after beating New Zealand at Lords; but Team of the Year went to England’s men’s rugby union squad, who had won nothing (they came 4th in the 5-Nations) amid allegations of a stitch-up related to the award of broadcasting rights for subsequent 5-Nations tournaments.

In 2009, England women again lifted the World Cup, winning the final versus New Zealand in Sydney, and also captured the World T20 crown, beating New Zealand (again) at Lords; but this time they missed-out to the men’s cricket team, who admittedly had at least won something – a 2-1 home Ashes victory.

The award, which went to England’s women’s rugby team (also after a World Cup win) in 2014, shows perhaps that we are making progress; but the results of the individual (and most prestigious) Sports Personality of the Year award were a depressing snap back to reality – voted for by the public, Anya Shrubsole received just 15,000 votes (around 3% of the total); with the 4 nominated women all coming in the bottom 4 of votes cast.

Random Thoughts: Women’s Ashes 1st T20

Knightmare

England have lost the Women’s Ashes, and there can’t be any excuses; but the gods were not on their side today. Heather Knight’s wicket was a nightmare for all concerned, not least the umpires who gave her out, then not out, and then out again. Yes it is complicated but they are paid to know the laws, and Law 27.3 is pretty clear:

“The wicket-keeper shall remain wholly behind the wicket at the striker’s end from the moment the ball comes into play until a ball delivered by the bowler touches the bat or person of the striker or passes the wicket at the striker’s end or the striker attempts a run.”

“In the event of the wicket-keeper contravening this Law, the striker’s end umpire shall call and signal No ball as soon as applicable after the delivery of the ball.”

Zooming-in on the moment the ball hit the bat, it is pretty clear that Healy’s gloves are marginally ahead of the wicket.

Yes, it is “marginal” but the 3rd umpire has a high-definition camera perfectly positioned to make these kinds of decisions, so you can only assume he didn’t know the law, which is… not great, to be honest.

Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp – the romanticised hero of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral – was in real-life a reckless gambler who was always looking to make a fast buck. Danni Wyatt on the other hand… Well, joking aside, she can actually play big, sensible innings – we’ve seen it at county. But for England in the T20 format her role has always been to chase fast runs; and a career strike rate of over 100 attests that she has actually been quite successful in that regard – never more so than today when her 50 off 36 balls got England to a position where the game was defendable.

Bark At The Mooney

It was a defendable target, but ultimately not even the Prince of Darkness himself could have stopped Beth Mooney today – she pushed on well past 50, maintaining a Strike Rate of 150 which saw Australia win the game by a country mile. Of course, Meg Lanning will be straight back into the team as soon as she is fit again, but with so many different Aussie batsmen standing up at different times in this series, it might be a close call if she wasn’t the captain!

Heather Is Human

Heather Knight’s “game-face” never slips in front of the media, but it did today in the post-match interviews – for once you could see how much it really mattered to her, and I don’t think it will do too much harm for people to know that there really is a human under that implacable mask. It hasn’t been the Women’s Ashes result she (or we) wanted, but she’ll be back… and so will England!

OPINION: Women’s Ashes Test – England Beaten By Perry, Not The Pitch

Following the drawn Women’s Ashes Test in Sydney, England coach Mark Robinson talked a lot about the pitch in his post-match interviews:

“We want to play on better wickets,” he said. “It wasn’t a fresh wicket [and] fresh wickets make such a difference.” He then went on to draw a contrast between Coffs Harbour, where England won the 3rd ODI – “a great wicket [with] bounce and carry” – and North Sydney Oval where “the bowlers ran in hard [but] in the end, the wicket beat us.”

His comments have been echoed by many in the media, with for example Charlotte Edwards tweeting “pitches need to be looked at moving forward”.

But was the pitch that bad? Or was it just that one batsman was that good?

Ellyse Perry’s monumental innings – which Robinson rightly praised as “something special” – was 213 off 374 balls. If Perry had “only” scored a hundred, rather than a double, this would still have been by some way the biggest innings in the game. But Australia would have posted a lead of only around 50 and there would also have been an additional 70-odd overs in the match, if you include the overs “lost” in the final session when they called it quits.

Under those circumstances, England could (and likely would) have taken a few more risks to bat themselves into a position where they could have declared, with either result then still a genuine possibility.

It’s all “ifs and buts” of course – it is true that there have been better pitches, and maybe we need to also look at having more “new balls” in pink-ball Tests; but in all honestly England were not beaten by the pitch – they were of course not beaten at all – but if they were beaten by anything, they were beaten by Ellyse Perry, not the pitch.

Random Thoughts: Women’s Ashes Test – Day 4

Knight In Shining Armour

This is the second time in her career that Heather Knight has saved a Test for England, albeit in quite different circumstances. In 2013 at Wormsley, England were staring down the barrel of the follow-on at 113-6, after Australia had posted 330 in the 1st innings; this time the circumstances were perhaps a little less dramatic, but no less perilous – with the Ashes at stake, Knight had to dig in, and her and Georgia Elwiss did what they had to do. It was a “proper cricket” innings from Knight, demanding all her mental and physical steel – the only disappointment being that she didn’t get the chance to put the seal on it by going on to 100. (We’d have liked to see her bat on at the end; but apparently we were alone in that regard!)

The Winner On Points

You’d have to say in one way that this was a clear “points victory” for Australia, having forced England into batting for the draw; but this is also a bit odd, because two of the four days clearly went to England – Day 2, when they had Australia 5-down and still 100 behind; and today, when the Aussies huffed and puffed but couldn’t get anywhere near blowing England’s house down. In fact, ultimately it would perhaps have been Australia who were slightly disappointed – they definitely felt they had the glimmer of victory in their sights with both the openers gone and England still a long way from safety – but in the end they didn’t have the bowling to force the win.

Pitch (Im)Perfect?

Was the pitch to blame for a “boring” end to the game? We don’t think so – it was the same pitch that gave us Ellyse Perry’s double-hundred yesterday, and we don’t remember hearing too many complaints about it then!! Obviously both sides played quite low-risk cricket, with the 10-over run rate averaging around 2.5, and only once climbing above 4 – but if you want to blame anything for that, blame the points system which, even at 4 points for a win, with only a single Test massively punishes defeat. Anyways… it was only boring if you didn’t really care about the outcome – speak for yourselves, we were glued to it!

Another Win For Robinson

Although England were once again outplayed by Australia… or outplayed by Ellyse Perry, at least… there was a difference from Canterbury in 2015 – England didn’t look like amateurs, out of their depth at this level. And lest we forget, this isn’t because they have played a pile of Tests in the meantime – having in fact played no Tests in the intervening two years. It is because they were well-prepared this time, by a coach with 20 years of experience playing and coaching tough, declaration cricket in the (Men’s) County Championship. And you have to chalk this up as another win for Mark Robinson, who has taken basically the same team, with 70% of the same players, and turned them up a notch – they aren’t up at 11 yet, but they are no longer at 2 or 3!

Random Thoughts – Women’s Ashes Test – Day 3

The day England lost the Ashes?

England can’t now win this Test – that much was apparent even before the third session of the day began. Their best hope now is to hang on for the draw, but that means that in order to win the series, they’ll have to go on and win all 3 T20s, which is a big ask.

Given that England “won” day 2, and had set themselves up nicely with some late wickets falling last night, that’s quite a disappointing result.

… or the day Australia won them?

Having said that, did England do a lot wrong today? The ball wasn’t doing much, the pitch wasn’t doing much, and Australia just didn’t give them many chances. That was always the worry – Australia’s batting order is like waiting for a bus – you get one wicket and then two more world-class batsmen come to the crease!

People often seem to forget that at Canterbury in 2015, for example, England actually had Australia 99-5 – then Jess Jonassen walked in… and they ended up racking up 274-9! It was a similar story today.

Syd’s Worms [Ed: he really needs to go to the doctor’s about that] make the point pretty clearly: it wasn’t that Australia were ahead of the eight-ball the whole way through – they just bat longer than England, and in Tests, that’s crucial.

It’s looking more and more, in fact, like England really lost this match during the last session of the first day, with the mini-collapse where they lost those 3 wickets for 13 runs. That stat about 280 being a good 1st innings score in a women’s Test is actually quite an illusive one – the game has come on so much, even since that last Test in 2015, that I always had an inkling that 280 wasn’t going to be enough to put England into a winning position. Once again, for England, it’s the batting that’s been the real issue, not the bowling.

Ellyse Perry

There really isn’t much to say, is there? The craziest stat in cricket is that Ellyse Perry had never made an international century before today. But when Perry gets it right, she is unrivalled. She didn’t offer a single chance in the first 100 runs. There was barely a chance in the second.

It makes it even more poignant, in a way, that she might not get very many more opportunities in her career to bat with that level of depth, concentration and duration. The ICC don’t think Tests matter – they think people don’t care about women’s Test cricket.

The reactions today; the cheering of every dot ball that Megan Schutt faced while Perry was on 199* at the other end; Perry’s response (twice!) to hitting her 200th run – it matters. Please take note, ICC.

Can England survive?

They’ve made a decent start by not losing any wickets before the close, but if they’re going to save the game from here then England need to bat out at least two sessions tomorrow. The best advice Mark Robinson can give to his players is to play their natural game – going into their shells isn’t going to do anyone any favours (it didn’t work at Canterbury!) They definitely have the capability – it’s going to come down to whether they have the mental toughness to see it out.

Random Thoughts – Women’s Ashes Test – Day 2

Two-Hundred-And-Eighhhhhhhhhty?

Word from inside the England camp is that they were pretty happy with their 1st innings total of 280 – in the entire history of women’s Tests, only one side has ever lost after posting a higher 1st innings total – New Zealand, back in 1969. [That’s so long ago it’s before you were born… just sayin’ – Ed.]

However, England have to have been a bit disappointed that it wasn’t a few more – no blame on the tail this morning, more on the batsmen who didn’t push on yesterday.

But having now seen the Aussies bat, it is clear that maybe this pitch isn’t the road everyone thought it was, as it has actually been England who have set the pace, as the worm shows:

🎵 Walking In A Perry Wonderland 🎵

(Yes… it is stuck in my head – and if it wasn’t stuck in yours before… it is now!!)

As the chart also shows, Ellyse Perry is the key player for Australia – they only started to catch up with the run rate when she got motoring in the period leading up to the new ball. England need to get her out not once, but twice, to win this Test match – that’s the key challenge – if they can do that, they will be in with a shout.

Aussies Under Marshal Law

Laura Marsh was exceptional today – bowling at the left-handers at the top of the innings, she got into a trance-like rhythm, and then just kept it there – tick-tocking through 23 overs for just 28 runs.

Bowling props also to Sophie Ecclestone (2-51) and Georgia Elwiss. (In fact, given her figures – 5 overs, 2 maidens, 0-7 – I’m surprised Heather Knight didn’t find a few more overs for Elwiss, with Nat Sciver not really looking like she was troubling the Australians too much.)

A Tail To Tell Tomorrow?

England need just one more wicket tomorrow morning and they are into the tail, with the Aussies still currently over 100 behind. Admittedly it is a tail that includes Jess Jonassen (99 in the last Test) and Amanda Wellington (116 just the other week for South Australia in the WNCL) but if England can grab almost any first-innings lead they will rightly be pretty chuffed with that, and they will certainly be the ones sleeping easier tonight after having a winning day today.

Random Thoughts: Women’s Ashes Test – Day 1

Gunn Fired

[That’s enough Jenny Gunn puns now Syd – Ed.]

We debated whether Fran Wilson would have to make way for Georgia Elwiss; but in the end it was Jenny Gunn who was left on the sidelines, with Mark Robinson clearly deciding that England needed Elwiss’s batting more than they needed Gunn’s bowling. Was this a good decision? Well… Elwiss didn’t exactly “fail” with the bat but it remains to be seen how we’ll feel if (when?) Australia are 300-3 this time tomorrow and all our front-line bowlers are exhausted!

Winfield Not Winning

Unlike Tammy Beaumont, Lauren Winfield has struggled to build on her 2016 purple patch – her numbers have reverted back to where they were pre-2016; and today she faced over 50 balls for just 4 runs, before getting out to a shot that she shouldn’t have gone near with a barge-pole, let alone her bat!

But… but.. but… who or what is the alternative? Heather Knight doesn’t want to open; Sarah Taylor shouldn’t open; and we’ve just got rid of all the “senior” batsmen in our Academy! If there was an easy answer, believe us, we’d be all over it – we are The Media™ – we love easy answers; but in this case there isn’t one – we just have to trust that Winfield will come good again in time.

A Way Back For England?

England just about edged the first session-and-a-half – Beaumont and Knight both played well for their 50s, but they couldn’t push on and Australia smashed the final session, as England melted in the darkness. 237-7 is not a good place to be, and you have to feel this is Australia’s game to lose now.

If there is a way back for England, it is to bat long enough tomorrow to prevent the Aussies piling on the runs during the day, and then hope that they too struggle under the lights in the evening session. In the last Test at Canterbury in 2015, Anya Shrubsole occupied the crease for over an hour for a 47-ball duck – it was widely derided at the time, but it would actually be quite a useful contribution here – the duck is intact, and she is 15 balls in already – maybe she can push on towards 50 (balls) tomorrow?