TRI-SERIES: England v India – Catches Don’t Win Matches

Catches Win Matches they say, but there has nonetheless been some debate recently in The Other Game™ over whether fielding actually matters, in what we are soon going to have to start not calling the “shortest format”; and on the evidence of today… it maybe doesn’t!

After winning the toss and electing to put England in, India could have had them 4 or 5 down for not-very-many. But Harmanpreet let one through her hands at mid off; Jemimah made a total hash of what should have been a dolly on the boundary, which ended up going for six; before Veda dived short of one at mid on, which was not an “easy” chance, but still one a top professional really ought to be taking.

Even putting the catches aside, India’s fielding wasn’t at its best – they let a few shots slip the ring that should have been cut off; and they lost some chases that they ought to have won in the outfield too.

In contrast, England were generally sharper. It might have been 40 degrees, with smoke from the bush fires still hanging in the air, but they caught more of their catches, cut off more of those shots on the ring, and won more of those chases in the outfield.

And yet it was India that won the game.

It wasn’t down to any one outstanding effort either – though she was India’s top scorer, this was no “Derby 2017” from Harmanpreet, as the fact that the adjudicators ended up giving the Player of the Match to someone on the losing side (Heather Knight) attests.

Rajeshwari Gayakwad did bowl really well up-top – she had Amy Jones cramped for style from ball one, and before the first over was through the England keeper was walking back to the dugout, caught meekly at mid off, trying to go inside out, but only succeeding with the “out” bit.

Gayakwad finished with a Kapp-esque Economy Rate of 4.75 off her 4 overs, which none of the England bowlers got close to – Ecclestone being their meanest, at 6 runs per over. Gayakwad didn’t play a single T20 for India in 2019, though she played a few ODIs, but she is already looking like she could be an important part of India’s challenge for T20 World Cup glory next month in Aus.

As for England, they will take the positives of good knocks from Knight and Tammy Beaumont into tomorrow’s game against Australia; when we might see Freya Davies take the ball, after Anya Shrubsole left the field early today, presumably injured. (The TV commentators didn’t seem to mention it* so we aren’t 100% certain, but Mady Villiers spent most of the game on as sub, and Shrubsole seemed to disappear after the 5th over.)

But England will need a much better performance tomorrow if they are to square-up to the Aussies, who won’t give any quarter with bat or ball. This was always going to be a tough Tri-Series to win between the top 3 sides in the world… but it just got a bit tougher for England after today.

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* Apologies if they did and we missed it.

NEWS: Kent Bryce For Impact

Following the news of Susie Rowe’s comeback for Kent, the forever-reigning 50-over county champions have announced not one but two further signings for 2020.

Having unveiled Scottish-born England international Kirstie Gordon yesterday, they have today added Scotland keeper-batsman Sarah Bryce to their squad for the T20 Cup – the only remaining official county competition in 2020.

The younger sister of Scotland captain Kathryn Bryce, Sarah has earned 20 T20 caps for her country, scoring 511 runs at 39.30, and taking 14 catches and 15 stumpings.

On joining Kent, Bryce said: “Kent have an outstanding pedigree in women’s cricket, with a record number of Championship titles and multiple T20 titles, too.”

“I’m eager to improve my game and I feel that there is no better place to do so in domestic women’s cricket than at Kent, where I can learn from experienced Internationals and look to contribute on the field straight away.”

OPINION: Surrey’s New Scholarship Programme Especially Important For Female African-Caribbean Cricketers

Surrey County Cricket Club will this month launch a new scholarship programme to create new opportunities for young African-Caribbean cricketers to enter the Club’s performance pathway.

Targeting 11-18 year old girls and boys with sporting potential, the initiative intends to break down barriers for the local African Caribbean community by providing Level 3 ECB qualified cricket coaching, sports science and personal development education, equipment & travel grants – as well as chances to meet inspirational role models from their community.

Two free open days will take place on Wednesday 4 and Wednesday 11 March in the Ken Barrington Cricket Centre at the Kia Oval. More details on the programme can be found here.

One of the most important aspects of the programme is that it is one of the first ever to target girls as well as boys. Women’s cricket has historically been an overwhelmingly white sport in England, with only 3 black players represented in last season’s Women’s County Championship across all 38 counties.

Black girls and women remain at a double-disadvantage as far as cricket is concerned. England has a strong tradition of African-Caribbean cricket clubs, some formed as early as the 1970s, but these have traditionally excluded women, who in turn have lacked the resources to start their own clubs.

Ebony Rainford-Brent, now Director of Women’s Cricket at Surrey, remains one of only two black woman ever to represent England. Her own route into cricket came about largely by chance – she was spotted at a London Community Cricket Association coaching event, and was reliant on the support of an LCCA employee (Jenny Wostrack) to access women’s club and county cricket.

Rainford-Brent’s experience highlights how important this targeted programme from Surrey could be in helping to provide young black women with a clear pathway into cricket. The programme, which is being run in partnership with Surrey Cricket Foundation, will support local African-Caribbean clubs in developing a sustainable infrastructure and in building strong links with a range of community schemes.

Rainford-Brent herself will also be heavily involved in the programme, providing a role model for young black girls aspiring to reach the top levels of our sport – something that was lacking for many previous generations.

Overall, it is a welcome development in a sport which has never done enough to encourage diversity in its ranks.

NEWS: Susie Rowes Her Boat Back To Kent

Kent have announced that former England international Susie Rowe has re-signed for them to play county cricket in 2020.

Rowe, who won 23 England caps between 2010 and 2013, retired from cricket in 2015 to focus on hockey and her day-job as a teacher at King’s School Canterbury. In her time away from cricket, she played hockey for Canterbury in England’s top-tier Premier Division, and is currently Player-Coach of Maidstone Women’s Hockey Club.

On re-joining Kent, with whom she won 5 County Championships between 2004 and 2012, Rowe said:

“The profile of Women’s cricket has massively grown in the past few years and it’s been fantastic to see.”

“With England’s Women’s World Cup win in 2017 and the introduction of the Women’s Hundred, it’s a great time to be involved with the sport and it’s a real motivator for women to get into cricket.”

“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to pull on the Kent Women jersey once more, and I’m really looking forward to hitting the ground running back amongst a very talented group here.”

At age 32 (33 in April) an England comeback looks unlikely for Rowe, but a spot in The Hundred would certainly be a possibility for a player who was in some ways ahead of her time – a big hitter before big hitting was really a “thing” in the women’s game – who, caught between the amateur and professional eras, was never quite able to fulfil her potential in the sport.

NEWS: Original Hartley & Invincible Farrant Among First Wave of “Domestic” Hundred Signings

The ECB have announced a raft of “domestic” signings for The Hundred, including ex-England contracted players Alex Hartley and Tash Farrant, who will play for the Manchester Originals and the Oval Invincibles respectively.

These are the first wave of non-“marquee” players signed for the competition, with established county “pros” like Marie Kelly (Birmingham Phoenix) and Naomi Dattani (London Spirit), both of whom captained their counties last season, joining young guns like fast bowlers Lauren Bell (Southern Brave) and Issy Wong (Birmingham).

For the likes of veteran Katie Levick (Northern Superchargers) The Hundred is an opportunity for a final hurrah in the spotlight; whilst for others like Eve Jones (Birmingham) and Sophie Luff (Welsh Fire) it represents a chance to impress new England coach Lisa Keightley, who name-checked them both in her first press conference at Lord’s last week, promising to cast the net wide in terms of selection next summer.

With 8 new Centres of Excellence currently being established, loosely partnered with The Hundred sides, these players will likely all be allocated to the corresponding “CoE”, and so unsurprisingly almost all of these selections are driven by where the players currently live.

A key exception to this though is Yorkie Hollie Armitage, who will be joining the Oval Invincibles, and who we understand is currently taking lessons in the correct pronunciation of “Sarf Lundun” and “innit”.

Birmingham Phoenix

Evelyn Jones, Isabelle Wong, Marie Kelly, Ria Fackrell

London Spirit

Aylish Cranstone, Charlie Dean, Hannah Jones, Naomi Dattani

Manchester Originals

Alex Hartley, Ellie Threlkeld, Emma Lamb, Georgie Boyce

Northern Superchargers

Bess Heath, Georgia Davis, Helen Fenby, Katie Levick

Oval Invincibles

Georgia Adams, Hollie Armitage, Rhianna Southby, Tash Farrant

Trent Rockets

Beth Langston, Kathryn Bryce, Sarah Glenn, Mady Villiers

Southern Brave

Fi Morris, Lauren Bell, Paige Scholfield, Sophia Dunkley

Welsh Fire

Alex Griffiths, Claire Nicholas, Georgia Hennessy, Sophie Luff

NEWS: Western Storm Lives On As New “Centre Of Excellence”

As first mooted by CRICKETher back in October, it has been confirmed that the Kia Super League’s “Western Storm” will live on, becoming the name of the new South West & Wales Centre of Excellence who will field women’s teams in both 50-over and 20-over domestic cricket as of 2021.

The job advert [MS Word] for the South West’s new Regional Director of Women’s Cricket, who will work across Wales, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Devon and Cornwall, states that  the jobholder will be employed by the “Western Storm Board of Directors”, with Western Storm now registered as an official limited company with HMRC.

The web page accompanying the job advert states:

“Following on from four successful years in the Kia Super League, Western Storm has proudly become a household name across the South West. With existing strong links across the region, Western Storm has left an excellent legacy of programmes encouraging participation and support for women’s and girl’s cricket.

Five counties (Cornwall, Devon, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire) in the South West, and Wales have joined forces to lead the way in collaborative working for the greater benefit of performance and recreational cricket across our vast region.

With Western Storm’s existing legacy and the ECB’s new wider game strategy to Transform Women’s and Girls Cricket, this key appointment represents a substantial and exciting opportunity to play your part in both continuing and driving female cricket forward across our region.”

The new Centres of Excellence are due to launch shortly, acting as a replacement for the women’s senior county structure, with CoE sides to play against each other in September in a 50-over competition which replaces the Women’s County Championship. As of 2021, the CoEs will also compete in a 20-over competition. The Centres will serve as the base for the 40 new professionally-contracted domestic players and are a cornerstone of the ECB’s new Women and Girls’ Strategy.

It remains to be seen whether other Centres will follow in Western Storm’s footsteps and also adopt the name of their corresponding Kia Super League side. Nonetheless, if Western Storm can live on in a new guise, there seems no reason why Southern Vipers, Loughborough Lightning and the rest can’t do the same.

NEWS: Kent Honour Pioneering Early Players

Kent have announced the first five of 45 past and present stars that will receive County Caps during the club’s 150th anniversary season in 2020, recognising some of the pioneers from the early days of the Women’s Cricket Association.

Kent’s first recorded match took place against a Civil Service Women’s XI in 1935, and the county has provided talent for England representative sides since the inception of Test cricket in 1934.

1: Carol Valentine

England career: 1 Test, 1934; Kent Women career: c.1930-1935

Born in Blackheath in 1906, Carol Valentine was much more than the sister of former Kent captain, Bryan.

Valentine played for Kent and Middlesex in the early 1930s as a prolific right-arm medium pace bowler, also featuring for many Invitational XIs at the request of other pioneering women’s players at the time. She was a dual international, who also represented England at lacrosse, touring the USA with England in 1934.

She was a part of the first ever Test side that sailed to Australia in 1934, receiving England cap number 11 and taking the wicket of Kath Smith in her five overs bowled in the match.

2 & 3: Barbara & Joan Blaker

Barbara Blaker’s Kent Women career: c.1934-1951; Joan Blaker’s Kent Women career, c.1936-1952

Born in Lewisham in 1913, the Blaker twins formed a formidable middle-order partnership during the early years of the Kent team. Their father, Kent Men’s player and later Kent CCC President Richard Blaker, was originally horrified by his daughters’ interest in cricket – “He didn’t think it was a game for girls”, the sisters later recalled – but fortunately they ignored his advice.

Both sisters played for Kent for 15 years, also featuring in Invitational XIs and touring teams across the world. They were both involved in Kent’s match against Australia Women in Gravesend in 1937, where the scorecard notes that Australian opener Peggy Antonio was dismissed “caught Blaker, bowled Blaker” for 53.

4: Betty Archdale

England career: 5 Tests, 1934-1937; Kent Women career: 1937

Born in 1907 to leading suffragette Helen Archdale and goddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, Betty Archdale was the first ever captain of England, leading the side on their tour of Australia in 1934/5.

As England’s first ever Test captain, she therefore has the honour of being cap number one for England Women in Test cricket.

Archdale played one match for Kent in 1937, against a touring Australia national team, top-scoring with 68 runs for the hosts despite Kent’s 84-run defeat.

Her Invitational team, “H.E. Archdale’s XI”, played 30 fixtures between 1934 & 1939, the last match coming just before the outbreak of the Second World War.

During the war, Archdale served as a wireless operator in Singapore. In 1944, she was awarded an OBE for helping nurses escape from the conflict.

After moving to Australia in 1946, she was listed as a ‘National Living Treasure’ by the National Trust of Australia in 1997. In March 1999, Archdale was one of the first ten women to be granted Honorary Life Membership of the MCC.

5: Mary Richards

England career: 3 Tests, 17 matches in total, 1934-1935; Kent Women career: 1937

Marjorie “Mary” Richards was a part of England’s pioneering tour of Australia in 1934/5. She made three Test appearances for England on that tour, and is England Women’s 12th Test cricketer. In 17 matches for England in different formats, Richards took 17 wickets at an average of 8.58, and averaged 33.33 with the bat in Tests.

Though she played most of her matches for the West, she opened the batting for Kent Women against Australia at Gravesend in 1937, and also played one match for H.E. Archdale’s XI in 1936.