Rising Stars: Up And Coming Talent From The England Women’s Academy, Part 1

Ffion Wynne profiles some future England prospects.

Towards the end of a successful summer, notably due to the emergence of the KSL, the England Women’s Pathway introduced a few changes to their system. For what used to be called the England Women’s Development Programme, the Academy aims to prepare young and talented individuals between the ages of 14 – 19 for the Senior Academy, the KSL and hopefully for international honours.

With the professionalisation of the women’s game firmly in place, alongside securing Sky Sports coverage for the next edition for the KSL, the future is looking extremely bright for the England women’s side. With this in mind, we decided to get an insight into the life of an Academy cricketer and catch up with some up-and-coming stars from the Academy to discuss their experiences in the setup and their hopes for their futures in the game.

1. Anna Nicholls

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Aged 19, Anna Nicholls is one of the Academy’s older and more experienced members, with plenty of Division One cricket under her belt for Middlesex already. However, with a recent move to Leeds to study Medicine, Nicholls has transferred to Yorkshire for the upcoming season and is hoping for first team selection in order to continue her progress at such a high standard.

A promising batsman and former pace bowler, Nicholls has been around the England set-up for nearly four years, when the Under 15 programme was still in place. “In the Under 15s, we only trained 3 weekends over the winter,” she explains, “but I’ve been in this development programme, which used to be the Under 19s, for a while now and we have camps about once a month plus a summer competition.” For Anna, the best part about the programme is being able to challenge herself against better players, and using scenario practice to improve her knowledge and tactics of the game.

In the 2016 season, her talent was evident from her selection for the Yorkshire Diamonds in the KSL, notably featuring in their final game against Western Storm. Nicholls speaks emphatically about the competition, and describes the incredible experience of being surrounded by such high profile elite cricketers, notably her teammate Alex Blackwell, and the importance of learning from them. The professional environment, and the amazement of Blackwell’s ability to create shots “out of nowhere”, succeeded in inspiring Nicholls immensely.

With an intense few years at medical school awaiting her, alongside cricketing ambitions, the future looks extremely bright for Yorkshire’s latest arrival. “There is definitely a challenge ahead,” Nicholls states, “but at the moment I’m just determined to push my cricket and medicine as far as they can both possibly go.”

2. Charlie Dean

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Hampshire’s Charlie Dean has been involved at the county since she was 11 years old, and now at 16, has started her first year in the Academy programme, having progressed from the Under 15 set-up the previous winter. Alongside the monthly England camps, the talented all-rounder trains several times a week with the Hampshire Academy. Despite being a younger member of the squad, she seems unfazed by the challenge. “The environment is really positive and friendly,” Charlie says, “and I think it’s actually making me a much better player being one of the younger ones. It’s good to challenge myself against the older and more experienced girls.”

Dean’s heavy cricketing schedule is boosted by her inclusion in the Young Vipers squad, the development centre for the KSL team. The squad trains every Saturday over the winter, preparing players for long term development into the Super League. With the vast amount of winter training for Hampshire, Vipers and England, it seems that Charlie has a very exciting and promising summer ahead of her. Such promise at such a young age suggests that her progress will develop immensely over the next few years, and with aims for reselection into the Academy before hopefully progressing into the Senior Academy, it seems Dean will be a vital asset to Charlotte Edwards’ Hampshire squad this summer!

NEWS: County Comings & Goings – Knight Steps Down At Berks; Hartley Goes Home To Lancs

Berkshire

All rounder Lissy Macleod has been appointed the new Berkshire captain. With Heather Knight stepping down from the role due to her international commitments with England in a home World Cup summer, Macleod was the obvious candidate to take over, having made over 100 appearances for the Beavers since her debut in 2008, with 14 fifties, 1 century, and 77 wickets to her name. Knight will continue to play for Berkshire where her schedule allows.

Lancashire

England spinner Alex Hartley has re-signed for Lancashire after 4 seasons at Middlesex. Hartley first emerged through the Lancashire youth system, but joined Middlesex to reboot a career which had appeared to be stalled at the time – a smart move, which ended with her being awarded a full England contract off the back of her international debut last summer.

Also heading to Lancashire is England Academy batsman Eve Jones, as the side look to avoid the fate they suffered last time they were promoted to Div 1, when they were sent immediately back down to Div 2 after 8 straight defeats.

Nottinghamshire

Notts – the other newly promoted county in Div 1 – have also been shopping, acquiring Jodie Dibble from Devon, Lucy Higham from Leicestershire and Megan Burton from Wales. Dibble dropped out of the national squad last year, and had a pretty indifferent Super League for the Western Storm; but she is only 22 and it isn’t beyond the bounds of possibility that Notts represents a way back for her to some day add to her one England cap.

Middlesex

Despite the disappointment of not winning a Super League franchise last year, Middlesex have taken the bold step of appointing Danni Warren as their new Head of Women’s Cricket, to oversee both the county and MCC sides. Warren made over 100 appearances for the county between 2002-2015, taking more than 150 wickets.

Having lost Hartley, Middlesex will be looking very much to youth this season, and have promoted both Gayatri Gole and Katie Wolfe from their U19 squad, as they try to improve on last season’s narrow scrape with relegation in Div 1.

Hampshire

Hampshire narrowly missed out on promotion from Div 2 last season, but it will be a different business down at the Ageas Bowl this year. With Charlotte Edwards and now New Zealand captain Suzie Bates also signed up to play county cricket in 2017, Hampshire are clearly making a big long-term play for a future in the women’s game, keeping their eggs in both the KSL and county baskets, ahead of the likelihood of further fluidity* in the structure of women’s domestic cricket in 2019/20.

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* We don’t have any inside info on this; but with the changes coming to The Other Game, we suspect the logical move would be to create parallel women’s teams, and if the Super League is still going in 2021, we’ll eat our own pizzas!!

Australia v New Zealand: Bowling Rankings – Teenage Kicks for Wellington & Kerr

Our bowling rankings, covering the T20 and ODI Rosebowl series between Australia and New Zealand, see a number of unexpected new faces in the leading positions: of the top 4, only New Zealand’s Holly Huddleston has played more than 10 internationals, and the “Hudd Missile” herself has played less than 30 – a number she now looks nailed-on to add to at the World Cup in England in the summer.

After an underwhelming WBBL with wooden-spooners the Adelaide Strikers, 19-year-old Amanda Wellington has come roaring back to the top of her game with 15 wickets, including a best of 4-16 to restrict New Zealand to just 113 in the 3rd T20 – a match-winning platform which the Southern Stars batsmen then proceeded to throw away in spectacular fashion, as they were bowled out for just 66.

New Zealand’s own new teenage sensation – sixteen-year-old Amelia Kerr – also took her best figures in a losing cause – 4-54 in the 2nd ODI. They weren’t just any wickets either, but included a set Meg Lanning and Beth Mooney (on 44 and 57, respectively) and Elyse Villani for a golden duck. Kerr also finished the series with the best economy rate of any of the leading bowlers – just 4.5.

Having made her Southern Stars debut in this series, Molly Strano played just the 3 T20s and already has an international fifer to her name – 5-10 in the 2nd T20. But guess what? That was also in a lost match, as Australia fell short chasing a Duckworth-Lewis adjusted target of 70 off 13 overs, limping to 61-9.

Player Matches Wickets Economy
1. Amanda Wellington (AUS) 6 15 5.1
2. Holly Huddleston (NZ) 6 11 4.7
3. Amelia Kerr (NZ) 4 6 4.5
4. Molly Strano (AUS) 3 7 5.3
5. Lea Tahuhu (NZ) 6 7 5.3
6. Anna Peterson (NZ) 6 6 4.8
7. Jess Jonassen (AUS) 6 5 4.9
8. Ashleigh Gardner (AUS) 5 4 5.3
9. Kristen Beams (AUS) 4 4 5.4
10. Suzie Bates (NZ) 6 4 5.5

Ranking = Wickets / Economy

NEWS: World Cup Schedule Released – All The England Games

The ICC and ECB have this morning announced England’s schedule for the up-coming World Cup this summer, with the home side playing at all 4 “host” grounds – Derby, Leicester, Taunton and Bristol – during the round-robin stages; followed by a semi-final at either Bristol or Derby, and (if they get there, of course) the final at Lords on July 23rd.

England begin by hosting the subcontinental trio – India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. You’d think they’d have to be looking to win all 3 of those games to put themselves in a strong position for the tougher tests to come, when a slip-up somewhere along the line is probably inevitable. England certainly won’t want to be going into the last couple of games, versus New Zealand and the West Indies, with semi-final qualification in doubt, though that will possibly depend very-much on how evenly all those other results fall.

With everyone playing everyone else in the group stages, it is going to be a huge tournament – 31 matches in just 30 days – so whoever eventually lifts that trophy at Lords will truly have earned the title of “World Champions”.

England’s Schedule Match Venue
Saturday 24 June v India Derby
Tuesday 27 June v Pakistan Leicester
Sunday 02 July v Sri Lanka Taunton
Wednesday 05 July v South Africa Bristol
Sunday 09 July v Australia Bristol
Wednesday 12 July v New Zealand Derby
Saturday 15 July v West Indies Bristol
Tuesday 18 July Semi Final 1 Bristol
Thursday 20 July Semi Final 2 Derby
Sunday 23 July Final Lord’s

Australia v New Zealand: Batting Rankings – Meg Lanning In Not Top Shock!

She might be the best player in the world right now… she might have more ODI centuries than any other woman ever, after she passed Charlotte Edwards record 9 during this series… but for once Meg Lanning isn’t at the top of our batting rankings, covering the T20 and ODI Rosebowl series between Australia and New Zealand.

Instead, it is Amy Satterthwaite who rules the roost with the blade – she has been in spectacular international nick over the past few months, and after dominating New Zealand’s series with South Africa last October, she continued her rich vein of form here, including a match-winning century in the 1st ODI.

For the Australians, Beth Mooney had a break-out series, almost certainly confirming her ticket to England in the summer; but Elyse Villani was actually arguably even more important, with a big Strike Rate of 118, coming in a bit further down the order at 4 or 5, having usually opened in her international career to date; and it clearly worked, so you’d think this is probably where we are likely to see her batting during the World Cup.

Player Matches Runs Strike Rate
1. Amy Satterthwaite (NZ) 6 269 86
2. Meg Lanning (AUS) 6 237 91
3. Elyse Villani (AUS) 6 179 118
4. Beth Mooney (AUS) 6 232 83
5. Suzie Bates (NZ) 6 204 82
6. Katey Martin (NZ) 6 171 86
7. Alex Blackwell (AUS) 5 149 86
8. Rachel Priest (NZ) 6 146 74
9. Katie Perkins (NZ) 5 108 99
10. Alyssa Healy (AUS) 6 77 99

Ranking = Runs * Strike Rate

NEWS: 2017/18 Women’s Ashes Schedule Announced Including First Ever Day-Night Test

The ECB and Cricket Australia have today announced that the forthcoming women’s Ashes series will begin on 22 October 2017 at Brisbane, and will include the first ever day-night women’s Test match, to take place at the North Sydney Oval.

The format is identical to the 2015 series in England, beginning with 3 ODIs (worth 2 points apiece), followed by the Test (worth 4 points) and concluding with 3 T20s (also worth 2 points apiece).

Unlike on previous occasions, the decision has been taken to stage the entire series prior to the men’s Ashes, which begins on 23 November. This will make the North Sydney Oval Test the first ever day-night Ashes Test in either men’s or women’s cricket, as it will fall prior to the men’s Adelaide Oval encounter in December.

The series will take place across 4 venues: the Allan Border Field, Brisbane; the Coffs Harbour International Stadium; the North Sydney Oval; and the Manuka Oval, Canberra. These have – according to Cricket Australia Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland – been selected as the “result of a strategic decision to give this series the opportunity to gain as much exposure as possible”.

The full schedule is below.

ODIs:

First ODI – AB Field, Brisbane – 22 October 2017

Second ODI – Coffs Harbour International Stadium – 26 October 2017

Third ODI – Coffs Harbour International Stadium – 29 October 2017

Test:

Test match (Day-Night) – North Sydney Oval – 9-12 November 2017

T20s:

First T20 – North Sydney Oval – 17 November 2017

Second T20 – Manuka Oval, Canberra – 19 November 2017

Third T20 – Manuka Oval – 21 November 2017

NEWS: Millions Watch World Cup Qualifier Live Streams

The ICC have announced remarkable viewing numbers for the live streams from the Women’s World Cup Qualifying tournament, held recently in Sri Lanka. A total of 1.75 million people watched the live streams, whilst the highlights packages attracted an amazing 18 million viewers – and all for a tournament which didn’t even feature the top 4 teams!

Tournament Director Holly Colvin, the ex-England spinner who now works for the ICC, said:

“It’s great to know that so many people took interest in the competition and watched the live-stream and highlights.”

“I’m extremely excited for the Women’s World Cup which will take the game to the next level and set the stage to attract even more fans to the global game.”

Sadly one thing we do know is that the World Cup itself will not attract these kinds of numbers – certainly not in England anyway, where it will be hidden away behind Sky’s paywall, where new fans will simply be unable to stumble across it.

Nevertheless it is certainly still great news. After the success of the WBBL live-streams, “online” really does appear to be the way to go for the future of women’s cricket; and with numbers like these, it might even be possible to fund such coverage through advertising and sponsorship, so the old “we don’t have the budget” excuses won’t apply. And if this is the future… we can’t wait!!

CLUB OF THE MONTH: Appleton Tigers

Here at CRICKETher, we’re passionate about women’s cricket at all levels, including club cricket. It’s our mission to offer coverage of women’s (and girls’) club cricket wherever we can! Our ‘Club of the Month’ feature will focus on one women’s or girls’ club every month, giving you the lowdown on their highs, lows, and everything in between.

If you’d like to see your club featured here, get in touch – we’d love to hear from you!

The Appleton Tigers are part of Appleton CC, who play their home games at their Lyons Lane ground in the village of Appleton, in the south of Warrington, Cheshire. Appleton have promoted women’s cricket ever since 1996, when – as part of the Lottery Sports Fund application to purchase the ground – the club’s development strategy included increased participation and opportunities for girls to play cricket. By 1999 there were enough players for Colin Smethurst to start a junior girls’ team.

Over the next four years the number of players and the standard of cricket continued to rise and the team played friendlies against Appleton boys, private schools and other local clubs who were trying to start girls’ sections. By 2002, four of the team were playing league cricket for Brooklands and Birkenhead Park, alongside their friendly matches with Appleton CC. Colin decided that the time was right to give the squad a new challenge by joining the Cheshire Women’s Cricket League in 2003.

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Sue Barlow subsequently took over managing the team and worked tirelessly for over ten years to make Appleton into one of the most successful and best integrated women’s sections in the county. Sue is also the oldest player to have represented the club, aged 67 at her most recent appearance in which she scored a career best 11 runs. Several players have made their women’s debuts at the age of 12, including Natalie Lyons, Jen Regan and current rising star Georgia Heath. They are currently coached by Jess Lewis, who is also the Women and Girls Development Coaching Officer at the Cheshire Cricket Board.

Appleton play in Division 1 of the Cheshire Women’s Cricket League and have won it 4 times in the past 7 years. After joining the league as a very young team in 2003, Appleton developed into a force to be reckoned with, winning their first trophy in the form of the T20 Plate in 2008. The 2010 season was the best in Appleton’s history as they won Division 1 for the first time as part of a league and cup treble. Their achievements was recognised when the Tigers picked up the Warrington Guardian Sports Personality Team of the Year award and Sue Barlow was honoured as Unsung Hero of 2010.

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2010 Cup Final win

Girls as young as seven years old enjoy training at Appleton, who compete at under 11, under 13 and under 15 age groups in both the Cheshire Junior Girls League and as part of mixed teams in the North Cheshire Junior Cricket League Cheshire County Cricket League. The thriving girls’ section has been a key factor in Appleton’s success by providing a series of key players to the senior side.

The club’s success has been built on the backing they have received from those on the club committee at Appleton CC, especially Al Rogers, Ant Hurst and Dave Hurst. When the girls’ team started they had a small pavilion with very basic facilities, until in 2006 the club built a modern new pavilion with the help of member loans and grants. Since the arrival of the Cheshire T20 Cup competitions in 2008, the team have gone by the name Appleton Tigers and been roared to success by an array of soft toy tigers and face painted supporters.

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For more information about the club you can contact current captain Nathalie Long by email at appletoncricket@gmail.com or check out the club website, www.appletoncc.org.uk. They describe themselves as “a friendly club welcoming anyone who wants to give cricket a go, from total beginners through to county standard players.”

Coverage Of World Cup Qualifiers Encouraging For Women’s Game

As I write this, I’m watching the live stream of the final of the Women’s World Cup Qualifiers – India against South Africa – via the ICC’s website.

Not being able to be in Colombo myself, the ability to watch the action online is the next best thing – and the coverage has been both high-quality and multi-camera.

Of course not all the games have been shown, but with multiple matches taking place simultaneously, it would have been difficult to offer complete coverage. Importantly, too, the ICC have offered up daily highlights from the tournament.

I’m certainly not averse to giving the ICC some stick when they get things wrong. But it follows that, when they do a good job, we should give them some credit – and ultimately they’ve done a pretty good job with this tournament.

It’s also been encouraging to see such good coverage on Wisden India. Particularly in the early stages, the dedication of Sidhanta Patnaik and Karunya Keshav to offering up some really interesting stories has been fully apparent. I’ve certainly learned a lot from them about some of the lesser-seen teams.

Let’s hope that, when the World Cup itself begins on 24 June, we see a similar commitment to ensuring it receives the coverage it deserves.

NEWS: Women’s World Cup Qualifying Teams Confirmed

The final round of matches in the Women’s World Cup Qualifiers in Colombo has concluded, with the top four teams confirmed as India, South Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

These sides will join England, Australia, New Zealand and West Indies to compete for the World Cup trophy this summer.

Team Played Won Points
India 5 5 10
South Africa 5 4 8
Sri Lanka 5 3 6
Pakistan 5 2 4
Bangladesh 5 1 2
Ireland 5 0 0

The tournament results also confirm that the same eight sides who competed in the inaugural Women’s International Championship will go on to fight out the second version of the Championship over the coming four years.

Overall, it’s been a disappointing experience for the other two sides with ODI status, Ireland and Bangladesh, who might both have realistically hoped to break through into the top eight. Ireland failed to win a game in the Super Sixes; while Bangladesh managed just one win, against Ireland.

The tournament concludes on Tuesday with a final between India and South Africa, to decide who takes home the Qualifying trophy.