NEWS: England Call Up Bryony Smith, Rest Brunt & Sciver & Drop Hartley

England have made a few changes to their squad for the final ODI against the West Indies at Chelmsford on Thursday.

The biggest news is the call-up of Surrey’s batting allrounder Bryony Smith. Smith made her debut out in India in 2018, during the T20 Tri-Series versus India and Australia; and although she has not played internationally since, she was subsequently awarded an England contract. Smith, who also bowls a bit of handy off-spin, has been in great form at county – topping the Batting Rankings in Div 1 of the Women’s County Championship and taking 8 wickets.

Meanwhile Katherine Brunt and Nat Sciver are both “rested”, whilst Alex Hartley is less ceremoniously “let go”.

The likelihood is that Smith will replace Brunt in the lineup, coming in late in the middle order; while Fran Wilson, who was already in the squad, will replace Sciver coming in at 5.

Full Squad

Heather Knight (Berkshire, captain)
Tammy Beaumont (Kent)
Kate Cross (Lancashire)
Sophie Ecclestone (Lancashire)
Jenny Gunn (Nottinghamshire)
Amy Jones (Warwickshire)
Laura Marsh (Kent)
Anya Shrubsole (Berkshire)
Bryony Smith (Surrey)
Sarah Taylor (Sussex, wicketkeeper)
Fran Wilson (Kent)
Lauren Winfield (Yorkshire)
Danni Wyatt (Sussex)


DEBRIEF: T20 Cup – The Last Shall Be First!

Div 1 Played Won Lost N/R Points
Warwickshire 2 2 0 0 8
Hampshire 2 2 0 0 8
Lancashire 2 1 0 1 5
Middlesex 2 1 1 0 4
Kent 2 1 1 0 4
Surrey 2 1 1 0 4
Nottinghamshire 2 0 1 1 1
Sussex 2 0 2 0 0
Wales 2 0 2 0 0

They might have finished the County Championship bottom of Division 1, but Warwickshire (AKA Birmingham Bears) have made a cracking start to the T20 season – going top with wins over Surrey and Wales at their home Edgbaston Foundation Ground – skipper Marie Kelly hitting 68* off 43 balls to overhaul 133 against Surrey; and Bethan Ellis taking 4-21 to bowl out Wales for 116 as they chased the Bears’ 133-9.

Hampshire also got a pair of wins on the board – Fi Morris top-scoring with 33 and then taking 3-9 to defeat Sussex; while Maia Bouchier also top-scored with 33 to win a rain-reduced 9-over slogathon versus defending champions Middlesex; Middlesex having earlier picked up a win against Sussex, thanks to a half-century from Cordelia Griffith.

Lancashire made a good start to the season – beating county champs Kent in a low-scoring encounter, with Eve Jones hitting 37, after Laura Jackson had ripped through Kent’s top order taking 3-9 opening the bowling; but Lancashire were then robbed twice of the chance to build on their win – first by the weather, which saw their game against Notts abandoned, and then by the points system which gives them only a single point for their troubles, despite it being 4 points for a win.

Meanwhile in Div 2, Scotland made the early running with wins over Derbyshire and Cheshire, as opening bat Sarah Bryce, back in tartan after spending the 50-over season with Notts, followed up a match-winning 47 against Derbyshire, with a 64-ball century to defeat Cheshire.

England v West Indies – 2nd ODI – Shrub The Soul Of England Win

“I was disappointed with the first game from a personal point of view.”

Who said this?

West Indies captain Stafanie Taylor, who scored 1 off 11 balls?

Veteran allrounder Stacy-Ann King, who got smacked for 25 runs in 2 overs, mostly by Amy Jones?

Nope – it was England’s Anya Shrubsole, who hit 13 off 9 balls at the death, and then bowled 6 overs for 27 runs – not taking a wicket, but going at a perfectly respectable Economy Rate of 4.5. It wasn’t a Player of the Match performance, but it was hardly disappointing – conditions just weren’t in her favour, and that’s life as a swing bowler.

Here at Worcester, conditions were more in her favour. There was rain around – as there had been at Lords during her famous spell at the World Cup final in 2017 – and the ball was swinging. (Possibly a bit too much for Britney Cooper, who TV replays suggested probably should not have been given out LBW.)

But it was actually with the bat that Shrubsole had made the bigger impact. Coming in at 8, she hit 32 off 16 balls – a Strike Rate of 200 in a game where 100 was par. Together with Sophie Ecclestone, she turned what was heading for a 5-an-over ask, into one closer to 6-an-over – still a huge psychological difference in women’s ODIs.

Prior to Shrubsole’s intervention, the West Indies had looked a bit more “up for it” in the field; but heads started to go down during those last 10 overs, and when they came out to bat they looked already beaten again – chasing 6-an-over, they delivered just 2.6 in the first 10 overs they faced, for the loss of 3 wickets, and the game was pretty-much done by that point – only the weather was going to stop England, even before the second rain adjustment.

(Messrs Duckworth, Lewis & Stern were definitely on England’s side tonight – especially that second foreshortening, which gave the Windies no chance whatsoever – it might have been fair in terms of wickets, but it killed the game, turning the last 8 overs into a funeral procession, and though England kept gamely at it, the West Indies (perhaps not unreasonably this time) really didn’t.)

So, England have won the series and are all-but qualified to defend their World Cup in New Zealand. (There are whispers that the BCCI want to play their series against Pakistan, which pushes England’s moment of mathematical certainty a bit further into the future, but we are already at the point where an awful lot would have to go wrong, including England losing 3-0 to Pakistan in their final series, not to qualify directly.)

We now move to Chelmsford on Thursday – England’s Twenty20 “Fortress” hosting an ODI for the first time since 2009. The weather on the long-range forecast looks a bit dodgy again, but hopefully we’ll get a game and with Anya Shrubsole on the team, maybe a bit of weather isn’t such a bad thing after all!

STATS: Women’s County Championship – Bowling Rankings – Yorkshire Openers Cash In

It is often the case that England players dominate the bowling rankings a bit less than they do the batting rankings, as wary county batsmen often try to “see off” the best bowlers.

Top of the pack this season is Yorkshire’s left-arm unorthodox spinner Katie Thompson, who goes one better than her second place in last year’s rankings. With her avant-garde bowling action, Thompson took 15 wickets (the joint most in Div 1) at 2.29 – also the best Economy Rate in Div 1.

In second place in Div 1, another Yorkie – Beth Langston – put the disappointment of losing her England contract behind her by having a storming season at county – opening the bowling with Thompson she also took 15 wickets, and though she was pipped in the rankings by Thomspson on Economy Rate, 3.36 is still more than respectable for someone bowling a lot of powerplay overs to the best batsmen on the circuit.

In Div 2, 24-year-old Becca Silk had a break-out season for Devon. Silk was on the Western Storm squad last year, and though she didn’t actually play, it obviously gave her the opportunity to benefit from being around the professional setup and up her game coming into 2019. It is the classic case of the late developer, whose pathway through to the upper levels of the domestic game is being torn down from next season if the ECB’s changes go ahead as currently proposed.

Other notable performers across the top two divisions were Hampshire’s Fi Morris and Providence Cowdrill, with 12 wickets each; and Mady Villiers from Essex – a KSL winner with Surrey Stars last season, taking 3 wickets in the final – who took 11 wickets in Div 2.

Div 1

Player Matches Wickets Economy
1. Katie Thompson (Yorkshire) 7 15 2.29
2. Beth Langston (Yorkshire) 7 15 3.36
3. Georgia Davis (Warwickshire) 7 12 3.28
4. Fi Morris (Hampshire) 7 12 3.31
5. Providence Cowdrill (Hampshire) 7 12 3.35
6. Charlie Dean (Hampshire) 7 12 3.44
7. Megan Belt (Kent) 7 12 3.52
7. Nancy Harman (Sussex) 7 14 4.13
9. Tara Norris (Sussex) 7 11 3.28
10. Sophie Munro (Nottinghamshire) 7 14 4.34
11. Laura Marsh (Kent) 6 9 2.85

UPDATE: This table was updated on 10/06/2019, because Charlie Dean’s numbers were wrong, due to a scorecard being amended on Play Cricket after it was uploaded to Cricinfo – apologies!

Div 2

Player Matches Wickets Economy
1. Becca Silk (Devon) 6 14 2.71
2. Mady Villiers (Essex) 6 11 2.71
3. Anje Lague (Essex) 7 13 3.21
4. Anya Shrubsole (Berkshire) 5 9 2.42
5. Georgia Tulip (Somerset) 6 11 2.97

Bowling Ranking = Wickets / Economy

STATS: Women’s County Championship – Batting Rankings – Young Guns On Top

At Leicester last Thursday, England took to the field against the West Indies, with a batting line-up (top 6) with an average age of 28 – the youngest of whom (Amy Jones) will be 26 next week.

After clear-outs in the Academy over the past couple of years, it has been common to ask where the next generation of batsmen are coming from, so it is hopefully encouraging to see that the two leading batters in this year’s County Championship were both youngsters.

21-year-old Bryony Smith was the leading run-scorer in Div 1 for Surrey with 347 runs, and also made the highest score in that division this season – 106 off 107 balls in a losing cause against Nottinghamshire. It is probably fair to say that Smith isn’t a touch player, but she hits the ball bloody hard, almost like a baseball slugger, and it has been very effective this season.

In Div 2, 20-year-old Middlesex allrounder Sophia Dunkley hit a mammoth 451 runs, including two centuries and three 50s. Even if you put a certain discount on Div 2 runs, it was a dominating performance over the season, which ought to see her selected for the T20s against the West Indies later this month, if not the Women’s Ashes which follow.

The usual suspects aside (in the nicest possible way, “Amy Jones Scores Runs” is starting to feel a little like “Sun Rises” in terms of headlines) the stand-out performers were Georgie Boyce, with 262 runs in her first season for Lancashire; Fi Morris – primarily an off-spin bowler prior to this season, who is turning herself into a proper allrounder, scoring 160 runs for Hampshire; and Cordelia Griffith, whose promising career as a seam bowler was cruelly cut short by injury, but who has almost certainly done more than enough with the bat this season to earn a “pro” contract next year, scoring 208 runs, including a century, for Middlesex.

Div 1

Player Matches Runs SR
1. Bryony Smith (Surrey) 6 347 88.52
2. Amy Jones (Warwickshire) 6 302 89.34
3. Fran Wilson (Kent) 6 257 78.11
4. Tammy Beaumont (Kent) 6 243 76.65
5. Georgie Boyce (Lancashire) 7 262 66.66
6. Suzie Bates (Hampshire) 4 160 80.4
7. Jenny Gunn (Nottinghamshire) 6 187 66.54
8. Sonia Odedra (Nottinghamshire) 7 236 52.09
9. Fi Morris (Hampshire) 7 160 74.76
10. Sarah Bryce (Nottinghamshire) 6 175 63.63

Div 2

Player Matches Runs SR
1. Sophia Dunkley (Middlesex) 6 451 93.56
2. Heather Knight (Berkshire) 4 403 103.06
3. Rachel Priest (Wales) 7 282 92.45
4. Lissy Macleod (Berkshire) 7 249 78.54
5. Cordelia Griffith (Middlesex) 6 208 84.21

Batting Ranking = Runs * Strike Rate

England v West Indies – 1st ODI – Windies Go Back To Zero

The last time England and the West Indies faced-off was at the World Twenty20 last November, on a sweltering night in St Lucia.

“It feels like a long time ago,” says England opener Amy Jones. “They played very well that day.”

In an intense encounter, the West Indies were on fire – they were sharp in the field and bowled aggressively, putting England under early pressure to restrict them to 115; and then batted frantically to overhaul the total with 3 balls to spare.

The crowd that night were immense – “I remember it was very noisy – very loud!” says Jones. Indeed, it felt like England weren’t facing 11 West Indians but 8 thousand, roaring them on for every wicket, every catch and every run.

The star of the show was Deandra Dottin, whose 2 wickets and 46 runs earned her the Player of the Match award.

On that night it felt like the Windies were back – they had recovered from their humiliation by South Africa at the 50-over World Cup in England, and were looking more like the title holders, who had won the World T20 in India two years before.

Six months later, the West Indies meet England again.

But this was no sizzling night in St Lucia – it was a windy day-nighter in Leicester! There was no roaring crowd – about 300 turned up, despite more than twice that many advance tickets being sold – and no Deandra Dottin.

And without those twin talismen – the crowd and the crowd-pleaser – the West Indies fell to pieces. They let England get a start – putting on 57 for the wicket; and then failed to capitalise on their double breakthrough – allowing England to push on… and then pile-on – scoring 80 runs between the 30th and 40th overs.

They were shocking in the field – balls went over them, past them, and sometimes just right through them – but they looked like they didn’t really care – like they had given up on the series before it had even begun.

Self-belief is a huge part of international cricket – and the West Indies clearly didn’t believe they could chase 318. Kycia Knight’s 16 off 45 balls was not even the epitome – it was the captain Stafanie Taylor’s 1 off 11 balls which really said it all – WE CAN’T DO THIS – painted in capital letters all over their faces.

In some ways, it was worse for the West Indies than that World Cup game against South Africa when they were bowled out for 48. South Africa’s bowlers had the collective game of their lives that day – today England were merely efficient – it was all they needed to be… and they still won by over 200 runs!

Can the Windies recover from this mental drubbing before Sunday’s next encounter at Worcester? It didn’t look like it from their expressions, as they trudged across the outfield back to the team bus after the game.

But England should not be complacent – cricket is a funny game – you can go from zero to hero… and back to zero again… awfully quickly.

Just ask the West Indies!

NEWS: England Play It Safe With West Indies Squad

There are no surprises and no new caps in England’s squad to face the West Indies in the first two of 3 ODIs and 3 T20s this summer prior to the Women’s Ashes.

England have gone largely with experience, including veterans Jenny Gunn and Laura Marsh, and leaving out all of the recent “new” caps, with no room on the bus for the likes of Linsey Smith, Kirstie Gordon, Sophia Dunkley or Freya Davies.

Dunkley’s omission is particularly surprising after she scored over 450 runs at an average of 113, including 2 centuries and 3 fifties, in this season’s Women’s County Championship; but she misses out in favour of Fran Wilson, who has also been in excellent form for County Champions Kent.

Sarah Taylor comes back into the squad, after missing most of the county season through injury, but her Sussex team-mate Georgia Elwiss is not fully fit to return, despite having played for Sussex as a batsman last weekend.

Full Squad

Heather Knight (Berkshire)
Tammy Beaumont (Kent)
Katherine Brunt (Yorkshire)
Kate Cross (Lancashire)
Sophie Ecclestone (Lancashire)
Alex Hartley (Lancashire)
Jenny Gunn (Nottinghamshire)
Amy Jones (Warwickshire)
Laura Marsh (Kent)
Nat Sciver (Surrey)
Anya Shrubsole (Berkshire)
Sarah Taylor (Sussex)
Fran Wilson (Kent)
Lauren Winfield (Yorkshire)
Danni Wyatt (Sussex)