STATS: WBBL Batting Rankings

The top spots in the 20/21 WBBL Batting Rankings are very much a case of The Usual Suspects – so much so that when I challenged The Editor™ to name the top 5, she got it right off the middle of the bat, without hesitation, deviation or repetition; though it is perhaps worth highlighting that Alyssa Healy takes first place, despite having scored fewer runs than any of the rest of the top 5, due to her outstanding Strike Rate of 161.

Beth Mooney is in pole position to finish as the leading run-scorer, though at the time of writing there are still the semis and final to play, and she could be caught by Meg Lanning, Sophie Devine or even potentially Heather Knight, who has continued her outstanding run of form in Australia, dating back to… well… she has always done well in Australia, but 2020 will certainly be one she’ll particularly remember, having also averaged 64 in the T20 World Cup back in 2020 BC [Before Corona].

Further down the list there are a couple of interesting placings, including Georgia Redmayne who is a new entry in the top 10 at No. 9. After moving from the Hurricanes to the Scorchers last season, she hit the road again to join the Heat, and she’s been a huge part of why they haven’t flopped this year, despite losing the likes of Mooney and Sammy-Jo Johnson, hitting 332 runs at 118 – a big step up from last year, when she scored 137 runs at 95. Also at the Heat, Laura Kimmince (The Artist Formerly Known As Laura Harris) has had a remarkable season – you quite often see a tail-ender with a Strike Rate of over 200, having made 20 or 30 runs in the season, but to score 140 runs at 203 is absolutely outstanding, coming in at 5 or 6 and taking the “closing” role to a new level.

Among the younger prospects, Courtney Webb has had another good season for the Renegades. Still only 20, she pushed on from last year, which is what you really want to see from an up-and-coming player – improving her Strike Rate from 97 to 112 as she contributed 246 runs, including a match-winning half-century off 33 balls against the table-topping Stars.

Player Matches Runs Strike Rate
1. Alyssa Healy (Sydney Sixers) 13 402 161
2. Beth Mooney (Perth Scorchers) 13 524 119
3. Meg Lanning (Melbourne Stars) 13 458 129
4. Sophie Devine (Perth Scorchers) 11 448 130
5. Heather Knight (Sydney Thunder) 14 403 128
6. Mignon du Preez (Melbourne Stars) 13 375 126
7. Elyse Villani (Melbourne Stars) 13 341 123
8. Rachel Priest (Hobart Hurricanes) 13 354 118
9. Georgia Redmayne (Brisbane Heat) 13 332 118
10. Ellyse Perry (Sydney Sixers) 13 390 97
11. Laura Wolvaardt (Adelaide Strikers) 14 347 105
12. Lizelle Lee (Melbourne Renegades) 13 261 122
13. Rachael Haynes (Sydney Thunder) 14 268 109
14. Laura Kimmince (Brisbane Heat) 13 140 203
15. Courtney Webb (Melbourne Renegades) 13 246 112
16. Katie Mack (Adelaide Strikers) 14 251 110
17. Stafanie Taylor (Adelaide Strikers) 10 226 113
18. Nat Sciver (Melbourne Stars) 12 194 130
19. Jess Jonassen (Brisbane Heat) 13 212 113
20. Grace Harris (Brisbane Heat) 13 240 95

Batting Ranking = Runs * Strike Rate

VIDEO: The CRICKETher Weekly Vodcast – Episode 34

This week on the vodcast, Raf and Syd discuss:

  • The state of play in WBBL
  • Is Sophie Devine the best batter in the world?
  • Velocity bowled out for 47 in the Women’s T20 Challenge
  • Should we have a full Women’s IPL next year?

Plus… who are the 4 players in our new credits? Answers at the end of the vodcast!

OPINION: Bouchier Ban Is A Failure Of The System

The news that Maia Bouchier has been suspended from bowling for an illegal action is a devastating blow for a player who opened the batting and the bowling for Hampshire in the final season of the County Championship last summer. Although she didn’t bowl much in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, and had a good season coming in at 3 for the Southern Vipers, scoring 214 runs at an average of 31, her future England claims were considerably bolstered by her allrounder status, which now looks to be in jeopardy unless she can make a substantial correction to her action.

The ECB’s official press release accompanying the announcement reads somewhat sternly:

“The 21-year-old has been advised to undergo remedial work on her bowing action before requesting a re-assessment. Bouchier will remain ineligible to bowl in ECB competitions until she is able to pass an independent re-assessment of her bowling action.”

This puts all the responsibility on the player, but the truth is more concerning. This hasn’t come out of nowhere – Bouchier didn’t wander in to a dressing room in 2020 having spent 21 years in the desert! She’s been on the county scene since she was 14, and has been part of the England Academy setup for over five years, so the real question is how on earth did things get to this stage?

Were her coaches not aware that there was an issue? Did it not occur to someone in the Academy at Loughborough, with all that money and technology at their disposal, that there was potentially a problem which needed fixing years ago?

What’s the point in investing tens of thousands of pounds in a player’s future, as England’s Academy programme has in Bouchier over the years, if they can’t spot and remediate a technical issue like this well before it gets anywhere near an independent assessment panel?

In the space of less than a month, Maia Bouchier has seen the highs and lows of being a professional athlete – from seeing her name in lights in the RHF Trophy, to seeing her name in headlines that read like a rap sheet.

But Maia Bouchier hasn’t failed – the system has failed her, and it needs to take a long hard look at itself while it undergoes remedial work before requesting reassessment.

VIDEO: The CRICKETher Weekly Vodcast – Episode 32

This week Raf & Syd discuss:

  • Ireland v Scotland fixtures in Spain
  • Laura Wolvaardt’s exciting start to WBBL
  • Syd’s undying loyalty to Hobart Hurricanes & why Raf is supporting Perth Scorchers
  • Could Georgia Hennessy and Clare Boycott be among the 15 additional players getting regional contracts?

OPINION: How Should We Build On The Success Of The Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy?

On a scale of 1-10, the summer of 2020 will probably not go down in history as a “Perfect 10”. In fact, a Big Fat Zero would probably be pushing it for most of us, to be fair!

So it is all the more impressive that the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy was such a beacon of light in what was otherwise a pretty dark summer. With regionals being a new “thing” it would have been easy for the ECB to quietly postpone them until 2021; but instead they gave them their full support and they blossomed, with an unprecedented level of coverage and a fantastic final at Edgbaston shown live on Sky.

As the men debate the future of the Bob Willis Trophy, parallel conversations are currently ongoing about next year’s RHF, with some big decisions to be made at ECB Towers.

So what should the ECB be looking to do next year?

What’s In A Name?

That answer is… quite a lot! The name Rachael Heyhoe Flint has been synonymous with women’s cricket for 50 years now – and was once even a little too synonymous for the bigwigs at the Women’s Cricket Association back in the day, who resented the fact that RHF “transcended the genre”.

But now she’s more than a person – she’s a trophy, and in the couple of months that the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy has existed, it has achieved an unprecedented level of brand recognition – in the newspapers, on social media, and on the front page of Cricinfo, which the Women’s County Championship (RIP) never was.

When the competition was first announced, the feeling was that, like the Bob Willis Trophy, it would be temporary – something to tide us over until the “proper” tournament was introduced next year.

But unlike the men, we know we aren’t going back to the County Championship; and having built the brand, throwing it away now would be crazy – so whatever we have next year, it has to still be called the “Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy”.

Flying First Class

Playing the tournament on proper, First Class grounds made a huge difference to the quality of the cricket, compared to the club pitches which were mainly used for the old County Championship. As Emily Windsor put it, you can “trust your shots” playing on decent pitches – something we heard from a number of players.

Could Georgia Adams have scored 150 on a club ground? We’ll never know, but she’s been playing for a while, and it is by far the highest score she’s ever made!

Sticking with First Class grounds won’t be cheap – the “budget” solution will be to revert to club grounds next year; but that would be a pity. As James once put it: “If I hadn’t seen such riches, I could live with being poor!” But I’ve seen them now… and I’d kinda like to keep them!

The North-South Divide

This is a difficult one, and there are arguments on both sides; but I like the North-South Groups format – it creates local rivalries, which are always good for business; and makes it easier for “away” fans to attend all their team’s games.

It works across the board in American sports… it works for the men’s T20 Blast… I think it works for the RHF too.

Additionally, it provides a platform for re-introducing multi-day domestic cricket, via North v South matches, with amalgamated teams featuring the “pros” of the North v the “pros” of the South.

Lie Back And (Don’t) Think Of England

This is another tough call, but for me the lack of England players in the RHF was not a bug – it was a feature!

Imagine if England players had been involved all through – the Vipers would have had Danni Wyatt to send down a few overs of off-spin… Charlotte Taylor would never have got that call from Charlotte Edwards… and an aircraft parts salesperson from Hampshire wouldn’t have ever become the story of the summer by taking a 6fer in the final! And it was a similar tale with Diamonds bowler Phoebe Graham, who would probably otherwise have missed out to Katherine Brunt.

Obviously the other side of this coin is that the England players – particularly those on the fringes, who are required “just in case” but don’t actually see much England action – need to be playing these formats in domestic cricket, especially with The Hundred being… well… The Hundred, not a T20 comp.

But if we want to see new stars shine, and new talent come through, those players have to be given a proper chance – that’s how you find your Charlotte Taylors and your Phoebe Grahams. How to square this circle is probably the biggest challenge those reviewing the RHF have, but I think I’d (just) come down on the side of excluding the England squad for at least one of the formats going forwards.

And Finally…

The RHF Final at Edgbaston was a fantastic day, even played behind closed doors – it gave fans and the media an “event” to focus on; and with a crowd, it would have been even better.

In purely sporting terms, it is true that “the league never lies” – the winner of an All v All league will invariably be the best team; whilst a final (particularly if preceded by semis) will occasionally throw up a “winner” who lost half their group matches!

But still, you can’t beat a “Grand Final” for sheer spectacle, so whether or not we keep the North-South Groups, or go with an All v All league, we definitely need a final to crown the winner, hopefully in front of a few thousand fans!

VIDEO: The CRICKETher Weekly Vodcast – Episode 30

Raf & Syd discuss the implications of Australia’s dominant 21-match ODI winning streak for the future of the international game:

  • Will Australia’s dominance eventually kill international cricket?
  • Should the ICC be redistributing funds in order to level the playing field?
  • How long will it take England (& other nations) to catch up with Australia?