Monday, 15 May 2017

County Champs Round-Up

Teams played their third game in the Women's County Championship on Sunday and here are the results from Divisions One and Two.

Division One

Kent 166/8 beat Sussex 100 all out by 66 runs
Kent's apparently under-par total of 166 was built around a solid innings of 50 from Alice Davidson-Richards and a stylish 34 from Laura Marsh. Lauren Griffiths added a useful, swashbuckling, 22, late in the innings, as Kent looked to be struggling to 150 against some tight Sussex bowling. Linsey Smith (2/15), Tara Norris (2/24) and Dani Wyatt (2/31), were the main wicket-takers.
As it turned out 166 was more than enough for a Sussex team where only Sarah Taylor showed up to bat. On her return to cricket, after overcoming mental health issues, she hit an assured 61 with her trademark cover drive back on show. But at the other end Sussex batsmen contrived to find ways to get out without making double figures. It meant that Sussex were bowled out for just 100 for their third defeat in three games and a spot at the foot of the table.

Middlesex 152/9 beat Berkshire 151 all out by 1 run
Middlesex were again indebted to 35 year old Beth Morgan, whose 60 ball 37, held their batting together to allow them to post 152. Young Berkshire off-spinner Emma Walker picked up 5/28 in just her third game at senior level. In reply Berkshire got off to a rollicking start courtesy of the bat of Rachel Priest, who hit 47 off 37 balls, but after she departed with the score on 58 there were a steady stream of departing Berkshire batsmen. Only Lauren Bell (26) and then Ashleigh Muttitt (11) held their nerve as Berkshire inched towards an unlikely victory. With one wicket left and just two runs required to win, Naomi Dattani bowled a full-toss at Muttit, who skied it and was caught. Had the umpire signalled a no-ball the game would have been tied with a free hit to come. As it was his arm remained at his side and Middlesex had their first win of 2017.
(for a fuller match report click here)

Warwickshire 253/7 beat Notts 104 all out by 149 runs
Warwickshire made it three out of three with a comprehensive win over Notts. The Warwickshire top four effectively took the game away from Notts with scores of 61, 51, 43 and 20 (Jones, Bryce, Hennessy, Kelly respectively), taking the team to 188/2 at one stage. By contrast Notts were only on 53 when their third wicket went down and they had already taken nearly 30 overs to get there. Leg-spinner Anisha Patel with 6/17 put Notts out of their misery in the 45th over as they were bowled out for 104.

Yorkshire 250/6 beat Lancashire 128 all out
A decisive victory for Yorkshire over their local rivals keeps them right up at the top of Div 1 matching Warwickshire's three wins on the bounce. This one was based around Katherine Brunt's highest ever score for her beloved Yorkshire, 93, with assistance from Dani Hazell 50*, and Anna Nicholls 50. This took Yorkshire to 250/6 despite being bowled at by four international players (Cross, Hartley, Ecclestone and Satterthwaite). In reply Lancs tried to recover from being 32/3, but when Ellie Threlkeld 39 and Amy Satterthwaite 55, departed, it was curtains for Lancs, with leggie Katie Levick helping herself to 6/28.

Division Two

Somerset 211/7 beat Devon 45 all out by 166 runs
84 for Anya Shrubsole with the bat as Somerset cruised to their third win of the season. Only 40 for Sophie Luff to take her current average down to 258. Somerset the only team with three wins from three and looking good to return to Div 1 at the first time of asking.

Staffs 89 all out lost to Derbyshire 90/2 by 8 wickets
Staffs were blown away by Derbyshire as they limped to 89 all out in 45 overs and Derbyshire took less than 22 overs to get over the line. It was a welcome first win for Derbyshire and there are ominous signs for Staffs.

Surrey 329/5 beat Hampshire 162 all out by 167 runs
Nat Sciver pounded the Hants attack (including Suzie Bates) to hit an unbeaten 135 off just 98 balls. Sophie Pout 67 and Aylish Cranstone 47*, also enjoyed themselves. In response Bates could only score 26 before she was cleaned up by her fellow countrywoman, Lea Tahuhu, playing her first game in Surrey colours. Hants battled on but were well beaten.

Wales 138/9 beat Worcestershire 61 all out
Wales struggled to 138/9 as Beth Ellis claimed 4/20 for Worcs, but when it came to their turn to bat they struggled even more than Wales. Nicole Reid took 4/11 and Ffion Cartwright 3/15 as Worcs subsided to 61 all out.


Saturday, 13 May 2017

Second Round of Women's County Championship

A single block of fixtures this weekend makes up the second round of the Women's County Championship, with some intriguing games in both the first and the second divisions, and the likely appearance of many of the England contractual players for the first time.

Pick of the weekend's clashes in Div 1 should be the Yorkshire v Lancashire scrap at Harrogate CC. Both teams won their first two games and, if they are both at full strength, then it could be an intriguing battle, with the bowlers likely to be on top for both teams. It could be a low scoring thriller.

Elsewhere Kent host old foes Sussex, who once again made a dreadful start to their season, losing both their first two games badly. With the possible return of Danni Wyatt, Georgia Elwiss and also Sarah Taylor, Sussex will be a tougher proposition. But Kent should have skipper Tammy Beaumont back to lead her troops, together with Laura Marsh and Tash Farrant. It has the makings of another needle game.

Warwickshire should be favourites to maintain their 100% record against Notts, at home for the third game in a row. Notts dispatched Sussex, but were bowled out for 144 by Kent to lose their second game. With Jenny Gunn and Amy Jones likely to add to Warwickshire's solid team, it could be a miserable day for Notts.

Finally either Middlesex or Berkshire will get off the mark in the final game in Division One. Heather Knight's foot injury will keep her out of the Berkshire side, but Middlesex will be very pleased to welcome back Fran Wilson to bolster their batting. The evergreen Beth Morgan has shown that she too is in good form with the bat, which could be enough to give Middlesex the edge.

Division One Fixtures 
Kent v Sussex at KCCC Beckenham
Middlesex v Berkshire at Mill Hill School
Warwickshire v Notts at Edgbaston Foundation Ground
Yorkshire v Lancashire at Harrogate CC

In Div 2 unbeaten teams Devon and Somerset clash. People will be keen to see England's Anya Shrubsole as she tries to keep her Somerset team at the top of the league, plus can Sophie Luff maintain her form with the bat (just the two centuries so far)? If Shrubsole can break through early Devon might find the going tough.

Also unbeaten Hampshire travel to Surrey, who have one win under their belt to date. Suzie Bates is the big hurdle Surrey will need to overcome. She too picked up a brace of 100s in the first weekend's fixtures and will be looking to make it three in three. Surrey should have Nat Sciver back in the team. On paper Surrey have the greater depth, but it is who performs on the day.

Staffs and Derbyshire will both be looking for their first win of the season at Moddershall. Derbyshire might just be favourites, but it will be tight.

And finally Wales, fresh from a victory over Surrey, are at home again to Worcestershire. Wales will expect to get full points

Division Two Fixtures
Devon v Somerset at North Devon CC
Staffs v Derbyshire at Moddershall CC
Surrey v Hants at Reed's School
Wales v Worcs at Panteg

Martin Davies

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

First week Div 1 & Div 2 Round Up

We have managed to get through the first weekend of the Women's County Championship without too much disruption from the weather. All the games were played, even if some were foreshortened by rain.

The big winners in Division One were Lancashire, Warwickshire and Yorkshire, who all won both their games. The big losers were Sussex, Berkshire and Middlesex, who all lost both theirs. Kent and Notts both won one game apiece.
Top scorer in Division One was Middlesex's Beth Morgan, who hit 80 out of her team's 142 all out on Monday, but it was not enough to prevent Yorkshire from taking the win.
Liz Russell (Warks), Sophie Ecclestone (Lancs), Katie Levick (Yorks) and Sophia Dunkley (Middx) all picked up 4-fors, to top the early bowling stats.

In Division Two is was a similar story with three sides winning all their games - Devon, Somerset and Hampshire, and Worcestershire, Staffs and Derbyshire each losing their opening two games. Surrey and Wales won a game each.
Suzie Bates with Hampshire, and Sophie Luff with Somerset, both got their season's off to a fine start with back-to-back hundreds for their respective counties.
With the ball Devon's Hazelle Garton picked up 6/20 against Derbyshire to head the second tier averages.

Here are all the results from the first weekend's fixtures in the Women's County Championship

Division One
Lancashire 221 all out beat Middlesex 133 all out by 88 runs
Notts 71/5 beat Sussex 70 all out by 5 wickets
Warks 201/8 beat Kent 200/9 by 2 wickets
Yorks 199/9 beat Berks 89 all out by 110 runs

Lancs 148/4 beat Berks 145 all out by 6 wickets
Kent 185 all out beat Notts 144 all out by 41 runs
Warks 85/4 beat Sussex 84 all out by 6 wickets
Yorks 143/7 beat Middx 142 all out by 3 wickets

Division Two
Somerset 204/9 beat Derbyshire 135 all out by 69 runs
Devon 105/1 beat Staffs 104 all out by 9 wickets
Surrey 205/2 beat Worcs 203/6 by 8 wickets
Hants 244 all out beat Wales 87 all out (adj target of 98 in 20 overs)

Somerset 231/6 beat Staffs 136/9 by 95 runs
Wales 173/8 (adj target of 170 in 43 overs) beat Surrey 197 all out
Devon 212/5 beat Derbyshire 87 all out by 125 runs
Hampshire 249/5 beat Worcs 82 all out by 167 runs


Friday, 28 April 2017

Preview of 2017 Women's County Championship

I have had several attempts at writing this introduction to this, my last preview of the Women's County Championship. In fact I did wonder if it was worth writing it at all? The reality is that the County Championship has been emasculated by its reduction to just seven games (its needs expanding not reducing!); the timing of the matches (71% of games will have been played by the end of May); ridiculous rules if games are cancelled by rain; and the lack of top players playing in it.

There is no 50 over KSL tournament this year, but there will be next, and then none of the players playing in that tournament will be playing county cricket at all. I feel desperately sorry for all those people who have worked, and continue to work, incredibly hard to make women's county cricket happen, and for all the young players, who are denied the opportunity to showcase their skills, every weekend, against the best players. So, without further ado, as they say...

Just eight teams will compete for the County Championship trophy this year, after three were relegated (Staffs, Surrey and Somerset) and only two were promoted from Division Two (Lancashire and Notts).

Kent won the trophy last year at a canter losing only once, to Sussex, who finished in the runners-up slot. But for much of the season it was Warwickshire that led the pack. They beat Sussex, Berkshire, and Surrey, and had two more games called off, to lead the table into the penultimate weekend. But they were dispatched by Kent and then lost the next day to Middlesex, to blow any chance they had of winning the Championship for the first time. They finished a creditable third.

With one less game to be played this year, and with teams without their England contingent probably for the majority of the season, this could be a very topsy turvy county season. The ECB have scheduled five of the seven games to be played by 29th May, and the last two games have been shoe-horned in between the end of the KSL league games and the KSL Finals' Day. It means the England girls will play a maximum of three games before the World Cup (probably less) and any of the 36 players involved in the three teams in KSL Finals' Day are unlikely to be allowed to play the last two games of the season.

It is almost impossible to predict who will actually win any particular game, let alone who is going to win the Championship. But below I have had a quick look at all the teams. Their strengths and weaknesses will depend on which 11 players they can actually put on the field. We know the England contracted players will miss the first weekend's games, but beyond that who knows? Kiwis Amy Satterthwaite (Lancs), Rachel Priest (Berks) and Holly Huddlestone (Middlesex) are the only overseas players in the Championship and could have a massive influence on their teams' fortunes in their first five games. If I had to stick my neck out I'd back Warwickshire and Lancashire to be fighting it out for the title come August, and Berkshire and Notts to be fighting to stay in Div 1, but with so few games to play and the weather bound to intervene, it could easily be the other way round. Let's hope we see some good cricket, and find a few future stars, as we wave goodbye to the Women's County Championship as we know it.

First weekend's fixtures

Lancashire v Middlesex at St Anne's Cricket Club
Notts v Sussex at Lady Bay Sports Ground
Warwickshire v Kent at Edgbaston Foundation Ground
Yorkshire v Berks at Harrogate Cricket Club

Lancashire v Berkshire at Urmston Cricket Club
Notts v Kent at Lady Bay Sports Ground
Warwickshire v Sussex at Edgbaston Foundation Ground
Yorkshire v Middlesex at Harrogate Cricket Club

The teams

Berkshire (last year 5th)
Berkshire are under new captain, Lissy Macleod, and will have Kiwi Rachel Priest in Berkshire black for the first five games of the season, but they are unlikely to see much of former skipper Heather Knight. Runs could be a big issue for them. It is going to be a struggle.
Lissy Macleod (capt), Heather Knight, Rachel Priest, Carla Rudd, Sherisa Gumbs, Annabel Flack, Alex Rogers, Fi Morris, Daisy Gardner, Lauren Bell, Ashleigh Muttitt, Millie Allerton

Kent (last year Champions)
The big news over the winter at Kent was the departure of Charlotte Edwards to Hampshire, after 16 years with her adopted county. She takes with her New Zealand international Suzie Bates, who had such a good season with the county last year.
Stepping up to the Kent captaincy will be Tammy Beaumont, when she is not on England duty. Her back-up will be Alice Davidson-Richards, who is likely to lead the county more often than not. Without their England contingent of Beaumont, Farrant and Marsh and with no overseas player yet named, the early part of the season could be up and down.
Beaumont (captain), Davidson-Richards (vice), Belt, Bryan, Farrant, Franklin, Gibbs, Greenway, Griffiths, Jackson, Jelfs, Marsh, Pape, Thompson

Lancashire (last year promoted from Div 2 as winners)
Back in the top flight again after winning promotion from Div 2 initially in 2014, only to be relegated straight back down without a win to their name in 2015. They seem determined the same will not happen to them again this year, and have enticed Alex Hartley back from Middlesex after four years in the south, which brought her an England contract. She will make an interesting pairing with fellow left-armer Sophie Ecclestone. They also have the in-form Kiwi Amy Satterthwaite warming up for the WWC17 with them until the end of May. Senior Academy batsmen Eve Jones has also joined from Staffs. On paper they look a strong team, but early success will be vital for them.
Megan Fairclough (capt) (4), Natalie Brown (10, Ellie Threlkeld (21), Bhumika Doshi (14), Nalisha Patel (15), Emma Lamb (6), Hannah Jones (7), Jess Couser (9), Laura Jackson (22), Laura Marshall (12), Rachel Dickinson (17), Sophie Ecclestone (19), Kate Cross (16), Shachi Pai (18), Evie Priestley (25), Georgie Holt (27), Rebecca Duckworth (26), Evelyn Jones (3), Alex Hartley (8), Ella Telford (5), Amy Satterthwaite (11).

Middlesex (last year 6th)
After four years with Middlesex in Division One, left-arm spinner Alex Hartley has been lured back to her old county, Lancashire, and Leeds medical student Anna Nicholls has chosen to stay in the north and represent Yorkshire. New skipper for the County Championship is Naomi Dattani. They will miss Fran Wilson's batting when she is on England duty, with the onus on Dunkley, Dattani and Dalton to get some runs on the board for them. They do welcome back Kiwi pace bowler Holly Huddleston.
Dattani (11) (capt), Bouchier (16), Dalton (3), Dattani (11), Dunkley (14), Gole (12), Huddleston (17), Miles (8), Morgan (5), Pope (15), Ravel (7), Wakeman (9), Westbury (6), Whitty (1), Wilson (4), Wolfe (10)

Notts (last year promoted from Div 2 as runners-up)
Relegated from Div 1 in 2015, they have come straight back, despite England internationals Jenny Gunn and Danni Wyatt leaving the county. They too have brought in some new recruits from other counties, Jodie Dibble from Devon, Lucy Higham from Leicestershire and Megan Burton from Wales. Led again by Sonia Odedra they should have a settled team throughout the year and could easily cause a few upsets in the first five games of the season.
Sonia Odedra (capt), Natasha Allen, Georgie Boyce, Megan Burton, Kelsey Cox, Jodie Dibble, Kirstie Gordon, Yvonne Graves, Lucy Higham, Hannah Hughes, Sophie Munro, Rosie Penford, Jane Smit, Ruth Sprawson, Hollie Stannard, Ella Tweed, Rebecca Widdowson, Bethany Unwin.

Sussex (last year 2nd)
A very strong squad on paper, but many of this squad will play very few County Championship games, if any at all. A great deal will be expected of the younger players, led this year by new captain, Georgia Adams. The only new recruit is Berkshire's left arm spinner, Linsey Smith, but she may miss the first two games as she is currently with the England squad in Abu Dhabi. Sussex's Achilles' heel is always the first few games of the season. This year they meet Notts and Warwickshire away in the first weekend. They are must-win games.
Georgia Adams (capt), Flora Bertwhistle, Ella Bourne, Ellen Burt, Sally Clarke, Izzy Collis, Freya Davies, Ariana Dowse, Georgia Elwiss, Abbey Freeborn, Chiara Green, Nancy Harman, Ella McCaughan, Tara Norris, Paige Scholfield, Linsey Smith, Bethany Tagg, Sarah Taylor, Ella Wadey, Lucy Western, Danni Wyatt.

Warwickshire (last year 3rd)
Last year's surprise package, they led the County Championship only to run out of self-belief when they faced the mighty Kent. This year they will be another year older and wiser and are again likely to be there or thereabouts. Their batting can look a little thin, but their bowling might save them. Youngsters Georgia Davis and Kate Green are names to watch out for.
Marie Kelly (capt), Jenny Gunn, Amy Jones, Rebecca Grundy, Georgia Hennessy, Georgia Davis, Laura Crofts, Liz Russell, Mina Zahoor, Anisha Patel, Kathryn Bryce, Jo Gardner, Louise Brazier, Bethan Ellis, Kate Green

Yorkshire (last year 4th)
A massively powerful team when they have their full England contingent available, they become less predictable when they are away. Led by Jess Watson this year they will be a tight unit, but as with others, runs will be an issue. Expect leggies Katie Levick and Hollie Armitage to lead the bowlers.
Jess Watson (capt), Lauren Winfield, Katherine Brunt, Dani Hazell, Beth Langston, Hollie Armitage, Anna Nicholls, Steph Butler, Katie Levick, Cecilia Allen, Hannah Buck, Katie Thompson, Madie Walsh, Theresa Graves, Rebecca Newark, Hannah Poulter, Rachel Hildreth, Charlotte North


Monday, 24 April 2017

Aussies announce 13 contracts

Cricket Australia have today announced the names of 13 women to whom they will offer Southern Stars contracts for 2016/2017. However the terms of those contracts are still being discussed, with CA keen to move away from the revenue sharing method that has served them so well for nearly 20 years. With the ACA (the players' union) and the players themselves, adamant that the next Memorandum of Understanding continues to pay CA players at all levels on a revenue sharing basis, it looks as though CA will either have to back down or face the consequences. With the Champions Trophy, for the men, and the Women's World Cup, for the women, just around the corner it is not ideal timing, but there are big money television contracts about to be negotiated by CA.

Thirteen Southern Stars is a reduction of two from the 2015/2016 list, with Renee Farrell, Holly Ferling, Grace Harris and Erin Osborne all losing their contracts, and only teenage leggie Amanda-Jade Wellington and 30 year old Rachel Haynes added to the list, winning back a contract she last held four years ago.

Presumably these 13 players will form the basis of Australia's 15 player squad for the WWC17 which gets underway two months from today.

The 13 Southern Stars contracted players are

Kristen Beams
Alex Blackwell
Nicole Bolton
Lauren Cheatle
Rachel Haynes
Alysa Healy
Jess Jonassen
Meg Lnning
Beth Mooney
Ellyse Perry
Megan Schutt
Elyse Villani
Amanda-Jade Wellington


Thursday, 16 March 2017

Money and Women's Cricket

MONEY - it's almost a dirty word in sport, but the trouble is there is an awful lot of it floating around, and everybody wants their share. Last year, for example, the ECB turned over nearly £134M, which was, in fact, down from the previous year of £175M.

In Australia they would normally be announcing their 20 centrally contracted male players about now (with the women named a month later), but no announcement will be made for at least a month as pay talks between Cricket Australia (their equivalent of the ECB) and the Australian Cricket Association (the players' union - here we have the Professional Cricketers Association) are currently in deadlock.

CA and the ACA have to agree a Memorandum of Understanding, which sets out how all players are paid. For the past 20 years this has been by way of a revenue-sharing method, which has seen the centrally contracted men earn in excess of $1M (AUD), and has also included all state players and latterly women players. If Australian cricket is successful then they get paid more. But now CA wants to move away from this model for all but the international men. State players and women (including the international women) would not share in CA's revenue, but would have their salaries decided by CA. The ACA however is holding out for a MOU which covers all players, male and female, and retains the current revenue sharing model.

Women cricketers in Australia are already better paid and better represented than their counterparts here in the UK. All 120 female players who have either a Southern Stars contract (min $40,000); state contract (min $11,000) or a WBBL contract (min $7,000) are represented by the ACA. Here in England only the 18 current centrally contracted England players are members of the PCA. County players have no contracts and are paid nothing, and those who played in the KSL last year were paid match fees only if they played, with the winners and runners-up sharing prize money between the 15 strong player squads. Whilst neither group are members of the PCA, the PCA have confirmed that they have been working with the ECB on behalf of the KSL players, and that contract payments will be made to all KSL players this year.

Back in Australia the current Aussie MOU expires at the end of June, which means that there are going to be some feverish negotiations over the coming few weeks. Whether CA can convince the ACA that it should agree to the change in the model looks doubtful at the moment, but if a deal can be reached then it is likely that there could be some significant increases in pay for women cricketers in Australia, reflecting the increased profile for the game and the success of the WBBL, in terms of television audiences, if not in actual paying spectators*, **.

With the WWC17 looming CA will be keen to get their 2017 list of Southern Stars contracted players finalised sooner rather than later. Currently there are 15 players on Southern Stars contracts - Blackwell, Beams, Bolton, Cheatle, Farrell, Ferling, Healy, Harris, Jonassen, Lanning, Mooney, Osborne, Perry, Schutt, and Villani. It would be surprising if Harris and Osborne retain their contracts, and there has to be some doubt about Ferling. Likely to be added to the list will be Ash Gardner and Amanda-Jade Wellington, who have forced their way into the squad in recent months. Others also likely to be on the CA radar are Sophie Molineux and Molly Strano. For those that lose their Southern Stars contract it will be a blow, but with state contracts and WBBL contracts, plus some states (NSW) already making up state contracts to the Aussie minimum wage ($35,000), it is not as catstrophic as it would be to an England player, who has no county contract to fall back on.

These are early days in the world of professional women's cricket, and, whilst huge steps have been taken over the past few years, it is still a precarious existence for many players.

* Cricket Australia have now tabled an offer to the ACA which includes some huge increases in pay for all women cricketers in Australia (see here), but seems to omit any revenue sharing for most players. The ACA's response has been muted, stating that they need to take a look at the fine print of the offer.

** Southern Stars contracted players Alex Blackwell (link to radio interview) and Erin Osborne (link to SMH interview) have both confirmed that the women want to be part of the MOU, but also part of the revenue sharing model. In other words the current offer on the table from CA would not be acceptable.


Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Day Night Test included in Women's Ashes

The ECB and Cricket Australia have announced the dates and venues for the Commonwealth Bank Women's Ashes Series in Australia, starting on 22nd October in Brisbane, with the first of three ODIs. These will be followed by the sole Test Match, and then three T20s. All the games will count towards the multi-format series.

The second two ODI games will be played at Coffs Harbour. And from there the teams will move south to the North Sydney Oval for the first ever women's Day/Night Test, starting on 9th November.

The teams will then play the first of three T20 games at the same ground, before heading inland to the Manuka Oval in Canberra to complete the series, with T20s on the 19th and 20th November.

Full match schedule

22nd October - ODI 1 - AB Field, Brisbane

26th October - ODI 2 - Coffs Harbour International Stadium

29th October ODI 3 - Coffs Harbour International Stadium

9th - 12th November - Day/Night Test - North Sydney Oval

17th November - T20 1 - North Sydney Oval

19th November T20 2 - Manuka Oval, Canberra

21 November T20 3 - Manuka Oval, Canberra