Tuesday, 12 September 2017

A heartfelt tribute to Jan Brittin

England cricket great Jan Brittin sadly died today at the age of just 58.

I never saw her play, but she was obviously a classy bat and an inspiration both to those who played with her, and those who watched her play. One of those was friend and photographer Don Miles. "JB" is one of the reasons why Don has spent the last 25 years following and recording on film, and digitally, the women's game. Here is what he had to say on the great JB.

"I admired her in every way both as a cricketer and a person. She was head and shoulders above every one of her era, as BB (Barbara Daniels) will be happy to tell you, and she'd be the second in line with the talent. 

She was also very supportive of me, showing none of the early suspicion of a guy on his own that many did at first. 

She encouraged me to keep carrying the camera even though early results were not much good - they look terrible in retrospect - and always gave the impression that she genuinely didn't know how good she was. I sensed no false modesty in her at all - a very rare attribute.

Don't look at the stats - they tell at most 10% of the story - you just had to see her play, and listen to that quiet voice that always managed to say just the right thing. She was truly amazing".

She will be sadly missed.


Monday, 11 September 2017

Aussie Ashes' squad takes shape

Australia's 13 contracted players (minus the injured Meg Lanning) have started a week long Ashes training camp at the Bupa National Cricket Centre, together with Sarah Aley, Ashleigh Gardner, Molly Strano and Belinda Vakarewa, making up what looks like the Aussies' Ashes training squad.

Training camp attendees :-

Kristen Beams
Alex Blackwell
Nicole Bolton
Lauren Cheatle
Rachel Haynes
Alyssa Healy
Jess Jonassen
Beth Mooney
Ellyse Perry
Megan Schutt
Elyse Villani
Amanda-Jade Wellington
Sarah Aley
Ash Gardner
Molly Strano
Belinda Vakarewa

It is difficult to see any other players being drafted into the Aussie squad for the Ashes series, particularly given that there is only one weekend of WNCL fixtures before the Ashes series starts on 22nd October with the first ODI. In fact both teams have warm-up games on 16th and 18th October prior to the first ODI.

Full Ashes fixture list

16th October - 50 over warm-up games for England and Australia
18th October - 50 over warm-up games for England and Australia
22nd October - 1st ODI at Allan Border Field
26th October - 2nd ODI at Coffs International Stadium
29th October - 3rd ODI at Coffs International Stadium

3rd - 5th November 3 day warm-up games for England and Australia
9th - 12th November - Only Test Match at North Sydney Oval

17th November - 1st T20 at North Sydney Oval
19th November - 2nd T20 at the Manuka Oval
21st November - 3rd T20 at the Manuka Oval


Monday, 4 September 2017

Storm beat the odds to win KSL2017

Western Storm went one better than they did last year, when they beat Southern Vipers by 7 wickets on Friday to whisk the KSL trophy back to the west country for a year.

It was a victory that few people saw coming, particularly after the disastrous start to the Storm campaign against the same team at the Ageas Bowl on the opening day of the tournament. Bowled out for 70, Vipers wiped off the runs in just 9 overs, losing just one wicket, including 34 off one over from Kiwi import Holly Huddleston. Not only did Storm lose but they destroyed their Net Run Rate. Finishing level with another team and hoping to qualify was now out of the window!

With just five league games before Finals Day, it meant that Storm could not afford another loss. Could they pick themselves up before they played Loughborough Lightning, just two days later? In their favour the game was being played at home at Taunton -  already the Storm's favourite ground (victories over Vipers and Lancashire Thunder in front of good crowds there in the 2016 campaign had ensured that). On the negative side was the lack of England World Cup heroine Anya Shrubsole for the second game in a row.

Storm won the toss and inserted their opponents - they like to chase, in fact they love to chase. They restrict Lightning to 108/9 with Stafanie Taylor taking 4/5. Half the Storm overs are bowled by non-internationals for 58 runs. Storm make a slow start in their run chase and still need 60 off last 10 overs, but they have wickets in hand. The equation comes down to 24 off the last three overs - Taylor and the bustling Sophie Luff are at the crease. They take 14 off the 17th over from Grundy, and they make it home with the first ball of the last over. Campaign back on track.

Next up is the long trip to York Cricket Club. Nine hours on the team bus from Exeter!! That's a long bus ride home if they lose. But Rachel Priest ensures it's a journey worth making as she smashes 106* off 65 balls as the Storm chase down Diamonds 160/7 in 17 overs without losing a wicket. Priest's contributions before that game had been 3 and 0. Who would have thought she would go on to be the tournament's leading run scorer (261 runs at an average of 43.5)?

Meanwhile Surrey Stars are breezing through the tournament. Stars are undefeated in their first three games. They are Storm's next opponents, and they keep their unbeaten run going, and ensure themselves of a place in Finals Day, after posting an imposing 169/6. Storm hit 26 off the first two overs of their reply, but end the powerplay at 43/4. There is no way back from there despite good knocks from Lissy Macleod (30) and Georgia Hennessy (28). Storm are bowled out for 117. Everything rests on their final game with Lancashire Thunder, and how Diamonds get on against Vipers, who are also already through to Finals Day. Level on points with Diamonds going into the games, Storm know they must win and get more points out of their game, than Diamonds get out of theirs.

Another good bowling performance, with Huddleston having been dropped to the bench, restricts Thunder to 123/5, and Priest smashes another 50 off just 22 balls this time, to take Storm to 67/1 at the end of the powerplay. The game looks done, but Storm slip to 73/4 and it is Sophie Luff 24* and Georgia Hennessy 16, who steady the ship with a 30 run partnership, which means Storm run out winners in the 18th over. There is no bonus point win, but the four points are enough as Diamonds lose to Vipers. It means Storm have made it to Finals Day in third spot, and have to take on Stars in the semi-final, who lost their unbeaten record in their final league game to Lightning. No-one gives Storm much of a chance.

Stars have only used their five international bowlers - Kapp, Sciver, Hartley, Farrell and Marsh throughout the entire tournament. Storm again choose to leave one of their international bowlers sitting on the bench. Skipper Knight has faith in the previously unknown 30 year old off-spinner Claire Nicholas; blonde pace bowler Freya Davies; and left arm spinner Jodie Dibble. Her faith is rewarded as Nicholas and Dibble go for just 30 off their eight overs, with Nicholas picking up Tammy Beaumont's wicket, and Davies 19 off three overs with the wicket of Lizelle Lee in her first over. Stars can only make it to 100/7 in their 20 overs and despite an early wobble (17/4) Storm manage to get over the line thanks to 37* from Stafanie Taylor and 21 from Hennessy.

No change to the Storm team for the final. Set 146 to win they make another positive start to the chase. The last over of the powerplay from Linsey Smith is taken for 25 runs - 22 of them to Rachel Priest. It means Storm are 62/1 at the end of the powerplay and ahead of the rate. Cool heads are required when Priest is caught on the deep midwicket boundary for 72 off 36 balls, and Stafanie Taylor can only bat with a runner. Fortunately Storm have the Ice Queen (Taylor) and the Duracell Bunny (Luff), who casually take Storm over the line with two overs to spare.

There have been some magnificent individual match-winning performances, as there always are in T20 cricket, but Storm's winning formula seems to be a realisation that there are eleven players in the team and each one of them has a job to do. On some days they will do it better than others, but provided enough of them stood up to be counted in each match they had a chance of getting over the line. It wasn't always pretty, but it was effective. A triumph for a collective belief in a team's overall ability.

Well played the Storm - worthy KSL2017 Champions!!


Sunday, 3 September 2017

KSL Match Notes - Finals Day

Semi-Final & The Final
Stars v Storm
Vipers v Storm

Stars v Storm
* Stars win the toss and decide to bat

* Claire Nicholas (was Thomas) pins Stars down with her off-spin, going for 2, then a maiden, and then getting Tammy Beaumont in her third (fifth of the innings). Stars 12/1

* In the next over Freya Davies gets Lee caught at deep square - Stars 18/2, which is how they finish the powerplay.

* Spin continues to tie Stars down and Sciver perishes in the 10th over off Knight - 42/3, which moves on to 46/3 at the end of the 10th over

* Progress remains slow and Kapp is next to go for 19 in the 14th over - Stars 63/4

* Sophia Dunkley (30) and Bryony Smith (19) add 32 for the fifth wicket off 35 balls, but both perish in the last over as does Farrell, which gives Anya Shrubsole 3/22 and Stars finish on 100/7.


* Storm make the perfect start with 12 off the first over, but lose skipper Knight in the second to Kapp, swiflty followed by Wilson out for a golden duck. 12/2 becomes 12/3 as Priest is bowled by Sciver's first ball.

* In Kapp's next over Luff edges behind and Storm are in trouble at 17/4. Had Tammy Beaumont held on to a regulation catch two balls later Hennessy would have been on her way and Storm 19/5, but instead...

* Stafanie Taylor 37* and Georgia Hennessy 21 take Storm to 61 before Hennessy charges Marsh and misses.

* 61/5 becomes 67/6 as Macleod's stay is short. Taylor and Shrubsole take Storm almost there - 91/7 with 16 balls to come, and they get home and into the final with 7 balls to spare

Vipers v Storm
* Storm win the toss and not surprisingly decide to chase

* Runs come quite easily in the powerplay for Hayley Matthews (31), who looks in good touch, and Suzie Bates (21), who doesn't. Powerplay 38/0 but Storm did drop Bates

* 8th over and Stafanie Taylor gets countrywoman Matthews - 47/1

* Adams doesn't last long - stumped off Taylor (58/2), and in her next over she gets Bates too, lbw - Vipers 64/3 at halfway stage

* Danni Wyatt, dropped early by Luff, is brilliantly caught by Hennessy at long on low down and Vipers are 100/4 at the end of the 15th over

* Mignon du Preez adds a useful 31 before being caught at backward point. Vipers 117/5 with 15 balls to come.

* Last over flourish from Charlotte Edwards (17 off Shrubsole's over) takes Vipers to a competitive 145/5


* Storm lose Knight early in the powerplay and are 37/1 at the end of the fifth over, but the sixth over from Linsey Smith is muscled away for 25, with Rachel Priest reaching her 50 off just 26 balls. Storm 62/1 after first six overs. (Smith who has been ill all week leaves the field)

* Fran Wilson is bowled by a looping Brindle yorkie in the ninth over - Storm still going well on 80/2

* It looks like Priest is unstoppable, but she smashes a George halftracker out to deep midwicket where Wyatt takes a tumbling catch. She hit 72 off 36 balls. Storm 94/3 at halfway. Only need 52 off next 10 overs with Taylor and Luff at the crease

* Vipers look resigned to the defeat as the pair knock the ball around for singles and boundaries

* Just 18 runs needed off the last five overs, and then six off the last three. With just one required Taylor launches the ball over long on for 6! Storm win by 7 wickets with 2 overs to spare

full scorecard here

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Lancs take title in dramatic final day

The final day of the Women's County Championship was as dramatic a day as you could have imagined, but you would have been hard-pressed to have followed it anywhere, or find any account of the day, with the exception of some county twitter feeds, our own twitter feed, this blog and that of CRICKETher. Even now there is nothing on the ECB website about who has won the Championship, or the teams that have been relegated and promoted - in fact there seems to be nowhere for it even to be located on the ECB site should it be written.

The Women's County Championship is the premier format of 50 over cricket below ODIs. Its standard has been criticised by the ECB for several years, but nothing has been done to improve it or replace it. It has been allowed to drift, and, this season in particular, it has been shoe-horned into two slots in the season, when many players could not play making many games a lottery. It must have been a nightmare for team managers and coaches.

With the proposed 50 over KSL now officially abandoned the ECB have finally decided to focus on county cricket it seems, but there will be no changes until 2019, with eyes next year firmly focused on T20 cricket, with the T20 World Cup in the West Indies in November 2017.

In our view serious ECB resources need to be put into a County Premier Division with a meaningful structure of games (at least 10 I would say), payment for the players involved, professional coaching structures and resources, and a commitment to promote the product, so that it is a level that girls aspire to reach and becomes a serious test of players' abilities. England players and one or two overseas players should also be encouraged to play, when they are available.

But enough of the future what of the current? Or more accurately the recent past...

Well in Div One it looked like it was Warwickshire's county title to lose. They were the only unbeaten side after five matches, but had the second and third teams in the league to play - Yorkshire and Lancashire. They had been in a similar position last year and blown it. Surely it couldn't happen again?

In the first game of the weekend Yorkshire posted 176/8 thanks to 51 from Hollie Armitage and 46* from Hannah Buck. Warwickshire lost early wickets, but made it to 74/2, only to lose their last eight wickets for eight runs to be 82 all out, and pick up only four points from the game. The Yorkshire win meant they were now in the driving seat as they were one point ahead of Warwickshire.

Meanwhile third-placed Lancashire were claiming 17 points as they defeated Notts by 63 runs, bowling them out for 108, chasing 171, with Sophie Ecclestone taking 4/16. It meant that Lancs were still third in the league, but 12 points behind second-placed Warwickshire. For Lancs to win the title they would need to beat Warwickshire the next day and hope Warwickshire didn't get too many bonus points, and then pray that Notts could beat Yorkshire, with Yorkshire also not doing too well on the bonus point front.

First things first they had to beat Warwickshire. When Sophie Ecclestone took 6/12 and Warwickshire were all out for 88, with only one batting bonus point, they were on course to achieve their first objective. When Lancs reached 92/5 to claim victory, they had all 18 points and Warwickshire had only three. Lancs had leap-frogged their opponents in the league and now all they could do was wait and see what happened between Notts and Yorkshire.

Yorkshire won the toss and elected to bat, but made a nervy start and were struggling at 62/4, but another patient knock from Hollie Armitage (55 off 108 balls), and some good shepherding of the lower order by Beth Langston (33*), meant Yorkshire got to 178 all out and three potentially precious batting points. With Warwickshire losing, it meant that Yorkshire did not have to win. They just needed to pick up a total of five bonus points. With three in their pockets they needed just five Notts' wickets to take the title. They took the early wicket of Georgie Boyce, but then had to wait another 97 runs before they got their second. The third came pretty swiftly thereafter, but Sonia Odedra was still there with Notts still needing 59 to win. They reduced that to 27 before they lost their fourth wicket, when the experienced Jane Smit joined Odedra. Neither of them will now be too welcome in Yorkshire as they steered Notts home with just four wickets down.

And so Lancs were the 2017 County Champions, by one point from Yorkshire, and three points from Warwickshire. 

Meanwhile at the bottom of the table it was a question of who would join Berkshire in Division Two next year - it was between Sussex, Kent and Middlesex. With Middlesex playing Sussex in the their last game, Kent knew that they only had to win one of their last two games against either Middlesex or Berkshire. They chose to load their side with all their key players against Berkshire on the Monday. Without them they had been bowled out for 110 and lost to Middlesex on the Sunday. They duly beat Berkshire bowling them out for just 79 and chasing it down for the loss of one wicket. They were safe.

And so it was that whoever won the Middlesex v Sussex clash would stay in Div 1. Middlesex batted first on a green looking wicket, but it played perfectly, and all the Middlesex batsmen enjoyed the conditions, helped by some inept umpiring. They racked up 259/6 with Sophia Dunkley hitting a well-made 63. With Sussex missing four frontline players they looked short on batting, despite the addition of South African Mignon du Preez. After a sprightly opening over the Sussex innings never really got going and at 85/4 things looked bleak. A 53 run partnership between Georgia Elwiss (38) and Freya Davies (29) gave Sussex brief hope, but when Elwiss hit a Dattani long hop straight to square leg, Sussex's goose was cooked. They were eventually bowled out for 169 giving Middlesex the win by 90 runs and another year in Div 1. Next year will be the first time that Sussex have ever been in Division Two.

Coming up from Division Two will be Hampshire and Somerset. Hampshire took the Div 2 title with final weekend wins over Devon and Somerset themselves, courtesy of telling contributions from Charlotte Edwards and Suzie Bates. It will be interesting to see if they both return in 2018. Somerset had secured their return to Div 1 with a thumping 96 run win over Surrey, the previous day. At the bottom of the table Staffs ended a miserable season with two more defeats and will be playing in Div 3 next year, as will Worcestershire, who were already relegated even before they lost their last game of the season to Derbyshire.

Promoted from the Div 3 play-offs to Div 2 are Essex, who beat Gloucestershire by six wickets, and Northants who beat Durham by five wickets.

So another County Championship season has ended before September has even begun. Congratulations to all those who have finished at the top and commiserations to all those that have finished at the bottom, but special thanks to all those that make it all possible.


Sunday, 27 August 2017

KSL Match Notes - The Last Round

Matches Thirteen, Fourteen & Fifteen
Stars v Lightning

Storm v Thunder
Vipers v Diamonds

* All to play for for Diamonds, Storm and Lightning, with one place still available on Finals Day

* At the top it was between Stars & Vipers to see who made it straight through to the final

Stars v Lightning
* The first shock of the day was a bonus point win for the resurgent Lightning, courtesy of the Misses Villani (71) and Perry (68*). They posted a massive 171/3 on the same pitch that the Surrey Stars men had posted over 200 on the day before (and lost)

* No such worries for Lightning as the previously unbeaten Stars crumbled to 90 all out, with only Nat Sciver 24 and Tammy Beaumont 11, getting into double figures.

* The bonus point win meant that should Storm and Diamonds both lose, then Lightning would take third spot

Full scorecard here

Storm v Thunder
* Without a win Thunder were inserted by Storm, who, level on points with Diamonds, knew they needed a win, or possibly a bonus point win. If they were to finish equal on points with Diamonds then Diamonds would get through on NRR.

* Decent powerplay for Thunder as they make it to 40/2 - Jonassen and Jones the casualties, but then Miles goes hit wicket for 0 - 41/3

* Amy Satterthwaite 44 and Emma Lamb (in at 5) 30* add 69 for the fourth wicket, but it takes them 12 overs.

* Just 8 balls left when Satterthwaite goes and Thunder make it to 123/5, which looks under par

* It looks even more under par when Rachel Priest races to her 50 off just 26 balls

* At the end of the powerplay Storm are cruising towards a bonus point win on 67/1

* But Wilson, Taylor and Priest all go in quick succession to leave Storm more nervously on 73/4

* They decide to just go for the win and hope that Diamonds don't get a bonus point win. Sophie Luff 24* and Georgia Hennessy 16 steady the ship  and Storm take the win but in the 18th over (just a 4 point win). If Diamonds win with a bonus point then they will go through.

Full scorecard here

Vipers v Diamonds
* Careful start for the Vipers but they lose Bates, and then just after the powerplay Adams - 36/2. Wyatt follows soon after 55/3

* When Hayley Matthews is out for 40 with the score on 78/4 in the 13th over it looks like Vipers may struggle to post a competitive score

* But Mignon du Preez (50*) and Arran Brindle (11) add 58 for the fifth wicket to take Vipers to 136/5. They finish on 138/6. Diamonds need to chase it down in less than 16 overs if they want a bonus point win.

* They add 31 for the first wicket, but then lose five wickets for just four runs and look up against it at 35/5. Can they even get a win?

* Katherine Brunt 42 and Alice Davidson-Richards 14 look to get them back on track, but the overs are ticking by. ADR is out with the score on 77 in the 14th over and Brunt unluckily run out backing up in the 17th over with the score on 100.

* It is too much for the lower order to deal with and they are bowled out for 108, which means Vipers go straight to the final and Stars will play Storm in the semi-final which preceeds it.

Full scorecard here


Friday, 25 August 2017

County Championship Denouement

The final two rounds of the 2017 County Championship season are scheduled for this Sunday and Monday with title, promotion and relegation issues to be resolved. Quite what teams most counties will be able to field will probably depend on the availability of players involved in the current KSL.

In Division One unbeaten Warwickshire are once again in the box seat coming into the final weekend of the season, but they were in a similar position last year and blew their chances of a first County Championship title. On Sunday they face a trip to Harrogate to take on second placed Yorkshire. If they can win that one then the title will almost be theirs. On Monday they travel home to the Edgbaston Foundation Ground to take on third placed Lancashire, who, with a full team likely to be available, will be hoping to win both their games and hope the top two slip up somewhere.

Lancs play Notts at Kate Cross's home club - Heywood CC - on Sunday, whilst Yorkshire have them to play in Nottinghamshire in their Monday fixture. Notts are currently fourth in the table with three wins out of five.

At the bottom it is Kent, Sussex, Middlesex and Berkshire who will be fighting to avoid the bottom two relegation places. Bottom county Berkshire are yet to get a win this season and they have Sussex and Kent to play. It is going to be a struggle for them. Middlesex have the same two opponents, but with only three points between them and Sussex above them, they will be targeting a win at Eastcote CC on Monday as a likely relegation decider. Sussex have announced that they have recruited former South African captain Mignon du Preez to bolster their batting ranks for their last two games.

In Divison Two it is going to be a nail-biting weekend with the top four all having won four of their five games, but with Somerset currently top as their other game was abandoned. They have Surrey and Hampshire standing in their way back into Div 1 for next year. Surrey are third and Hampshire second, but Hampshire are unlikely to see Suzie Bates or Charlotte Edwards turning out for them this weekend. Both Surrey and Hampshire have fourth-placed Devon to play in their other fixture of the weekend.

At the bottom it looks tough for Staffs and Worcestershire, who have yet to record a win this year. They meet on Sunday, so one of them will get off the mark, and then on Monday Staffs host Wales and Worcestershire are away at Derbyshire. Wales and Derbyshire are the remaining fixture on Sunday. If either of those teams were to lose both their games then they could find themselves in trouble, but one win should be enough to secure them Div 2 cricket next year.

In Division Three the group games have finished and its play-off time. On Sunday Gloucestershire take on Essex, and on Monday Durham play Northamptonshire, with the winners promoted to Div 2 next year.