Monday, 12 September 2016

Intense period of ODIs starts soon

With the Women's World Cup looming on the horizon (June/July 2017 in England) all of the eight teams in the ICC Women's Championship are involved in their last two series of ODI games before the end of 2017, with the aim of making the top four and automatic qualification for the tournament.

The current table looks like this

And here are the series to be played :-

Sri Lanka v Australia starts 18th September
West Indies v England starts 8th October
South Africa v New Zealand starts 8th October
Pakistan v India - dates to be announced

Australia v South Africa starts 18th November
Sri Lanka v England starts 12th November
New Zealand v Pakistan starts 8th November
India v West Indies - dates to be announced

Most of the teams are playing as many ODIs as they can cram in to the series, although only the designated three games will count towards the ICCWC table.

And here are the current WCB ODI Team Rankings to the beginning of September. Australia are still top, but England have closed the gap to second. West Indies are closing in in third, and India have jumped over New Zealand into fourth, but in the next few months there could be many changes as teams battle it out.

ODI Team Rankings as at 1st September 2016


Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Lamb in line for England call up?

Lancashire's 18 year old Emma Lamb could be in line for a call up to the England squad for the tour to the West Indies at the beginning of October, which is due to be announced next week.

With one eye firmly on the World Cup in England next June and July, England are playing five ODIs in the Windies and no T20s. With the retirement of Charlotte Edwards and Lydia Greenway, England Head Coach Mark Robinson needs to strengthen the squad's batting line-up and Lamb looks to be best placed to make the step up into the squad, if not into the starting 11.

After returning from a successful tour to Sri Lanka with the England Academy in April, Lamb has not had a stellar season with Lancashire in Division Two of the County Championship, scoring just 187 runs at an average of 37.2. But she had a decent KSL series with the Lancashire Thunder, opening the batting in each of their five games and making scores of 25, 26, 34, 27 and 10 and looking at home at the crease, ahead of more exalted company - Matthews, Dottin and Wyatt.

In addition it seems likely that 17 year old Sophie Ecclestone will also be part of the squad - assuming she can get time off school. The left-arm spinner looked comfortable making her debut for England in the summer against Pakistan, and England need her left-arm variation in their attack.

If these two non-contracted players are included in the squad, then current contracted players will have to make way. It could be that Becky Grundy, Jenny Gunn and Danni Wyatt miss the trip as England look to build towards the World Cup and beyond.

Possible squad - Knight (capt), Shrubsole (vice capt), Beaumont, Brunt, Cross, Ecclestone, Elwiss, Farrant, Hazell, Jones, Lamb, Marsh, Sciver, Wilson, Winfield


Monday, 5 September 2016

Final County Champs Round Up

So another, perhaps the last proper, county season has come to an end (well Sussex have still to play Surrey, but it makes no odds as far as the championship or relegation are concerned).

In Division One neither of the bottom two sides playing could pull off the win that might have saved their Div 1 bacon. Staffs lost by seven wickets to Middlesex; and Somerset lost by 87 runs to Warwickshire. That win took Warwickshire up to second in the table, as Sussex, for the second year in succession, made the 600 mile round trip to Harrogate in north Yorkshire, for the game to be called off without a ball being bowled. At the top Kent, already champions, completed a nervy victory over Berkshire, having been bowled out for 165, they then bowled Berkshire out for 139 to win by 26 runs.
Division One

In Division Two it will be Lancashire and Notts that come straight back into Div 1 for the 2017 season, having both been relegated last year. Notts made it with ease beating Worcestershire by 61 runs, having put 239/9 on the board. Lancs however had more of a struggle. First they had to wait for the rain to clear and the pitch to dry, and then, having bowled Wales out for just 79, in a match reduced to 35 overs, they plunged to 23/6 in reply. But Sophie Ecclestone rose to the occasion with 42* batting at 7, to take Lancs over the line seven down, and keep Hants in Div 2 for a second year. Hants had done what they could by beating relegated Essex by 50 runs, and Essex will be joined in Div 3 by Leicestershire, promoted last year from Div 3, but returning straight back as they lost their last game to Devon by 137 runs. 
Division Two 

Quite what 2017 holds for county cricket is unclear. The ECB have announced that the KSL will be extended to the 50 over format in games to be played before the World Cup in England in June. It is difficult to see many KSL players playing county cricket as well as 50 over KSL, and none of the potential England squad are likely to be available until after the World Cup finishes. The KSL T20 competition will then again be run in August. County cricket looks like it will be squeezed out of the equation. We shall see!


Friday, 2 September 2016

Do or die in the County Champs this weekend for many

It is the final weekend of County Championship games this Sunday (although Sussex are also due to play Surrey on 17th September). As it happens that game will have little effect on the County Championship table, as Kent have already won the title and Surrey have been relegated to Division Two for next season.

The up-to-date table is below

The games this weekend are :-

Yorkshire v Sussex at Harrogate CC
Kent v Berkshire at KCCC Beckenham 
Staffs v Middlesex at Milford Hall CC
Warks v Somerset at the Edgbaston Foundation Ground

With three teams being relegated into Division Two next year, it is a matter of who will join Surrey in dropping down.

If Middlesex beat Staffs, then Staffs will be the first to join Surrey. But should Staffs beat Middlesex with full bonus points they could move their average to a maximum of 9. Middlesex would then need to get at least 5 bonus points from the same game, to also finish on an average of 9. Basically Staffs must win and get at least 5 bonus points to give themselves a chance. The more bonus points they get, and the fewer they allow Middlesex to get, the better chance they have. First of all they have to win!

As for Somerset, they must beat Warwickshire to try and save themselves. A full bonus point win would also put them on a maximum average of 9 points too. Should two teams finish on the same average points then you go back to the number of points scored between the two sides when playing each other. Somerset lost to Middlesex, but their game v Staffs was abandoned, so you would then revert to net run rate, if they were tied.

As for Div 2 there are two places up for grabs in Div 1 next year, and there are four teams in with a shout of grabbing them. They are the current top four teams - Lancs, Notts, Wales and Hampshire.
Lancs and Wales take on each other at Newport and the winner should be one of the teams promoted. Notts are away at Worcester and Hampshire take on bottom of the league (and relegated) Essex. A win for Notts should see them grab one of the top two places, while Hampshire must look to clock up 18 points and hope other results go their way. 

WCB (@womenscricblog) on twitter will follow all the action, and try and keep everyone in the picture. We should have contacts at most of the important games. Let's hope the weather doesn't intervene!!


Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Kent take title as contenders falter

Kent are the 2016 Women's County Championship champions - they're seventh title in the last 11 years.

As Kent beat previously unbeaten Warwickshire (who then lost the next day to Middlesex), Sussex had their game against Staffordshire washed out and then crashed to a dismal defeat against Berkshire. It means that no-one can catch Kent at the top of the league, so their last game of the season against Berkshire next week will be a victory parade.

On Sunday Kent cruised to victory over Warwickshire thanks in the main to Kiwi Suzie Bates. She hit 75 out of Kent's moderate total of 214/9 and then took 4/12 as Warwickshire subsided to 112 all out.

Meanwhile Kent's only other challengers Sussex were being frustrated by the rain, the Staffs' batsmen and their inability to catch at East Grinstead. Staffs had made it to 168/7 with Charlotte Whyle top-scoring with 47 and Freya Davies taking 3/25 for Sussex, before the persistent rain closed in and ended the game. Sussex fared little better the next day as Berkshire racked up 277/6 with former Sussex keeper Carla Rudd (79) scoring her maiden County Championship 50, and Freya Davies (2/29) again the pick of the Sussex bowlers, bizarrely left with two overs unbowled by skipper Georgia Elwiss. Sussex looked well-placed to chase down the mammoth total at 141/1 in the 22nd over, before Izzy Collis (34) was mistakenly given out stumped. Two overs later Georgia Adams, who had batted well for her 75, skied Linsey Smith (3/38) to midwicket and in Smith's next over Dani Wyatt (12) unnecessarily drove her to cover. Sussex had needed just 4.5 an over for the last 25 overs at this stage. But the Sussex innings stalled and the run-rate climbed. The next six overs produced just 11 runs. With 10 overs left Sussex found themselves needing over seven an over with only three wickets in hand. It proved far too much. Abbey Freeborn finished on 43* off 61 balls, and Sussex 34 runs short.

So attention turns to the relegation zone, with three teams due to drop out of Division One this year, to be replaced by two from Division Two - somewhat of an anomaly given the huge difference in standards of the two leagues. With Staffs winless it seemed to be a question of who would join them in Div 2? Berkshire eased their worries with their win over Sussex, particularly bearing in mind that their game to play next week is against Kent.

It ended up being Surrey that were the weekend's biggest losers as they went down to fellow relegation strugglers Somerset on Sunday by 64 runs and then lost to Staffs by seven wickets on Monday. Having been 86/6 Somerset were indebted to Nicole Richards (52) and the lower order as they scrambled their way to 188 all out. Once Somerset had removed Bryony Smith (28) and Nat Sciver (22), it was just a matter of time. Surrey capitulated in 34 overs for 124. The next day Surrey themselves recovered from being 85/8 thanks to 53* from Libby Walters and 43 runs from 10 and 11, Beth Kerins and Laura Sandy. On another day it might have been enough, but Eve Jones (110), out for a golden duck the day before, hit her first Div 1 century to lead Staffs to their first win of 2016. It will almost certainly not save them from returning to Div 2 next year, but it meant that they consigned Surrey to last place in the division, with one round of games to go. Surrey are due to take on Sussex in a re-arranged game on 17th September, by which time it may already be too late for Surrey to save themselves.

Yorkshire made sure that they will be in Div 1 next year with two wins. On Sunday they dispatched Middlesex by eight wickets (scorecard not yet on Play Cricket or Cricket Archive), chasing down 60 it seems off 20 overs in a rain affected match. Middlesex had limped to 94/8 off 33 overs, dashing in and out of the rain and with their overs gradually reduced. On Monday Yorkshire bowled out Somerset for just 60, before nervously losing five wickets chasing down the required runs. Katie Thompson took a career best 6/10 for Yorkshire, with no Somerset bat scoring more than eight. The loss and severe lack of bonus points means that Somerset are precariously poised in the drop zone with their final game against Warwickshire to come next week.

Having lost on the Sunday Middlesex were also in a spot of bother with just two wins to their name, but they beat a deflated Warwickshire on Monday by five wickets, having bowled them out for 97 (Alex Hartley 3/17), with the experienced Beth Morgan (36*) and youngster Sophia Dunkley (30) steadying the nerves after Middlesex had slipped to 34/4. They remain just outside the relegation zone and play the rejuvenated Staffs in their final game of the season next week. They could still go down if they fail to win and other results go against them.

All of which means that we think the current league placings are as below (still await official Middlesex v Yorkshire scorecard)


Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Is extending the KSL to 50 overs the way forward?

Before the inaugural KSL T20 competition had even finished the ECB had issued a Press Release declaring the competition to have been a great success. Not many would argue with that, although there are a few wrinkles that could do with being ironed out - the main one being making the competition longer. The Press Release also linked to a page on the ECB website where Clare Connor answered some questions about the competition (click here to read). At the end of that piece Connor explains what is going to happen next year...

"Next summer the Kia Super League will expand to include a 50-over league competition with the six teams playing each other once either at home or away, and the teams finishing in second and third playing-off to take on the top team in a final.  The 50-over KSL will be played prior to the ICC Women’s World Cup, followed by the KSL T20 competition, which will be the same format as this year and played in a block alongside the men’s NatWest T20 Blast in August."

It has always been Connor's ambition to extend the competition to the 50 over format, ostensibly, it seems, so that the England players have some good quality warm-up games before the World Cup, which is being staged here in England between 26th June - 23rd July. A laudable ambition, but will it work?

There are a lot of hurdles that it will need to overcome :-

a) Will the overseas players want to come and play in England in May/June? Will Cricket Australia for example want Ellyse Perry and Meg Lanning in England while the rest of their squad are together in a pre-World Cup training camp? For that matter will any other country want this?

b) Without some, or all, of the overseas players will the standard even be as high as county cricket? Twenty four of the 72 English players in the KSL squads currently play their county cricket (if any) outside of Division One of the County Championship.

c) The games will have to be played in May and early June. This is exam time for any young English players at university or school.

d) It has been mooted that the games might be played on Wednesdays to avoid clashing with the Women's County Championship, but this would mean negligible crowds, and clashes with university and school cricket matches.

There are already plans to reduce the number of teams in Division One of the County Championship in 2017 from nine to eight, why not only promote one team from Division Two and make this seven teams? If funded properly (so that it becomes semi-professional), and if the current six Division Two players could be accommodated in those teams, the standard would be just as high if not higher. Why not make this the focus for 50 over cricket in England?

It was interesting to hear Charlotte Edwards confirm that the KSL overseas players had been impressed by the standard of the county girls that have taken part in the KSL. The standard of county cricket is not as poor as many people would have you believe. In the recent Girls of Summer book by David Tossell, Edwards said of county cricket - "When the girls score runs in county cricket, what value is that?...If they score a hundred, well you should score a hundred. If not, why not?" Edward's scores in county cricket this year have been 79, 1, 30*, 18, 34, and 2. Tammy Beaumont, who is the leading run-scorer, has scores of 72, 49, 20, 20*, 53 and 47. She scored far more runs against Pakistan. Indeed no player has scored a century in Division One this year so far. Surely this says something about the standard of bowling in the County Championship?

The KSL T20 competition works, as it is a concentrated hit of the shortest form of the game, which attracts foreign players, spectators, and, no doubt, ultimately, television coverage and therefore money. This will not be the case for franchised 50 over cricket. This will be a massive drain on the stretched resources of the current KSL franchisees.

The integrity and standard of county cricket needs to be maintained. Counties need to be encouraged to develop their local players through age-group cricket and have the pinnacle of that to play county cricket in Division One of the slimmed down County Championship. Counties who are not in Division One will need to be rewarded for players they produce who go on to play at this semi-professional level (Division One), and then KSL and then for England. If senior county cricket withers and dies, as no KSL players have the inclination/energy to play in county matches, then far from bridging the gap between county cricket and international cricket, that gap will just have become even greater.

I may be wrong? I frequently am. But is extending the KSL to 50 over cricket really the best way forward, in the long term, for English women's cricket?


Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Decisive weekend in County Championship

Right, lets park the razzmatazz of the KSL, (which was won by the Southern Vipers, by the way, and not just Charlotte Edwards, despite what the Press may say!), it is time to refocus on the bread and butter of women's cricket - the Women's County Championship, with a double-header Bank Holiday weekend ahead of us. If it wasn't for the County Championship there would be no players for competitions such as the KSL and the WBBL.

Catch Up....Unfancied Warwickshire top the league table having won the three games they have played against Sussex, Berkshire and Surrey. Their games against Yorkshire and Staffs have been washed out. Behind them loom Kent, who have lost one game to Sussex, who themselves are third, having been beaten on the opening day of the season by Warwickshire.
Yorkshire, Berkshire and Middlesex have all won two games, and then at the bottom of the league sit Surrey, Somerset (one win) and Staffs (winless)...

All of which means that this Sunday's game between Warwickshire and Kent at the Edgbaston Foundation Ground, could be the game that decides who wins the 2016 County Championship title. It seems that the ECB have decided that the England girls can only play one game this weekend, but for Kent this will not be an issue as they only have one game. For Warwickshire one assumes they will play their full team, including Amy Jones. Jenny Gunn and Rebecca Grundy, against Kent, but they will miss the game against Middlesex the following day. In form Suzie Bates has remained in England after the end of the KSL, so Kent should be at full strength. It will be a tough ask for the young Warwickshire side, but ironically the pressure will actually be on Kent to win. If Warwickshire can get early wickets then that pressure will build. It should be a fascinating game.

As I've said, win or lose on Sunday, Warwickshire take on Middlesex on Monday, with what will be an even younger squad, probably against a Middlesex's full compliment, with Fran Wilson and Alex Hartley back in Middlesex blue, after successful KSL campaigns. This game will be just as key as the one the previous day, and Warwickshire will have to dig deep (no matter what the result the previous day). It may be a tough call for Middlesex regarding their England players, as the previous day they play Yorkshire. Both games are at home and Middlesex could decide to field their strongest side against their northern rivals, given that they are struggling a bit to get many wins on the board this season, and it is almost as important that Yorkshire lose as Middlesex win.

On Monday Yorkshire make the journey from Middlesex down to Bridgwater in Somerset. Somerset will be following them down the M4 as they play Surrey at Reed's School the previous day. With three teams to be relegated from Div 1 at the end of the season these are key games for all involved. Somerset have only beaten Berkshire so far this season and their game against fellow relegation candidates Staffordshire was abandoned (so cannot be rearranged). They have to beat the teams just above them to give themselves a chance of staying in Div 1 next year.

Surrey themselves will be hoping to ease their relegation worries with wins over Somerset, and then on Monday against Staffs. They have lost four of the five games they have played this season, and two wins this weekend are essential.

Sussex are the other team with two games to play, taking on Staffs at home on Sunday and then travelling to North Maidenhead on Monday for Berkshire's only game of the weekend. If Sussex want to keep up any pressure on the top two then they need two wins and full bonus points, but realistically having dropped five bonus points already, they will need both Warwickshire and Kent to have some poor games if they are going to get past them.

Sunday 28th August 2016 - 11am start
Middlesex v Yorkshire at Merchant Taylors School
Surrey v Somerset at Reed's School
Sussex v Staffs at East Grinstead CC
Warks v Kent at Edgbaston Foundation Ground

Monday 29th August 2016 - 11am start
Berks v Sussex at North Maidenhead CC
Middlesex v Warwickshire at Merchant Taylors School
Somerset v Yorkshire at Bridgwater CC
Surrey v Staffs at Reed's School