Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Time to extend the Womens' County Championship?

As I am sitting here trying to put together a preview of Division One of the Women's County Championship upcoming season I am struck by the fact that the girls play so little cricket.

The County Championship is the best level of cricket that most of the girls get to play at (in fact once they are 18 it is the only level) and it is where they need to hone their skills as cricketers and learn the subtle nuances of the game. Club cricket purely for women and girl's teams is at a very basic level. There are very few clubs (although I accept the numbers are increasing) and just not enough players to make teams that are competitive. In fact quite often there are not enough to make a team at all. Many club games are called off when one side cannot get a team together. True some girls will play in men's teams, but these are very much the exception. There is still a huge amount of prejudice against women playing for men's teams. The attitude in larger clubs seems to be that they are not going to make it to the 1st XI and therefore clubs are wasting their resources in investing time and effort in a girl, who will only play 2nd or 3rd XI cricket at best. None of them will admit this to your face of course, but it happens.

There are nine teams in Division One of the Championship this year and they will each play each other just once during the forthcoming season - just eight fifty over games, if the weather is kind to them. I know the weather last year was atrocious, but Essex managed to get to the final of the competition (I am not sure why a league needs a final, but more on that later) playing just two games throughout the entire season. Sussex, who played and won five games did not make it to the final as their average points per game - the way the standings are decided - was lower than Essex's, who had scored maximum bonus points in each of their two victories.

I would like to see the girls play each other home and away during the season. That would be 16 matches. That in my view would be a true county championship and there would be no need for a final. Whoever finishes at the top of the league after 16 matches will deserve to be called the champions. I would also like to see the points system changed to move away from an average number of points per game system, which is not used anywhere in the men's game that I can see. Straight win and tie points, plus bonus points. No points if you don't play. Average points encourages teams to play lesser opposition and not to play games they may lose or get fewer bonus points in. Teams have to be encouraged to play.

The major argument against extending the number of fixtures will probably be cost - pitch hire, umpires, travelling, etc. My response would be that the counties and the ECB simply have to find the money. Perhaps it is also time to scrap the Super 4s tournament as well and use the money elsewhere? The England, England Academy and England U19s players (who make up the bulk of the Super 4s players) should have their own extended international fixtures at the appropriate level, rather than taking another three weekends out of the Championship cricketing calendar.

Another argument is that it would not fit in with the England players who have a home series to play in each summer. Currently the Championship stops while this takes place - for example there are no County Championship games after 14th July this year (except the final!) because the Australians are here in August playing England in three ODI, three T20s and the one and only Test Match that the women now play. In my view this is detrimental to the development of all the other players below England level. The Championship should continue and the counties that rely heavily on international players, for example Kent (5) and Sussex (4), would have to find players to replace those that they lose on England duty. It would also actually even the Championship out more - Kent and Sussex have contested every final for the past 10 years, with the exception of last year when Essex made the most of the bad weather.

There is no doubt that the technical skill levels of women cricketers is getting better and better each year, but they now need to play as much competitive cricket as they can, at a decent level, to improve their game play and their mental toughness. Arguably England may have won both the games they lost narrowly at the World Cup with a bit more game time behind them. Come on ECB let's give the girls more cricket!


Saturday, 23 February 2013

U19 ARCH Trophy - Final Round-Up

The inaugural Womens U19 ARCH Trophy has concluded in UAE with MCC unsurprisingly winning in the final against Sussex, but only by 18 runs.

Sussex managed to contain the all-England U19 MCC batting line-up, with all their bowlers bowling tight lines. After 40 overs MCC had scored just 150/6 and Sussex must have felt they were in with a shout. Five of the Sussex bowlers picked up a wicket a piece, with the other being a run-out.

In reply Sussex were hampered by the fact that Georgia Adams was carrying a hand injury and had to drop down the order, but make-shift opener Sophie Parnell blasted out of the traps with four quick boundaries, but fell soon after. Sussex proceeded to lose a succession of wickets and at 40/5 they were in deep trouble. Carla Rudd (41) and Izi Noakes (35) brought Sussex back into the game with a stand of 48, but Noakes, Adams and Silk went in quick succession to leave Sussex at 106/8 with just over 7 overs to go. Freya Davies (13no) proved a perfect foil for Rudd and they took Sussex to within 22 runs of victory, but when Rudd was out with just under four overs to go, the game was up and Sussex fell agonisingly short on 132 all out.

In the 3rd/4th play off game Devon looked to be cruising to victory over Wales. Devon scored an impressive 185/4 with Amara Carr top scoring with 70 for the south west side. Wales were struggling on 21/4, but thanks to Ellie Hopkins (70no) they managed some respectablility as they finished on 147/8. Lydia Harris took 3/14 and Rebecca Bertrand  3/19.

Lancashire claimed 5th spot with a decisive victory over Essex. They bowled out the south east side for just 101 with only Bryony Butcher (43) putting up much resistance. Sophie McArdle claimed 4/22 and Bhumika Doshi 3/26.

On Friday Scotland claimed 7th spot by beating Durham by 9 wickets, having bowled them out for just 57. Lois Wilkinson (4/13) and Sam Haggo (3/14) did the damage with the ball.


Thursday, 21 February 2013

U19 ARCH Trophy Day 4 Round - Up

The final day of the group games saw all eight teams in action today.

There were big wins for tournament favourites MCC and Sussex, which sees them through to the final; Wales squeezed out Lancashire to finish 2nd in Group B; and in the day/night game Devon overcame a spirited Durham team to earn the right to play Wales in the 3rd/4th play-off.

Group A
MCC 248/1 (40 ovs) Izzy Collis 132 v Essex 125 all out (35.1 ovs) Holly Armitage 5/28
MCC won by 123 runs
Devon 201/6 (40 ovs) Rebecca Bertrand 82 v Durham 147 all out (38.2 ovs) Rachel Petherick 49, Emily Ward 4/33, Lydia Harris 3/12  Devon won by 55 runs 

Group B
Wales 230/5 (40 ovs) Gwennan Davies 102 v Lancashire 195/7 (40 ovs) Emma Lamb 56, Isobel Day 3/42 Wales won by 35 runs
Sussex 248/5 (40 ovs) Georgia Adams 112 no, Sophie Parnell 65 v Scotland 104/7 (40 ovs) Izi Noakes 3/14
Sussex won by 144 runs

Tomorrow is a rest day for most teams and then the play-offs on Saturday will therefore be between :-

1st/2nd MCC v Sussex
3rd/4th Devon v Wales
5th/6th Essex v Lancashire
7th/8th Durham v Scotland (Friday play-off)

You would expect all of them to be tight games, with the MCC girls favourites to win the final, given that they have 13 EWDP U19s and 1 England Academy player in their 14 girl squad. But Sussex have proved to be the class side in Group B, with three very convincing wins. They will push the MCC all the way and if they play to their potential they might just pull off the win.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

U19 ARCH Trophy - Day Three Round-Up

Just two games played today, but both significant in their own way.

In Group A MCC took on Devon with both having won their first games easily the day before. The winner of this game seemed almost certain to progress to the Final on Saturday.
The MCC have 13 members of the England U19 development squad and one member of the England Academy (Jess Watson) in their ranks; Devon can boast 5 England U19 players and one member of the England Academy (Amara Carr).

The MCC batted first and had made rather slow progress to 124/4 after 32 overs, but with a mixture of good batting from Cordelia Griffith (28no) and Marie Kelly (21no) and a lot of extras they added an unbeaten 72 for the last wicket in just 8 overs to finish on a respectable 196/4.

In reply Devon lost the key early wickets of Cranstone, Carr and Kelly to be 29/3. Rebecca Bertrand (17) and Claire Varcoe (9) tried to rebuild, but when Bertrand went with the score at 59, Devon collapsed to 83 all out, with Hollie Armitage taking three catches, and Issy Collis three wickets in one over to end with 4/18.

In Group B Lancashire took on Scotland. The early bowling of Lois Wilkinson (4/13) had Lancashire in trouble at 60/6 with more than half their overs gone, but Bhumika Doshi (36) and Hayley Martinus (35) produced a 7th wicket stand of 73, which allowed Lancs to post a competitive total of 151 all out. Kathryn Bryce finished with figures of 3/33.

In response Scotland made steady progress after losing two early wickets, but when Liz Priddle was out for 23 Lancashire sniffed victory with Scotland on 79/3. But Scotland were not going to roll over easily. They battled to 117/5 just by hanging around and relying on extras gifted by Lancs, but then the wheels fell off with 3 wickets going in six balls. Still they were not done, but with the last over looming Abbi Aitken was run out to leave Scotland defeated by 13 runs.

The final group games being played tomorrow are :-
Group A
MCC v Essex
Durham v Devon (D/N)
Group B
Wales v Lancs
Sussex v Scotland

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

U19 ARCH Trophy Day 2 Round Up

The games played today were

Group A
Essex 80 all out (Lydia Harris 4/14, Aylish Cranstone 3/7) v Devon 81/0 (Amara Carr 37, Aylish Cranstone 28)
Devon won by 10 wickets
MCC 287/1 (Georgia Hennessey 108no, Lily Reynolds 98no) v Durham 63 all out (Hollie Armitage 6/19)
MCC won by 224 runs

Group BWales 144/6 (Gwennan Davies 51no) v Sussex 148/2 (Chiara Green 57)
Sussex won by 8 wickets

Essex, who had won against Durham last night, were soundly beaten by Devon.  Devon’s bowlers and fielders were excellent from the start and soon had the prized wicket of Essex’s Bryony Butcher early on.  Regular wickets fell with Essex all out for just 80 after 31 overs.  Devon made light work of it overhauling Essex’s total without a loss of any wickets – winning the game by 10 wickets in the 14th over.

Wales, who had beaten Scotland in Abu Dhabi yesterday, were up against Sussex at the Dubai Academic City Fairs Ground in a day/night encounter. Wales decided to bat on a belter of a pitch putting the
Sussex fielders to a stern test in very trying conditions. Nevertheless, Wales could never quite score freely and lost wickets at vital stages when trying to press and put the Sussex bowlers under more pressure.  Gwenan Davies batted with care and purpose – scoring 58 off 63 balls and was a fine knock given the scoreboard pressure with the middle to lower order batters.

Sussex started well with Chiara Green (57) and Georgia Adams (37) providing a good base for the chasing team to overcome the Wales score. Supported by Sophie Parnell (31) Sussex reached its target in the 29th

MCC u19s batted first on the new Zayed Nursery ground v Durham CB u19s. On a good surface and fast outfield opener Marie Kelly (48), Lily Reynolds (98*) and Georgia Hennessy (108*) batted well to score an
imposing 287 for 1 in 40 overs. The Durham team worked hard in the field but found the conditions difficult in the sun. Durham found batting difficult against the accurate MCC bowling attack and excellent ground
fielding. Hollie Armitage 8 overs 6 for 19 and Grace Gibbs 2 for 21 off 6 overs bowled well as did Charlotte Pape 7 overs 0 for 4.  Durham was bowled out for 63 in 32.2 overs, which was a comfortable win for a
strong MCC team.

Sussex have taken control of Group A after two emphatic victories and will look to wrap up their place in the final on Thursday when they meet Scotland.

Group B heavy hitters MCC and Devon proved today that they are just that. Their clash tomorrow will decide who wins Group B.


Monday, 18 February 2013

U19 ARCH Trophy - Day One Round-Up

The first three games of the ARCH Trophy have been played and, despite a few technical issues with CricHQ scorecard for the Sussex v Lancs game, which are yet to be rectified, the results are in.

Group A
Essex 148 all out 
(33.1 overs) Bryony Butcher 56, Rachel Petherick 3/30 v Durham 103 all out (35.5 overs) Laura Ellison 41, Shona Keany 4/23, Kelly Castle 3/15, Hannah Courtnell 3/21
Essex won by 45 runs

Group BSussex 245/7 (40 overs) Georgia Adams 59, Chiara Green 38 v Lancashire 147/7 (40 overs) Rebecca Silk 2/24, Freya Davies 2/16 (more details when full scorecard available)
Sussex won by 98 runs

Wales 202/7 (40 overs) Ellie Hopkins 4, Rebecca Struthers 39no, Lois Wilkinson 3/24 v Scotland 96 all out (33.3 overs) Gwenan Davies 3/9
Wales won by 106 runs

Essex therefore top Group A, but there are two big group A games tomorrow when the MCC take on Durham and Essex take on Devon. Both MCC and Devon will be playing their first games in the tournament and will be keen to get off to a winning start.

Sussex and Wales are the early pacesetters in Group B and they meet tomorrow in what should be a fascinating the day/night game at the Fairs Ground.


Sunday, 17 February 2013

Aussies become double World Champions

Australia have added the ODI World Champions' crown to the World T20 title that they already hold, with an emphatic victory over West Indies in the final in Mumbai.

In truth the result never really looked in doubt after the Aussies had won the toss and batted comfortably through their 50 overs to put 259/7 on the board, thanks to a hard-fought 52 from Rachael Haynes, a bruising 75 from 76 balls from Jess Cameron and a 50 run unbeaten partnership in 40 balls from Jodie Fields (36no) and Ellyse Perry (25no).

The Windies started cautiously, but when Perry was introduced in the 10th over the drama started to unfold. Perry failed to let the ball go at her first two attempts at bowling, hobbling on her obviously painful left ankle. At her third attempt the ball found its way down to the other end, but with no great power. She continued to hobble her way through the over and off the last ball she had Kycia Knight lbw for the first West Indies wicket. Stafanie Taylor walked to the wicket to replace Knight, with the weight of expectation on her shoulders, but with little real experience against teams of this class. Second ball she faced off Perry she edged low down to Meg Lanning at first slip, who seemed to take a good low catch, but once the umpires decided to review the decision it was always in doubt. And so it proved. The third umpire gave her not out, much to Lanning's disgust. It could have been a pivotal moment, but two balls later Perry made sure it was not. She caught and bowled Taylor off a leading edge as she tried to turn a straight ball to square leg. The delight on the Aussie faces said it all. This game was theirs to lose. Perry then claimed Natasha McLean lbw to have figures of 3/8.

Deandra Dottin was West Indies final hope, but realistically she was never going to be able to power Windies past the Australian's total. She flattered to deceive with a couple of smashed 6s, but a horrible slog to Sthalekar left her stumps in a mess and the Windies were out of the game at 109/5. They stumbled their way to 145 before they lost their final wicket to a glorious diving catch from Lisa Sthalekar, and the Aussies rightly celebrated a well-deserved victory by 114 runs.

The West Indies will be disappointed that they did not put up a better fight, but in truth their final had been played a few days before, when they beat the Aussies to reach the final at the expense of England. The mere fact that they made the final should mean that they will now get to play more of the top sides, more often, which can only help them improve more.

As for the Aussies they are here in England in August for one test and an ODI and T20 series. It should be a great contest and one can only hope that the broadcasters have seen enough here to cover more than just the couple of T20s being played before the men's games at the Ageas Bowl and Chester-le-Street. There is a genuine thirst for women's cricket, which needs to be slated.

scorecard -

Young women out in UAE - tournament starts tomorrow

As the Women's World Cup draws to a close, some of the best u19 women's talent is out in Dubai for the inaugural MCC Women's U19 ARCH Trophy. There are eight teams out there who will play in two groups of four initially, and then the trophy will be contested between the two group winners.

The two groups are

Group A

Group B

At first glance Group A favourites will probably be the MCC side, which has been selected from the England U19 development squad, but many of the EWDP U19s were already committed to the tournament for their counties, including five of the Devon squad and four in the Sussex squad. The MCC squad obviously have the potential to perform well and will expect a lot of themselves, but they will be pushed all the way by Devon and Essex, with Durham the potential West Indies of the group.

In Group B Scotland will be looking to show how far women's cricket has come north of the border, but they will have their work cut out against experienced county sides Lancashire (last season's U17 county champions) and Sussex (including one academy and four EWDP players) and Wales.

The first round of fixtures start on Monday, with the following games :-
Sussex v Lancashire
Scotland v Wales
Durham v Essex

You should be able to follow the scores live on CricHQ (, if scorers use the system over in UAE and I will be tweeting updates (@wmnscricketblog) as and when I get them, using the hashtag #archtrophy. Match scores and reports will be posted to this blog during the week. It should be a great week for all the girls.


Friday, 15 February 2013

WWC - Minor placings decided

England duly finished 3rd in the Women's World Cup, beating New Zealand by 4 wickets into 4th. In the other game played today Sri Lanka beat South Africa by 88 runs to claim 5th and leave South Africa in a very creditable 6th place in the tournament.

In a game without too much spark, and with England yet again without the services of Anya Shrubsole, The White Ferns were invited to bat first. When Suzie Bates made her lowest score of the tournament, 21, the New Zealanders became tentative, only Amy Satterthwaite (85) driving and pulling her way to another decent score as England fed her two favourite shots. Kiwi progress was too slow given the lack of movement in the wicket and of any penetrative bowling from an attack that had the look of players ready to head home. Holly Colvin again stood out with 3/31. Only a rapid 27no from 12 balls from Nichola Browne at the end of the Kiwi innings gave them over 200 to bowl at, but 220/8 always looked 40/50 runs short.

Danni Wyatt went early in the England reply, but centurian Charlotte Edwards (106) stood firm with cameos from Taylor(28), Greenway(31), and Brindle (27) and England were cruising to victory at 199/3, but three quick wickets and the denial of a blatant caught behind for Edwards on 99, and suddenly the nerves were back. Edwards declined to walk, perhaps remembering the shocking lbw decision she had received against Australia, and together with Laura Marsh got England over the line for the $15,000 third prize.

All eyes are now on the final on Sunday between the Aussies and the West Indies. I cannot see the Southern Stars allowing the Windies to settle, but at least I will be able to watch it as an impartial observer - watching England does nothing for your nerves.


Thursday, 14 February 2013

World Cup Success - but not for England.

It's the morning after the night before and that means just one thing - regrets!

The West Indies surprise win over Australia in their final Super Six match means that they will play the same opposition again on Sunday to see who will be crowned World Champions. My hope is that it is a good game and that Stafanie Taylor and Deandra Dottin can once again perform. My fear is that they will fail and so will West Indies in what is a very important game for women's cricket as a whole. Ironically it was England that showed how to beat the West Indies in their crushing victory in the group stage of the competition. Australia will have learnt their lessons from yesterday's defeat and will be ruthless in their pursuit of yet another world title. I fear for the West Indies.

Meanwhile defending champions England will soon be back on a plane home, having finished third or fourth in a competition they thought they could win. The simple fact is that they were not good enough. The format of this competition rewards consistency, and losing two games out of six shows that England were simply not consistent enough. They lost two games that they should have won. Despite leaving out three key members of the team in the opening game against Sri Lanka they still should have won that game. Poor bowling and poor fielding allowed Sri Lanka to steal it from under their noses. Sri Lanka needed 29 off 3 overs, that is a lot in women's cricket. It was time for England to execute, but they did not. Against Australia the batting line-up failed again not due to fantastic bowling, but poor shot selection. Again a failure to execute.

England will know all this and the majority of this squad will probably be given the summer to try and redeem themselves against Australia, who by then will probably be both T20 and ODI World Champions. England desperately need to find an opening partner for Charlotte Edwards. Coming in to this tournament it seemed that Tammy Beaumont had the role, but her duck in the first warm-up game against South Africa (the first ODI England had played since the July series against India in England) produced a sudden change of heart. In the next warm-up game against New Zealand Heather Knight was given the job, but failed to impress sufficiently to assume the role. And so to the first game of the tournament and Danni Wyatt suddenly found herself back in a role she had fulfilled in 2011, without too much success - her highest score being 37 against South Africa. It was an experiment that failed. I have to say that I liked the look of Amy Jones' batting in the game against Sri Lanka. She is a classical-looking player in the mould of Michael Vaughan and perhaps she deserves a go, if not at the top of the order, then in the middle order, this summer? England need to find some batsmen apart from Sarah Taylor and Edwards who can play big innings on a consistent basis.

England's three stand-out bowlers were Shrubsole, Brunt and Colvin. Laura Marsh looked strangely out of salts throughout the whole tournament, and Arran Brindle and Jenny Gunn bowled too many bad deliveries, which at their pace are punished. Danni Wyatt seemed to be underbowled and Danni Hazell did not get a game despite bowling well at the T20 World Cup and in the warm-up games. As the women's game has progressed batsmen are now much better at dispatching the bad ball (although ironically it was one of the failings of the English batsmen). Accuracy is a key skill which the girls will have to improve on if they are to challenge the world's best batsmen.

As for the tournament as a whole it has been a cracker and the televised games have been watched by millions around the world. They will have enjoyed the cricket, but the umpiring has been woeful. The ICC must insist that world tournaments have world-class umpires. The staging of the tournament has been poor in a country which really only tolerates women's cricket, rather than embraces it. The last-minute decision to move all the games out of the Wankhede Stadium was deplorable, and the necessity to play the Group B games in Cuttack because of threats to the Pakistan team was unfortunate to say the least. No attempt was made locally to get crowds to the games, with little or no publicity for the event. Matters were not helped by the fact that the hosts were knocked out at the group stage of the competition. The ICC are yet to announce where the next World Cup will be held, but one would hope that England might feature prominently on the ICC's shortlist.

The television and radio coverage has generally been good, although the local Star Cricket commentators and presenters seemed out of their depth and out of their comfort zone with the women's game, whereas the BBC's TMS team showed knowledge and genuine enthusiasm. I particularly enjoyed Mark Butcher's laconic style on both radio and tv.

Overall the tournament has been a massive success for the women's game, if not for England. I really do hope that I am wrong about the final, but the very fact that the West Indies are there and England are not is actually good for the game, if a little hard to swallow if you are English. England will be back. They need to get away from the indoor school and the classroom and just play some more cricket. If the weather is kind then it will be an interesting summer.


Wednesday, 13 February 2013

West Indies make World Cup Final

West Indies will meet Australia in the final of the Women's World Cup after they beat Australia by 8 runs to finish top of the Super Six table. It was Australia's first defeat of the tournament and it was West Indies third win on the bounce - South Africa, New Zealand and then Australia all falling to the team that had to qualify to even make the tournament in the first place. The wins over the White Ferns and the Southern Stars were the first time that West Indies have ever beaten those teams.

It meant that the day/night game between England and New Zealand was irrelevant. Neither team could make the final. They will both meet again on Friday to decide who finishes third and fourth.

When the West Indies slipped to 92/7 it seemed as though they were heading for a certain defeat, but nothing has been certain in this World Cup, and with Deandra Dottin still at the crease the Windies fought back. Even when Dottin went for another useful 60, with the score at 135, the Windies weren't done - a testament to their fighting spirit maybe, or perhaps to the fact that Australia may have felt they had done all the hard work. They added another precious 31 runs for the last two wickets, which at least gave them something to bowl at.

The early wicket of the classy Meg Lanning sent jitters through the England and New Zealand supporters, who needed Australia to win to allow their teams to fight for a place in the final. But Haynes (21), Cameron (39) and Blackwell (45) took the score to 130/4 just 35 runs short of victory and with plenty of overs to be bowled. But within 12 balls Australia had slipped to 131/7. For a while Erin Osborne(19) seemed to have things under control, but she steadily ran out of partners. Australia still seemed likely to win as they got to 156/8, but as the overs ran out so did the Aussies - Schutt run out by Daley and then Osborne caught behind to the delight of the West Indies.

West Indies celebrate as they make the WWC Final
You could see the shoulders of the England and New Zealand players drop as the news filtered through that the West Indies had won. They proceeded to go through the motions with England setting a decent target of 267 thanks to a classy knock of 88 by Sarah Taylor and another 50 for Charlotte Edwards, the England skipper. Had Taylor been caught by Lucy Doolan on 0 it would have been her fourth duck in a row for the England number one batsmen. As it was it was her first run and from there on she just got better and better. It was a shame that it had come too late to make any difference to England's fortunes in this competition.

New Zealand set about the England attack with some gusto, helped by the absence of Shrubsole, who was indisposed with a migraine; some indifferent umpiring again; and a regular smattering of full tosses from Brindle and Marsh in particular. Holly Colvin and Jenny Gunn reined the White Ferns back in, but Suzie Bates(79) and Amy Satterthwaite (103) were still there when Marsh and Brindle returned and they took full control until Katherine Brunt returned. Satterthwaite should have been given out caught behind for 56 off Brunt, but the Nepalese umpire declined to raise his finger yet again. Eventually Jenny Gunn made the breakthrough bowling Bates behind her legs to end the 133 run partnership. Satterthwaite continued to get a well-deserved 100 but when she went to a flighted ball from Danni Wyatt and a tumbling catch from Edwards New Zealand seemed to lose heart. They gradually got further behind the required run rate and continued to lose wickets and eventually ended up 15 runs short. But it was a hollow victory for a deflated-looking England side whose World Champions crown will now be worn by someone else for the next four years.

In the other game in Cuttack South Africa comfortably defeated Sri Lanka by 110 runs, having scored 227/8 with 50s for Cri-Zelda Brits and Shandre Fritz. In reply only Jayangani (63) kept her head. Dane van Niekerk took 4/17 and keeper Trisha Chetty claimed five victims behind the stumps. The two teams meet again on Friday to decide who will finish 5th and 6th.


Monday, 11 February 2013

Who will play Australia?

Australia's convincing win over the potential banana skin team of the tournament, Sri Lanka, means that they are confirmed as World Cup finalists, yet again.

Having won the toss Australia duly inserted Sri Lanka, and despite the fact that Ellyse Perry was once again missing (although her stomach bug had become an ankle injury) the Aussie seam attack of Megan Schutt, Julie Hunter and Holly Ferling soon had Sri Lanka in trouble at 41/4. Only Rasangika (43) of the top order batsmen stood firm, but when she too departed with the Sri Lanka score on just 90, the writing was on the wall for the Sri Lankans. Aussie spinners Lisa Sthalekar (2/26) and Erin Osborne (3/9) mopped up the last five wickets between them as Sri Lanka struggled to 131 all out. Australia never looked in trouble in reply as they knocked off the runs for the loss of just one wicket, with Lanning (37), Haynes (71no) and Cameron (22no) all getting some decent practice in.

The simple question then is who will the Aussie's meet in the final? Unfortunately the answer is not quite so simple. In fact it is very complicated and is unlikely to be answered until the last ball of the Super Sixes has been bowled. Three teams are still in with a shout.

England's demolition of South Africa put their name in the frame. England chose to bowl first against the Saffers, deciding that they would play to their strength, rather than trying to accumulate a huge score and potentially increase their NRR by a greater margin. Anya Shrubsole (5/17) duly obliged taking her first 5-for as she destroyed the South African top order with her big inswingers. 42/5 became 77 all out as Danni Wyatt (3/7 off just 9 balls) helped herself to some confidence-boosting wickets. England knew they had to score the runs as quickly as possible to improve their NRR and they got them in just 9.3 overs, but not before Edwards, Wyatt and Taylor (with her third duck on the trot) had departed. Brindle (28) and Greenway (25) though saw England through to a crucial win and an increase in their NRR.

The other two teams in the frame are New Zealand and the West Indies, who met each other today. New Zealand won the toss and did the first bit right by keeping the West Indies to 207 in their 50 overs. Morna Nielsen claimed 3/27 and Stafanie Taylor (49) again starred with the bat for the Windies. But in reply the West Indies, aided by some truly appalling umpiring decisions (four bad lbw decisions), managed to bowl New Zealand out for 159 to record their first ever victory over the White Ferns. Tremayne Smartt was the main beneficiary of the umpire's largesse with 3/39, and Dottin claimed 2/11, as the New Zealanders fell to a 48 run defeat.

All of which means that if the West Indies beat the Aussies in their last game, they will meet the Aussies again in the final on Sunday. If they lose then it will be between themselves and the winner of the England v New Zealand day/night game to see who qualifies on NRR. The table as it stands at the moment looks like this:-

Super Six stage

2West Indies43100+1.1366
4New Zealand42200+0.9524
5Sri Lanka41300-2.6362
6South Africa40400-2.1570

How Australia will approach their final game is of course a matter of conjecture. They do not need to win. Would they prefer to play West Indies in the final, rather than New Zealand or England? At the start of this tournament the answer would probably have been "yes", but the reality is that they probably do not care, and I would suggest they will end the West Indies' hopes with a big win.

That will leave England and New Zealand to scrap it out. England's batting has been poor, but their bowling is strong. New Zealand seem to have a lack of self-confidence rather than a lack of talent. Both teams will be desperate to make it to the final, but I would suggest England may just have enough nous to win and get through. Almost any win will be enough provided West Indies loss to the Aussies is not by the narrowest of margins.


Saturday, 9 February 2013

Why England MUST bat first v South Africa

The penultimate round of Super Six games get underway on Sunday with England taking on South Africa and Sri Lanka taking on the Aussies. On Monday the crucial West Indies v New Zealand game is played.

England must win their last two games if they are to have any hope of qualifying, but even if they do their qualification will be dependent on their Net Run Rate (NRR) being better than Australia (if they lose to Sri Lanka and West Indies); New Zealand (if they beat the West Indies and lose to England); or the West Indies (if they lose to either Australia or New Zealand).

The current NRRs are:-
New Zealand 1.712
West Indies 1.187
Australia 0.483
England 0.320

The best scenario for England therefore is that Australia lose their next two games, but you have to say this seems unlikely, although nothing would be a surprise anymore. If we take this as a rather forlorn hope then England must do the best that they can to win both their games AND significantly improve their NRR. In order to do this they MUST bat first, as the way the NRR calculation works, batting first provides a significant advantage over batting second. The best way to illustrate this is to show two possible results of the England v South Africa game.

Let's say England bat first and score 300 in their 50 overs (ie they score at 6 runs per over). They then bowl South Africa out for 100. It doesn't matter how quickly or slowly they do this as the calculation is 100 divided by the full 50 overs. In this scenario England's NRR for the competition would go up from 0.32 to 1.289.

However if South Africa were to bat first and England still bowl them out for 100, and England score the 101 runs required at the same rate as in the previous scenario (ie 6 runs per over) it would take them 16 overs and five balls (16.83 for maths purposes). However if this was how the game panned out England's NRR would only increase from 0.32 to 0.906, which is significantly lower than the batting first scenario above. In fact batting second they would have to score the 101 runs they needed in 3 overs and one ball to achieve the same overall NRR as in the first scenario (ie 1.289).

The reason this happens is that the NRR calculation is taken as the total number of runs scored divided by the total number of overs taken to score those runs in ALL the games played, which penalises a side batting second and scoring the runs in less than 50 overs. In order to avoid this the NRR calculation could be the average of the NRR achieved in each individual game.

The argument for the current NRR calculation is probably that achieving a run rate of 6 runs per over say, over 20 overs is easier than achieving 6 runs per over over 50 overs. I accept that but the disparity in the effect of batting first and batting second, as in the two scenarios above, seems too great. Something for the ICC to consider at their next meeting perhaps?


Friday, 8 February 2013

Aussies strangle England's hopes

With defeat to Australia, albeit by just 2 runs, and victories for New Zealand (over Sri Lanka) and West Indies (over South Africa), England find themselves in a massive hole in this World Cup, and it was a hole that they dug for themselves with some poor shots, which were so unnecessary chasing a small target for victory.

Having won the toss England did everything right with the ball in the first 13 overs reducing this powerful Australian batting line-up to 32/5. Shrubsole claimed three wickets with her booming inswingers, including a beauty to dismiss Jess Cameron which removed her middle stump. Brunt was no less impressive but only had one wicket to show for her efforts. Charlotte Edwards and England then took their foot off the gas allowing Lisa Sthalekar (41) and Sarah Coyte (44) to build a priceless partnership of 82 runs. Perhaps the critical moment was a dropped catch off Sthalekar at cover by Lydia Greenway of all people. It was not a difficult chance away to Greenway's left, but it hit the turf and Sthalekar had a life on 11. Perhaps Charlotte Edwards should have gone for the kill with Brunt and Shrubsole, but she did not, and although Holly Colvin bowled a very tight spell (2/19) Australia escaped and clawed their way to 147 before they were bowled out in the 45th over. Shrubsole ended with 3/24 and Brunt, who still had two overs left to bowl of her spell, 2/22.

At the start of the game England would have taken 148 as a score to chase, as the wicket eased. Without Ellyse Perry (stomach bug) the Aussie pace attack did not look too frightening with the medium pace of Megan Schutt and Julie Hunter, backed up by 17 year Holly Ferling in just her second game. Nine off the first over and all seemed rosey in England's garden, but a shocking lbw decision sent Edward's packing. The following over was a maiden and then the prolific Sarah Taylor faced her first ball from the innocuous Schutt. Taylor had achieved her first ever international golden duck against the West Indies. She achieved her second here as she flayed at a wide ball and edged to slip. England were 14/2. Danni Wyatt and Lydia Greenway started to settle England nerves, but when Wyatt edged a wide long-hop to the keeper off Ferling's first ball, and Arran Brindle patted one into cover's hands, it was time to panic. The loss of Heather Knight and Jenny Gunn within another 10 balls meant England had slumped to 39/6. This was not that sort of wicket as Greenway and Laura Marsh (22) showed, until she too was on the end of an appalling lbw decision. England were 96/7 at this stage. Somehow this seemed to galvanise Greenway and she started to look more fluent and hit some precious boundaries, but on 49 she spooned a catch to short extra cover and England were 114/8. Brunt followed almost immediately trying to hit over the top, so England needed 34 with just Colvin and Shrubsole at the wicket. Colvin seemed inspired by the hopeless situation and crashed 12 off a Coyte over. Shrubsole defended well and then hit Sthalekar over the top (only just) and Ferling to the cover boundary. The target got nearer until the equation was just three runs from three overs and Colvin was confidently facing Osborne's right arm spin. She stepped back and across to the third ball of the over short outside the off-stump and shaped to cut, but just feathered it to a grateful Aussie skipper behind the stumps. England had lost by two runs.

Elsewhere New Zealand completed a comfortable eight wicket victory over Sri Lanka. In the early morning Mumbai dew they bowled the Sri Lankan's out for 103 in 42 overs. Leah Tahuhu claimed 4/27 and Sian Ruck 3/16. Only Surangika (34) and Rasangika (20) offered any real resistance. Amy Satterthwaite continued her miserable run with the bat with a duck. Frances Mackay (39) and Sophie Devine (29) saw New Zealand home in just 23 overs, which substantially improves their NRR, which could still be vital.

And in the final game the West Indies just managed to overcome a plucky South Africa. Thanks to another good team performance with the bat - Chetty (45), Brits (44), van Niekerk (33no) and du Preez (31) - South Africa posted 230/7. In reply the West Indies seemed to be breezing along as they reached 141/1, with Stafanie Taylor (75) once again in fine form, but when she and Kycia Knight (46) went in quick succession South Africa sniffed an implausible victory. Further wickets fell, including Deandra Dottin (24) and Shemaine Campbelle (33), but the Proteas could not stem the flow of runs too, and the West Indies got home with just two wickets intact, but with four and a half overs to spare.

All of which leaves the table like this.

Super Six stage

2New Zealand32100+1.7124
3West Indies32100+1.1874
5Sri Lanka31200-2.4322
6South Africa30300-1.3570

Australia only need to win one of their two last games to be in the final. If either New Zealand or the West Indies win both their games then it will be one of them. If they don't then England could still be in the shake-up if they demolish South Africa and New Zealand and vastly improve their NRR. It seems an unlikely scenario, but who know in this topsy turvy World Cup.

The next matches on Sunday are
Sri Lanka v Australia
England v South Africa

and on Monday
West Indies v New Zealand

England v Australia -
New Zealand v Sri Lanka -
West Indies v South Africa -


Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Super Sixes - Friday Predictions

Friday will see the start of the Super Six stage of the Women's World Cup. Each of the six teams will play three more games against the teams that qualified from the other group. This means for example that England, from Group A, have games against Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, and Australia from Group B, and now the favourites to win the competition as they are the only team to carry through four points, will play England, Sri Lanka and West Indies.

Every game will be crucial to any team that has aspirations of making the final, and it is quite likely that at least one of the finalists will be decided on a net run rate calculation if points are even, which makes every run precious. In this regard England and New Zealand may have a distinct advantage over their rivals as they play the last scheduled game of the Super Sixes, which is a day/night game after the other final round matches have finished. If NRR is a factor they will know what they have to do.

Friday's games are beautifully poised -
England v Australia (live on Sky and Radio 5 Live Sport Extra in the UK)
Sri Lanka v New Zealand
West Indies v South Africa

If England want to be in charge of their own destiny in this competition then they must beat Australia. Winning the toss will be a huge advantage to them and may well be the deciding factor. So far Charlotte Edwards has lost the toss in all three games played. Winning this one could well earn her the player of the match award. Both teams have the seamers to exploit the early morning conditions in Mumbai - England -Brunt (assuming her ankle is OK) and Shrubsole, and Australia - Perry and Schutt. In fact it would not be a great surprise if England were to play seamer Elwiss as well, as spin has not been very effective for them so far. If Australia win then they will have one foot in the final with six points in the bag. They will back themselves to beat either Sri Lanka or West Indies and eight points is all the other teams in the Super Sixes can manage, if they win all their games. This game will probably turn on one key performance, but if I had to put my money anywhere it would be on England and certainly if they win the toss.

Sri Lanka are having a fantastic World Cup and are playing some fine cricket, but I doubt that they have the consistency to win this competition. That is not to say that they could not pull off another surprise and New Zealand may well be their next victim. The White Ferns bowling is not their strength and if the Sri Lankans can post a decent total or restrict the New Zealanders if they bat first, then they could win this game. They will then expect to beat South Africa and six points could put them in the shake-up for a place in the final, subject to other results.

Finally the West Indies take on South Africa, who have little or no chance mathematically of getting into the final, but that will not prevent them from trying to win every game they play, and this could be their best chance of a win. The West Indies are a bit like the French rugby team - you are never quite sure what team is going to turn up. Dottin and Taylor can take a game away from anybody, but you wouldn't want to put your house on them doing so. They thrive on poor bowling, but get found out by good accurate pace bowling. I don't think South Africa will have the bowlers to trouble these two, which could be their downfall.  This will be the Super Six game that the West Indies do well in. They may struggle against Australia and New Zealand.

All of which means that, if results go the way I predict, there will be four teams sitting on four points come Friday lunchtime and the pressure will be cranked up another notch.


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

India crash out of Women's World Cup

So we finally know the six teams that have qualified for the Super Six second phase of the Women's World Cup and the points that they will carry through to this phase with them.

In Group B it is Australia (4), New Zealand (2) and South Africa (0). In Group A it is Sri Lanka (2), England (2) and the West Indies (2). That's right India are out of the competition and will play-off against Pakistan for 7th/8th place on Thursday.

It was another dramatic day which saw another three centurions in Suzie Bates (102) for New Zealand, Meg Lanning (112) for Australia and Marizanne Kapp (102) for South Africa. All of these came in the Group B games. South Africa duly completed a miserable tournament for Pakistan. Set 208 to win, due mainly to the runs of Kapp and Dane van Niekerk (55no) the Pakistani batting once again failed as they were bowled out for 81. Kapp rounded off a magnificent day for her, and a significant one for South Africa with 3/18 and, not surprisingly, the player of the match award.

In the other Group B game New Zealand were inserted by Australia and struggled against the pace of young Megan Schutt who took the first three wickets to fall with just 32 runs on the board. When Hunter claimed McGlashan's wicket shortly afterwards the White Ferns had slumped to 39/4. But skipper Suzie Bates (102) wasn't going to give up without a fight, and with the help of Katie Perkins (41) and Nicola Browne (39) she took New Zealand beyond 200. She eventually fell for 102 with just eight balls of the innings remaining. New Zealand reached a potentially competitive 227/6, given Australia's recent woes with the bat, but after Rachael Haynes was bowled by Lea Tahuhu, Meg Lanning (112) and Jess Cameron (82) finally found the middle of their bats adding 182 for the second wicket. Both finally succumbed, but Australia breezed past the required total with more than 11 overs to spare.

Group A had two staggered games, with England taking on the West Indies in the earlier start. West Indies won the toss and against all expectations, and logic, chose to bat. England seamers Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole must have been licking their lips in anticipation in getting first go on the wicket. It turned out to be a disastrous decision by Marissa Aguilleira as first Kycia Knight and then Stafanie Taylor departed for ducks to the England opening bowlers. Things did not improve as Shrubsole claimed both Campbelle and Nero lbw leaving the Windies on 14/4. Aguilleira's day then got even worse as she ran herself out for 4. Fireball Deandra Dottin strutted to the crease to be greeted by the returning Brunt. She hit her first ball ominously for 4, but three balls later she had her bat under her arm as she was caught behind. Brunt was so excited by her dismissal that she twisted her ankle as she over-exuberantly celebrated with her delighted team-mates. West Indies were 31/6. Kyshona Knight (33) and Shanel Daley (30) did what they could to retrieve the situation adding 58 for the seventh wicket, but West Indies were bowled out for 101 in the 37th over, Aaron Brindle claiming three of the last four wickets without conceding a run and Shrubsole finishing off proceedings for figures of 4/21. England scored 11 off the first over in their reply, but then decided caution was the better part of valour. Makeshift opener Brindle (captain Charlotte Edwards was indisposed) scored 14 off 123 balls. Her opening partner Danni Wyatt was more fluent but still only hit 40 off 133 balls before she was out. There was no logic to England's pedestrian approach to the run getting, except for caution, but even that backfired a little as Brindle, Wyatt, Taylor (first ball) and Greenway all went in quick succession. But the wobble was short-lived and England finished the match off without further losses.

As the game finished the attention turned to the India v Sri Lanka game which had just started. Twitter and TMS were buzzing with Net Run Rate calculations that showed Sri Lanka would be out if they lost to India, which seemed the most likely scenario. But Sri Lanka have already shown that you write them off at your peril. Sri Lanka won the toss and batted and aided by some poor Indian bowling they cruised to 121/1 through Yasoda Mendis (55) and Deepik Rasangika. Only then did Mendis stutter and holed out to mid on. Despite decent progress by skipper Shashikala Siriwardene (59) the Sri Lanka innings appeared to be running out of steam, that was until the enigmatic Eshani Kaushalya came to the crease. As she did against England she used a mixture of brute force and intelligent hitting to score 56 off just 31 balls and take Sri Lanka to a formidable 282/5, their highest ever ODI score.

The equation for the Indians was either to overcome this score and go through with 4 points at the expense of Sri Lanka, or score at least 251 and go through with 0 points at the expense of the West Indies. In the event they did neither. The Sri Lankan's, now full of self-belief, all bowled tight lengths and lines, and the Indians had no answer. Wickets went at regular intervals and the required run-rate just rose and rose. In truth they never looked like getting anywhere near the Sri Lanka score and so it proved. They were bowled out in the 43rd over for 144 and they were out of the competition. Sri Lanka were through as the top team in Group A and with 4 precious points. Who now would be brave enough to bet against them as they face Australia, New Zealand and South Africa? The Super Six stage of this competition is going to be a true test of nerve for all the teams involved, with every run, every wicket and every match absolutely vital.

West Indies v England -
India v Sri Lanka -
Australia v New Zealand -
South Africa v Pakistan -