Thursday, 28 March 2013

ECB Women's County Championship 2013 Preview (Part 2)

ECB Women's County Championship Division 2

There are nine teams in Division Two of the ECB Women's County Championship and they are Cheshire, Devon, Durham, Ireland, Lancashire, Somerset, Staffordshire, Wales and Worcestershire. Last year Warwickshire and Worcestershire played off for the right to spend 2013 in Division 1 and Warwickshire came out on top by 6 wickets. Three or four teams look likely to be in the running for this year's play-offs and with some decent weather the competition will throw up some close games.

Cheshire (last year 5th)
Led by the young former England Academy bat Jenny Halstead, Cheshire have a young team again this year, but with a strong age group set-up they will be looking to make a push towards better results, particularly in the T20 format.
Squad - not yet confirmed

Devon (last year 3rd)
Devon will be looking to be in the mix for promotion to Division One next year with plenty of good youngsters in their midst in the shape of Academy stars Amara Carr and Jodie Dibble and U19s Rebecca Bertrand, Aylish Cranstone, Lydia Harris, Alli Kelly, and Caitlin O'Keefe, all of whom are under the charge of the vastly experienced former England international Rosalie Birch. The team finished third in the recent MCC Women's U19 Tournament in UAE, beating Wales in the 3rd/4th play-off. They should lead from the front.
Squad - not yet confirmed

Durham (last year 9th, but not relegated as Netherlands dropped to Div 3)
The squad gained some valuable experience out in the UAE in the pre-season MCC U19 Arch Trophy, in which Rachel Petherick and Laura Ellison shone with both bat and ball. But they are likely to find life tough again at this level.
Confirmed Squad -Hayley Falla (Capt), Laura Hockaday (V Capt), Sarah King, Laura Ellison, Catherine Chapman, Lynn McDonnell, Caroline Jamieson, Becky Glenn, Jane Riddell, Lucy Pringle, Rachael Petherick, Vanessa Watson, Rachel Hook, Beth Webb, Lucy Charlton

Ireland (last year promoted from Div 3)
New to Division 2 Ireland will be looking to claim a few scalps during the season. They are led by Isobel Joyce, who is probably fed up of being reminded that she is sister to Sussex's Ed Joyce. Top performers last year with the ball were opening bowlers Kim Garth and Louise McCarthy. Isobel Joyce has averaged over 80 in the county championship for the last two seasons, while Clare Shillington scored a century in the playoff match with the Netherlands to secure promotion and was player of the year in 2012. There are a number of youngsters vying for a call up to the senior squad and many of them are getting in some early outdoor practice with a trip to La Manga in Spain, where they are taking on Division 1 side Berkshire in both T20 and 50 over format games.
Confirmed Squad - Isobel Joyce (capt), Cecelia Joyce, Clare Shillington, Eimear Richardson, Mary Waldron, Laura Delany, Louise McCarthy, Kim Garth, Elena Tice, Clodagh Conway, Shauna Kavanagh, Rebecca Rolfe, Emma Flanagan, Laura Cullen, Emma Beamish, Melissa Scott-Hayward

Lancashire (last year 4th)
Too big and too good a county to be out of the top division for long and with plenty of youngsters coming through, they could be a surprise package this year. They have eight girls who are part of the EWDP U19 and U15 programmes who will be pushing for places this season, including Georgia Holmes on loan from Cumbria, an exciting opening bowler and explosive mid order batsman. They have strength and depth in bowling with seamers including Kate Cross, Nat Brown and Bhumika Doshi along with an "array of spinners". On their day they will be tough to beat.

Provisional squad - Jen Laycock (Captain), Jasmine Titmuss, Meg Fairclough, Natalie Brown, Emma Lamb, Nalisha Patel, Hannah Till, Chloe Wallwork, Alex Hartley, Jess Couser, Laura Marshall, Hayley Martinus, Olivia McCusker, Georgia Holmes, Bhumika Doshi, Maddy White

Somerset (last year relegated from Div 1)
Did not manage a win in four games played last year and so were subsequently relegated to Division 2 for this season, but with England World Cup hero Anya Shrubsole leading the attack and England Academy player Fran Wilson, not to mention the England U19 Development Squad captain Sophie Luff, 2013 could see a return to the top flight for the 2014 season. Former Sussex and England star Caroline Atkins is also now Women's and Girls' coach at the county and she will expect good things from all age groups.
Squad - yet to be confirmed

Staffordshire (last year 6th)
Another county with a young side but one that is full of promising young talents such as Elyse Lally, Evelyn Jones and Steph Butler. Staffs are weakened this year with the loss of England's Danni Wyatt (on loan to Notts) and overseas Australian World Cup winner Elyse Villani. Franki James who plays men's 2nd XI at Meir Heath along with offspinner/Staffs captain Elsa Evans will need to lead from the front. The aim of this season will be to maintain their position in this league while allowing players to gain senior experience.
Confirmed Squad - Elsa Evans (capt), Franki James(wkt) , Kate Dicken, Laura Malkin, Cheryl Allcock, Charlotte Whyle, Kathryn Whyle, Looby Lally, Stephanie Butler, Evelyn Jones, Amy Carnwell, Charlotte Mincher, Lyn Spooner, Danni Wyatt( on loan at Notts) (plus u17/development side players).

Wales (last year 7th)
Only managed two wins in six games last year and will be hoping to improve this year. They have England U19 Gwenan Davies in their squad, and have recently come back from a successful MCC Women's U19 Tournament in UAE, where they lost out to Devon for third spot. Their batting looks stronger than their bowling.
Squad - yet to be confirmed

Worcestershire (last year 2nd)
Pipped at the post by Warwickshire to promotion to Division One last year, they are likely to be knocking at the door again this year. Katie Blunt is captain for the second successive year and leads from the front. Last year she was the team's leading wicket-taker. The bowling will be boosted with the inclusion of juniors Emily Arlott, Jess Hunby and Abbie Houghton. Aussie all-rounder, Mel Norup will join the ranks in early April. The 18-year old from NSW comes highly recommended by Stan Gilchrist (father of Adam Gilchrist). Thea Brookes will head the batsmen, along with the likes of Charlotte Holtom, Claire Boycott and Naomi Heywood.
Confirmed squad - Katie Blunt (capt), Thea Brookes, Mel Norup, Naomi Heywood (wkt), Rachel Baldwin, Charlotte Holtom, Claire Boycott, Lauren Rowles, Jo Greaves, Salma Bi, Ellen Smith, Katie Trounson, Emily Arlott, Jess Hunby, Abbie Houghton, Millie Marriot.


Saturday, 9 March 2013

ECB Women's County Championship 2013 Preview & Fixtures

ECB Women's County Championship Division 1 

With only a few weekends until the first ECB Womens' County Championship game of the 2013 season, now seems the right time to look forward to what lies ahead. Some sunshine would be a good start.

Division One of the LV County Championship will be contested by 9 sides - Berkshire, Essex, Kent, Middlesex, Nottinghamshire, Surrey, Sussex, Warwickshire and Yorkshire. Each team plays the other just once. Kent are the defending champions, having defeated Essex in last year's final, which is played for by the two teams that finish in the top two places in the league. In fact Kent have won the title for the last two years and five times in all since the competition began in 1997.

Below we take a look at the teams and pick out some of the players to look out for during the season. We will be covering all the results, match reports and information that we can get our hands on and publishing it here on this blog. There will be twitter (@wmnscricketblog) announcements for each new post. After each round of matches there will be a round-up of results and individual performances. If you are involved with any of the county teams then we would love to hear from you with match reports, news and gossip - email The full fixture list as it currently stands follows the county previews. If we can get confirmed ground information for fixtures we will publish this so that you can get along and support your county and see the girls in action.

Berkshire (last year finished 5th)
Berkshire have a young squad headed by 22 year old England bat Heather Knight (formerly of Devon). They also have England Academy players Alice Macleod and Fi Morris (on loan from Gloucester), and England U19s Carla Rudd (on loan from Sussex) and Linsey Smith. In addition they can call on all the experience of Isa Guha, the former England opening bowler. They will be a lively side in the field, but their best chance of hardware may be in the T20 tournament again, where they have finished runners-up for the past two years.
At the end of March the county are taking the players for a week's pre-season training to La Manga where they will play five games against Ireland Women in both 50 over and T20 format. They are likely to hit the ground running.
Confirmed Squad - Heather Knight (capt), Alice Macleod, Alex Rogers, Daisy Gardner, Isa Guha, Carla Rudd,  Linsey Smith, Fi Morris, Rosie Inns, Sherisa Gumbs, Nicole Beasley, Imogen Brown, Georgina Dean, Shenica Gumbs, Rosie Inns, Rachel Hardy, Rachel Newborough, Ashleigh Muttit, Sophie Castle, Rebecca Hartless

Essex (last year - Runners-Up)
Essex managed to get themselves to the County Championship final last year, but only on the back of playing and winning just 2 games - against Notts and Yorks. They lost the final by 7 wickets. They have a new captain in Joanne Cook and have some good youngsters in the England Academy's Beth Langston and England U19's Cordelia Griffith and Lily Reynolds (on loan from Cambridge). They also have the services of Australian leg-spinner Kristen Beams. They are a young side and are likely to struggle to replicate their success of last season.
Confirmed Squad - Joanne Cook (capt), Karen Baker, Kristen Beams, Laura Boorman (capt),  Bryony Butcher, Hannah Courtnell, Cordelia Griffith, Hannah Jeffrey, Beth Langston, Beth MacGregor, Grace Melhuish, Lauren Onajaife, Laura Owen, Lily Reynolds.

Kent (last year - Champions)
As defending champions and with England captain Charlotte Edwards at the helm, Kent will be hard to beat. They can boast three of the current England squad with Tammy Beaumont, Lydia Greenway, and Laura Marsh (when she returns from shoulder surgery) all joining their England skipper, but they have lost the services of England's Susie Rowe, who has joined Surrey on loan. In addition they have Academy girls Alice Davidson-Richards and the young left-armer Tash Farrant, plus England U19s Grace Gibbs and Charlotte Pape. We would not be surprised to see an overseas player added to this squad before the season starts. They will once again be the team to beat.
Confirmed Squad - Charlotte Edwards (capt), Tammy Beaumont, Deanna Cooper, Alice Davidson-Richards, Tash Farrant, Grace Gibbs, Lydia Greenway, Gemma Greenwood, Elysa Hubbard, Jenni Jackson, Hannah Jelfs, Laura Marsh, Charlotte Pape, Laura Thompson, Dee Tress, Joanna Watts

(last year finished 4th)
Beth Morgan may have retired from international cricket, but her experience will prove invaluable to another young side which has the likes of Catherine Dalton, Naomi Dattani and Natsha Miles to call upon, who have all been involved in the England set-up over the past few years. Aussie import Lauren Ebsary who played last year is not coming over again this year, but she is replaced by another Aussie in Emma Inglis, the wicket-keeper batsman, who has played for the Australian U23 team. They are likely to upset a few teams.
Confirmed Squad - Beth Morgan (capt), Catherine Dalton, Naomi Dattani, Sophia Dunkley, Emma Inglis, Raveena Lakhtaria, Natasha Miles, Anna Nicholls, Ria Raval, Claire Ross, Binaisha Shah, Helen Stolle, Hannah Wakeman, Danni Warren.

Nottinghamshire (last year finished 6th)
Notts have the very experienced England all-rounder Jenny Gunn at the helm this year, and they have added England spinner and opening bat Danni Wyatt to their ranks (from Staffs), who will no doubt add plenty of fizz to the side. They could cause one or two upsets, but like Berkshire they may be suited better by the shorter format of the game.
Squad - Yet to be announced - includes Jenny Gunn (capt), Sonia Odedra, Danni Wyatt

Surrey (last year finished 7th)
Surrey may struggle this year again, having just avoided relegation last year. They have lost their star player following the retirement of skipper and former England opener Ebony Rainford-Brent, but they have managed to recruit a replacement in Susie Rowe, who was due to go to the T20 World Cup with England before breaking a finger. A lot of responsibility will fall on her and also on the young shoulders of England Academy player Natalie Sciver, but they will need support.
Squad - Yet to be announced - includes Susie Rowe, Natalie Sciver

Sussex (last year finished 3rd)
Five times County Champions Sussex will again be a strong outfit this year. Having been unbeaten last year in five games they were aggrieved not to have made the final against great rivals Kent, due to the fact that Essex had acquired full bonus points in the only two games they played all season. They can call on four full England internationals - Holly Colvin (new to the captaincy), Sarah Taylor, Arran Brindle and Georgia Elwiss. In addition they have young quick Izi Noakes who is in the England Academy, and England U19s Georgia Adams, Izzy Collis, Freya Davies, Abi Freeborn and Paige Scholfield. They have the strength in depth that many of the other teams are lacking.
Confirmed Squad - Holly Colvin (capt), Georgia Adams, Arran Brindle, Alicia Caillard, Izzy Collis, Freya Davies, Georgia Elwiss, Abi Freeborn, Chiara Green, Izi Noakes, Sophie Parnell, Hannah Phelps, Paige Scholfield, Rebecca Silk, Sarah Taylor, Alexia Walker

Warwickshire (last year - promoted as winners of Div 2)
Warwickshire are the new kids on the block having been promoted from Division 2 last year, which they won quite comfortably, winning all six games that they played. They will rely heavily on former skipper Helen Shipman and England debutant Amy Jones with the bat, and they will be looking to young England U19s Marie Kelly and Georgia Hennessy (on loan from Worcester) to step up at senior level. They will have their work cut out against some of the more established sides, but will probably go well.
Provisional Squad - Fran Clarkson (capt), Kayleigh Alsop, Laura Crofts, Darcy-Chantell Evans,  Becky Grundy, Georgia Hennessy, Amy Jones, Marie Kelly, Rebecca Morrell, Anisha Patel, Lizzie Russell, Helen Shipman, Elizabeth Smart, Isabelle Watson

Yorkshire (last year finished 8th)
Yorkshire excelled in the early years of the County Championship, winning the title five times in the first six years. However they have not had such a good time of late, losing their only two games in a rain-affected 2012 season. They can boast two England internationals at the heart of their team in the charismatic fast bowler Katherine Brunt and the off-spinner Danni Hazell. They also have an array of young talent coming through - their U17s were national finalist's last year. Their lack of experience may hold them back again this year, but they will be a lively squad.
Confirmed Squad - Saliann Briggs (capt), Katherine Brunt, Hannah Buck, Kathryn Doherty, Phoebe Graham, Danielle Hazell, Rachel Hildreth, Katie Levick, Charlotte North, Emma Shilitto, Aimee Simms, Laura Spragg, Jess Watson, Camilla Westwood, Lauren Winfield

Fixtures 2013

Sunday 14th April

Sussex v Berkshire
Surrey v Essex
Middlesex v Yorkshire
Warwickshire v Kent

Sunday 5th May
Essex v Notts
Kent v Middlesex
Surrey v Yorkshire
Warwickshire v Sussex

Monday 6th May
Essex v Yorkshire
Middlesex v Berkshire
Notts v Kent
Sussex v Surrey

Sunday 19th May
Berkshire v Kent
Middlesex v Essex
Notts v Surrey
Yorkshire v Warwickshire

Sunday 26th May
Berkshire v Essex
Notts v Warwickshire
Surrey v Middlesex
Sussex v Yorkshire

Monday 27th May
Berkshire v Yorkshire
Kent v Sussex
Middlesex v Notts
Warwickshire v Essex

Friday 21st June
Middlesex v Warwickshire
Surrey v Berkshire

Sunday 23rd June

Essex v Kent
Sussex v Notts

Sunday 7th July
Kent v Surrey
Notts v Yorkshire
Sussex v Middlesex
Warwickshire v Berkshire

Sunday 14th July
Berkshire v Notts
Essex v Sussex
Warwickshire v Surrey
Yorkshire v Kent


Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Part Two of Time to extend the Womens' County Championship

I am very pleased to say that I have had a lot of feedback to my piece below suggesting that the Women's County Championship needs to be extended from its current format of just eight fifty over games. I suggested the matches became home and away fixtures, resulting in a 16 match season.

Unlike Shane Warne I am not going to claim that it seems that you are all in favour of my ideas. Former England player Ebony Rainford-Brent took the time and trouble to blog back her response (, which while liking the idea didn't see it as being very practical because
i) the girls wouldn't be able to fit it all in, given that they are in full-time work or studying
ii) the cost of travel/accommodation to away games

I am not sure that i) is a valid argument. I know a lot of guys that play club cricket who train twice a week and then play games all over the place every Saturday, just for the fun of it. I agree that they do not have to travel from Sussex to Yorkshire or Nottinghamshire, as the girls would have to do on occasions, but travelling a long distance possibly 3/4 times a season should not be that much of a problem, should it?

As for the cost I accept that this is an issue and its needs to be addressed centrally. Every women's county team needs to receive dedicated and direct central funding from the ECB to cover 1st XI travel and accommodation costs (where necessary) for the season. I have no idea how much central funding any of the women's teams receive at the moment and whether this goes directly to them or it is allocated through the county boards, who of course have the male side of the game to look after too. It cannot be beyond the wit of man (or woman) to work out a schedule of allowable expenses if for example Sussex are playing Yorkshire in Yorkshire, or Essex are playing Warwickshire in Warwickshire. Once the season's fixtures are known the allowances can be calculated and should be paid direct to the women's teams.

I accept that moving to 16 matches from the current eight might be a leap too far, although ultimately I would still like to see this number of games at this level. Perhaps the first phase should be to reduce the number of teams in the county championship to seven and play home and away games, meaning that initially there would be 12 games in the season. If this works then look to increase it to eight teams and then nine, in due course.

As for the Super 4s, if this is to remain as a "testing ground" for the England and England Academy players then I would suggest that this becomes an international competition with all the world's top players invited to take part. It would be fantastic to see Deandra Dottin, Stafanie Taylor, Suzie Bates, Amy Sattherthwaite, Meg Lanning. Jess Cameron, Harmanpreet Kaur, Mithali Raj, Mignon du Preez, Charlotte Edwards, Sarah Taylor, Anya Shrubsole, Katherine Brunt, Lea Tahuhu, Jhulan Goswami, Ellyse Perry, Holly Ferling, Holly Colvin, Shanel Daley, Dane van Niekerk, Sana Mir and Eshani Kaushalya and the rest of the England squad members battling it out in three or four "franchise teams", in a short 50 over and T20 format competition. This would also be a great advert for the womens' game, and, if properly staged, would attract paying spectators, sponsors and maybe even the ultimate prize of television coverage. Wouldn't it be good to stage this here in England?

Ebony's other main concern was the fall-out rate of girls from the game. This is inevitable in a fledgling sport, which womens' cricket still is. But as girls can see the opportunities to play more meaningful and competitive games on a regular basis; the potential to make a career out of cricket; and the profile of the sport and the girls who play it increasing, so participation will increase and girls will be more inclined to stick with the sport and come back to it again later in life. It is a great game and those who leave it are missing out, and that includes you Ebz!