Saturday, 27 July 2013

T20 star in the making

I know that I am a little Sussex-centric, but that is because they are the teams that I see the most, but I do try to be fair in my assessment of all the players I see on the field. For me a good performance is a good performance no matter who the player is or what country, county or team they play for. I enjoy watching good cricket and good cricketers.

Having said all that I doubt that anyone who was at the U17 T20 Performance Division 3 competition at St Lawrence & Highland Court CC in Kent over the last two days could have failed to have been impressed by the batting of Sussex's Paige Scholfield.

Sussex had three group games against Oxfordshire, Essex and Kent. Paige normally bats at five in the longer format of the game, but for T20s she opens. She likes to hit the ball, and when she hits it it generally stays hit. In their first game agaisnt Oxfordshire Sussex racked up 176/3 in their 20 overs. A decent score in u17 T20s is generally about 100. Paige hit a magnificent 105* off 66 balls, including sixteen 4s and two 6s. Her timing was impeccable and she hits with a high back-lift and a full follow-through. On song I doubt there are many cleaner hitters of a cricket ball. She is particularly clinically through wide mid-on and on anything short, but she hits just as cleanly straight and through the covers if the ball is over-pitched.

In the second game of the day against Essex she missed out, only scoring 15 off eight balls, including three 4s. She was caught at short third man edging a drive high into the air. Sussex however went on to record their second win of the day.

In their final group stage game the next day Sussex scored 151/2. Paige recorded her second century of the competition scoring 102* off 72 balls, including sixteen 4s. It was another classy innings with barely a false shot. It was her shot selection which seemed so good. If the ball was not there to hit then she simply pushed it for one.

And so Sussex progressed to the final unbeaten, where they met Essex again. They had escaped lightly the previous day, but they were not to do so again. Paige had saved her best to last. She and her opening partner, Izzy Collis (54*) put on an unbeaten 206. Paige hit a stunning 134* off just 71 balls including twenty-one 4s and six 6s. It was imperious batting and great to see. Even the Essex supporters were generous in their appreciation of her knock. Needless to say Sussex won the tournament.

Paige had scored 356 runs in four T20 innings and had only been out once. She had hit fifty-six 4s and eight 6s. Unfortunately I am not sure that anyone from the ECB scouting staff was there, but you can but hope that they will hear of her performance and take note. She is already a member of the EWDP U19 squad and has shown similar hard-hitting batting skills for the Sussex 1st XI. She has a talent which needs to be nurtured, particularly in the shorter version of the game. Like many who bat in her fashion she will not come off all the time, but when she does it is game-changing and I, for one, would be happy to pay to watch it.


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Sussex keep double hopes alive - just!

Sussex managed to overcome Kent in the T20 South 1 final in order to keep their County Championship and T20 double hopes alive, but it was a close run thing.

Having convincingly beaten both Essex and Middlesex on Day One, and with Kent having lost to Middlesex, Day Two started with Sussex in the box seat. But a defeat to Kent in the last of the group games meant that Sussex, Kent and Middlesex all finished with two wins and so the finalists were decided (eventually) on net run rate. Sussex and Kent made it through and Middlesex were the unlucky team to go out.

Sussex lost the toss and Kent put them into bat, as they had done in the morning game. Sussex had failed to defend 113 in the earlier game and therefore they will not have been happy with the 114/6 posted in the final, although Kent bowled and fielded very well. Opening bowlers Tash Farrant (2/18) and Alice Davidson Richards (1/24) kept things tight and took early wickets. Sussex had to recover from 5/2, including the key wicket of Sarah Taylor. It was left to Alexia Walker (52) and Arran Brindle (30) to bring Sussex up to a total which at least gave their bowlers a chance.

In reply Kent too lost the early wickets of Laura Marsh and Charlotte Edwards to Georgia Elwiss's bowling (2/15) to leave them on 12/2 and had it not been for a generous helping of 15 wides Kent would have struggled to maintain the required run rate. But slowly Tammy Beaumont (55) and Lydia Greenway (28) got to grips with the pitch and the Sussex bowling and seemed to be steering Kent to a comfortable victory. At 87/2 at the end of the 15th over they needed just 28 to win from five overs with eight wickets in hand. In the penultimate over they lost Beaumont to a Brindle run out, but still only needed five from the last over to win or four to tie and send the game into a Super Over.

Skipper Taylor entrusted 17 year old pace bowler Freya Davies with the ball for the last over. Greenway ran a leg bye off the first ball (four needed to win). New bat Deanna Cooper drove the second ball back at Davies who took a magnificent one-handed catch to not only remove her but for another precious dot ball. New bat Davidson-Richards got a single off the next ball to put Greenway back on strike with three needed from three balls. Greenway decided to go aerial from the fourth ball but only found the safe hands of Georgia Elwiss at deep mid-wicket. Suddenly Sussex were in with a shout. The batsmen had crossed and so Davidson-Richards found herself on strike. Davies managed to bypass her bat with the fifth ball of the over - another dot - and Kent needed three to win or two to tie off the last ball. The tension was palpable as Davies ran in to bowl the last ball. Once again her pace beat the flailing bat outside the off-stump and Sussex were home by two runs. Davies finished with 2/11 off her three death overs amid jubilant scenes from the Sussex girls.

Sussex's winning T20 team
Ironically it looks as though Kent will still have made it through to Finals Day on Saturday 14th September, as they are likely to qualify as the best runners-up from the top three divisions. No doubt they will be out for revenge if they do make it through. Sussex have the unenviable prospect of playing the T20 Final on the Saturday, followed by the County Championship Final against Yorkshire the following day. It will be a tough weekend for them, but they will hope they can perform to their true potential over both days and both formats.


Friday, 19 July 2013

Yorkshire show true spirit

If you want to talk about the "Spirit of Cricket" then nothing exemplifies it more than Yorkshire's game against Middlesex in the Women's County Championship tomorrow at Arnold House Activity Centre.

Technically Yorkshire have already qualified to play Sussex in the Division One Women's County Championship final on 15th September. They have finished second in the league, beating Kent by 0.05 average points. Had Kent got one more bonus point during the season the positions would have been reversed, so it was the narrowest of margins. Kent have played all their eight games - won six and lost two. Yorkshire have played seven - won five and lost two and had one game cancelled. As far as the average points are concerned their cancelled game is ignored.

Yorkshire could therefore have just sat on their hands and looked forward to the final, but they want to get their "properly". They have rescheduled the cancelled game against Middlesex for tomorrow. It means they have to win their game tomorrow and get at least 4 bonus points. If they do not then Kent will jump into second place in the league table and will meet Sussex for the title.

A win will put Yorkshire into the final for the first time since 2002. In fact they won the Championship for five of the first six years and were runners-up in the other final (1997-2002). Since then it has been lean times for the Tykes, which even included a spell in Division 3 in 2008.

This season has not been their most consistent. They lost to Warwickshire by 34 runs and got tonked by Berkshire, but they have beaten the top teams, including both Sussex and Kent. And it was that last win, by six wickets chasing down Kent's 188 in the 42nd over, which moved them passed the current champions and into a play-off place. They seem to be a team on a mission under the careful leadership of Salliann Briggs. Their batting this season has been led by Lauren Winfield (averaging 64), which has earned her an England call-up. Danni Hazell and Aimee Simms head the bowling attack, in the absence this season of the enigmatic Katherine Brunt. She returned and bowled six overs in the win over Kent. They will be hoping she is fit enough to take the field against Middlesex tomorrow, because it is going to be a tough game.

Middlesex have a strong top five, who have all performed well this year. They have recent wins over Sussex and Warwickshire under their belts. It may all come down to who wants it more, and there is little doubt that Yorkshire really want it. A win would also be very good for the Spirit of Cricket.


Monday, 15 July 2013

Final weekend of drama in Div 1 of the Championship

While the drama of the 1st Test of the men's Ashes series unfolded at Trent Bridge, the women's County Championship also showed why cricket is such an absorbing game.

The First Act of the play took place at Hurst College in Sussex on Saturday, when Berkshire visited Sussex to play the game that had been cancelled earlier in the season. Sussex knew that if they could win this game and the next day's against Essex they would make the County Championship play-off. Berkshire won the toss and elected to bat, and once again Heather Knight (78) and Fi Morris (47) got them off to a superb start on what looked like an excellent batting track. They put on 115 for the first wicket with Knight playing beautifully off her legs and the pair running some sharp singles. Knight had been fortunate to survive a run-out appeal when in the forties, and Morris finally perished in similar fashion as she hesitated and Sarah Taylor at midwicket whipped in a smart throw. A few overs later Arran Brindle made the important breakthrough enticing a caught and bowled chance out of Knight, which she gratefully accepted. It signalled a stagnation in the Berkshire innings as off-spinners Georgia Adams and Chiara Green found a good line and length. Wickets too began to fall - 134/2 became 142/6. Emily Gerke (12) and Daisy Gardner (16) briefly sparked a revival but it was snuffed out by Alexia Walker (3/38) and Berkshire finished on 182/9. In reply Sussex were going along very sweetly at 72/1 in just the 12th over when Alice MacLeod struck twice. Sussex then slipped to 80/4 but Arran Brindle (51) and Alexia Walker (32) still seemed to be in control. But when they both fell Sussex had slipped to 135/7. 49 were still needed but with plenty of overs in hand. Freya Davies (8) and Izi Noakes (13*) eaked out 28 of them in a patient 14 over partnership and then Rebecca Silk (12) calmly came in to take Sussex over the line with two wickets and 25 balls in hand.

The Second Act unfolded on Sunday in Harrogate in Yorkshire as the Tykes took on Kent. Yorkshire welcomed back Katherine Brunt to their bowling attack, and Kent were at full strength, including Laura Marsh as a bowling option. Kent opted to bat and made a solid start through Tammy Beaumont (18) and Charlotte Edwards (93), but Yorkshire's bowlers never allowed them to get on top. Kent reached 176/3 with six overs to go, but failed to capitalise in the last few overs and could only post 188/7 with Katie Levick claiming 3/42. Lauren Winfield (69) and Jess Watson (53) got Yorkshire off to a rattling start going at seven an over initially and reaching 137 before Yorkshire lost their first wicket. Despite a slight wobble Kathryn Doherty (14*) and Salliann Briggs (12*) brought Yorkshire home with just 4 wickets down, which restricted Kent to just one bowling point to add to their three batting points. Whether the teams realised the significance of this at the time is unlikely, but the points earned by both teams left Yorkshire 0.05 average points above Kent in second place in the league.

The Third Act took place at Garron Park where Sussex took on Essex. A win was all Sussex needed to clinch a spot in the play-off, but against who they did not know. Having reduced Essex to 23/4 after a clinical 14 over opening spell by Izi Noakes (3/26) and Freya Davies (2/6), Sussex's win never really looked in doubt. Essex skipper Jo Cook (27) and some late resistance from Hannah Courtnell (34*) took the Essex total to 122 before they were bowled out in the 45th over. It was never going to be a challenging target and openers Georgia Adams (28) and Arran Brindle (15) made serene progress to 46, before they both surprisingly got out. But skipper Sarah Taylor (35*) and the hard-hitting Alexia Walker (24*) saw Sussex to the win they needed to finish top of the division after Kent's loss at Yorkshire.

The Final Act will take place in Middlesex next Saturday. Yorkshire have had one game cancelled against Middlesex. They have confirmed that they will play this game next Saturday (20th July). They must win and get at least 4 bonus points to maintain their place in the play-off final v Sussex.

Meanwhile, on a separate stage, Berkshire beat Nottinghamshire in a dramatic last over run chase. Notts set Berkshire a challenging 216 to win thanks to some generous bowling and 86 from Jenny Gunn and 64 from Sonia Odedra. But with Heather Knight in magnificent form Berkshire were always in with a shout. She did not disappoint with another great knock of 83 (which takes her tally this season to 604 in eight innings at an eye-watering average of 100.66 - ECB are you watching?), but when she and Carla Rudd (35) were out it looked like the Berkshire charge would come to an end. Fortunately they ended their season on a high as Linsey Smith (20*) kept her cool and they just snuck over the line in the last over with just two wickets in hand.

And in the final game of the weekend Warwickshire beat Surrey by 119 runs. Warwickshire scored a respectable 198/7 with almost all their batsmen making double figures. No-one really went on to a big score, but Marie Kelly (41) and Liz Russell (38) lead the way. In reply Surrey were bundled out for just 79 in 32 overs. Only Nat Sciver with 34 put up any real resistance as Kelly made it a good day with 4/13.


Lancs and Somerset make Div 2 showdown

The final weekend of games in Division Two of the Women's County Championship produced some great individual performances, but no real surprises. Wins for Lancashire and Somerset have seen them into the Div 2 Play-Off match. The winner will then play the loser of the Div 1 relegation play-off game and the winner of that match will start 2014 in Div 1. Defeats for Durham and Devon leave them at the foot of the division.

Lancashire beat Durham by 161 runs
Lancashire won the toss and decided to bat and posted a magnificent 320/2 in their 50 overs with openers Emma Lamb (113*) and Laura Marshall (88) sharing an opening stand of 164. !5 year old Lamb has had a magnificent season for the Red Roses scoring over 300 runs at an average of over 100. She sells her wicket very dearly. Durham made a decent effort in reply reaching 159/8 with Sarah King (49) and Jane Riddell (36*) their main scorers, but they were never going to get close. Jennifer Laycock (3/18) and Nalisha Patel (3/31) were the chief wicket-takers.
Lancashire have just beaten Ireland in their last fixture of the season by 91 runs to maintain their 100% record.

Somerset beat Devon by 125 runs
Sophie Le Marchand, who has been in great form with the bat for Bath, transferred it seamlessly to county cricket for the second week running scoring exactly 100. With the aid of 63 from Sophie Luff Somerset set a struggling Devon 259/6. Only Aylish Cranstone (52) got into double figures for Devon in response and they were all out in the 43rd over for just 134, 37 of which came in extras. Lorraine Szczepanski took 3/15 and Anya Shrubsole 3/26. As things stand Devon will take on Durham in the relegation play-off if none of the cancelled games get replayed.

Staffordshire beat Ireland by 1 wicketStaffs and Ireland played out a cracker at Swynnerton Park. Ireland batted first and thanks to 71 from Eimear Richardson and 43no from Una Raymond Hoey they posted 220/7 in their 50 overs. Shanel Daley took 3/15 off 10 overs. Things were not looking too promising in reply as Satffs slumped to 38/2 and then 85/3, but Francesca James (61) and Steph Butler (49) took the total to 152/4. Butler and Elysse Lally (21) then took the total beyond 200 and victory seemed certain, but Anna Kerrison (3/17) and Robyn Lewis (3/29) produced a flurry of late wickets and it was left to Staffs' numbers 9 and 11 to squeeze them home with three balls and just one wicket to spare.

Worcestershire beat Wales by 5 wickets Wales' top order all batted well with Gwenan Davies (50) and Claire Thomas (47) the main run-scorers and they would have been reasonably satisfied with their total of 218 all out. Thea Brookes (3/34) and Melissa Norup (3/34) were the pick of the bowlers. Brookes then strapped her pads on and did not take them off again until the game was won by Worcestershire. She made an unbeaten 110 and with help from Charlotte Holtom (44) saw Worcester home in the penultimate over.


Sunday, 14 July 2013

Sussex top as Kent fall to Yorkshire

****STOP PRESS****
(full reports to follow)

Division One Women's County Championship

Sussex beat Berkshire by 2 wickets on Saturday and beat Essex by 7 wickets on Sunday to claim 7 batting and 8 bowling points, plus 20 points for the two wins.

In a dramatic twist Yorkshire beat Kent by 6 wickets. Kent only picked up 3 batting and 1 bowling point. Yorkshire picked up 10 points for the win, plus 4 batting and 3 bowling points.

This means Sussex have finished top and qualified for the championship play-off. Yorkshire hold the second play-off slot. They have had one cancelled game against Middlesex.

This means the table looks like this.

Team P W L T A C win points bonus bat bonus bowl total points avge points
Sussex 8 6 2 0 0 0 60 28 28 116 14.50
Yorkshire 7 5 2 0 0 0 50 21 23 94 13.43
Kent 8 6 2 0 0 0 60 27 20 107 13.38


Friday, 12 July 2013

Decisive final weekend in County Champs Divs One and Two

The final full weekend of Women's County Championship fixtures will almost certainly see the top two in both divisions decided. At the bottom of both divisions matters may not be quite so clear come Sunday night.

Division One

League leaders Kent take on third team Yorkshire up in Harrogate. Kent know if they win then they will definitely be in the Division One play-off again on 15th September, but, if they lose, Yorkshire, who have another game to play against Middlesex, could still get to the Championship play-off themselves. This could be at the expense of Kent, or if Sussex slip up, then it could be to play Kent again.

Sussex meanwhile have their destiny in their own hands. They have their last two games this weekend - on Saturday against Berkshire and on Sunday against Essex. If they win both games they will almost certainly be through to the play-off, provided they score a reasonable number of bonus points. That would keep them above Yorkshire, even if they won both their games, and Kent, if they were to lose to Yorkshire.

At the bottom (where the bottom two will play-off against each other and the loser then plays the winner of the Division Two play-off to stay in the league) Surrey have a tough game at Warwickshire, who had a very important win against Berkshire last week. It means Warwickshire are probably safe, but with Middlesex on a roll (they have won their last two games against Warwickshire and Sussex) they cannot afford to relax too much. Essex are also only one win just behind them, but they still have two games to play. They will have their work cut out against Sussex on Sunday, particularly if Sussex have won the day before against Berkshire. Their other game is against Surrey themselves, which is yet to be scheduled.

The final game on Sunday is Berkshire v Notts. Both will want to win to keep their slim hopes of reaching the title play-off game alive. It will be the last game for both sides this year, and both look destined to finish mid-table.

Division Two

In Division Two Somerset play their last game of the season against Devon and they will expect to win and provided they pick up a couple of bonus points that will be enough to see them through to the Div Two play-off match no matter what happens elsewhere. If league leaders Lancashire beat Durham on Sunday then it will be Lancashire who meet them there, even though they still have another game to play against Ireland on Monday.

Ireland's slim chances of getting to the play-off rest on them beating Staffordshire on Sunday and then Lancashire in their last game of the season on Monday, but Somerset will still have to trip up on Sunday against Devon. Its a longshot, but they have nothing to lose after having had a great season.

The final game on Sunday in Division Two is Worcestershire v Wales clash. Wales are scrapping it out at the bottom with Devon and Durham (all have one win to date). One win for any team in their last couple of games (Durham actually have three) could be the one that takes them out of the bottom two.

There will be a lot of frayed nerves throughout the country on Sunday afternoon and I will update this blog as soon as I can on Monday with results and consequences.


Monday, 8 July 2013

Lancs and Somerset heading for title showdown

Results went pretty much the way of form this weekend as the Division Two Championship heads towards its closing matches of the season

Lancashire beat Devon by 8 wickets
Devon have been having a horrible season and it got worse against unbeaten Lancashire. Having won the toss Devon decided to bat, but within 28 overs they had been skittled out by Lancashire for just 69, mainly in the shape of opening bowlers Jasmine Titmuss who claimed 5/22, and Kathyrn Cross (3/29). Only three of the Devon batsmen made it into double figures (just). Lancashire made sure they picked up full points wrapping up victory in the 18th over for the loss of just two wickets (both claimed by Jessie Jones). Laura Marshall top scored with 34.

Somerset beat Wales by 9 wickets
Wales have had almost as torrid a time as Devon this year and Somerset duly dispatched them, despite the lack of Anya Shrubsole in their team. Having elected to bat Wales stumbled along to 151 before they were all out in the 41st over. There was only one real partnership of any note (65 runs) between Gwenan Davies (50) and Megan Burton (24). Gemma Mumby (21) also enjoyed herself at number 10. The reliable Bath duo of Sophie Le Marchand (79*) and Sophie Luff (39*) saw Somerset comfortably home in 36 overs.

Worcestershire beat Staffordshire by 7 wickets
Staffordshire were bundled out for 140 in just over 44 overs with Thea Brookes taking 3/34. West Indian import Shanel Daley was top scorer with 35. Brookes was an early casualty in Worcestershire's reply, but Naomi Heywood (59*) and Clare Boycott (37) took the Worcester total passed 100 and Heywood hung around to finish the job off in 34 overs with the loss of just three wickets.

Cheshire beat Durham by 104 runs
Neither team have been particularly adept at amassing big totals this season and Cheshire's innings of 198 all out, based around a fine opening partnership of 92 between Jenny Halstead (44) and Helen Smith (40), always looked to be too many for Durham. They made it to 60/3 but that soon became 67/9 as 14 year old left arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone got to work. She claimed 4/14 in a controlled spell of 10 overs which included six maidens - five of them on the trot. Only opener Laura Ellison (26) and number 11 Lynn McDonnell (15*) put up any real resistance as Durham were bowled out for 94.

It is difficult to see beyond Lancashire and Somerset for the Division Two title. Somerset only have Devon to play and a slip-up there seems unlikely. Lancashire have Durham and Ireland to play and would have to lose both games badly to be in any trouble. Ireland are still theoretically in the hunt and must play Staffs as well as Lancashire.
At the bottom its a dogfight between Durham, Wales and Devon for the last two spots. Durham still have three to play including potential clashes with Wales and Devon. Their destiny may be in their own hands.

The current Division Two table looks like this.

Division Two

Team P W L T A C win points bonus bat bonus bowl total points avge points
Lancashire 6 6 0 0 0 0 60 19 24 103 17.17
Somerset 7 6 1 0 0 0 60 22 19 101 14.43
Ireland 6 4 2 0 0 0 40 18 18 76 12.67
Worcestershire 6 3 3 0 1 0 30 14 18 62 10.33
Cheshire 7 3 4 0 1 0 30 17 21 68 9.71
Staffordshire 7 3 4 0 0 0 30 17 14 61 8.71
Durham 5 1 4 0 0 0 10 7 16 33 6.60
Wales 6 1 5 0 0 0 10 16 13 39 6.50
Devon 6 1 5 0 0 0 10 15 13 38 6.33


Kent march on as Sussex stumble to defeat

As Andy Murray dramatically clinched his first-ever Wimbledon title, there was drama of a different kind unfolding in Division One of the Women's County Championship. Kent are new County Championship leaders after they dispatched Surrey; Sussex have slipped to second place after losing to Middlesex; and Yorkshire smashed Notts out of contention for the play-offs with a resounding 10 wicket victory, which puts them in with a good chance of reaching the play-offs themselves - only the small matter of Kent to overcome in one of their games to come.

Kent beat Surrey by 146 runs
Kent amassed 271/5 in their 50 overs with their England top four all contributing - Charlotte Edwards (64), Tammy Beaumont (53), Lydia Greenway (50), and Laura Marsh (66). It was a long day in the field for the Surrey girls with only Sarah Clarke (3/54) enjoying any success. Surrey wilted under the pressure and the heat and were all out for 125 in the 39th over with Deanna Cooper claiming 3/31.

Middlesex beat Sussex by 45 runs
Sussex slipped to their second defeat of the season due in no small part to the fact that none of their four England players were in their squad for this game - Holly Colvin (broken thumb); Georgia Elwiss (injured back); Sarah Taylor (advised not to play by ECB due to niggles) and Arran Brindle (not available). But it was actually a lack of positive intent with the bat in the first half of their innings that ultimately cost them a game that they could have won. Middlesex had batted well to put 236 all out on the board, having used up their full quota of overs. Their score was based around a powerful innings of 75 from Aussie import Emma Inglis and useful early contributions from in-form Helen Stolle (32) and Cath Dalton (45). Once Inglis and Dalton had gone, it looked as though Sussex may restrict Middlesex to less than 200, but Anna Nicholls (31) and the tail ensured their got well passed this mark. Freya Davies picked up 3/46 for Sussex. For the first 25 overs Sussex never looked up for the chase, reaching just 69/2 at the halfway stage. It was only when 17 year old Paige Scholfield joined skipper Alexia Walker at 98/5 that some life was breathed into the dying innings. Walker smashed 52 off 53 balls and Scholfield 48 off 45 balls as they added 74 for the sixth wicket in a 10 over spree that had Middlesex worried. But Middlesex kept their nerve and when both had gone Sussex limped to 191 all out in the last over.

Warwickshire beat Berkshire by 4 wickets
Berkshire managed to get to 165 all out in just over 44 overs thanks almost entirely due to Heather Knight, who carried her bat for an unbeaten 86 off 146 balls. She received some assistance from Alice MacLeod (38), but their second wicket partnership of 78 was the only substantial one of the innings. Isabelle Watson claimed 3/36. Warwickshire's winning response of 166/6 was built around a patient knock of 75 from 138 balls from opener Elizabeth Smart. She was the last wicket to fall with just 17 runs needed for victory, but by then she had done her job.

Yorkshire beat Nottinghamshire by 10 wickets 
Notts could only manage to put 174/7 on the board off their 50 overs with Helen Smit (50) top scoring and openers Olivia Thornton (40) and Sonia Odedra (35) making useful contributions. Aimee Simms (3/24) and Danni Hazell (2/25) both bowled miserly 10 over spells for Yorkshire. Lauren Winfield (76*) and Jess Watson (84*) made light work of the task ahead of them, knocking off the runs with 11 overs still in hand, despite Notts using 9 different bowlers at them.

That leaves the Division One table looking like this

Division One Table
Team P W L T A C win points bonus bat bonus bowl total points avge points
Kent 7 6 1 0 0 0 60 24 19 103 14.71
Sussex 6 4 2 0 0 0 40 21 20 81 13.50
Yorkshire 6 4 2 0 0 0 40 17 20 77 12.83
Nottinghamshire 7 4 3 0 0 0 40 23 18 81 11.57
Berkshire 6 3 3 0 0 0 30 17 16 63 10.50
Warwickshire 7 3 4 0 0 0 30 17 18 65 9.29
Middlesex 7 2 5 0 0 0 20 25 16 61 8.71
Essex 6 2 4 0 0 0 20 15 14 49 8.17
Surrey 6 1 5 0 0 0 10 18 15 43 7.17

Kent will ensure they make the County Championship play-off if they beat Yorkshire next week, but should they lose they will have to wait for Sussex and Yorkshire to play their last games (Sussex play Essex and Berks; Yorkshire have Kent and Middlesex). Should they win both games then all three teams will finish with two losses and it will come down to average points.Theoretically Notts and Berks are not out of play-off contention, if both Sussex and Yorkshire slip up in either of their last two games and they win theirs. All would then be on three losses and again it would be down to average points per game.
At the bottom Surrey need to conjure a win or two from their last two games against Warwickshire and Essex. Essex also have Sussex to play, so their game with Surrey may be the big showdown. Middlesex have won their last two games and may upset Yorkshire's charge for the top and keep themselves out of the relegation play-offs.


Friday, 5 July 2013

Just two weekends of the County Championship to go!

As the England women take on the Pakistanis in two T20s today at Loughborough the rest of the county circuit players are gearing up for another round of County Championship matches on Sunday. This is the penultimate weekend of County Championship fixtures and things at the top and the bottom of Divisions One and Two are still very much up for grabs - take a look at the league tables here -

Division One
It looks like Sussex and Kent are heading to the Division One play-off, but both have tricky fixtures this weekend.
Sussex take on a resurgent Middlesex, fresh from their resounding eight wicket win over Warwickshire two weeks ago. It may be their only win to date, but their top order have batted consistently throughout the season with Natasha Miles, Cath Dalton and Helen Stolle all in the top 10 run-getters in the Division. They have made decent totals but not been able to bowl out their opponents. Sussex have been strong, but are severely hampered by injuries to key players. This could be a tight game.
Kent are at home to Surrey who have a similar problem to Middlesex - they can get runs, but cannot restrict the opposition. Nat Sciver will be on a high from her England performances this week and a big knock from her, and maybe some wickets too, could mean Kent won't have it all their own way, but Kent will be confident.
Third-placed Notts take on Yorkshire, who could leap-frog over them if they win. Whichever team loses is probably out of contention for the top two places. Notts were riding high, but suffered at the hands of Sussex two weeks ago. Yorkshire have lacked consistency - they beat Sussex, but lost badly to Berkshire and Warwickshire with some fragile batting. I think this is likely to be an edgy affair and one good knock could win it for either side.
Warwickshire take on Berkshire, who are still in with a shout of the top two places, having only lost two games this season to Kent and Essex. Warwickshire have struggled to put decent scores on the board and Berkshire should be favourites to win this one.

Division Two
Lancashire make the trip down to Devon
in great form. They have won five out of five and should not really slip up against Devon who have had a torrid season. Devon have the potential to cause an upset though and they really need a win. I think this could be a good game to watch in the Devon sun.
Second-placed Somerset are at home to Wales and will be looking to keep the pressure on Lancashire and keep themselves above Ireland (who don't play this weekend). Wales are battling it out at the bottom of the league, but are unlikely to get much change out of a well-drilled Somerset team.
Staffs take on Worcestershire in a mid-table clash. Staffs have struggled for runs this season and Worcestershire will hope to capitalise on this and sneak up a place in the league.
Durham meet Cheshire, who have performed admirably this season. Both sides have struggled with the bat and this could be a low-scoring affair.


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Can England learn any lessons from Pakistan win?

England duly completed their first win of the summer against Pakistan. It was not unexpected and the margin of victory was a massive 111 runs, but what will England have learnt from the game? The answer truthfully is not very much.

England elected to bat and tried the new opening batting combination of Edwards and Brindle. Some will say it worked as they put on 112 for the first wicket, but they took 31 overs to get there at a run rate of 3.61 runs per over. There has been much discussion about setting the base to allow the later batsmen to score freely in the last 10/20 overs, but I am not convinced that the women's game have the players capable of hitting 100 runs off the last 10 overs, as the men seem content to try and do. I have to say that I am not even convinced it is a sensible policy in men's cricket.

England in fact scored 103 in the last 20 overs at a run rate of 5.15 with 36 of those coming in the last five overs. There were only three overs in the entire innings in which England managed to score more than 10 runs in an over. In this game it did not really matter. Against Australia later this summer it might be a different matter. I would have liked to have seen Amy Jones or Lauren Winfield given a chance at the top of the order and given licence to hit through the ball from an early stage.

England did give debuts to Natalie Sciver and to Lauren Winfield, but neither got much chance to show what they can do with the bat, coming in late and perishing for the good of the team. They will have learnt from the experience though, which is a positive.

With the ball it was Jenny Gunn that picked up the wickets, taking 5/22, to take her to more than 100 ODI wickets for England in her career. Worryingly Anya Shrubsole only managed six overs. Whether this was precautionary or not who knows? England are in some strife with bowlers at the moment - Katherine Brunt and Laura Marsh are attempting to recover from longterm injury/surgery; Holly Colvin broke her thumb, but is now out of plaster. Now Georgia Elwiss has a back injury and has been replaced in this squad by Beth Langstone. Elwiss is now in a rehab programme.The England bowling attack is looking a bit thin. Pakistan were not too badly placed at 101/2, but then lost their last eight wickets for just 15 runs. They had no answer to Gunn's medium pace.

England play again on Wednesday and you would hope that some other members of the squad might get an outing. England will not want to lose, but they may be relying on some of these young players come Ashes time.