Saturday, 28 February 2015

Taylor & Sciver take England to ODI series win

England's middle order batting finally came to the party in the shape of Sarah Taylor (93), Nat Sciver (65*), Lydia Greenway (23) and Katherine Brunt (19*), and as a result England cruised to another ODI victory over the White Ferns, meaning they won the ODI Series 3-2 overall (although they lost the ICCWC series 1-2).

Charlotte Edwards called right for the 7th time in eight games in this tour and had no hesitation in asking the White Ferns to have another go at setting England a target to chase down. The pitch looked a belter, but there was just a hint of moisture on the wicket and the outfield, so bowling was probably the right option. As the Kiwis raced to 34/0 after three overs from Brunt (25 runs) and two from Cross (nine runs), Edwards may have been wondering how many England would be chasing.

Fortunately for England Suzie Bates and Rachel Priest again got themselves out when they needed to bide their time. Bates slashed Grundy to Marsh at point, and Priest plonked her to a grateful Nat Sciver at extra cover. Amy Satterthwaite looked all at sea against the returning Brunt and eventually lost her leg peg to Cross, when she too returned. New Zealand were 53/3 in the 12th over. Sophie Devine and Kate Broadmore decided that caution was the better part of valour, tapping singles through to the 21st over when they had added just 30 more runs. Broadmore then fell lbw playing across the line to Marsh. Sara McGlashan came to the crease in her Kiwi record-breaking 126th ODI, but she was undone by a sublime bit of keeping by Sarah Taylor. She had hardly left her crease, when she was beaten by a Marsh quicker ball. Before she had a chance to react Taylor had removed the bails and McGlashan was on her way. 

Devine now found a willing and more able partner in Katie Perkins. Perkins was happy to knock the ball about and put Devine on strike, but as the partnership grew so did Perkins confidence and her ability to drive the ball. They had taken the Kiwi total to 176 when Devine skied Sciver (bowling her first over of the tour and the 44th of the innings) high to Cross at mid-off, who breathed a sigh of relief as she held onto the catch. Peterson and Bermingham came and went quickly, but Perkins (70*) carried on nicely, aided by some nice drives by the tall Tahuhu (16*) as the White Ferns ended on 230/8. It looked a decent score, but nothing more. Grundy finished with 3/36 and Marsh 2/36.

England's reply got off to the worst possible start when Heather Knight was out lbw to Tahuhu in the first over, but Taylor and Edwards made serene progress to 59 before Edwards played another legside shot, but missed and was adjudged lbw. Danni Wyatt came to join Taylor, her first chance with the bat all tour, but she could only get to 7 before she too was lbw, this time sweeping at Georgia Guy. A more confident Lydia Greenway walked to the crease and she and Taylor took the score to 114/3 before Greenway played on to a Broadmore slower ball. 

The nagging doubts were still there, but Nat Sciver came in and played with time and style. The difference this time was that she went on with her innings to her highest ODI score, unbeaten on 65. It looked for all the world as if Taylor was going to notch her 6th ODI century, when she took 15 off a Devine over, having been dropped off the first ball of the over. But in the next she took on Amy Satterthwaite's arm from the deep cover boundary and lost to be run out for 93. It was no matter to Sciver, who carried serenely on, with the help of Brunt and took England to the win with five overs to spare.

I will let the dust settle and have a couple of beers to celebrate before considering the pros and cons from this tour, and England's chances against the Aussies this summer.

It has been a great experience being here in New Zealand for the whole tour and writing for the ECB website. It was a shame that more media could not have been here for the series. They missed some good stuff.

Full scorecard here


Thursday, 26 February 2015

England crush New Zealand in 4th ODI

England returned to the ODI format of the game with a thumping win over a very lacklustre New Zealand side, which had its lower order to thank for avoiding an even bigger and more humiliating defeat than they eventually endured.

With the temperature only managing to reach the low teens and with grey skies, it was no real surprise that Charlotte Edwards elected to field when she won the toss for the 6th time in seven games. There was a hope, nay an expectation, that the ball would swing, and Katherine Brunt did not disappoint as she beat New Zealand openers, Suzie Bates and Rachel Priest, on the outside edge. Meanwhile Kate Cross was working up a good head of steam at the Pavilion End and was bang on the money with length and line. Suzie Bates is not one to be tied down, but her lofted drive at Cross was a rash shot. Had it not been for an extremely nonchalant two-handed catch above her head by Jenny Gunn at mid-off she would have survived. As it was she was again on her way with just 7 runs to her name. Since she made 106 in the first ODI she has had scores of 0,39,3, 33,7 and 7. She is a better player than that.

Cross then accounted for Bates' fellow opener, Rachel Priest, in her next over, bowling her through the gate for 6. New Zealand had made another bad start. They were 15/2. Amy Satterthwaite (27) and Kate Broadmore (24) then put together the best partnership of the New Zealand innings. Satterthwaite in particular looked in good nick. They played sensibly as Cross sent down seven of her 10 overs with Knight, Gunn and Hazell also used without too many alarms. Finally it was the introduction of Grundy that sparked another New Zealand collapse, with the aid of another magnificent effort by a diving Gunn, this time at deep long-on. Satterthwaite must have felt she had hit the ball far enough to the left of Gunn to get away with it. Gunn made good ground and her large mitts had other ideas.
Kate Cross finished with 5/24  (c) Don Miles

From 69/2 New Zealand lost six wickets for just 30 runs with Grundy helping herself to two more and Cross three in 14 balls to end with her first (and probably not her last) five-fer. She finished with 5/24, her best return in her eight ODIs to date. Grundy meanwhile had produced her best figures too of 3/36.

It looked as though New Zealand were going to struggle to make a hundred, but Leah Tahuhu, who likes to hit the ball straight, and Morna Nielsen (who her Dad told me cannot bat) added 42 for the 9th wicket before Nielsen called Tahuhu through for a sharp single and she was run out by a Sciver/Taylor combination. Tahuhu's 26 was by far her best ODI innings in 13 visits to the crease. Her previous high had been 11 not out 15 days ago in Mount Maunganui. When 18 year debutant Hannah Rowe managed to smash three 4s in a fine debut knock of 18* at number 11 (she may move up the order quite quickly!), the suspicion was that the wicket was playing quite nicely. New Zealand finished on 168 all out when Jenny Gunn took her fourth catch of the match in the 50th over, this time off Heather Knight's bowling. Only one other player has taken four outfield catches in a Women's ODIs - Zoe Goss of Australia.

The "crowd" of England supporters were confident - ex-England player Patsy Lovell thought England would get home with 10 overs to spare, and the legend that is Enid Bakewell was sure England would get home without losing another wicket, after the early demise of Heather Knight - caught behind off Tahuhu for 5. They were both right. In fact Patsy was a bit conservative.

Charlotte Edwards played like a woman who has batted in 172 ODIs before and Taylor batted like everyone knows she can, without taking any great risks. Both got to their 50s within a few balls of each other - Taylor off 85 balls and Edwards off 73. England had made it to 117/1 by this time and were in the 28th over of their innings. Edwards then told Taylor to enjoy herself, so she hit the returning Rowe for four consecutive 4s to midwicket, over mid-on, through extra cover and then back over the bowler's head. It was harsh on the youngster. Shame on you Sarah!

Sarah Taylor in full flow (c) Don Miles
Just to show there was no personal malice directed against Rowe though she then hit Erin Bermingham's next over for three more 4s with a slog-sweep and two glorious lofted drives over mid-off. One ball later she finished the game with another flick to leg, which would have gone for another 4 but for a great piece of fielding, but the one run was enough to end the contest in the 33rd over. Taylor finished on 89* and Edwards on 64*.

This is the sort of dominance that many had expected England to enjoy from the start of this tour. Had they not had such a cold start then it might have been. Perhaps a lesson for future tours. And so the tour ends on Saturday when the teams will re-emerge from the same pavilion for the last time. England will be mighty disappointed if they don't roll the Kiwis over for third time this week and take the five match ODI series 3-2.

Scorecard here


Tuesday, 24 February 2015

England wrap up T20 series win

England pulled off what was actually a very comfortable win in the first T20 played at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval, the third game in the T20 series. They won by 5 wickets with eight balls to spare, but they could, and would, have won by seven wickets with more like 20 balls to spare had it not been for the unfortunate late demise of Nat Sciver (16) - run out at the bowler's end as Bermingham deflected a Lydia Greenway drive onto the stumps, and then Greenway herself for 25, bowled going back to a full ball from Georgia Guy.

Greenway and Sciver had taken England to within five runs of victory before they fell and it was left to Katherine Brunt (8*) to hammer the fourth ball of the penultimate over for a maximum over cow corner to finally finish off the Kiwis, after a series of dot balls.

Team-mates watch on as Greenway drives (C) Don Miles
But England's win was actually really based around their tight bowling, some poor shots from the Kiwis and some decent work in the field. Having won the toss Edwards elected to field first on a track that looked a decent one to bat on. Her decision may have been influenced by the team she had to play with. Lauren Winfield was out with a quad injury (she spent the day hobbling around on crutches so it doesn't look too hopeful for the last two ODIs); Anya Shrubsole was sick in bed and Rebecca Grundy is still having problems (although it is hoped that she will be fit for the two ODIs). Kate Cross surprisingly missed out leaving England somewhat short on bowlers - Sciver is not bowling at the moment (she is apparently remodelling her action) and Edwards seems to have little or no confidence in Danni Wyatt's off spin. That left the England skipper with three off-spinners (Knight, Hazell and Marsh), Brunt and Gunn, and when Gunn's first over went for 13 England looked to be in a spot of bowling bother.

Fortunately Knight had already accounted for Bates (7) and McGlashan (6) caught by Greenway at cow corner and Jones at mid-off, and Hazell had snapped up the dangerous Priest again caught at cow corner by Greenway (her 64th T20 wicket for England taking her to the top of the English T20 pile of bowlers), to leave the White Ferns at 30/3 in the 8th over. Broadmore then clipped Marsh to midwicket (Knight) to make it 53/4. Only Sophie Devine seemed in any sort of nick for the White Ferns as she took a liking to Gunn, but she found no support at the other end. Perkins was caught behind off Brunt; Peterson (dropped first ball by Wyatt off Brunt) was lbw to Hazell (2/15) and Bermingham drove Marsh (2/24) straight to Wyatt at extra cover. New Zealand were 92/7 with just over two overs left to bat. Devine was still there though until Gunn's day got better thanks to a diving catch at mid-off by Amy Jones. Devine had scored 37 off 30 balls and looked in a class above the rest of the Kiwis. Gunn then picked up Tahuhu caught by Knight at long-off to finish with 2/28. It was just left for Brunt to terrify young Georgia Guy into missing four out of five balls she faced in the final over, and New Zealand had finished on a poor return of 97/9.

Without Winfield Heather Knight accompanied skipper for the 200th time, Charlotte Edwards, to the crease and looked in positive mood, although she looked to have been run out in the first over trying to come back for a second to square leg. The Kiwis were clearly disappointed by the decision of umpire Katey Cross, who has been hard to convince in this series. Edwards played on to Tahuhu in the 4th over for 4, who then picked up Knight (26) rather fortunately, as she clipped her nicely off her legs only to see the ball career down to Peterson at deep fine leg. When Taylor bunted Tahuhu (3/28) again to Bates at mid-off for another frustrating 20 off 15 balls, England were 55/3 with their middle order once again exposed. But Greenway has looked more confident since her recall and Nat Sciver always seems to have time to play her shots. The 38 they added for the fourth wicket may not sound like much, but in the context of this game it was gold. They deserved to be there at the end, but it wasn't to be.

Heather Knight was made player of the match and one hopes that Paul Downton was grateful to see an England team win in some style.

Full scorecard available here.


Monday, 23 February 2015

Skipper Lottie racks up 200!

When Charlotte Edwards leads England out against New Zealand tomorrow in a T20I at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval, here in New Zealand, it will be her 200th game as captain of England.

It has been a remarkable career, and one that does not look like ending anytime soon. She is quite open about her desire to lead England in the Women's 50 Over World Cup in England in 2017. Given that she is still the mainstay of the England batting, her retirement in the near future would not only be premature, but a major disaster for English cricket.

Despite her well-known dodgy knees she has missed very few games over the last 19 years. She debuted for England as a 16 year old in July 1996 at Guildford in a Test Match against tomorrow's opponents New Zealand (she was England's youngest player at the time), serving her apprenticeship under current Head of Women's Cricket in England Clare Connor, who was skipper from 2000. When she was injured Edwards took over the reins against Sri Lanka in an ODI in Colombo in 2005. England won by 163 runs. Nearly 10 years later she is still at the helm.

She has captained in 9 Tests, 81 T20s and 109 ODIs. Tomorrow will be her 82nd T20 in charge. Clare Connor skippered the first two ODI games England ever played and Edwards has skippered since then, missing just four games of the 87 England have played to date.

Overall she has played 288 games for England and is the leading run scorer in the world in international T20 (2,294 runs) and ODI  cricket (5,728 runs). She is second in the Test Match list of all-time run scorers with 1,645 runs, just 290 runs behind fellow English woman Janette Brittin, who played five more Tests.

She has a total of 13 hundreds to her name and 63 fifties, but is yet to score a 100 in a T20 international. Tomorrow would be a good day to do it. The three match series is currently level at 1-1, with England having comprehensively won the first game, but losing out in the second as the Kiwis chased down England's 122/5 to win in the last over.

But personal landmarks are not really what Edwards is about. She is a tough captain by her own admission and is desperately competitive. She eats, sleeps and breathes English Women's Cricket and deserves yet another day in the spotlight tomorrow. But for her the result will matter so much more.

Hope you (and England) have a great day Lottie!


Friday, 20 February 2015

New Zealand level series with 6 wicket win

Sophie Devine smashed 29 off 20 balls to take the White Ferns to a deserved six wicket victory in the second T20 at Whangerai, and level the three match series at 1-1. Her innings was the decisive one for the Kiwis, but the win had been set up by another good opening partnership between Rachel Priest and Suzie Bates. They set the platform with a controlled 64 run opening partnership in less than 10 overs, despite all that England could throw at them.

England had won the toss and elected to bat first on a wicket which still looked to have plenty of runs in it. After a quiet first over Lauren Winfield took to the bowling of Holly Huddleston, in to replace Lea Tahuhu, with two sweetly-timed 4s. 13 came from the over and England looked to be up and running, but after playing out a maiden over to Erin Bermingham Charlotte Edwards lofted an easy chance to Sara McGlashan at cover to depart for an eight ball duck.

At the end of the powerplay overs England were 30 for 1 and, as the fielders dispersed to the boundary, runs became hard to come by. The pressure told on Sarah Taylor, as she edged through to Priest for 8 attempting a reverse sweep. Nat Sciver looked comfortable but advancing to the flighted off-spin of Georgia Guy she played over the ball and was bowled for 9 and England were struggling at 66 for 3 in the 14th over. Winfield was joined by Lydia Greenway who opened her account with a sumptuous 4 through extra cover off Guy, but it was one of the few boundaries that England could manage. With four overs left Winfield’s determined knock came to an end as she skied Bermingham to Satterthwaite at cover for 48 off 59 balls. England were still below par at 82/4, but Heather Knight took 10 off the 18th over with the first six balls that she faced at the crease and then plundered another 19 runs off the last over from Devine, including a huge six over midwicket, to take her personal tally to 30. She perished run out off the last ball of the game as she tried to get back for a second run, but her 30 off 15 balls took England to a respectable total of 122 for 5.

The Kiwis knew that the first six overs gave them the opportunity to reduce the runs required in the following overs and Priest, later named player of the match, in particular punished anything off a good length. She found the boundary six times in the powerplay overs as New Zealand took control of the game at 39 for 0. The opening pair brought up their 50 partnership in the 8th over and had set the game up for their team when Priest was eventually out for 41 off 33 balls. It was the returning Kate Cross, in the England side in place of the rested Katherine Brunt, that enticed her to drive to long on where Knight safely pouched the catch. In her next over Cross then accounted for an out of sorts Sara McGlashan. When Laura Marsh tempted Amy Satterthwaite out of her crease with a nicely flighted delivery and Sarah Taylor removed the bails, England were back in the game with New Zealand on 77 for 3.

But that was to discount the hard-hitting abilities of Devine. To date she had not made an impact in this series, but she picked up Cross for four through square leg and then hoisted Dani Hazell for 6 over midwicket in the next over to bring the runs required equation back below a run a ball. Despite losing Bates for 33 in the 18th over caught by Winfield off Marsh, Devine continued to dominate the bowlers and find the boundary. England took the game to the last over, but Kate Broadmore finished the match clubbing Marsh’s second ball over wide mid-on for the winning runs.

The teams now move down to Christchurch for the last T20 and two more ODIs to complete the tour.

Full scorecard here.

Martin Davies


Thursday, 19 February 2015

Women's Big Bash gets the go-ahead

So it is official the Women's Big Bash will kick off in Australia next season - you'd guess in December this year.

Cricket Australia has announced that there will be eight women's teams that will align with the eight men's teams (see here) This means there will be two teams based in Melbourne (Stars & Renegades); two in Sydney (Sixers & Thunder) and one each in Perth (Scorchers), Adelaide (Strikers), Brisbane (Heat), and Hobart (Hurricanes). The bracketed names are the current men's teams.

It is great news for the women's game, but the format of the competition and the teams themselves, plus the participation of non-Australian players, and the payment of all the players that take part, and the television coverage all seem to be in the air at the present time. There are some interesting dilemmas to be resolved.

In the current state formats of the game (T20 and WNCL 50 over cricket) there are seven state teams. The front runners for many years have been the New South Wales Breakers based in Sydney. Their main competition has come from the Vic Spirit based in Melbourne. These two teams boast several Southern Stars and Shooting Stars amongst their numbers. How will they be reallocated with two teams based in their home cities. Will current state team-mates Ellyse Perry end up bowling at Alex Blackwell and Erin Osborne at Alyssa Healey, or Molly Strano bowl at her former skipper Meg Lanning?

You would guess that the bulk of the players for the Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane and Hobart sides will be formed from the current state teams - Western Fury, South Australian Scorpions, Queensland Fire and the Tasmanian Roar already based in these cities, and if the Breakers and the Spirit are both split into two teams it may even the competition out somewhat.

As reported previously there is no place in the WBBL for state side ACT based in Canberra, so their players are likely to be drafted into the Sydney and Melbourne franchises just based on geography alone.

In addition there will be plenty of foreign players keen to show off their skills in the tournament, particularly if they are paid to do so. Quite a few of the current New Zealand side played part of the Australian domestic season eg Suzie Bates, Sophie Devine and Amy Satterthwaite, as did England's Charlotte Edwards, Heather Knight and Sarah Taylor. I cannot see an IPL auction being the way forward, nor a free-for-all, so you would guess that CA will set a limit on foreign players and at least have some say in who goes where, as they have done in state cricket.

As to the format of the competition and when the games are played, it seems likely that double headers with the men's games will be the norm, but these could be before or after the men's game ( I prefer after) and CA need to be careful not to treat the WBBL as a mere sideshow to the "real" Big Bash (ie the men). It will be a difficult tightrope to walk. Hopefully some kind of deal will also have been struck with Network Ten to cover at least some, if not all, of the women's games on television. Whether Sky in the UK or New Zealand for example would also take the coverage remains to be seen. Perhaps it would be better if a free-to-air television company picked up the rights to the women's games, if they are available (BBC are you reading this?). It would be great for the profile of the sport.

So there are undoubtedly lots of questions still to be answered, but the commitment seems to be there from Cricket Australia, for which I applaud them. Will they make all the right decisions and will the WBBL be an overnight success? Probably not, but it is another step in the right direction for the women's game.


England destroy New Zealand in first T20

England skittled out the New Zealand White Ferns for their lowest ever T20 score of just 60 to set up a convincing eight wicket win in the first of their three T20 internationals.

Having won the toss New Zealand skipper Suzie Bates had no hesitation in batting on what looked like a good batting wicket. But within five overs the New Zealand innings was in tatters. Heather Knight once again opened the bowling for England in her new role as main spinner. The trust placed in her by Charlotte Edwards was not misplaced. After her opening bowling partner Katherine Brunt had picked up the key wicket of Bates in her first over, caught at mid-on by Hazell, Knight proceeded to take three wickets for two runs to reduce New Zealand to 10 for 4 after five overs. There were no great demons in the wicket it seemed, but Priest tried to go over the top, but succeeded only in skying a catch to Winfield at mid-off; McGlashan advanced down the track but played and missed to allow Sarah Taylor an easy stumping; and then Sophie Devine slog-swept Knight out to the deep midwicket boundary. It looked to be going for 6, but Lydia Greenway positioned herself just inside the boundary rope and leapt to take the ball in her hands. However her momentum carried her over the rope, but she threw the ball upwards and then stepped calmly back inside the boundary to complete a remarkable catch.
England celebrate Greenway's staggering catch (c) Ruth Conchie
There was no let up even after player of the match Knight completed her four overs taking 3 – 10. Dani Hazell moved to become the joint-leading wicket taker for England accounting for Broadmore for the third duck in the White Fern’s top five, and then Satterthwaite, as both tried to play across the line of the ball and were adjudged to be lbw. At 18 for 6 New Zealand looked strong candidates to record the lowest ever T20I score, beating Sri Lanka’s 57 all out against Bangladesh in 2012.

Katie Perkins and Erin Bermingham saw New Zealand through the next few overs, but the introduction of Anya Shrubsole accounted for Perkins for 8 to another fine catch by Greenway, and then Tahuhu, hitting a leading edge to Sciver to be caught at cover for 3. Bermingham, the only Kiwi to reach double figures, had taken her score to 20 and the New Zealand total to 55 before she too played across the line and was lbw to Laura Marsh. At 55 for 9 New Zealand still needed three runs to make it past Sri Lanka’s previous low. They just about managed to get there, as they limped to 60, before Shrubsole wrapped up the innings removing Georgia Guy’s middle stump with two balls of the New Zealand innings unused. Shrubsole finished with the excellent figures of 3 – 6 off her 3.4 overs.

England made a nervous start to their reply, losing Lauren Winfield for 1 with the score on five, as she skied a drive off Bermingham to Sophie Devine at cover, but Charlotte Edwards looked in confident mood as she hit Morna Nielsen for four over midwicket and then pulled her for another four in her next over. Meanwhile Sarah Taylor looked to have found some timing as she twice cut Georgia Guy for four through the covers to take her score onto 16, but she then feathered one through to keeper Priest off Guy to leave England on 35 for 2. But Edwards, and new partner Sciver, saw England home without further alarm in the 12th over for a comprehensive victory which should fill them with confidence ahead of tomorrow’s second T20 on the same wicket. After that England move down to Christchurch for the last T20 and two more ODIs at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval at Lincoln University to end the tour.

Martin Davies


Monday, 16 February 2015

England's best T20 team

Everybody likes to think that they could pick a better team than the one that strolls out onto the park to play. No matter what the sport. No matter what the level.

Women's cricket is no exception. We all think that we know best. We all have our favourite players. We can all justify the inclusion or exclusion of certain players. Sometimes it is very difficult to see how others cannot see what is so blinding obvious to us. 

Of course none of us has all the facts. We have no knowledge of player injuries, niggles, worries, form in the nets. We only get to see them on game days, and sometimes then all too briefly, if they have a bat in their hand or bowl a bad over. We have no knowledge of how the wicket is going to play or the atmospheric conditions that prevail on game day. 

What we do have of course is the stats. Cricket followers love stats, as they can always support your point of view, no matter what it is. "The stats never lie" is an oft-quoted misnomer. Stats can be misleading, and particularly T20 stats. They have no context. There is no differential between an over bowled in or out of the powerplay; nor at two batsmen who are well set and tonking the ball to all parts of the ground; nor at the death of an innings when a team are happy to throw caution to the wind. Likewise a batsman may be facing the best bowler in the world, moving the ball miles; or come in when her team are 5 for 3 in the second over of the game; or 150 for 1 with just eight balls to go with the message "just fling your bat". 

Stats do lie - frequently. 

So, it is with this proviso that I asked "The Cricket Bloggers" to select their T20 team for the first game at Whangarei on Thursday (not the team that they think will be picked, but the team they would pick). I was not prepared for the diversity of thought (or lack of it?) that went into each individual team. Given that there are only 15 players in the squad you would expect a certain degree of uniformity - far from it. All 15 players make at least one team and only five players make all five teams - Edwards, Taylor, Brunt, Shrubsole and Sciver. No player holds down the same batting position in any more than three teams and each team has a completely different opening partnership which casts seven different squad members in this role. 

What does this prove? Well absolutely nothing of course. We are all right because we can always say that "our team" batting and bowling in "our order" would have done it better. We can pontificate all we like (and we do), but at the end of the day it is down to the girls on the day to perform to the best of their abilities.

And don't forget cricket is a cruel game. You can be bowled first ball by a jaffa or whack a horrible half-tracker straight down square leg's throat. Those of us that have held a bat in anger have all done it. Alternatively you can bowl like a demon and end up with 0 for 35 off your four overs or bowl like a drain and get 4 for 15. 

Actually I think it is the vagaries of the game, as well as the delight of seeing someone bat or bowl brilliantly, which keep us watching. 

So here are our selections, for what they are worth. Feel free to disagree. We know you will.

Don Martin Raf Ruth Syd
1 Shrubsole Sciver Wyatt Marsh Edwards
2 Edwards Winfield Knight Edwards Knight
3 Taylor Taylor Edwards Wyatt Wyatt
4 Wyatt Knight Winfield Taylor Taylor
5 Marsh Edwards Taylor Jones Winfield
6 Brunt Jones Jones Greenway Greenway
7 Sciver Marsh Sciver Sciver Sciver
8 Knight Brunt Brunt Brunt Marsh
9 Jones Shrubsole Gunn Shrubsole Brunt
10 Hazell Hazell Shrubsole Hazell Shrubsole
11 Cross Cross Cross Grundy Gunn


Sunday, 15 February 2015

New Zealand take ICC WC Series with 9 wicket win

New Zealand wrapped up a second win out of three ODI games to claim 4 points in the ICC Women's Championship, and leave England with just two points (taking them to 7) and third place in the table, behind Australia (12 points) and South Africa (also 7 points but with a better run rate).

TeamsMatWonLostTiedN/RPtsNet RRForAgainst
Australia Women6600012+0.9521196/236.21130/275.0
South Africa Women632017+0.334852/216.1796/220.4
England Women632017+0.308951/230.1875/228.5
West Indies Women633006+0.5841128/257.31111/292.4
Pakistan Women633006-0.3981030/271.01023/243.4
New Zealand Women624004-0.876955/298.41049/257.3
Sri Lanka Women614013-0.347861/226.0927/223.0
India Women614013-0.371793/224.5855/219.

Ostensibly Rachael Priest with 96* and Amy Satterthwaite 76* were the difference as they guided New Zealand to a 9 wicket win with an unbeaten second wicket partnership of 153. But the problem was that they were chasing only 218 to win, which was probably 30/40 runs short of a good score on a pitch being used for the third time.

England's innings followed an all too familiar pattern. They got off to a decent start with Edwards (40) and Knight (79) taking the score to 71/0 in the 17th over, before Edwards fell caught behind, feathering Bermingham through to Priest behind the stumps. Knight then added another 62 with Lauren Winfield (29) for the second wicket, and, even when Winfield missed a huge sweep to leg to be bowled by Amy Satterthwaite, England were nicely placed at 133/2. But Taylor, Jones, Sciver and then Knight all fell within the next eight overs and England were in trouble at 158/6.

Taylor jumped a foot outside her off-stump to her 6th ball and tried to lap Satterthwaite's off-spin down to long leg. She only managed to hit the ball onto her own stumps. It was a staggering way to get out. Amy Jones, in for dropped Lydia Greenway, due to a "temporary loss of form" looked lively, but scooped Bermingham to mid-on. Nat Sciver pushed her second ball to mid-off and then ran, only to be run out at the bowler's end. It made no sense. Knight was then caught and bowled by Bermingham off a leading edge.

Fortunately Katherine Brunt (26), batting again at 7, and Laura Marsh (12) managed to add 37 by a mixture of good hitting, good running and good luck. But Marsh's luck ran out when she lofted one off Satterthwaite towards Suzie Bates at mid-on. She dived to her left to take a great catch. She does have a remarkable pair of hands. Brunt too then fell to another good catch, this time by Perkins at cow corner. The ball came down with snow on it, but she watched it well and caught it safely. Jenny Gunn, dropped down to 10, tried to make an impossible run after playing out two dot balls at the start of the 49th over, but Anya Shrubsole (15*) and Dani Hazell (2*) took England to 217/9.

New Zealand got off to a rattling start, taking 28 runs off Brunt's first three overs as she strayed too much on the legside and then too short. Fortunately Heather Knight was bowling very tightly at the other end. Her first five overs went for just 8 runs (she finished with 0/18 off 10). But New Zealand were comfortably ahead of the required run rate on 53/0 after 10 overs. It was a surprise when Bates clipped one to Nat Sciver at short midwicket off Shrubsole to depart for 39 with the score on 66. Priest seemed to retract back into her shell and Amy Satterthwaite took an eternity to find the middle of her bat, having failed in the previous two games. Gradually the required run rate began to rise, first above five an over and eventually up to six, but the Kiwis had wickets in hand. They brought up their 50 partnership off 96 balls in the 30th over, and they still needed 99 to win. After 40 overs they had 165/1, needing 53 off 10 overs. With 8 overs to go they needed 48, but then suddenly Satterthwaite came to life. She brought up her 50 off 93 balls with a four of Hazell, and proceeded to drive the next ball for four more. She was dropped by Charlotte Edwards in the 47th over, but by then the game had gone. She crashed two more fours off Shrubsole in the 48th over, which meant New Zealand needed just 4 off 12 balls. Priest had looked very likely to get her hundred, but Satterthwaite's late burst left too few needed for her to get there. She took a single in the 49th over and then Satterthwaite ended it with another four, with 8 balls to spare.

It was a chastening win for New Zealand. England came into this series as very firm favourites. . They have left with a lot of questions still to be answered before their next ICC games against the Australians as part of the Ashes in the summer. The most important is who is going to bat at 3,4,5, and 6 and how do they bat when they are there. In addition the bowling has been ragged and the fielding seems to have slipped. They have three T20s and two more ODIs to try and find some solutions. They also have injuries to Lauren Winfield and Rebecca Grundy to manage, amongst others probably.

The next game is at the Cobham Oval in Whangarei on Thursday. That is just three practice days

Full scorecard here -


Saturday, 14 February 2015

Blue Sky thinking on England's team for 3rd ODI

When in Mount Maunganui you have to climb Mount Maunganui don't you? Well I thought I ought to give it a go, especially seeing as some of the girls had managed it too. It was well worth it. The views are spectacular and photos hardly do them justice, but below are a couple just to show you what you can see from the Mount.

The walk up gave me a bit of time to mull over the first two ODIs. England were below par in all three departments in the first game - bat, ball and field. The run outs of Heather Knight and Charlotte Edwards - two of three players who were in form with the bat courtesy of Aussie domestic cricket - were criminal. But the pressure came from the fact that the Kiwis had batted first and had got runs on the board. True they did not have as many as they should have done. Having been 157/0, 240/8 was a poor return, but having won the toss England should have batted.

This ground is renowned as a batsmen's paradise and England were misled by the green tinge on the grass that was on the wicket. Having played on the next door track in the one and only warm-up game (should they have played more?) and racked up 342/9 you would have thought they would have had the courage of their own convictions and batted first. TMS's Charles Dagnell thought they had done the right thing, but just bowled badly. I don't think that was the case. The seamers did not bowl that well, but there was next to nothing in the track. No life and no movement.

So we found ourselves at 51/3. When the top order fail the middle order need to step up, and, once again, they failed to do so. England really miss Arran Brindle in this regard. She had an ability to hold things together, particularly if Charlotte Edwards had gone early. Had it not been for the hard-hitting of Anya Shrubsole and Dani Hazell England would have finished with only 140 on the board.

In the second ODI England looked sharper with the ball and considerably better in the field (the run out of Bates by Edwards was a huge blow to New Zealand), but the batting was again poor with the exception of Edwards and Taylor.

It is the batting that England need to try and strengthen somehow. The four players on tour who did not play in the first two games are Amy Jones (keeper/bat); Laura Marsh (spinner/bat); Danielle Wyatt (bat/erstwhile spinner) and Kate Cross (seam bowler). England could look to replace either Lauren Winfield or Lydia Greenway with Jones, Marsh or Wyatt. Personally I would like to see Jones given a chance in place of Greenway, but I don't think England will do this. I think the compromise might be to play Marsh instead of Jenny Gunn.

There are two pluses here. She is another spinner and spin might be just what you need on a low, slow third-time track. She will also strengthen the batting. Gunn has slipped to 8, behind Katherine Brunt. Marsh is an accomplished bat, although her stats for England are not that great. England have never really known where to bat her, but I would suggest at 7 she would be an asset.

I would also play with the batting order slightly. I would like to see Sciver at 3, Taylor at 4 and Winfield at 5, and perhaps even a bit of flexibility in the order if the batting situation changes. If they make a good start then Taylor may be a better option at 3. If they make a poor start then perhaps she should drop down to 5. She likes to play with freedom, rather than being "responsible".

Having said all that England may well go with the "don't change a winning team" mantra. That would be the easy option, but at some stage England's middle order needs a bit of a shake-up. Unfortunately there is no real pressure on the batsmen from the seven players who trained in the winter, but failed to make this trip - Tammy Beaumont has had plenty of chances to nail down a place in the side; Tash Farrant is no bat; and Georgia Elwiss only ever bats at 11 for England in ODIs (10 ODIs and 10 times at 11). She is actually better than that. The four non-contracted players are Beth Langston, Fran Wilson, Jodie Dibble  and Sonia Odedra - none of whom it seems are pressing for a batting spot.

It will be interesting to see what happens for the third ODI, and then for the two additional ODIs at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval, in Lincoln. I don't want to remind readers but we have the Aussies coming to see us this summer.


Friday, 13 February 2015

England fight back to steal second ODI

England will be breathing a sigh of relief after their bowlers got them out of jail after another rather frustrating and somewhat inept batting performance, aside from the ever-reliable skipper Charlotte Edwards (65) and the mercurial Sarah Taylor (45). The other nine batsmen contributed just 69 runs between them to England's 194 all out.

Having won the toss Charlotte Edwards had no hesitation in opting to bat this time round. In a smart move New Zealand opened with spinner Morna Nielsen who kept things very tight and then accounted for Heather Knight who tried to play a paddle sweep in the fifth over of the game, but left her leg stump exposed and was bowled for 5. Lauren Winfield had a lucky escape before she scored, dropped behind by Priest diving to her right, and then looked completely out of sorts struggling to time anything she managed to hit. But she survived long enough for her and Edwards to put together a partnership of 54, before she tried the umpire's patience once too often with her pads and was adjudged lbw for 14 off 40 balls. This brought Taylor to the crease and suddenly it looked a different game. She timed the ball from the off and hit a beautiful 45 from 41 balls. At the other end Edwards also looked to be in fine touch and passed 50 for the 44th time before she lost another partner. Suzie Bates had decided to turn to unproven international spinner Anna Peterson. She appeared to be bowling a mixture of off breaks and the occasional leg break. But with her fifth ball in international cricket she enticed Taylor to try and whip the ball over midwicket. She failed to do so and left Taylor swishing her bat in anguish yet again as she headed to the pavilion. The pair had added 68 with the lion's share going to Taylor and England were on 129/3 with 20 overs still in hand.

The middle order needed to consolidate, but Lydia Greenway heaved at Peterson and was bowled for 0 and Nat Sciver (10) was out immediately after the second drinks break, playing round a straight one from Sophie Devine. At 144/5 the pressure was back on Edwards and unfortunately she succumbed as she was bowled by her erstwhile Kent team-mate, leggie Erin Bermingham, trying to work the ball to the legside. At 152/6 with 11 overs to go England opted for slow accumulation mode, but Brunt was caught behind off Bermingham for 16 and Gunn dollied up a full toss from Petersen to square leg for 5. Dani Hazell and Anya Shrubsole made sure England used most of their overs before they too succumbed and England had just 194 on the board. It was well short of a par score. Probably 60/70 runs short.

England needed a good start, but when Anya Shrubsole's first over went for three boundaries off the bat of Rachel Priest, the signs were ominous for both Shrubsole, who has been out of sorts, and England. But Edwards then contributed more than any bowler as she ran out Suzie Bates, as she started for a single before the ball had gone passed Edwards' outstretched hand. Edwards parried it and then got it into Taylor behind the stumps before Bates could get back. It was a huge bonus for England and a body-blow for New Zealand.

Anya Shrubsole who claimed 4/36 (c) Don Miles
Grundy and Brunt kept the pressure on and Brunt deservedly got Priest lbw trying to pull a ball that was not quite short enough and may have skidded through a bit. Heather Knight then took over from Brunt and she too bowled good lines and picked up the wicket of Satterthwaite (15) bowled as she chopped a ball onto her own stumps. New Zealand were struggling at 47/3. It was the perfect time to
re-introduce Anya Shrubsole to the fray, and she rewarded her skipper's faith in her. She bowled Broadmore on the back foot and then next ball had McGlashan lbw. Two overs later Perkins was her third victim, lbw playing across the line and then Devine was bowled by a peach of a yorker, which removed her leg stump. The New Zealanders had slumped to 82/7 and the game was effectively over. Shrubsole finished her 10 overs with 4/36 and looked to be back on song. The Kiwis will not fancy facing her again on Sunday!

Dani Hazell and Brunt finished the game off as New Zealand were bowled out for 104 in the 37th over. Charlotte Edwards was named player of the match and England will once again be favourites for the third game on Sunday. New Zealand will struggle now that England have their dander up.

Full scorecard here -


Wednesday, 11 February 2015

New Zealand shock England in first ODI

New Zealand have won the first of the three matches in the ICC Women's Championship ODI series in convincing fashion.

They posted 240/8 in their 50 overs, but could, and probably should, have scored more. Skipper Suzie Bates (106) and Rachel Priest (52) put on a record opening partnership against England of 157 in just under 31 overs, as England struggled with the ball and in the field. Bates was dropped by Lydia Greenway on 48. It was a sharp chance, but Greenway would have backed herself to take it, and in fact she took a remarkably similar catch off Hazell to dismiss Bates 58 runs later.

That wicket sparked a collapse which threatened to undo all the openers' good work. Priest, in her 50th ODI for the White Ferns, had been caught by Sciver on the deep midwicket boundary off Knight, who also accounted for Satterthwaite for just 1. When Bates went New Zealand were 178/3, which soon became 182/6 as Devine, Broadmore and McGlashan all fell cheaply, two more to Knight and one to the debuting Grundy, who bowled well for her 1/35 return off 10 overs.

But Katie Perkins (27*) and Anna Petersen (12) steadied the ship that looked in danger of sinking. They took the score to 210 before Petersen slogged Brunt to Gunn at cow corner, and then Anya Shrubsole returned to pick up a consolation wicket as the White Ferns ended on a decent score of 240/8.

England needed not to panic in reply, but the needless run outs of Heather Knight (11) - her own fault  and Charlotte Edwards (26) - at the hands of Sarah Taylor, plus the loss of Lauren Winfield to a tentative prod outside off-stump, suggested confidence was low.

Heather Knight is run out         (c) Don Miles
England were 51/3 with 15 overs gone. Sarah Taylor (16 off 47 balls) and Lydia Greenway (27 off 52 balls) tried to rebuild, but it was slow progress and the run-rate was climbing steadily. Eventually the pressure told on Taylor as she skied one to mid-on, and then Greenway was bowled around her legs by leggie Erin Bermingham, who finished with 2/20 from her 10 over spell, Jenny Gunn being her second victim, bowled missing a flighted delivery.

Anya Shrubsole (29) and Dani Hazell (17) made the score look a little more respectable with some lusty hitting, but it was all in vain. England were bowled out in the 46th over for 173. It helps with the Net Run Rate calculation, but in truth England deserved to lose by more.

So New Zealand have some points on the ICC WC board, and England have two days to get their act together. Will they make changes? I have to say I think not. You got us into this mess so you get us out of it.

England will need to be a lot sharper with bat, ball and in the field. New Zealand thoroughly deserved to win this opener. They outplayed England in every department.

I have to say that I think bowling first was the wrong call. I said before the game that I would have batted, even after seeing the pitch. It was a decent pitch to bat on and runs on the board means pressure. We will wait and see what the winning captain does on Friday.

Full scorecard here -


Tuesday, 10 February 2015

England all ready to go in New Zealand

It has been a long time since England last ran out on the pitch for a proper game of cricket. In fact they last played on 7th September 2014 (5 months ago) against South Africa at Egbaston. Of course Charlotte Edwards, Heather Knight and Sarah Taylor have been getting in some practice in Australia, but for the rest of the England squad they will be keen to blow away the cobwebs tomorrow at Bay Oval here in New Zealand.

So it was good to see all fifteen players working hard in fielding and bowling practice this afternoon and the batsmen getting some more time in the nets. Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole were getting some good shape on the ball on the practice wicket (next to tomorrow's strip) - the strip used in the recent warm-up game against Northern Districts. The ball seemed to be coming through reasonably well, although not much above stump height and Sarah Taylor was probably no more than 10 metres back behind the stumps. I understand the same strip is going to be used for all three games and it looks like there are lots of runs in it, plus the outfield will be lightening quick. If you can get any odds on Charlotte Edwards hitting her tenth ODI century this week then I suggest you take them. She, and fellow opener Heather Knight, will be salivating at the prospect of facing the New Zealand attack on this wicket. Knight's highest ODI score to date is just 72. She will hope to better that and maybe even clock up her own first ODI century.

New Zealand will be desperate to get early wickets, and, if they can, then the pressure will be on the England middle order, which has shown its fragility in the past. Misses Taylor, Sciver, Greenway and probably Winfield will be keen to show that they have what it takes. The England management will be hoping the same, particularly with one eye on the forthcoming Ashes series later this summer.

I think Rebecca Grundy will get the nod to play tomorrow, along with fellow bowlers Danni Hazell, Katherine Brunt, and Anya Shrubsole, with Jenny Gunn making up the starting 11. We will have to wait until 10am tomorrow (9pm back in England) for the team to be announced. The game is due to start at 10.30am (9.30pm in England). You can follow it live on BBC TMS on Radio 5 Live Sports Extra (although coverage may be shared with the England Men's warm-up game). The warm-up game was livescored on the Black Caps website at, so you would expect the same for this game too. I'll be tweeting (@womenscricblog) and blogging throughout the day with up-to-date information and with a full report at the close of play.

The weather forecast for tomorrow looks decent. So it looks like we are set fair.


Wednesday, 4 February 2015

On tour with England in New Zealand

In less than a week England will play their first ICC Women's Championship ODI against the White Ferns at the Bay Oval at Mount Maunganui in New Zealand. It will be an intriguing series. Even more exciting for me is that I will be there to see it. The Cricket Bloggers (a select group of highly intelligent, well-informed, would-be selectors) are going on tour! Well three out of six of us. There's me, Crunch (women's cricket's Simon Hughes) & Snapper Don (the photographer). We are leaving Raf (historian), Syd (cynic) & Marion (stats) back in Blightey to keep an eye on things this end, and to retweet and blog stuff at a sensible time of day!

I've been following women's cricket for more than 10 years and I have been blogging and tweeting about it for more than two, with the aim of raising the profile of the sport. It is amazing to see how far it has come in that relatively short space of time, with no great thanks to me, but by the efforts of the ECB, some of the media and especially the girls that play.

But clashes with the men's game put the media coverage into perspective. England's tour to New Zealand will go almost unreported in the press, due to the fact that the men's World Cup is also being played in Australia and New Zealand at the same time. BBC's TMS will cover the first two ODIs live on the radio, and I hope to provide some updates on games after that for radio listeners, but I have failed to convince any of the written press (tabloids, broadsheets or cricket mags) to take any match reports from the games. There will be match reports and photos on the ECB website and, of course, on this blog, which I hope will reach the people who are interested in the tour. Reaching a wider audience is not going to happen with this series.

The flip side is that England's next series is against the Aussies in England and full coverage of the entire series will be provided on the radio by TMS, and Sky will be showing all the games live, including the four day Test. That is fantastic news. The concept of the Women's Ashes Series - three ODIs, three T20s and a Test - has been a huge marketing success. Each game in the series has meaning and context. The fact the series is against the Old Enemy and that they are the number one team in women's cricket at the moment, will mean the coverage and the interest will be intensified.

The ICC WC has not, and will not, reach those peaks of interest, particularly in England and Australia, as both teams are expected to win most of their games and thereby qualify easily for the World Cup in 2017 (The top four teams automatically qualify. In fact it is being held in England so I think England would qualify automatically come what may). What the ICC WC has done is to create a "tournament" in which all of the top eight countries in the world have to play one another over a three year period and it already seems to be bearing fruit for the likes of South Africa and Pakistan, who have claimed some notable victories. The pressure is on though for teams such as India and New Zealand. Failure to make the top four is unlikely to mean they will not be at the World Cup (they can still qualify through a secondary tournament involving smaller countries), but it will make life very uncomfortable. After England New Zealand are due to play the Indians in India!

As it is the White Ferns find themselves bottom of the ICC WC table and they must be favourites to stay there given their recent form, and recent results against England (they have not won an ODI against them since 2010). Overall New Zealand have won about half of the 278 ODIs they have played, but in the last three years they have lost 22 out of 32 games with one no result. They lost all four ODIs against West Indies on their last tour and failed to qualify for the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup last March after defeat to South Africa. But they do have the advantage of playing at home, and the fact that most of the England team have not played a competitive game since September (Edwards, Knight and Taylor being the exceptions having wintered in Australia). They have some class batting in Suzie Bates, the in-form Amy Satterthwaite and Sophie Devine, but their bowling looks weak. It is interesting that 14 year leg-spinner Amelia Kerr was equal top wicket taker (with Ireland's Eimear Richardson) in the domestic T20 competition (10 wickets in five games) and second in the 50 over competition (17 wickets in 10 games) behind off-spinner Frances Mackay (20) (who has not made the White Ferns squad!). England will need to hit the ground running after just one warm-up game against the Northern District Women on Saturday. As professionals you would expect them to do so! Stayed tuned and follow my twitter feed (now called @womenscricblog) for more on the series.

ICC Women's Championship Table
TeamsMatWonLostTiedN/RPtsNet RRForAgainst
Australia Women6600012+0.9521196/236.21130/275.0
South Africa Women632017+0.334852/216.1796/220.4
West Indies Women633006+0.5841128/257.31111/292.4
Pakistan Women633006-0.3981030/271.01023/243.4
England Women320015+0.686367/80.1312/80.1
Sri Lanka Women614013-0.347861/226.0927/223.0
India Women614013-0.371793/224.5855/219.2
New Zealand Women303000-1.712392/150.0465/107.3