Monday, 19 December 2016

WBBL02 - 8 more games, 10 more facts

So we are 16 games in to the 56 game WBBL02 league schedule and it is the Melbourne Stars and the Hobart Hurricanes, who head the table with three wins out of four games. But there is still a long way to go.

The girls can take a rest now until Boxing Day, but after that it is full on until 9th January, with 24 games in 14 days. With teams needing to win probably eight games to be sure of making the top four, things could be a lot clearer by the four day break in early 2017, by which time most of the teams will have played 10 of their 14 games.

But here are a few facts to keep you going until the next instalment hits our computer screens...

Fact 1
The WBBL has had it's first Super Over. It came in the Hurricanes v Renegades game as the Renegades failed to score the two runs they needed off the last two balls of the game. In the Super Over the Renegades hit 12 runs, but with two needed off the last ball Erin Burns smashed the ball to the midwicket boundary for a Canes' win. (full scorecard including Super Over is here)

Fact 2
Neither Meg Lanning nor Jess Cameron for the Melbourne Stars appear to be able to throw overarm at the present time! But have the opposition noticed? Quick singles ladies?

Fact 3
In the Heat v Scorchers second clash the Heat only managed to put 101/9 on the board off their 20 overs and 15 of those were wides - the most so far in WBBL02! Misses Brunt, Bates and Grundy to the naughty step.

Fact 4
On the flip side congratulations and a thumping pat on the back to the Stars, who gave away just 1 extra run (a Morna Nielsen wide), in their second game against the Sixers - the Stars went on to chase down 111/8 with just three wickets down.

Fact 5
The top two run scorers in WBBL02 are both Kiwis!!
Sophie Devine has 127 and Amy Satterthwaite 122. 
I suppose I ought to mention that someone called Meg Lanning has 122 runs too. I'm sure she'll go far in the game!

Fact 6
Last year's finalists, the Sydney Thunder and the Sydney Sixers, are currently languishing in sixth and eighth in the league, having both won just one game out of four. It is a better start than the Sixers had last year though (they lost their first six games then!)

Fact 7
It wasn't Ellyse Perry's weekend as she scored 0 and 4 for the Sixers against the Stars. Having been caught behind off Emma Kearney in Game 1, she had a Groundhog Day moment the next day (or was in the same day...again?)...
Fact 8
After a "quiet start" to the tournament Heat's Beth Mooney suddenly found her mojo in their second game against the Scorchers. Not content with a record equalling four stumpings, Mooney then went on to smash 67* out of 95/2 to win the game.

Fact 9
And on the subject of wicketkeepers, Perth Scorchers' Meg Banting has stood behind the stumps for 80 overs and is yet to claim a catch or a stumping!

Fact 10 
And finally...if you win the toss then it looks like you are better off opting to bat second. Sides batting second have won 10 of the 16 games to date. Sides batting first have won only four (one game cancelled and one tied)....
That is unless you are the Renegades, who won the toss against the Strikers and batted second and lost, and then won the toss twice against the Canes, batted second both times, and went on to lose both those matches too (the second in a Super Over)!


Friday, 16 December 2016

England announce new two year central contracts

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have today announced that 18 players have been awarded new England women’s central contracts.

Alongside an increase in the value of the contracts, which will come into effect from 1st February 2017, the next wave of England women’s contracts will also, for the first time, include the introduction of two-year contracts, plus a new level of “rookie” contract.

“The awarding of two-year contracts represents another significant step forward in the professionalisation of the women’s game in this country,” explained ECB’s Director of England Women’s Cricket, Clare Connor.

“The global women’s game is evolving rapidly, and in order to ensure that professional cricket continues to be an attractive career option for talented female athletes, it’s important that we continue to properly invest in our players.

“The ECB is fully committed to the goal of supporting the England women’s team to become the world’s number one team.  The pay increase and introduction of two-year contracts will give our players greater financial security and ensure they can be fully focused on the challenges that lie ahead: the ICC Women’s World Cup on home soil next summer, the Women’s Ashes in Australia and the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 in the Caribbean in 2018”.

Following an impressive introduction to international cricket in 2017, which saw her return a record 13 wickets in the five-match One-Day International (ODI) series against the West Indies in October, Middlesex and Surrey Stars left-arm spinner, Alex Hartley, is one of two players to be awarded their first ECB contract.  She is joined by Beth Langston (Yorkshire and Loughborough Lightning) who made her ODI debut against Sri Lanka in Colombo last month, and who is the first recipient of a new level of “rookie” contract.

Three players have not had their central contracts renewed: former England women’s captain, Charlotte Edwards, and middle-order batsman Lydia Greenway, after they announced their retirement from international cricket earlier this year, and left-arm spinner, Rebecca Grundy.

England Women’s Head Coach, Mark Robinson, added:

“The women’s game is growing at a real pace, but still doesn’t have the financial security that the men’s county game offers a player from the England men’s team in the event that they lose their ECB central contract.  We have a big couple of years coming up with two global events and a Women’s Ashes series in Australia, and it’s important that the players can look forward with some degree of certainty to focus on performing in those competitions. 

“That said, we do still have space and freedom to grow – we have to be able to reward players at the right time – so we will continue to assess the central contracts list on an annual basis.  The new level of “rookie” contract also gives us greater flexibility in this respect, allowing us to financially support players who sit just above the England Women’s Senior Academy squad, but who have not quite hit the level required to win a full central contract.     

“Congratulations to Alex Hartley and Beth Langston on being awarded ECB contracts for the first time.  Alex has been given a full central contract: her performances against the West Indies in the Caribbean were outstanding and testament to the hard work that she put in over the last 18 months.

“Beth is our first recipient of a new “rookie” contract, and she really showed during the tour to Sri Lanka last month that she has the attitude, commitment and skill to be successful at an international level.  She has been unlucky with injuries in the past, so hopefully she can now stay fit for a period of time and we will get to see how she can develop into a key bowler for us.

“I’m also happy to confirm that we have offered Sarah Taylor a new contract.  Sarah is doing really well with her return to cricket plan after taking some time away from the game for health reasons.  Her aim has always been to be back playing and available for selection for the World Cup next summer, and we’ll continue to offer her the support she needs to achieve that goal.

“Unfortunately professional sport sometimes necessitates tough decisions, and Rebecca Grundy has not had her central contract renewed.  I’m sure she will aspire to play international cricket again.”

The 18 contracted players are :-

Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Kate Cross, Georgia Elwiss, Tash Farrant, Jenny Gunn, Alex Hartley, Dani Hazell, Amy Jones, Heather Knight, Beth Langston, Laura Marsh, Nat Sciver, Anya Shrubsole, Sarah Taylor, Fran Wilson, Lauren Winfield, Danni Wyatt


Wednesday, 14 December 2016

WBBL02 - Rounds 3 & 4 Preview

The second instalment of WBBL02 starts this Friday with games 9-16 being played over three days. As in the first two rounds these are effectively double-headers against the same opposition on consecutive days. Rounds 3 and 4 will be :-

Sydney Thunder v Adelaide Strikers (Friday and Saturday)
Perth Scorchers v Brisbane Heat (Saturday and Sunday)
Sydney Sixers v Melbourne Stars (Saturday and Sunday)
Melbourne Renegades v Hobart Hurricanes (Saturday and Sunday)

The cream of the crop looks like being the Sixers v Stars clashes at Casey Fields in Cranbourne. It is rumoured that Saffer Dane van Niekerk may make her first appearance for the Sixers, alongside Perry, Healy, Kapp and McGlashan, which looks like some serious batting for the Stars to cope with, particularly if they are without England's Nat Sciver. Have to say it looks like 4 points for the Sixers, unless Meg Lanning goes mad with the bat.

Over at the WACA in Perth the Scorchers take on the Heat. Beth Mooney is due a few runs for the Heat, but with Suzie Bates and a motivated Elyse Villani in the Scorchers line up things could really get hot for the Heat. I reckon this will be another 1-1 draw.

In Sydney the Thunder entertain the Strikers. The Thunder's batting line-up looks strong with Stafanie Taylor and Harmanpreet Kaur looking in ominous form. The Strikers could be chasing plenty to try and get any points from these two encounters. Sophie Devine has been their star with the bat to date, but some of the other batsmen really need to come to the party if they are going to get anything out of these games. I'm going 2-0 to the Thunder.

And finally the Hurricanes travel to Bendigo in Victoria for their clashes with the Renegades. These are two games the Canes must look to win if they are to have any hope of a top four finish. Hayley Matthews and Georgia Redmayne looked to be striking the ball nicely and if Amy Satterthwaite and Heather Knight can get into gear then there are plenty of runs available to the Canes. The Renagades' Mols - Molly Strano and Sophie Molineux - will look to keep up their good form with the ball. On the bowling front the Canes generally look to suffocate the opposition. But again Molineux has looked in good touch, plus the Renegades have Rachel Priest, Danni Wyatt and Grace Harris all waiting to explode. Tight games are likely, but Canes to win 2-0.


Tuesday, 13 December 2016

WBBL02 - 10 facts after 8 games

The first tranche of eight WBBL games have been played, and unlike last year all the teams have played two games each. But to be honest we are not much the wiser as to who will fill the top four spots, as each team has won one game and lost one game. So what have we learnt from the first few games...

Fact 1
Meg Lanning is not invincible. In her two knocks to date she has scored 33 and 14.

Fact 2
Harmanpreet Kaur might just be though! Invincible that is. She has taken to the WBBL like a duck to water, with two very classy knocks of 47* and 30* against the Stars and then she added 4/27 with her slightly slingy off-breaks. Her 6 over extra cover was the shot of the tournament so far.

Fact 3
Ellyse Perry cannot stop scoring runs. She is the top WBBL02 run-scorer to date with 87 runs accumulated against the Heat. Deandra Dottin took a bit of a liking to her bowling in the first game, but with bat in hand she looks awesome.

Fact 4
Deandra Dottin is an enigma! In game one she flayed the Sixers to all parts to hit 60* off 44 balls and win the game for the Heat. In game two, she had just lofted Sarah Aley for a towering 6 over mid-on. Mid-on was dropped to long on and promptly caught Dottin two balls later as she tried the same thing. Doh!

Fact 5
18 year old Sophie Molineux at the Renegades looks like one to watch. She almost beat the Strikers single-handedly in their second meeting. First she took 4/18 (best bowling figures in the tournament to date) with her slow left arm spin, plus she took a catch and then she ran out Charlotte Edwards with a direct hit with one stump to aim at. She then came in to bat at 5 and smashed 28 off 18 balls to ensure the Renegades secured their first points of WBBL02. She won't have many better days on a cricket pitch!

Fact 6
Charlotte Edwards has been run out both times in her first two innings.

Fact 7 
The highest team score to date is the Stars' 147/8 against the Thunder.

Fact 8
The lowest team score to date is 83/9 by the Heat against the Sixers.

Fact 9
The bowler with the best economy rate to date is Sarah Aley for the Sydney Sixers at 3.87 runs per over from her eight overs so far. She also has four wickets, which makes her the equal highest wicket taker, along with Molly Strano, Molineux and Kaur.

Fact 10 
Emma Inglis pronounces her surname "Ingles", "as in Pringles" she tells me!


Wednesday, 7 December 2016

WBBL02 Preview

This weekend is the opening weekend of WBBL02.

Here are the opening fixtures, with our view on who might win, and then a run down on all the sides taking part, including full squad details, plus where we think they will finish in the league. Remember the top four in the league go through to the semi-finals, but there are 56 league games to be played in the next six weeks before then...

10th December
Hurricanes v Scorchers – Hurricanes to win
Strikers v Renegades - Strikers to win
Thunder v Stars - Thunder to win
11th December
Renegades v Strikers - Strikers to win
Scorchers v Hurricanes - Hurricanes to win
Sixers v Heat - Sixers to win

Adelaide Strikers
Megan Schutt, Sarah Coyte,  (Southern Stars)
Sophie Devine, Charlotte Edwards, Tammy Beaumont (Overseas)
Amanda Wellington, Tahlia McGrath, Sarah Elliott, Shelley Nitschke, Tegan McPharlin © (wk), Bridget Patterson, Alex Price, Samantha Betts, Tabatha Saville, Katelyn Pope

It looks like the Strikers are going to rely on their overseas players, Devine, Edwards and Beaumont, to get runs on the board, perhaps batting around the immoveable object that is Sarah Elliott. Beaumont scored a lot of international runs in 2016, but had a rather lacklustre KSL campaign with the Surrey Stars, as did Edwards with the Southern Vipers, and Devine with Loughborough Lightning. Quick runs could be a struggle for this line-up.
Amanda Wellington and Megan Schutt may bear the brunt of the responsibility with the ball, with Coyte, McGrath, Devine and Alex Price all required to pitch in.
This looks like a team that could well lose as many as they win. 

WCB forecast - 4th
Brisbane Heat
                                    Holly Ferling, Jess Jonassen, Beth Mooney (wk) (Southern Stars)
                                    Deandra Dottin, Smriti Mandhana (Overseas)
Delissa Kimmince ©, Jemma Barsby, Courtney Hill, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Kirby Short, Kara Sutherland, Laura Harris, Haidee Birkett, Georgia Prestwidge, Tess Cooper

A deliciously eclectic mix with runs possibly in short supply. It will be fascinating to see how well Smriti Mandhana goes in Australia. She hit a hundred against the Aussies back in February in Hobart, which suggests that quicker Aussie wickets may well suit her classical style of play, but she is not a T20 expert. Could this tournament be the making of her? There will be pressure on Beth Mooney to deliver runs on a regular basis, and Deandra Dottin will hope for a lot more runs than she scored in the KSL in August. Skipper Kimmince may need to bail out her top order if they are going to put many runs on the board.
Dottin’s forte in the KSL, and the T20 World Cup, was actually her bowling. She has a tendency to spear the ball down the legside, and on a bad day it’s bad, but she can also be a toe-crushing yorker machine, who can win matches. 
WCB forecast - 7th
Hobart Hurricanes
                                    Julie Hunter (Southern Star)
                                    Heather Knight ©, Hayley Matthews, Amy Satterthwaite (Overseas)
Katelyn Fryett, Veronica Pyke, Brooke Hepburn, Meg Phillips, Sasha Maloney, Emma Thompson, Erin Burns, Celester Raack, Corinne Hall, Georgia Redmayne, Erin Fazackerley

Last year’s surprise package, and I think they could be so again, although they look a little light on bowling. The three overseas players are all likely to bowl their 4 overs, as will the parsimonious Hunter. Brooke Hepburn had a great WNCL (if rather expensive at times) and there is always the evergreen Ronnie Pike.
With the bat Hayley Matthews will hope she improves on her first stint at the club and bats way better than she did in the KSL in England. If Amy Satterthwaite can maintain her stunning 2016 form with the bat then she may be the Hurricanes’ match-winner, under the leadership of the blossoming skipper, Heather Knight. 

WCB forecast - 3rd
Melbourne Renegades
                                    Grace Harris (Southern Star)
                                    Rachel Priest © wk, Danni Wyatt, Leah Tahuhu (Overseas)
Molly Strano, Sophie Molineaux, Kirsty Lamb, Kris Britt, Georgia Wareham, Maitlan Brown, Nicole Goodwin, Tayla Vlaeminck, Amy Yates, Annabel Sutherland, Natalie Plane

Renegades finished bottom of the table last year with just four wins in their 14 games. Eight of the 15 players in WBBL01 have gone, with the only established players brought in to strengthen the squad being Grace Harris and Leah Tahuhu. Kiwi Rachel Priest and England’s Danni Wyatt return, but it is difficult to see the Renegades finishing anywhere but bottom again. Harris may win some games on her own if she can get going with the bat, but this season could be another struggle.
WCB forecast - 8th
Melbourne Stars
                                    Meg Lanning ©, Jess Cameron, Kristen Beams (Southern Stars)
Morna Nielsen, Nat Sciver, Hayley Jensen, (Danielle Hazell – temp replacement for Beams) (Overseas)
Anna Lanning, Emma Inglis (wk), Emma Kearney, Kathleen Hempenstall, Katie Mack, Gemma Triscari, Kelly Applebee, Alana King, Lily Bardsley (wk)

It is incredibly difficult to look beyond Meg Lanning as being the make or break of this team, as she was last year. If she gets runs they will win. If she doesn’t they won’t. Nat Sciver could be a willing ally with the bat. She carried the Surrey Stars batting in the KSL, and seems to be maturing into a quality player.
With the ball the Stars will be without Kristen Beams for the start of their campaign due to injury (Dani Hazell steps in and will do a good job), but they lack wicket-takers. It would not surprise me to see Lanning bowling herself at some stage during the tournament.
WCB forecast - 5th
Perth Scorchers
                                    Nicole Bolton, Elyse Villani (Southern Stars)
Suzie Bates ©, Katherine Brunt, Anya Shrubsole, (Becky Grundy – temp replacement for Shrubsole) (Overseas)
Megan Banting (wk), Emma Biss, Piepa Cleary, Heather Graham, Emma King, Chloe Piparo, Mathilda Carmichael, Lauren Ebsary, Emily Smith (wk), Katie Hartshorn

Suzie Bates rejoins the Perth outfit after a great 2016 and as their new skipper. She proved in the KSL that she is a class act in this form of the game, both with bat and ball, and a great deal of Perth’s success could rest on how well she is playing. Western Fury, from whom most of these players hail, had a dismal WNCL, so confidence will not be high. The youngsters will be looking to Bolton, Villani, and Brunt, plus their skipper, to lead the way.

WCB forecast - 6th
Sydney Sixers
                                    Ellyse Perry ©, Alyssa Healy (wk) (Southern Stars)
                                    Marizanne Kapp, Sara McGlashan, Dane van Niekerk (Overseas)
Emily Leys, Lauren Smith, Lisa Sthalekar, Ashleigh Gardner, Rhiannon Dick, Sara Hungerford, Sarah Aley, Ange Reakes, Jodie Hicks, Haylee Hoffmesiter, Carly Leeson

Last year they made a horrendous start to the tournament, losing their first six games, but came back to win eight on the bounce and get through to the final. Only to be beaten there by their local rivals. Perry, Healy, Kapp, McGlashan and van Niekerk looks like a strong top-order batting line-up, but their bowling could let them down. The spin of van Niekerk, Sthalekar and Smith may pull them through, with seamers Kapp and Perry struggling a little of late.
WCB forecast - 2nd
Sydney Thunder
                                    Alex Blackwell ©, Rene Farrell, Erin Osborne (Southern Stars)
                                    Stafanie Taylor, Harmanpreet Kaur (Overseas)
Steff Daffara, Naomi Stalenberg, Mikayla Hinkley,  Lauren Cheatle, Nicola Carey, Belinda Vakarewa, Rachael Haynes, Claire Koski, Sam Bates, Maisy Gibson

Last year’s surprise champions, who, unsurprisingly, have made few changes to their line-up for WBBL02. The only new face is Indian import Harmanpreet Kaur – India’s new T20 captain. She joins the stunningly-talented returning Stafanie Taylor, as the overseas contingent for the Stars. They could be a formidable partnership. Add into the mix the experience of the Aussie national contingent – Blackwell, Farrell and Osborne - and they look like a side that could be hard to beat again. Lauren Cheatle will hope to be back to her best after missing cricket with illness and school exams. Last year she picked up 18 wickets and burst onto the international scene. Youngsters Nicola Carey and Maisy Gibson, may also have plenty to do with the ball.

WCB forecast - 1st