Tuesday, 26 September 2017

England's Ashes Squad

England Women announced their squad for the Ashes tour of Australia today with Lancashire’s left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone named as part of the 15.

The ICC Women’s World Cup champions depart for Brisbane on October 7, where they’ll attempt to regain the Ashes across a multi-format series that takes in three one-day internationals, a Test match and three T20 internationals. In 2015 in England, Australia ran out 10-6 winners after winning two ODIs, the one-off Test match and one T20I.

The inclusion of Ecclestone is the only change from the squad that triumphed in front of a sell-out crowd at Lord’s on July 23. Beth Langston misses out. It will be the first time that Heather Knight has led her side into an Ashes series.

Heather Knight (captain, Berkshire)
Tammy Beaumont (Kent)
Katherine Brunt (Yorkshire)
Sophie Ecclestone (Lancashire)
Georgia Elwiss (Sussex)
Jenny Gunn (Warwickshire)
Alex Hartley (Lancashire)
Danielle Hazell (Yorkshire)
Laura Marsh (Kent)
Anya Shrubsole (Somerset)
Nat Sciver (Surrey)
Sarah Taylor (wicketkeeper, Sussex)
Fran Wilson (Middlesex)
Lauren Winfield (Yorkshire)
Danni Wyatt (Sussex)

Coach Mark Robinson said: "It's a hugely exciting tour and one we are really looking forward to. Australia on their home soil will be a further test of the progress we have made.

“We said before the World Cup that the final at Lord's was never going to be our destination, it was just part of the journey, and that journey continues with this tour.

“Sophie Ecclestone has finished school now and has had a great summer domestically. Her selection will provide another option to our attack.”

Captain Heather Knight said: “Ashes tours don’t come around too often so it’s always a special opportunity. Australia are going to be very strong opponents on their home soil so we’ll have to be at our best, across all three formats.

“Winning the World Cup was a dream come true but it doesn’t get much bigger than the Ashes. We weren’t able to win in 2015 so I know that the whole group will be intent on regaining the trophy this time round.”

MD
26/IX/17

Friday, 22 September 2017

Ecclestone key to England's Ashes campaign

Uncontracted 18 year old left arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone will undoubtedly be one of the first names on the England squad list to tour Australia next month.

The squad, which is due to be announced next Tuesday, has just come through a three day, day/night, pink
ball trial match, in which 21 England players combined with five teenage lads from the Essex performance squad. Sixteen of the eighteen contracted players were on show - Kate Cross and Amy Jones have already headed off to Australia where they are due to play for the Perth-based Western Fury in the WNCL. The other five players invited to play were Sophie Ecclestone (yet to be contracted although she has already played for England), fast bowler Freya Davies, keepers Ellie Threlkeld and Rhianna Southby, and left arm seamer Katie George.

Sophie Ecclestone
© Don Miles
In the Sapphires' first innings they managed to score 190 all out in 64.1 overs. Tammy Beaumont top scored with a stylish 76, and, having opened, she was the last wicket to fall. Heather Knight looked in good touch for her 35, and Danni Wyatt added a gutsy 27 off 62 balls. At one stage she had just 2 runs off 32 balls. Unfortunately there were no runs for Lauren Winfield (0), Sarah Taylor (0) or Fran Wilson (2).

The chief tormentor of the Sapphires was Sophie Ecclestone. She continued her county and KSL form in this fixture, and could be the key to England regaining the Ashes.  She took 5/34 off 16.1 accurate overs. She spun the occasional ball, but it was her changes of pace and her darting arm-ball which brought her the wickets - four bowled and one lbw. The other wicket takers were Sciver 2/23, Hazell 2/38 and Shrubsole 1/27.

Having bowled the Sapphires out at the end of the second session of play, it meant that the Emeralds started to bat at just after 7pm as dusk fell. They made an unmitigated hash of it, losing their top five batsmen for just 25 runs, which included three of the Essex lads, plus Nat Sciver (8) and Georgia Elwiss (0). Two more of the Essex lads staged a brief recovery, but at 46/7 things were looking ominous for the Emeralds. But Anya Shrubsole (42) and Dani Hazell (19), dug in and saw the Emeralds to 67/7 at the close of the first day.

In the sunshine of Wednesday afternoon, and with the pink ball now already 26 overs old, batting seemed much more fun, and Hazell will have been disappointed to have ended her knock dangling her bat outside the off stump to Katherine Brunt and edging through to the keeper. The pair had added 47 for the eighth wicket. Shrubsole and Tash Farrant (16*) then added another 29 before Shrubsole was bowled by Gunn and the innings ended shortly after with the Emeralds 56 behind. Jenny Gunn took 5/15 from 10.5 overs, Beth Langston 3/24 and Brunt 2/34.

The Sapphires' second dig started badly with Tammy Beaumont nicking off to Shrubsole for a duck, Farrant bowling Winfield for 4, and Heather Knight lbw to Shrubsole for 16, leaving them on 25/3. It was down to Fran Wilson (64) and Danni Wyatt (35) to rebuild the innings and this they did, although Wilson, dropped on 2, looked like a batsman striving for form for the first hour of her two and a half hours at the crease. But she battled on through and the pair took the Sapphires' score to 96 before Elwiss bowled Wyatt and had Brunt lbw in the same over, as the dark set in again. But as the sky went black, Wilson seemed to light up. Suddenly her timing was back as she dispatched Elwiss over the square leg boundary for a slog/swept 6 and crashed Hazell to cow corner for 4. She lost Gunn for 11 bowled by Elwiss, and then fell herself bowled by Nat Sciver. 153/7 was taken on to 189 with the last pair of Hartley and George at the crease. Having blocked out five balls of the last over from Davies, George inexplicably decided to chance a suicidal run to square leg off the last ball of the day and only succeeded in running out her partner. The Emeralds would come back on Day Three needing 246 to win. The wicket takers were Elwiss 3/28, Shrubsole 2/18, Farrant 2/30, Hazell 1/20 and Sciver 1/36.

The first session of Day Three was attritional, some might even have said dull. The new pink ball did nothing for any of the Sapphires' seamers, but the Essex openers were content to block everything. Fortunately number three, Robin Das, injected some pace into proceedings just before the first break, and the Emeralds were nicely placed on 84/1 from the first 35 overs of the day. After the break Das fell, but this brought Sciver (28*) to the crease, and she looked very much at home. She and Joe MacGregor took the score to 128/3, by which time the rain clouds were beginning to gather in the distance. Georgia Elwiss (5*) had just hit her first boundary off her 20th ball faced, when the umpires decided that the light rain had turned into something heavier. It turned out to be the last ball of the match, with the game abandoned shortly after 6.30pm, with the Emeralds finishing on 143/3 and the match drawn. The wicket takers were Brunt 1/26, Gunn 1/13 and Hartley 1/22.

Positives from the game were the batting of Beaumont, Wilson, Sciver, Knight (although it would have been nice to see her go on to a bigger score), and Wyatt. On the bowling front Ecclestone stood out of the spinners, and there were consistent spells from the main seamers. Disappointments were the the lack of runs for Winfield and Taylor (who did not bat in the second innings).

So who will make the squad for the Ashes? in my view there are 10 certainties :-

Heather Knight
Anya Shrubsole
Tammy Beaumont
Katherine Brunt
Sophie Ecclestone
Jenny Gunn
Beth Langston
Nat Sciver

Fran Wilson
Lauren Winfield


If Sarah Taylor is fit you can add her to this list. If not then you can add Amy Jones.

I think the other four places are up for grabs, but I think they will probably go to

Alex Hartley
Dani Hazell
Laura Marsh
Danni Wyatt


We should find out for sure on Tuesday morning.

MD
22/IX/17

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

A heartfelt tribute to Jan Brittin

England cricket great Jan Brittin sadly died today at the age of just 58.

I never saw her play, but she was obviously a classy bat and an inspiration both to those who played with her, and those who watched her play. One of those was friend and photographer Don Miles. "JB" is one of the reasons why Don has spent the last 25 years following and recording on film, and digitally, the women's game. Here is what he had to say on the great JB.

"I admired her in every way both as a cricketer and a person. She was head and shoulders above every one of her era, as BB (Barbara Daniels) will be happy to tell you, and she'd be the second in line with the talent. 

She was also very supportive of me, showing none of the early suspicion of a guy on his own that many did at first. 

She encouraged me to keep carrying the camera even though early results were not much good - they look terrible in retrospect - and always gave the impression that she genuinely didn't know how good she was. I sensed no false modesty in her at all - a very rare attribute.

Don't look at the stats - they tell at most 10% of the story - you just had to see her play, and listen to that quiet voice that always managed to say just the right thing. She was truly amazing".

She will be sadly missed.

MD
12/IX/17

Monday, 11 September 2017

Aussie Ashes' squad takes shape

Australia's 13 contracted players (minus the injured Meg Lanning) have started a week long Ashes training camp at the Bupa National Cricket Centre, together with Sarah Aley, Ashleigh Gardner, Molly Strano and Belinda Vakarewa, making up what looks like the Aussies' Ashes training squad.

Training camp attendees :-

Kristen Beams
Alex Blackwell
Nicole Bolton
Lauren Cheatle
Rachel Haynes
Alyssa Healy
Jess Jonassen
Beth Mooney
Ellyse Perry
Megan Schutt
Elyse Villani
Amanda-Jade Wellington
Sarah Aley
Ash Gardner
Molly Strano
Belinda Vakarewa

It is difficult to see any other players being drafted into the Aussie squad for the Ashes series, particularly given that there is only one weekend of WNCL fixtures before the Ashes series starts on 22nd October with the first ODI. In fact both teams have warm-up games on 16th and 18th October prior to the first ODI.

Full Ashes fixture list

16th October - 50 over warm-up games for England and Australia
18th October - 50 over warm-up games for England and Australia
22nd October - 1st ODI at Allan Border Field
26th October - 2nd ODI at Coffs International Stadium
29th October - 3rd ODI at Coffs International Stadium


3rd - 5th November 3 day warm-up games for England and Australia
9th - 12th November - Only Test Match at North Sydney Oval

17th November - 1st T20 at North Sydney Oval
19th November - 2nd T20 at the Manuka Oval
21st November - 3rd T20 at the Manuka Oval

MD
11/VIII/17

Monday, 4 September 2017

Storm beat the odds to win KSL2017

Western Storm went one better than they did last year, when they beat Southern Vipers by 7 wickets on Friday to whisk the KSL trophy back to the west country for a year.

It was a victory that few people saw coming, particularly after the disastrous start to the Storm campaign against the same team at the Ageas Bowl on the opening day of the tournament. Bowled out for 70, Vipers wiped off the runs in just 9 overs, losing just one wicket, including 34 off one over from Kiwi import Holly Huddleston. Not only did Storm lose but they destroyed their Net Run Rate. Finishing level with another team and hoping to qualify was now out of the window!

With just five league games before Finals Day, it meant that Storm could not afford another loss. Could they pick themselves up before they played Loughborough Lightning, just two days later? In their favour the game was being played at home at Taunton -  already the Storm's favourite ground (victories over Vipers and Lancashire Thunder in front of good crowds there in the 2016 campaign had ensured that). On the negative side was the lack of England World Cup heroine Anya Shrubsole for the second game in a row.

Storm won the toss and inserted their opponents - they like to chase, in fact they love to chase. They restrict Lightning to 108/9 with Stafanie Taylor taking 4/5. Half the Storm overs are bowled by non-internationals for 58 runs. Storm make a slow start in their run chase and still need 60 off last 10 overs, but they have wickets in hand. The equation comes down to 24 off the last three overs - Taylor and the bustling Sophie Luff are at the crease. They take 14 off the 17th over from Grundy, and they make it home with the first ball of the last over. Campaign back on track.

Next up is the long trip to York Cricket Club. Nine hours on the team bus from Exeter!! That's a long bus ride home if they lose. But Rachel Priest ensures it's a journey worth making as she smashes 106* off 65 balls as the Storm chase down Diamonds 160/7 in 17 overs without losing a wicket. Priest's contributions before that game had been 3 and 0. Who would have thought she would go on to be the tournament's leading run scorer (261 runs at an average of 43.5)?

Meanwhile Surrey Stars are breezing through the tournament. Stars are undefeated in their first three games. They are Storm's next opponents, and they keep their unbeaten run going, and ensure themselves of a place in Finals Day, after posting an imposing 169/6. Storm hit 26 off the first two overs of their reply, but end the powerplay at 43/4. There is no way back from there despite good knocks from Lissy Macleod (30) and Georgia Hennessy (28). Storm are bowled out for 117. Everything rests on their final game with Lancashire Thunder, and how Diamonds get on against Vipers, who are also already through to Finals Day. Level on points with Diamonds going into the games, Storm know they must win and get more points out of their game, than Diamonds get out of theirs.

Another good bowling performance, with Huddleston having been dropped to the bench, restricts Thunder to 123/5, and Priest smashes another 50 off just 22 balls this time, to take Storm to 67/1 at the end of the powerplay. The game looks done, but Storm slip to 73/4 and it is Sophie Luff 24* and Georgia Hennessy 16, who steady the ship with a 30 run partnership, which means Storm run out winners in the 18th over. There is no bonus point win, but the four points are enough as Diamonds lose to Vipers. It means Storm have made it to Finals Day in third spot, and have to take on Stars in the semi-final, who lost their unbeaten record in their final league game to Lightning. No-one gives Storm much of a chance.

Stars have only used their five international bowlers - Kapp, Sciver, Hartley, Farrell and Marsh throughout the entire tournament. Storm again choose to leave one of their international bowlers sitting on the bench. Skipper Knight has faith in the previously unknown 30 year old off-spinner Claire Nicholas; blonde pace bowler Freya Davies; and left arm spinner Jodie Dibble. Her faith is rewarded as Nicholas and Dibble go for just 30 off their eight overs, with Nicholas picking up Tammy Beaumont's wicket, and Davies 19 off three overs with the wicket of Lizelle Lee in her first over. Stars can only make it to 100/7 in their 20 overs and despite an early wobble (17/4) Storm manage to get over the line thanks to 37* from Stafanie Taylor and 21 from Hennessy.

No change to the Storm team for the final. Set 146 to win they make another positive start to the chase. The last over of the powerplay from Linsey Smith is taken for 25 runs - 22 of them to Rachel Priest. It means Storm are 62/1 at the end of the powerplay and ahead of the rate. Cool heads are required when Priest is caught on the deep midwicket boundary for 72 off 36 balls, and Stafanie Taylor can only bat with a runner. Fortunately Storm have the Ice Queen (Taylor) and the Duracell Bunny (Luff), who casually take Storm over the line with two overs to spare.

There have been some magnificent individual match-winning performances, as there always are in T20 cricket, but Storm's winning formula seems to be a realisation that there are eleven players in the team and each one of them has a job to do. On some days they will do it better than others, but provided enough of them stood up to be counted in each match they had a chance of getting over the line. It wasn't always pretty, but it was effective. A triumph for a collective belief in a team's overall ability.

Well played the Storm - worthy KSL2017 Champions!!

MD
04/IX/17

Sunday, 3 September 2017

KSL Match Notes - Finals Day

Semi-Final & The Final
Stars v Storm
Vipers v Storm

Stars v Storm
* Stars win the toss and decide to bat

* Claire Nicholas (was Thomas) pins Stars down with her off-spin, going for 2, then a maiden, and then getting Tammy Beaumont in her third (fifth of the innings). Stars 12/1

* In the next over Freya Davies gets Lee caught at deep square - Stars 18/2, which is how they finish the powerplay.

* Spin continues to tie Stars down and Sciver perishes in the 10th over off Knight - 42/3, which moves on to 46/3 at the end of the 10th over

* Progress remains slow and Kapp is next to go for 19 in the 14th over - Stars 63/4

* Sophia Dunkley (30) and Bryony Smith (19) add 32 for the fifth wicket off 35 balls, but both perish in the last over as does Farrell, which gives Anya Shrubsole 3/22 and Stars finish on 100/7.

****

* Storm make the perfect start with 12 off the first over, but lose skipper Knight in the second to Kapp, swiflty followed by Wilson out for a golden duck. 12/2 becomes 12/3 as Priest is bowled by Sciver's first ball.

* In Kapp's next over Luff edges behind and Storm are in trouble at 17/4. Had Tammy Beaumont held on to a regulation catch two balls later Hennessy would have been on her way and Storm 19/5, but instead...

* Stafanie Taylor 37* and Georgia Hennessy 21 take Storm to 61 before Hennessy charges Marsh and misses.

* 61/5 becomes 67/6 as Macleod's stay is short. Taylor and Shrubsole take Storm almost there - 91/7 with 16 balls to come, and they get home and into the final with 7 balls to spare


Vipers v Storm
* Storm win the toss and not surprisingly decide to chase

* Runs come quite easily in the powerplay for Hayley Matthews (31), who looks in good touch, and Suzie Bates (21), who doesn't. Powerplay 38/0 but Storm did drop Bates

* 8th over and Stafanie Taylor gets countrywoman Matthews - 47/1

* Adams doesn't last long - stumped off Taylor (58/2), and in her next over she gets Bates too, lbw - Vipers 64/3 at halfway stage

* Danni Wyatt, dropped early by Luff, is brilliantly caught by Hennessy at long on low down and Vipers are 100/4 at the end of the 15th over

* Mignon du Preez adds a useful 31 before being caught at backward point. Vipers 117/5 with 15 balls to come.

* Last over flourish from Charlotte Edwards (17 off Shrubsole's over) takes Vipers to a competitive 145/5

****

* Storm lose Knight early in the powerplay and are 37/1 at the end of the fifth over, but the sixth over from Linsey Smith is muscled away for 25, with Rachel Priest reaching her 50 off just 26 balls. Storm 62/1 after first six overs. (Smith who has been ill all week leaves the field)

* Fran Wilson is bowled by a looping Brindle yorkie in the ninth over - Storm still going well on 80/2

* It looks like Priest is unstoppable, but she smashes a George halftracker out to deep midwicket where Wyatt takes a tumbling catch. She hit 72 off 36 balls. Storm 94/3 at halfway. Only need 52 off next 10 overs with Taylor and Luff at the crease

* Vipers look resigned to the defeat as the pair knock the ball around for singles and boundaries

* Just 18 runs needed off the last five overs, and then six off the last three. With just one required Taylor launches the ball over long on for 6! Storm win by 7 wickets with 2 overs to spare






full scorecard here

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Lancs take title in dramatic final day

The final day of the Women's County Championship was as dramatic a day as you could have imagined, but you would have been hard-pressed to have followed it anywhere, or find any account of the day, with the exception of some county twitter feeds, our own twitter feed, this blog and that of CRICKETher. Even now there is nothing on the ECB website about who has won the Championship, or the teams that have been relegated and promoted - in fact there seems to be nowhere for it even to be located on the ECB site should it be written.

The Women's County Championship is the premier format of 50 over cricket below ODIs. Its standard has been criticised by the ECB for several years, but nothing has been done to improve it or replace it. It has been allowed to drift, and, this season in particular, it has been shoe-horned into two slots in the season, when many players could not play making many games a lottery. It must have been a nightmare for team managers and coaches.

With the proposed 50 over KSL now officially abandoned the ECB have finally decided to focus on county cricket it seems, but there will be no changes until 2019, with eyes next year firmly focused on T20 cricket, with the T20 World Cup in the West Indies in November 2017.

In our view serious ECB resources need to be put into a County Premier Division with a meaningful structure of games (at least 10 I would say), payment for the players involved, professional coaching structures and resources, and a commitment to promote the product, so that it is a level that girls aspire to reach and becomes a serious test of players' abilities. England players and one or two overseas players should also be encouraged to play, when they are available.

But enough of the future what of the current? Or more accurately the recent past...

Well in Div One it looked like it was Warwickshire's county title to lose. They were the only unbeaten side after five matches, but had the second and third teams in the league to play - Yorkshire and Lancashire. They had been in a similar position last year and blown it. Surely it couldn't happen again?

In the first game of the weekend Yorkshire posted 176/8 thanks to 51 from Hollie Armitage and 46* from Hannah Buck. Warwickshire lost early wickets, but made it to 74/2, only to lose their last eight wickets for eight runs to be 82 all out, and pick up only four points from the game. The Yorkshire win meant they were now in the driving seat as they were one point ahead of Warwickshire.

Meanwhile third-placed Lancashire were claiming 17 points as they defeated Notts by 63 runs, bowling them out for 108, chasing 171, with Sophie Ecclestone taking 4/16. It meant that Lancs were still third in the league, but 12 points behind second-placed Warwickshire. For Lancs to win the title they would need to beat Warwickshire the next day and hope Warwickshire didn't get too many bonus points, and then pray that Notts could beat Yorkshire, with Yorkshire also not doing too well on the bonus point front.

First things first they had to beat Warwickshire. When Sophie Ecclestone took 6/12 and Warwickshire were all out for 88, with only one batting bonus point, they were on course to achieve their first objective. When Lancs reached 92/5 to claim victory, they had all 18 points and Warwickshire had only three. Lancs had leap-frogged their opponents in the league and now all they could do was wait and see what happened between Notts and Yorkshire.

Yorkshire won the toss and elected to bat, but made a nervy start and were struggling at 62/4, but another patient knock from Hollie Armitage (55 off 108 balls), and some good shepherding of the lower order by Beth Langston (33*), meant Yorkshire got to 178 all out and three potentially precious batting points. With Warwickshire losing, it meant that Yorkshire did not have to win. They just needed to pick up a total of five bonus points. With three in their pockets they needed just five Notts' wickets to take the title. They took the early wicket of Georgie Boyce, but then had to wait another 97 runs before they got their second. The third came pretty swiftly thereafter, but Sonia Odedra was still there with Notts still needing 59 to win. They reduced that to 27 before they lost their fourth wicket, when the experienced Jane Smit joined Odedra. Neither of them will now be too welcome in Yorkshire as they steered Notts home with just four wickets down.

And so Lancs were the 2017 County Champions, by one point from Yorkshire, and three points from Warwickshire. 

Meanwhile at the bottom of the table it was a question of who would join Berkshire in Division Two next year - it was between Sussex, Kent and Middlesex. With Middlesex playing Sussex in the their last game, Kent knew that they only had to win one of their last two games against either Middlesex or Berkshire. They chose to load their side with all their key players against Berkshire on the Monday. Without them they had been bowled out for 110 and lost to Middlesex on the Sunday. They duly beat Berkshire bowling them out for just 79 and chasing it down for the loss of one wicket. They were safe.

And so it was that whoever won the Middlesex v Sussex clash would stay in Div 1. Middlesex batted first on a green looking wicket, but it played perfectly, and all the Middlesex batsmen enjoyed the conditions, helped by some inept umpiring. They racked up 259/6 with Sophia Dunkley hitting a well-made 63. With Sussex missing four frontline players they looked short on batting, despite the addition of South African Mignon du Preez. After a sprightly opening over the Sussex innings never really got going and at 85/4 things looked bleak. A 53 run partnership between Georgia Elwiss (38) and Freya Davies (29) gave Sussex brief hope, but when Elwiss hit a Dattani long hop straight to square leg, Sussex's goose was cooked. They were eventually bowled out for 169 giving Middlesex the win by 90 runs and another year in Div 1. Next year will be the first time that Sussex have ever been in Division Two.

Coming up from Division Two will be Hampshire and Somerset. Hampshire took the Div 2 title with final weekend wins over Devon and Somerset themselves, courtesy of telling contributions from Charlotte Edwards and Suzie Bates. It will be interesting to see if they both return in 2018. Somerset had secured their return to Div 1 with a thumping 96 run win over Surrey, the previous day. At the bottom of the table Staffs ended a miserable season with two more defeats and will be playing in Div 3 next year, as will Worcestershire, who were already relegated even before they lost their last game of the season to Derbyshire.

Promoted from the Div 3 play-offs to Div 2 are Essex, who beat Gloucestershire by six wickets, and Northants who beat Durham by five wickets.

So another County Championship season has ended before September has even begun. Congratulations to all those who have finished at the top and commiserations to all those that have finished at the bottom, but special thanks to all those that make it all possible.

MD
30/VIII/17