Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Women's County Championship starts this weekend

Sunday sees the start of the 18th Women's County Championship. Following on from our previews of the teams in Division One (here) we look at the first weekend's fixtures which are double-headers for most teams, with games on both Sunday (4th May) and Monday (5th May).

Sussex start the defence of their 2013 County Championship title with games against Essex at the County Ground in Hove (10.30am start) on Sunday, and Warwickshire at St James Montefiore CC on Monday (11am start). They defeated both teams comfortably last year and they will be hopeful of getting their 2014 campaign off to a double-winning start. Sussex will be hopeful of fielding a full-strength side with England's Sarah Taylor as their new skipper. Essex are a young team and they will do well to contain Sussex. Warwickshire have some promising cricketers in their squad with the likes of Becky Grundy and Amy Jones (fresh from the T20 World Cup) and they will be a stiff challenge for the champions.

Kent have a tricky opening weekend against Yorkshire at Upchurch Cricket Club (11am) on Sunday and an away fixture to Middlesex on Monday at Edmonton CC (11am start). Yorkshire defeated Kent in last year's County Championship and effectively took their place in the Championship play-off final as a result of their six wicket win. This was based around an opening partnership of 137 between Lauren Winfield (69) and Jess Watson (53), who should both be in the Yorkshire line-up again. Notable absentees are likely to be Katherine Brunt (Yorks) and Laura Marsh (Kent) both recovering from injuries (although Marsh has been netting with her former England coach Mark Lane recently so may appear), but Charlotte Edwards will almost certainly lead a strong Kent team. Yorkshire might just fancy their chances though in this early season clash if they can prise out Misses Edwards, Greenway and Beaumont. Middlesex will be no pushover on Monday. Aussie Emma Inglis flattered to deceive last year and might just come good with the bat this year. Cath Dalton is a consistent performer and Somerset's Izzy Westbury will be making her debut for her new county (see A Woman's Tale)


Heather Knight will lead her Berkshire side away against Notts at Welbeck CC (11am) on Sunday and they can sit back and relax on Monday as they get a rest day. Rumours are that Aussie Megan Schutt will be making her debut for Notts, alongside England's Jenny Gunn and Danni Wyatt, but Notts like to keep their team news to themselves. This might make them too strong for Berkshire unless Knight powers her way to another County Championship century to kick off her season in style.

After taking on Berkshire on Sunday Notts return to Welbeck CC the next day to take on Essex (12pm start). Essex have to make the trip up after playing Sussex the previous day and the inevitable element of fatigue is unlikely to do their chances of success much good. It could be a second win for Notts and a second defeat for Essex. 

Prior to their meeting with Sussex in Sussex, Warwickshire are scheduled to take on Surrey at Reeds School on Sunday (11am). Warwickshire beat them comfortably last year by 119 runs, bowling Surrey out for just 79 runs - Marie Kelly claimed 4/13 and Becky Grundy 3/14. A similar result could well be on the cards again setting Warwickshire up nicely for their clash with Sussex the next day.

After their clash with Kent on Sunday Yorkshire hop over to neighbours Surrey for their Monday fixture again at Reeds School (11am). Yorkshire squeaked passed Surrey by just 12 runs last season after a poor batting display (with the exception of Lauren Winfield (96) and Hollie Armitage (25)). Nat Sciver (68) almost saw her Surrey side home until leggie Armitage claimed three wickets in 10 balls to finish the Surrey innings off. Yorkshire will either be on a high from a defeat of Kent or smarting at a first loss. Either way it could prove unfortunate for Surrey.

Middlesex - v Kent (Mon) (see above)

Surrey - v Warwickshire (Sun) and v Yorkshire (Mon) (see above)

Essex - v Sussex (Sun) v Notts (Mon) (see above)


Tuesday, 22 April 2014

2014 Women's County Championship Division Two Preview & Fixtures

As with Division One (see below), it will be the same nine teams that competed in Division Two last year that go head to head with each other this year, playing each other just once. The nine teams are Cheshire, Devon, Durham, Ireland, Lancashire, Somerset, Staffordshire, Wales and Worcestershire.

Both Lancashire and Somerset will be desperate for top spot in the division which will mean that they are automatically promoted to Division One in 2015. Last year Lancashire went through the season unbeaten, but came unstuck in the required play-off with runners-up Somerset. Somerset too were then denied a promotion they deserved when their promotion play-off game with Essex was called off without a ball being bowled. It meant Essex got to stay in Division One for another season.

Worcester, Ireland and Staffs all won four games last year and Cheshire three, which left Wales, Durham and Devon slugging it out at the bottom of the league with just one win apiece. Devon comfortably beat Durham in the bottom of the table play-off game, but Durham retained their place in Div 2 by beating the Netherlands in the promotion/relegation play-off match.

Cheshire (last year 6th)
Cheshire finished with a respectable three wins out of seven games they played last year with victories over Wales, Devon and Durham. They will do well to repeat that performance this year. Dawn Prestidge was easily the top wicket-taker (including 6/28 v Ireland) and finished second in the batting averages behind Jennifer Halstead, but beyond these two runs were a bit of a struggle especially against the better bowling outfits.
 Squad - no details available

Devon (last year 9th)
Devon had a torrid time of it in 2013, despite having what appeared to be one of the stronger squads in the division. They were missing some key players throughout the season, notably recent England debutant Jodie Dibble and fellow left arm spinner Hazelle Garton. They must hope for a much improved performance in 2014, although the potential loss for the whole of the season of leading batsman Aylish Cranstone is a big blow. In an effort to bridge this gap Devon have brought in seamer Phoebe Graham from Yorkshire on loan. In addition Hannah Linton from Canterbury Magicians in New Zealand is likely to be Devon's overseas player for 2014. If Devon can get their full side out on the park often enough then they should be capable of a much stronger showing this year.
Squad - Rebecca Bertrand (3), Vicky Bowden (5), Amara Carr (1), Aylish Cranstone (44), Jodie Dibble (48), Rebecca Donohue (11), Rosalie Fairbairn (21), Hazelle Garton (6),Phoebe Graham (25), Lydia Harris (2), Lily Helston (9), Jessie Jones (7), Ali Kelly (8), Cait O'Keefe (10), Hannah Linton (23), Lottie Miles (4), Claire Varcoe (28), Emily Ward (17)

Durham (last year 8th)
Durham's sole victory in 2013 was over the Irish, although potentially close games against fellow strugglers Wales and Devon were cancelled. They struggled to score runs all year with just 10 batting bonus points in six games played. Having finished bottom of the league they had to play Devon in the bottom of the table play-off game and lost by 108 runs. They then had to play Div 3 winners the Netherlands and managed to chase down 121 with just eight balls and two wickets to spare to prolong their stay in Division 2. 2014 is likely to be just as tough for them.

Ireland (last year 4th)
Hopefully Ireland will have come away from the WWT20 in a positive rather than a negative fashion. True they lost all their games in the tournament, but it was their first time playing with the big guns and they made a good fist of it. It will have been a fantastic experience for all the players, but especially the youngsters - 14 year old Lucy O'Reilly and 16 year old Elena Tice, who both enhanced their embryonic careers.They have some good experience in their squad in Isobel and Cecilia Joyce, Clare Shillington and Eimar Richardson and after playing on the big stage I would expect them to go well this season.
Squad - no details available

Lancashire (last year 1st)
If Somerset felt miffed at not getting a chance to play in Div 1 this year (see below), imagine how Lancashire felt having gone through the "regular season" unbeaten, finishing top of the league and then losing in the play-off to second-placed Somerset. Lancashire have a young strong squad with England's Kate Cross the new talisman. The experienced Jasmine Titmuss had her best season with the ball. Opening bat Emma Lamb is one to watch this season. At 15 last year she was opening the batting and was the division's top scorer, including 113* v Durham. Another season in Div 2 might not do her cricket any harm, but she will be hoping it will be her last before pitting herself against the best in Division 1. Favourites to finish top.
Squad - Natalie Brown, Jessica Couser, Kathryn Cross, Rachel Dickinson, Bhumika Doshi, Megan Fairclough, Georgia Holmes, Hannah Knowles, Emma Lamb, Laura Marshall, Olivia McCusker, Shachi Pai, Nalisha Patel, Hannah Till, Jasmine Titmuss, Chloe Wallwork, Rachael Walsh, Maddy White

Somerset (last year 2nd)
Somerset looked primed for promotion last year, having beaten the previously unbeaten Lancashire in the top of the table play-off game, but they were kiboshed by the weather, which meant their play-off with Div 1 losers Essex was abandoned. The rules had no provision for any replay so Essex survived. It means they have to do it all again this year and that the likes of Anya Shrubsole, Fran Wilson and Sophie Luff will not be playing in the highest league. Somerset probably do not have the depth in their squad that Lancashire have and they will rely again on Jenny Withers' leg-spin (18 wickets) and short bursts from Shrubsole to win them matches. They might have cruelly missed their chance at a spot in the top league.
Squad - no details available

Staffordshire (last year 5th)
Solid performance from the team in 2013 with wins over Cheshire, Durham, Ireland and Wales. Last year West Indian Shanel Daley turned out for the team, but without too much success. This year they have Aussie Anna Lanning as their overseas player who will probably add a competitive edge and may win them some games on her own. Don't think they have enough strength in depth though to trouble the likes of Lancashire, Somerset and Ireland for the top spots.
Squad -Elsa-Marie Evans (capt), Franki James, Evelyn Jones, Steph Butler, Looby Lally, Amy Carnwell, Alex Hale, Charlotte Whyle, Kathryn Whyle, Cheryl Allcock, Laura Malkin, Amber Sandhu, Charlotte Steele, Kate Ecclestone, Anna Lanning, Lucy Kelsall, Charlotte Mincher, Hettie Piggot

Wales (last year 7th) 
The second national squad in the league, but have a way to go to catch up with the Irish. They managed only one win last year and that was against fellow strugglers Devon. Loughborough's Gwenan Davies top-scored with the bat (164 runs) and Clare Thomas was the top wicket-taker with 11 wickets. They will have their work cut out against the likes of Lancs, Somerset and Ireland, but it should be a good scrap with Cheshire, Durham and Staffs.
Squad - no details available

Worcestershire (last year 3rd)
Worcestershire will be without influential skipper Katie Blunt this summer as she goes travelling, but Thea Brookes takes over the reigns and will look to push on from last year's great efforts with both bat and ball. Exciting new faces include Jo Cull who joins from Gloucester, and Charlotte North - on loan from Nottinghamshire. Emerging talent includes Emily Arlott, Jess Humby and Abbie Houghton, who will all undoubtedly have benefited from playing senior cricket last year.
Squad - Thea Brookes (cpt), Emily Arlott, Rachel Baldwin, Katie Barnes, Clare Boycott, Salma Bi, Jo Cull, Vicky Evans, Martha Farnworth, Jo Greaves, Abbie Houghton, Naomi Heyward, Jess Humby, Millie Marriot, Charlotte North, Sarvi Razavi, Lauren Rowles

Sunday 4th May
Cheshire v Staffordshire
Durham v Wales
Lancashire v Ireland
Somerset v Worcestershire

Monday 5th May
Devon v Staffordshire
Durham v Ireland
Somerset v Lancashire
Worcestershire v Cheshire

Sunday 25th May

Cheshire v Ireland
Staffordshire v Durham
Wales v Devon
Worcestershire v Lancashire

Monday 26th May
Devon v Somerset
Durham v Lancashire
Staffordshire v Ireland
Wales v Worcestershire

Sunday 15th June
Devon v Worcestershire
Durham v Somerset
Lancashire v Cheshire
Wales v Ireland

Sunday 22nd June
Cheshire v Durham
Lancashire v Devon
Wales v Somerset
Worcestershire v Staffordshire

Sunday 29th June
Cheshire v Devon
Lancashire v Wales
Somerset v Staffordshire
Worcestershire v Ireland

Sunday 20th July
Cheshire v Somerset
Devon v Ireland
Durham v Worcestershire
Staffordshire v Wales

Sunday 27th July 
Devon v Durham
Somerset v Ireland
Staffordshire v Lancashire
Wales v Cheshire

Monday, 14 April 2014

2014 Women's County Championship Division One Preview & Fixtures

The same nine teams will contest  Division 1 of the Women's County Championship in 2014 (now known officially as the Royal London Women's One Day Championship, apparently) as did in 2013. They are Berkshire, Essex, Kent, Middlesex, Nottinghamshire, Surrey, Sussex, Warwickshire, Yorkshire.

Each team will play each other just once and the team that finishes top of Division One at the end of the season will be the champions. There will be no Championship Play-Off as there has been in previous years. The team that finishes bottom will be automatically relegated to Division 2 for the 2015 season. The winner of Division 2 will be automatically promoted to Division 1 for the 2015 season. The team that finishes second from bottom in Division 1 will play the team that finishes second in Division 2 with the winner playing in Division 1 in 2015.

Positions in the league will again be decided on the average number of points a team achieves from completed, but not cancelled or abandoned games (which are ignored). Teams are awarded 10 points for a win and 5 points for a tie. Bizarrely they are also awarded 5 points for an abandoned game, even though such games are ignored. Up to 4 batting (RR of 4 RPO required) and 4 bowling bonus points (9+ wickets) can be achieved, making a maximum of 18 points per completed game. The full rules are here.

Last year Sussex, Yorkshire and Kent all won six matches and lost two, but it was Sussex and Yorkshire that fought out the play-off, which Sussex won by 95 runs to become the Women's County Champions 2013 - the sixth time they have taken the title in its 17 year history (Kent and Yorkshire have both won it five times and the now defunct East Midlands once). Indeed Sussex and Kent have dominated the Championship for the last 11 years.

So what are the teams' prospects for the 2014 season? I have outlined my thoughts below, but there is one huge proviso. How many of the ECB contracted England women will actually play for their counties? Even before they were contracted the ECB would prevent them from playing if they had a niggle or a strain. With more and more international cricket you would have to expect that this will only get worse. With the first games in less than three weeks it will be interesting to see how many of the England girls are allowed to play in the first weekend of games.

Berkshire (last year 5th)
Heather Knight carried her team through 2013 with the bat (603 runs at an average of 100.67) and was pretty handy with the ball. The challenge for 2014 is for some of her teammates to stand up and be counted. The experienced Amanda Potgeiter returns to the ranks after an army tour of Afghanistan, and Aussie import Corinne Hall may add some power to the batting. But they may struggle if Knight's prolific form of last year does not extend into 2014.  
Squad - Heather Knight (capt), Daisy Gardner, Alex Rogers, Amanda Potgieter, Corinne Hall, Lissy Macleod, Fi Morris, Carla Rudd, Linsey Smith, Imogen Brown, Emily Gerke, Rosie Inns, Sherisa Gumbs, Georgina Dean, Isa Guha

Essex (last year 8th)
Essex found it difficult to score runs and take wickets last year, which lead to them winning just two of their league games. They lost the relegation play-off game with Surrey and should have faced Somerset for the right to stay in the top-flight, but the game was cancelled and thus they survived. They are very likely to struggle again this year and relegation must be a concern. England's Beth Langston heads their bowling attack and opened the batting frequently last year. Their overseas player this year is teenage West Australian batsman Heather Graham. She will need to hit the ground running when she lands on 25th April.
Squad - Jo Cook (capt), Hannah Courtnell, Beth Langston, Karen Baker, Heather Graham, Cordelia Griffith, Lilly Reynolds, Beth MacGregor, Laura Owen, Hannah Jeffery, Bryony Butcher, Mady Villiers, Kelly Castle, Kara Toleman, Sharanya Sadarangani, Shona Keaney, Grace Melhuish

Kent (last year 3rd)
Kent's core is England quintet Charlotte Edwards, Lydia Greenway, Laura Marsh, Tash Farrant and Tammy Beaumont. And when all are fit and available it is a formidable line-up. But Kent's 2013 season was disrupted by injuries and they relied heavily on their young bowlers last year, including Tash Farrant, Grace Gibbs, Charlotte Pape and Megan Belt, who rarely let them down. But they did lose two key matches to Sussex and Yorkshire, which ultimately cost them a place in the play-off final - the first they had missed in 10 years.There is no doubt they will be strong again in 2014 if they can get their England players on the field, and the addition of former Kiwi leg-spinner Erin Bermingham won't do them any harm (she has just been awarded the Canterbury Magicians Bowler of the Year Award). The team everyone wants to beat.
Squad -Charlotte Edwards (capt), Lydia Greenway (vice), Alice Davidson-Richards, Charlotte Pape, Deanna Cooper, Erin Bermingham, Grace Gibbs, Hannah Jelfs, Holly Summers, Jenni Jackson, Laura Marsh, Megan Belt, Sarah Kennett, Tammy Beaumont, Tash Farrant​

Middlesex (last year 7th)
An up-and-down season last year with wins against Sussex and Warwickshire, but losses to fellow strugglers Essex and Surrey. Tash Miles and Cath Dalton lead the batting, but the bowling was more problematic. The Meatballs are a charismatic side, but that may not be enough to prevent them slugging it out at the bottom of the league again with Surrey and Essex.
Squad - Beth Morgan (capt), Maia Bouchier, Catherine Dalton, Naomi Dattani, Sophia Dunkley, Alexandra Hartley, Emma Inglis, Raveena Lakhtaria,  Natasha Miles, Anna Nicholls,  Ria Raval, Helena Stolle, Danni Warren, Hannah Wakeman, Izzy Westbury

Nottinghamshire (last year 4th)
A rather non-descript performance in 2013 with Dani Wyatt leading the run-scorers in a rather pedestrian batting line-up, which did them no favours. Jenny Gunn seemed to take a backseat in the six games she played, bowling few overs and batting down the order.They will need her and Wyatt to lead from the front if they are to have a successful season.
Squad - no details available

Surrey (last year 9th)
Surrey, like Essex, struggled with both bat and ball last year, with the one ray of light being England's new all-rounder Natalie Sciver, although even she only took six wickets and scored 277 runs at an average of just less than 40. They won only one game, but did beat Essex in the relegation play-off game, so survived the drop to Division 2. If Susie Rowe plays more than she did last year they might win a game or two, but it looks like being a tough season for them once again.
Squad - includes Cecily Scutt (capt) and Rachel Candy

Sussex (last year 1st)
Last year's champions will be pushed all the way this season. England legend Sarah Taylor takes over the captaincy of a young squad which will miss the services of stalwart Holly Colvin. Georgia Elwiss will be keen to prove to England that she is a top quality all-rounder, and opening bowler Freya Davies will be keen to enhance her growing reputation with the ball. She skippered the Sussex U17s to an unprecedented County Championship and T20 double last year, in which Paige Scholfield, Izzy Collis, Megan Janman, Abbey Freeborn, Ellen Burt and Anna Harris all featured. A strong bowling unit they will look to their England trio (Taylor, Elwiss and Brindle) to lead the way with the bat. Without them the pressure will be on the youngsters.
Squad - Sarah Taylor (capt), Arran Brindle (vice), Georgia Adams, Ellen Burt, Izzy Collis, Freya Davies, Georgia Elwiss, Abbey Freeborn, Chiara Green, Anna Harris, Megan Janman, Izi Noakes, Tara Norris, Sophie Parnell, Hannah Phelps, Paige Scholfield, Rebecca Silk, Alexia Walker

Warwickshire (last year 6th)
Promoted from Div 2 in 2012 they had a solid if unspectacular 2013 in Div 1 winning four and losing four. Scoring runs was their main challenge with no batsmen managing to get more than 162 in the season. It is difficult to see where their runs will come from in 2014. But England's Amy Jones will hope for a better season with the bat, and the returning Helen Shipman and the young Georgia Hennessy will be aiming to stake their own claim for England places. England's new left-arm spinner Becky Grundy will again lead the bowling attack.
Squad - Fran Clarkson (capt), Kayleigh Alsop, Nadia Bacciochi, Laura Crofts, Darcy-Chantell Evans, Becky Grundy, Georgia Hennessy, Rachael Howells, Amy Jones, Marie Kelly, Sian Kelly, Aneesha Patel, Lizzie Russell, Helen Shipman, Lizzie Smart, Isabelle Watson, Minahil Zahoor

Yorkshire (last year 2nd)
Made the Championship play-off last year, after a few seasons in the doldrums, but finished second best to Sussex. During the season they actually beat both Sussex and Kent, but lost to Berkshire and Warwickshire. England trio Dani Hazell, Lauren Winfield (the new skipper) and Katherine Brunt (if she is fit) will lead the way and they have some good youngsters in Jess Watson, Hollie Armitage and Alex MacDonald (on loan from Gloucester). Still a young team, they will do well to repeat last year's performance, but will be there or thereabouts. First game of the season against Kent could set the tone.
Squad - Lauren Winfield (capt), Dani Hazell (vice), Jess Watson, Kathryn Doherty, Ami Campbell, Hollie Armitage, Alex Macdonald, Hannah Buck, Laura Spragg, Aimee Simms, Beatrice Firth, Katie Levick, Cecilia Allen, Kennedy Nuttall, Katherine Brunt

2014 Fixtures

Sunday 4th May
Division 1
Kent v Yorkshire
Notts v Berkshire
Surrey v Warwickshire
Sussex v Essex

Monday 5th May
Division 1

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

Sunday 25th May
Division 1

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

Monday 26th May
Division 1
Berkshire v Surrey
Kent v Essex
Notts v Sussex
Warwickshire v Middlesex

Sunday 15th June
Division 1
Essex v Berkshire
Middlesex v Surrey
Warwickshire v Notts
Yorkshire v Sussex

Sunday 22nd June
Division 1

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

Sunday 29th June
Division 1

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

Sunday 20th July
Division 1
Essex v Middlesex
Kent v Berkshire
Surrey v Notts
Warwickshire v Yorkshire

Sunday 27th July 
Division 1
Berkshire v Warwickshire
Middlesex v Sussex
Surrey v Kent
Yorkshire v Notts


Monday, 7 April 2014

Any lessons from WWT20 2014?

Australia were duly crowned WWT20 Champions for the third time in a row after a comprehensive six wicket (29 ball) victory over England on Sunday. Had Meg Lanning (44 off 30 balls) not got out trying to hit the winning runs the margin would have been eight wickets, which probably better reflects the level of the Aussie win. It was disappointing for an England team that had seemed to gather some momentum as the tournament went along, but the Aussies ruthlessly exposed England's shortcomings and never looked like losing after the first six overs of the game, when England had managed only 24/0.

So what for the future? Can anybody take the T20 Champions crown off the Aussies? Here are a few ideas for the future for England and the ICC WWT20 competition.


  • need to find a fearless T20 opening bat - England's best batsmen are Charlotte Edwards and Sarah Taylor and they know they are. They were both desperate not to get out in the final and against the accurate Aussie attack were not prepared to take risks. The first six overs, while the field is up, is the opportunity to score boundaries, but the batsmen need to feel they have licence to hit through the ball and over the top. I would have given Heather Knight this role and put Taylor at 3.
  • need to find a T20 power hitter - England need a power hitter floating in the middle order who can come in as required and muscle the ball around. The problem is that there are not many of them around.
  • England need to play more T20 cricket - this is the whole of England and not just the current England squad. The current ECB T20 tournament has only a handful of games.
  • Big Bash & IPL - the sooner the better for the England girls - need to pit themselves against the best to improve in this format *fingers crossed*


  • combining the men's and the women's tournaments no longer works - the plan is that the 2016 WWT20 will be combined with the men in India; in 2018 it will be a standalone tournament in the West Indies; and then in 2020 it will be combined again in Australia. I hope the ICC review these plans and allow the women's tournament to be a standalone tournament from here on.

    If the combined tournaments do go ahead then some changes need to be made:-
  • the ICC needs to ensure that the games are broadcast - either television and/or radio or, at least, on the internet.
  • playing the women's final before the men's does not work - there were big crowds for the women's group games in Sylhet, but almost no-one for the women's semi-finals and finals, before the men's games, in Mirpur. I'd suggest a men's semis/final day and a separate women's semis/finals day. 
  • the ICC need to stop treating the women's game as a sideshow - the women's game deserves to be treated with the same respect as the men's, including an increase in the prize money.
England and the ICC have two years to get things right before the next WWT20 in India. The game is progressing at a great pace at the moment with professional contracts for the English women and Cricket Australia already considering a Big Bash for Women in their next season. Not to mention that the ECB are hosting the next 50 over World Cup in England in 2017. Busy times ahead!

Right back to my Women's County Championship Preview..............


Saturday, 5 April 2014

Aussie solution to the Shrubsole Factor!

Tomorrow sees the final of the Women's WT20 2014 between Australia and England, as many would have predicted before the start of the tournament, but progression to the final has not been straightforward for either team.

The Aussies lost their first encounter of the tournament to New Zealand by 7 runs, after they failed to chase down 128 scored by the Kiwis. Only Alyssa Healy (41) and Alex Blackwell (31) made any credible effort with the bat. The Aussies were bowled out for 121 in the 20th over. Comfortable wins over South Africa and Ireland followed with Ellyse Perry (41*) top-scoring against the Proteas and Meg Lanning helping herself to a world record 126 against a very young Irish side.They concluded their group campaign with another thumping win, this time over Pakistan - Elyse Villani (90*), and Lanning (50) again, the main beneficiaries. In the semi-final they batted first against West Indies and set them 140 with contributions from Villani (35), Healy (batting down the order) (30*) and Lanning (29) and managed a win by eight runs. Jess Jonassen opened in this game and Ellyse Perry batted at 4. The Aussie batting unit is not at its best at the moment with Jess Cameron struggling, Villani rather hit and miss (quite literally) and the Aussies not quite sure what their best batting line-up is.

As for England they started with a rather lame defeat to West Indies, when they failed to chase down 134 to win. Part-time bowler Deandra Dottin picked up 4/12 (she only bowled 3 more overs in the competition), as only Charlotte Edwards (44), got to grips with the Bangladeshi conditions. But from there on they improved, particularly with the ball, restricting India to 95/9, Bangladesh to 58/9 and Sri Lanka to 85/9. In the semi-final South Africa managed to score 101, but only after being 33/5. In all the games (except the West Indies) Anya Shrubsole has taken early wickets (2/25, 3/6, 2/17, 3/9 and 2/12). She has been backed up by a miserly Dani Hazell and good containment and wickets for Becky Grundy. Jenny Gunn, Nat Sciver, Georgia Elwiss and Jodie Dibble have then picked up the other 8 overs with varying degrees of success. In the semi-final England only played five bowlers - Shrubsole, Hazell, Grundy, Gunn and Sciver and skipper Charlotte Edwards resorted to bowling herself for one over after Sciver took some tap - not a scenario that England really want to repeat in the final.

I hope England will go back to six bowlers for the final with Elwiss again coming in for Beaumont. The rest of the side looks pretty settled. As for the Aussies I think they will persist with Jonassen as one of their openers, just because she is left-handed. They need to negate Shrubsole's wicket-taking ability and she is much less likely to bowl left-handers than she is right, with her hooping inswingers. If the plan is just to survive Shrubsole then I do not think they will open with Villani. She plays much too freely to be relied upon to survive. Their options then would be to go back to Healy, who has had a pretty good tournament with the bat, or even bring in another left-hander in Nicole Bolton (but she has yet to play in this tournament). I think they will stick with Healy and put Villani down the order. They will look to survive Shrubsole, negotiate Hazell and then score off the rest of the bowlers. If England can make early in-roads then they will fancy their chances against the Aussie middle-order.

As for England's batting Edwards and Taylor have been in pretty good nick and Heather Knight seems to have at last found her feet again. Lydia Greenway and Nat Sciver have not been at their best, but Greenway is a big game player and very little seems to rattle Sciver. One of the top four really needs to step up to the plate in the final. The Aussie bowling attack is consistent without being too threatening. England will need to avoid getting themselves out (including run outs!).

The pressure will be on the Aussies, who will expect to win. For England, with a relatively young and inexperienced side missing some big names, making the final has been a bonus. I think they can go on and win it, if they can handle the pressure, but it could be another nail-biter.


Friday, 4 April 2014

Fantasy League Top Team Prospects

Just the final to go between Australia and England and here are the Top Ten teams fighting it out for the top three places and a pair of tickets to England v India at Wormsley in August courtesy of Wormsley Cricket (http://www.wormsleycricket.co.uk).

All of the top teams have four players scoring points for them in the final, but none of the top 7 have the same four players, so anything could happen. With Sarah Taylor and Meg Lanning in all top 6 teams their performances may not be crucial to the overall outcome of the league, but mega performances from Anya Shrubsole, Charlotte Edwards, Jess Jonassen, Rene Farrell, Ellyse Perry, Alyssa Healy or Dani Hazell could make all the difference. By Sunday afternoon (London time) we will all know.

Good luck to everyone. Let's hope it is a good final. Thanks for taking part. We hope you have enjoyed it. If you want to see the full table then just click here - http://www.womens-cricket.blogspot.co.uk/p/blog-page_21.html

PositionTeam NamePointsPlayers in the Final
1Luff's Legends!2934Anya ShrubsoleSarah TaylorMeg LanningJess Cameron
2Fallen stars2827Charlotte EdwardsSarah TaylorMeg LanningJess Jonassen
3Warks Wonders2790Anya ShrubsoleSarah TaylorMeg LanningRene Farrell
4Mmmmatrayofpies2768Anya ShrubsoleSarah TaylorMeg LanningEllyse Perry
5Awesome2765Charlotte EdwardsSarah TaylorMeg LanningEllyse Perry
6Dazzers Dazzlers2723Anya ShrubsoleSarah TaylorMeg LanningEllyse Perry
7JamsBurton2721Anya ShrubsoleCharlotte EdwardsMeg LanningAlyssa Healy
8Bangers 2702Charlotte EdwardsSarah TaylorMeg LanningJess Jonassen
9Team Desh2698Dani HazellSarah TaylorMeg LanningJess Jonassen
10Clonmel2696Anya ShrubsoleSarah TaylorMeg LanningJess Jonassen
MD 04/IV/14

Experts My *%$£ - who is going to win?

So which of our "experts" (and I use the term very loosely) is best placed going into tomorrow's final game of the inaugural WCB Fantasy WWT20 competition?

Well the table below shows the current standings, and the players each team has playing in the final on Sunday. You will see that none of the top 6 have the same four players, so a big game by one player could swing it.  Still all to play for.

PositionTeam NameExpertPointsPlayers in the Final
1anthfiegAnthony Morgan2724Anya ShrubsoleSarah TaylorMeg LanningRene Farrell
2Scotch EggsMelinda Farrell2640Charlotte EdwardsSarah TaylorMeg LanningEllyse Perry
3ImnoexpertMatt Hyam2630Charlotte EdwardsSarah TaylorMeg LanningErin Osborne
4Women's Cricket BlogMartin Davies2546Dani HazellSarah TaylorMeg LanningJess Jonassen
5The FreewheelersGeorge Dobell2515Charlotte EdwardsSarah TaylorMeg LanningEllyse Perry
6Vintage Vingt VingtEd Kemp2387Anya ShrubsoleCharlotte EdwardsMeg LanningEllyse Perry
7Hit Out or Get OutStu Eddicott2367Charlotte EdwardsSarah TaylorMeg LanningEllyse Perry
8Big BashThe Brindles2321Charlotte EdwardsSarah TaylorMeg LanningEllyse Perry
9The Pit(ch) CrewSnehal Pradhan2280Charlotte EdwardsSarah TaylorRene FarrellEllyse Perry
10Miller's MaulersAndrew Miller2257Dani HazellSarah TaylorMeg LanningJess Cameron
11Same Bat Different BallSyd Egan2202Dani HazellSarah TaylorEllyse Perry
12Michelle du PreezMichelle du Preez1966Charlotte EdwardsSarah TaylorElyse VillaniEllyse Perry
13Raf's Dream TeamRaf Nicholson1851Jenny GunnJodie DibbleAlyssa HealyHolly Ferling
MD 04/IV/14

Shrubsole tops Fantasy League players

Only 24 Fantasy Players picked Anya Shrubsole in their team. The other 151 are just wishing they did now. Quite rightly she tops the Fantasy League top points scorers, with just the final between England and Australia to come, and who would bet against her increasing her points tally in the final game.

Below is a list of all the players who have scored 200 points or more in our competition to date. It is a good mix of bowlers, batsmen and all-rounders, which suggests our points system wasn't too far off. There are also a good spread of countries represented - 8 different ones in the Top 10! Later today we will publish the updated leagues and take a closer look at the top teams in both the main league and the experts' league.

Anya ShrubsoleEnglandBOWL24475
Suzie BatesNew ZealandAR92403
Meg LanningAustraliaBAT129308
Mithali RajIndiaBAT102303
Dane van NiekerkSouth AfricaAR3302
Sarah CoyteAustraliaBOWL8295
Salma KhatunBangladeshAR1293
Charlotte EdwardsEnglandBAT92287
Poonam YadavIndiaBOWL16275
Stafanie TaylorWest IndiesAR67273
Udeshika PrabodhaniSri LankaBOWL17265
Natalie SciverEnglandAR14261
Sarah TaylorEnglandWK141257
Tremayne SmarttWest IndiesBOWL9250
Rebecca GrundyEnglandBOWL4250
Shabnim IsmailSouth AfricaBOWL11245
Shashikala SiriwardeneSri LankaAR16242
Soniya DabirIndiaBOWL7235
Isobel JoyceIrelandAR2233
Deandra DottinWest IndiesBAT120227
Marizanne KappSouth AfricaAR10226
Panna GhoshBangladeshBOWL3225
Shaquana QuintyneWest IndiesBOWL29220
Bismah MaroofPakistanBAT2218
Ellyse PerryAustraliaAR97205
Dani HazellEnglandBOWL36200
Asmavia IqbalPakistanBOWL14200