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

1 comment:

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