Tuesday, 20 May 2014

A Grand Day Out at Lords

MCC Women v Rest of the World Women - Lords 19th May 2014

History was made at Lords this week as the first ever Women’s Rest of the World team took on the MCC Women. The game was a celebration of 200 years of cricket at the Home of Cricket, but it was also a tantalising glimpse of a possible future for women’s cricket, with the prospect of the best players in the world playing together in future global tournaments (albeit T20 tournaments).

It was no great surprise that a strong Rest of the World team came out on top on a glorious day in central London. They batted all the way down to 10, a position that Shashikala Sirawardene can rarely have found herself occupying. Having posted 283/9 in their 50 overs courtesy of half centuries from Mithali Raj and Meg Lanning , they had little trouble in keeping the MCC team (consisting entirely of current and former England players) to 242 all out, despite a battling 70 from Charlotte Edwards, with Pakistan’s Sana Mir taking 4/36.

The Rest of the World did not make the best of starts as Stafanie Taylor fell to the fourth ball of the innings and her first of the match, wafting at a wide ball from Kate Cross (4/48) and edging through to keeper Amy Jones, standing in for the injured Sarah Taylor. But skipper Suzie Bates (31) and Meg Lanning (59) soon found the Lord’s pitch to their liking as they followed coach Lisa Keightley’s instructions to the tee “to express themselves and showcase women’s cricket”. Boundaries were coming freely from Bates’ bat off the bowling of both Cross and Jenny Gunn and it was a surprise when she edged Cross through to Jones in the seventh over, with the score on 41. But this just brought the majestic Mithali Raj to the crease and she was not going to miss out on this opportunity. She and Lanning made batting look easy as they added 90 in just under 13 overs, punishing anything that was off-line or off-length. Lanning finally fell for 59 when she smashed Dani Hazell to deep extra cover where Heather Knight held on to a good catch. Her fellow countrywoman Ellyse Perry replaced her and the runs continued to flow freely. The ROW were 147/3 at the halfway stage and 300 plus looked on the cards with West Indian powerhouse Deandra Dottin waiting in the wings.

When Raj’s innings came to a rather tame end, as she played all round a straight one from Jenny Gunn to be lbw, the stage was set for some Dottin fireworks to entertain the small crowd of a few hundred people. Alas it was not to be as she was out-thought by the wily old heads of Charlotte Edwards and Arran Brindle, with her military medium-pace. She floated one up and tempted Dottin to hit the big shot over long-on and she fell for it, hitting it straight down Georgia Elwiss’s throat. It was a very long slow walk back to the Lord’s Pavilion.

From theron in the ROW muddled along. Kate Cross returned for the end of the powerplay overs and picked up Ellyse Perry with one that nipped back up the Lord’s slope and Marizanne Kapp lbw for a second ball duck in her final over, to finish with four wickets on her first visit to Lords. Jhulan Goswami (27*) played a nice 25 ball cameo, including a slog sweep for six off Holly Colvin. In the end the ROW would probably have felt a little disappointed with 283/9, while the MCC were probably mighty relieved.

Charlotte Edwards (70), who had apparently slept the night before in her new MCC jumper and had fielded all day in it, despite the blazing sunshine, and Heather Knight (51) set about the MCC’s reply in fine style. They put on 98 for the first wicket in 20 overs before Knight missed a rather expansive drive at Siriwardene and was stumped by Priest. Clare Taylor and Arran Brindle came and went rather quickly and if the umpire had given Nat Sciver out for what looked to all the world like a large inside edge off Kapp through to Priest, then the game may have ended rather early. As it was she survived and while she and Edwards remained there was at least some hope for the MCC.

That hope was expunged when Edwards, having pulled a below-par Perry for two sumptuous fours, edged a slower ball through to Priest. Amy Jones was then Priest’s fourth victim of the day caught behind off Sana Mir, who then bowled a swinging Jenny Gunn in her next over. For a short while Sciver and Hazell kept the MCC flame flickering, but Sciver (49) slogged Siriwardene to one of the three leg-side boundary riders and was well caught by Perry. Hazell followed soon after plumb lbw stepping across her stumps to Taylor, and Georgia Elwiss gave Priest her fifth victim of the day as she walked past a floaty delivery from Taylor to be comprehensively stumped. Kate Cross and Holly Colvin made the most of their chance to bat at Lords, taking the game into the last over before Colvin missed a heave to leg and was Mir’s fourth wicket of the day.

The Rest of the World had won by 41 runs and it had been a good game of cricket. There was some talk of making it an annual fixture, but, good as it was to see the girls in whites on the hallowed Lord’s turf, money might be better spent getting bigger crowds to watch the stars of the women’s game at smaller venues, like Chelmsford, in an English T20 tournament.


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