Friday, 20 June 2014

Women's County Championship - Week 4 - Preview

Some massive games at both the top and the bottom of both the first and the second divisions of the Women's County Championship this Sunday. It could well be that this weekend could end up being the decisive one in terms of who wins Division 1 and who gets the automatic promotion place from Division 2. As for relegation there are a few nervous sides out there in both divisions, who desperately need a win.

Division 1
Essex v Warwickshire at Garron Park
Notts v Middlesex at Welbeck CC
Sussex v Kent at Arundel Castle CC
Yorkshire v Berkshire at Harrogate CC

After Surrey's defeat to Middlesex last week, the two remaining unbeaten teams in Division 1 - Sussex and Kent - meet each other at the beautifully picturesque Arundel Castle ground. The two teams seem, as usual, to have just too much for the others in the league, and therefore you would think that whoever wins this game will go on to be crowned County Champions. Last year Sussex got the better of their local rivals, chasing down 200 with some ease. Kent, after a further loss to Yorkshire, failed to make the County Championship final for the first time in the last 10 years. They will be out for revenge.
We understand that they will be at full strength, with England internationals Charlotte Edwards, Tammy Beaumont, Lydia Greenway and Laura Marsh forming their top four with the bat. We also understand that former England international Lauren Griffith may well take the gloves for Kent for the first time. Sussex have injury worries over Sarah Taylor and Georgia Elwiss, who both missed last week's win over Yorkshire, but they will take heart from their performance at Harrogate and the fact that they won this fixture last year without Taylor and the then-injured Colvin. Arundel is renowned as a good batting deck and you would expect this to be a high-scoring game. If Sussex can get their full side on the pitch then they might just have the edge again. 
Notts have a fascinating match against Middlesex, who will be looking to continue their climb up the table. Notts have relied heavily on Danni Wyatt and Jenny Gunn with the bat so far this season and may have injury worries with all-rounder Sonia Odedra. Middlesex need their top order to fire with the bat and to make early breakthroughs with the ball and they may well be in with a shout.
The bottom four are all in action against each other. Essex, fresh from their first win of the season last week against Berkshire, courtesy of Aussie Heather Graham, take on Warwickshire, who are currently winless. Yorkshire, also still without a win, take on Berkshire, who don't have the strongest of bowling attacks. Last week Warwickshire (Hennessy), Yorkshire (Winfield) and Berkshire (Knight) all started their games with first ball of the game ducks. They will be hoping for better this week. Ironically it is the two teams without a win - Warwickshire and Yorkshire, who may come away with the wins this week.

Division 2
Cheshire v Durham at Hawk Green CC
Lancashire v Devon at Urmston CC
Wales v Somerset at Aberdare CC
Worcestershire v Staffordshire at Coombs Wood Cricket Club

Div 2 also throws up a top of the table clash between undefeated teams - Devon and Lancashire. It should be a great game from two in-form teams, who are both desperate to be in Division 1 next year. Of course they may both end up making it, but finishing top of the league will mean certain promotion this year. Both teams have batsmen in form, but it may be a special performance by one of the bowlers that wins this for their county. I wouldn't like to call it. If you are in Lancashire on Sunday, get down and watch what will be a great game.
Wales will be looking to bounce back from their defeat to Ireland last week and consign Somerset to their third defeat in five games. Anya Shrubsole led Somerset from the front last week, with the bat, rather than the ball. Can she do it again this week? Wales will be hoping not.
Worcs against Staffs will also be a tight one. Staffs had a poor start to the season, but picked up a couple of wins against Durham and, more noticeably, Ireland on the second Bank Holiday weekend. Worcs came close last week to pulling off a remarkable win against Devon, falling just nine runs short, chasing 261, so they should look at this game with some confidence, but Staffs might just have enough.
Finally at the bottom of the table Cheshire entertain Durham. Durham are without a win this season and this must be a game that they are targetting for a win. If they fail to do so that could effectively end their season, as they will have only Worcs and Devon left to play. Cheshire though are a tough side to beat on their own turf and may prove too strong.


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