It is only the end of June but we are already getting to the nitty gritty end of the Women's County Championship. This weekend serves up some more tasty encounters. In Division 1 another win by Kent might just seal the County Championship for them, and in Division 2 promotion hopefuls Somerset and Staffs clash. Around 500 people watched the Sussex v Kent game last week. It would be good to see similar crowds at all the games this week.
Berkshire v Middlesex at Wokingham CC
Essex v Yorkshire at Garon Park
Surrey v Sussex at Imber Court
Kent v Notts at Nevill Ground, Tunbridge Wells
Kent, fresh from their convincing win over Sussex last week, meet Notts, who just managed to hold on against Middlesex in their last fixture. Notts are still right up there at the top of the league (they will be kicking themselves that they lost to Berkshire by one run in their opening game of the season) and can afford to chuck everything they have at Kent. Charlotte Edwards is in imperious form (three hundreds in four games so far) but if they can catch her on an off day, then the Kent nerves may jangle. Danni Wyatt and Jenny Gunn have been the mainstay of the Notts batting and they will again be key.
Sussex travel to Surrey, who had last week off. Surrey started their season well with wins over Warwickshire, Yorkshire and Essex, but slipped up against Middlesex a couple of weeks back. Sussex will be keen to keep the pressure up on Kent at the top and take advantage of any slight mistake they may make, so they must go for the win. Surrey have won their games with team efforts, rather than individual brilliance. Only one Surrey batsmen has so far got past 50, and the wickets have generally been shared around. Sussex will hope to impose themselves on this game and take full points from it.
Since their opening win of the season at Notts, Berkshire have struggled, losing to both Essex and Yorkshire. This game against Middlesex is one they must be looking to win. Defeat would put them into the relegation mix with some tough games to comes - including Kent, Sussex and Surrey. The same can be said of Middlesex, who have also won only one game, although they probably should have beaten Notts last week. They will hope nerves don't get the better of them this week and that Heather Knight's poor run of form continues. I think the Middlesex Meatballs will come away with the win.
Finally Essex entertain Yorkshire. Essex's hopes of reviving their season must have been high after they defeated Berkshire two week's ago, but they came crashing back down to earth when they were bowled out for 49 last week by Warwickshire, who won by the small margin of 311 runs. Yorkshire won their first game of the season against Berkshire last week and should add to Essex's woes by inflicting another defeat on them.
Worcestershire v Ireland at Stourbridge CC
Cheshire v Devon at Barnton CC
Somerset v Staffordshire at Nailsea CC
Lancashire v Wales at Sutton CC
Lancashire can cement their position at the top of Division 2 when they take on Wales at Sutton CC in their penultimate game of the season. After this week they will only have Staffordshire left to play and promotion to Division 1 is agonizingly close for them. Wales will be no pushover, but Lancs are likely to prove to be too strong for them.
With Lancs seemingly away at the top of the division, there are a number of teams jostling for the runners-up spot and a tilt at Division 1 status via the play-offs. Devon currently hold second spot, after defeat to Lancashire last week. They have the long journey to Cheshire, who are one of the three teams trying desperately to stave off relegation (along with Durham and Worcestershire). Devon have the players to win this game, but it might be tighter than they would like.
Somerset have recovered from a poor start to the season and have fought their way back into contention for the runners-up spot, but they find themselves against Staffordshire, who have exactly the same points tally as they do from the same number of games. The team that loses can probably wave goodbye to any chance of promotion, so this is the weekend's big clash. So far this season Anya Shrubsole has not bowled a ball for her county. Might she do so this weekend? Somerset have potentially the better batting line-up, but they have not always performed this season. Home advantage might just swing it their way and keep their promotion hopes alive.
Ireland are not out of the runners-up equation either. They are just four points behind Somerset and Staffs and they travel to Worcestershire. The Irish girls did not play last week, but they had hit some form in their game the previous week against Wales, and if their batsmen can back up what their bowlers do then a win should be on the cards for them, leaving the clash between Durham and Worcestershire in mid-July as a huge game.