Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Women's County Championship Week 6 - Preview

There are just two official weekends left in the Women's County Championship (this Sunday (20th) and the following Sunday (27th)), so there is a great deal to play for this weekend. Sandwiched in between we have the first round of the new divisional T20 competition (Tues/Wed 22/23rd July - more here)

Division 1
Essex v Middlesex at Garon Park
Kent v Berkshire at Polo Farm
Surrey v Notts at Reed's School
Warwickshire v Yorkshire at King Edwards School, Birmingham

If Kent beat Berkshire they will set up their game the following weekend against Surrey to secure the championship. It is difficult to see Kent slipping up at home to Berkshire with Charlotte Edwards and Tammy Beaumont in such good form with the bat, but Berkshire picked up their second win of the season against Middlesex in the last round of games with Heather Knight finally in the runs. She and Beaumont may be competing for the England opener's slot in the forthcoming Test Match against India, so it will be interesting to see who has the better game. Kent have yet to drop a point in their campaign to date and they will be keen to maintain that record.

Surrey must win at home against Notts to keep up the pressure on Kent, who they then face in their last game of the season. They (and England) will be hoping that Nat Sciver can give them a few overs. She has not bowled for them for two months and they may need her if Dani Wyatt and Jenny Gunn can get going. They failed in the last round against Kent, who hammered Notts by nine wickets. This could be a tight game with one big performance helping their team to the take the honours. I think Notts might just pip it.

Warwickshire against Yorkshire  is going to be a great scrap. Yorkshire scraped home against lowly Essex in their last game by just one wicket, chasing 183, thanks to another good knock by Kathryn Doherty (55*). Beyond the top four Yorkshire look vulnerable and if Warwickshire can take early wickets they could be in with a shout. Warwickshire will be desperate for the win, as they hover dangerously just two points above Essex at the bottom of the league with only a trip to Berkshire to come. Amy Jones (124) and Marie Kelly (63) helped themselves to some runs against Essex in Warwickshire's last game, but they will find Yorkshire's bowling a bit tougher. Seconds away - round one!

This could be Essex's last game of the season (if they fail to play their cancelled game v Kent). Defeat would almost certainly consign them to Division 2 cricket next year. Their batting is extremely fragile, but Sussex's Hannah Phelps has shored up the middle order, and Cordelia Griffith may make a comeback from injury with bat if not with ball, so Middlesex should not take this game too lightly. They too have only won one game (against Surrey) and losing to Essex would put them in a real scrap to avoid relegation. If they can hold their nerve Middlesex should win this one.

Division 2
Devon v Ireland at Axminster CC
Cheshire v Somerset at Cheadle CC
Durham v Worcestershire at Durham City CC
Staffs v Wales at Milford Hall

With Lancs away and clear at the top of the league and on a rest week, the focus turns to the three teams chasing for the all-important second spot and a tilt at Div 1 cricket next year (Devon, Somerset & Ireland), and the three teams battling it out at the bottom of the league trying to avoid relegation (Cheshire, Worcestershire & Durham). This makes the Devon v Ireland game a real humdinger. Devon have home advantage, of course, but they are without key players Jodie Dibble and Amara Carr, due to injury, and they will be relying on some young guns to get them through. Ireland had been struggling to get runs on the board, until their last game against Worcestershire, when they clocked up 256, with the top eight all getting into double figures. This could be a low-scoring tense afternoon of cricket.

Equally important at the bottom of the league is the clash between Durham and Worcestershire. This is potentially Worcestershire's last game of the season and they have only one more point than Durham, who still have Devon to play. Defeat for Worcestershire will almost certainly mean that they will be the automatically relegated team, unless they can pick up a hatful of bonus points in their defeat. Both teams only win of the year has come against Cheshire, who are just one point above Worcestershire with Somerset and Wales to play. Bonus points for runs and wickets may be almost as important as the win itself. It is going to be mighty close.

Somerset (in third) will expect to come away from Cheshire with full points in the bag. Unfortunately for Cheshire Anya Shrubsole seems to be back with ball in hand. She has yet to bowl a single over for Somerset, but did open the bowling on Sunday for Bath. A big win could see Somerset leapfrog over Devon into second and set up their final game of the season against Ireland as a real cracker.


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