Friday, 19 September 2014

England Women - Winter Training Squads in full

The following squads have been announced for the Winter Training

England Women Performance Squad

Tammy Beaumont (Kent)
Katherine Brunt (Yorkshire)
Kate Cross (Lancashire)
Jodie Dibble (Devon)
Charlotte Edwards (Kent)
Georgia Elwiss (Sussex)
Natasha Farrant (Kent)
Lydia Greenway (Kent)
Rebecca Grundy (Warwickshire)
Jenny Gunn (Nottinghamshire)
Danielle Hazell (Yorkshire)
Amy Jones (Warwickshire)
Heather Knight (Berkshire)
Beth Langston (Essex)
Laura Marsh (Kent)
Sonia Odedra (Nottinghamshire)
Natalie Sciver (Surrey)
Anya Shrubsole (Somerset)
Sarah Taylor (Sussex)
Fran Wilson (Somerset)
Lauren Winfield (Yorkshire)
Danielle Wyatt (Nottinghamshire)

England Women’s Academy

Georgia Adams (Sussex)
Hollie Armitage (Yorkshire)
Stephanie Butler (Staffordshire)
Freya Davies (Sussex)
Alex Hartley (Middlesex)
Georgia Hennessy (Warwickshire)
Evelyn Jones (Staffordshire)
Emma Lamb (Lancashire)
Sophie Luff (Somerset)
Alex Macdonald (Gloucestershire)
Carla Rudd (Berkshire)
Paige Scholfield (Sussex)

England Women's Development Programme U19

Emily Arlott (Worcestershire)
Maia Bouchier (Middlesex)
Georgie Boyce (Nottinghamshire)
Isabelle Collis (Sussex)
Sophia Dunkley (Middlesex)
Sophie Ecclestone (Cheshire)
Beatrice Firth (Yorkshire)
Abigail Freeborn (Sussex)
Katie George (Hampshire)
Cordelia Griffith (Essex)
Hannah Jones (Surrey)
Alli Kelly (Devon)
Marie Kelly (Warwickshire)
Sophie Mackenzie (Cornwall)
Anna Nicholls (Middlesex)
Tara Norris (Sussex)
Cait O’Keefe (Devon)
Nalisha Patel (Lancashire)
Rachel Petherick (Durham)
Bryony Smith (Surrey)
Eleanor Threlkeld (Lancashire)

England Women's Development Programme U15

Lauren Bell (Berkshire)
Sophie Buckton (Warwickshire)
Ella Chandler (Hampshire)
Isobel Cloke (Kent)
Charlie Dean (Hampshire)
Danielle Gibson (Gloucestershire)
Tiarna Paris Gilkes (Warwickshire)
Jess Golden (Kent)
Eva Gray (Surrey)
Katie Green (Shropshire)
Alex Griffiths (Wales)
Bess Heath (Derbyshire)
Nancy Hebron (Essex)
Nancy Hughes (Middlesex)
Ellie Mason (Cheshire)
Alice Monaghan (Hampshire)
Hannah Poulter (Yorkshire)
Rhianna Southby (Surrey)
Lucy Staunton-Turner (Lancashire)
Erin Staunton-Turner (Lancashire)
Jessica Kate Thornton (Wales)


Thursday, 18 September 2014

The way forward for Women's County Cricket

Another women's cricket season came to an end last weekend with the County Championship promotion and relegation play-offs. [I don't think we actually need/want play-offs, plus it wastes all this great playing time in September - extend the season and play more games! But heh!]

There was heartbreak again for Div 2's Somerset, denied promotion last year by the weather, and this year by Hurricane Shipman - Warwickshire's Helen Shipman that is, who decided to hit her first-ever century for Warwickshire, in only her third game of the season for them coming back after severe illness. She helped Warwickshire retain their position in Div1, with a last ball win, chasing down Somerset's 220.

In the Div2/3 play-off game Worcestershire retained their place in Div 2 beating the Netherlands by 38 runs in a very low-scoring and edgy game. In the Div 4 play-off Suffolk overcame Cornwall by 61 runs with Emma Elsom (52) starring with the bat, and Vicky Mitchell (3/20) and Sheldene Ford (3/18) starring with the ball.

So next year the leagues will look like this, with Divs 1 and 2 playing with a white ball :-

Div 1 - Berkshire, Kent, Lancashire, Middlesex, Notts, Surrey, Sussex, Warwickshire, Yorkshire

Div 2 - Devon, Durham, Essex, Ireland, Scotland, Somerset, Staffs, Wales, Worcestershire

Div 3 - Cheshire, Derbyshire, Hampshire, Herts, Leicestershire, Netherlands, Northants, Oxfordshire, Suffolk

But what about beyond 2015? There is an ECB Consultation Meeting on 29th September, although I am not clear quite who is being consulted. I think ultimately the ECB will be looking to follow the model currently being used by the Aussies, with a second tier of cricket played between far fewer semi-professional teams, funded by the ECB and sponsorship. The reason is that there is a huge void between the current 18 contracted England players and those immediately below them. Unlike the men's game there has never been a women's professional county circuit in which future England players could hone their skills while still getting some sort of remuneration. Establishing a contracted "elite" at the top of the game means that the ECB's next task is to create a second tier below them, who are rewarded for their efforts, with a view to creating the England contracted players of the future.

The current county championship system of three leagues of nine counties and two regional fourth divisions with another 10 counties in them, all partially funded by the ECB, does not lend itself to the creation of this small second tier. There are simply too many teams with too few players of a reasonable standard.

So what is the Aussie model? Rather than having 37 counties, as we have, they have just seven state teams - ACT, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia. That is it. In total 114 players are contracted to the state teams, including 15 who are current Southern Stars (Australia) contracted players (ie full-time international players). The other 99 players are paid between $2,500 - $7,500 (£1,400 - £4,000) per annum to train and play six weekends during the season (two T20s and a 50 over game each weekend). This is funded by $100,000 which is paid to each state by Cricket Australia every year. On top of this Cricket Australia also cover the state's travel and accommodation expenses for each away weekend (which are pretty substantial given the distances covered), so the players are not out of pocket.

On the recent release of their 2014/2015 fixtures CA stated that "The WNCL (Women's National Cricket League)....will continue to build its reputation as the leading domestic women’s competition in the world with a number of high quality international players taking part this coming season". Those players include our own Charlotte Edwards, Sarah Taylor, Heather Knight and Lauren Winfield, plus three New Zealanders.

So how could the ECB mimic/improve on this structure? The first move could be to reduce Division One of the County Championship to seven teams with funding from the ECB of around £50,000 per team. The county contracted players would be paid £2,000 - £4,000 to play for the county for the year. If Division Two was also reduced to seven teams with slightly less funding, 37 teams would be reduced to 14 (more akin to the men's 18). What of the players in the other 23 current county teams? As with the men they would be free to join Division One and Two teams, and those that could not would have to look to play their cricket in a week-in/week-out club structure, which should improve as a result of the influx of many decent players playing regularly every week.

My preference for the two new divisions would be that they play home and away fixtures throughout the season (ie twelve 50 over games). Running alongside this would be a separate T20 competition which could be played midweek evenings, if possible at small county grounds, eg Hove, Chelmsford, New Road, et al with a view to attracting paying punters. Here the women's game really does need the support of the men's county teams and their facilities.

This of course supposes that we are wedded to the county structure of cricket? A more radical solution perhaps would be to set up seven regional franchises - say South East, South, South West, South Midlands, North Midlands, North East, North West and to allocate 2/3 England players to each franchise; 2/3 Academy players to each franchise and to complete the squads with the best players from the junior county teams within those areas of the country. Given that many of the women's county teams are poorly treated by their male-orientated boards, perhaps now is the right time to really give this "breakaway structure" some serious consideration.

None of this would be without pain and suffering. Change is never a welcome thing. But the women's county game does have to change if the England Women's team are going to continue to flourish and the women's game in England and around the world is to continue to develop. Hopefully these are the sorts of discussions that will be taking place at the Consultation Meeting in 11 days time. Let's wait and see.............


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

England done for summer - County Champs to be finished now

So the international season has come to an end for England with a 3-0 defeat of South Africa in the T20I series, following the Test defeat to India and the 2-0 ICC Women's ODI Championship victory over the same opposition. Sarah Taylor, Charlotte Edwards and Heather Knight are now heading off to Australia to play for three separate state teams until Christmas. For the rest of the squad it is winter training before the tour to New Zealand in February for three more ICC WC ODIs, three T20Is, and then another two ODIs to finish off the tour.

Next summer is an Ashes Series Summer, so the New Zealand tour is a going to be key preparation for the biggest test England will face before the T20 World Cup in India in 2016, which they have to be looking to win. New Zealand themselves are currently in the West Indies about to start their ICC WC campaign (starts Friday). It will be interesting to see the England Winter Training squad. Will there be any new faces added to the 18 contracted players? Their current contracts take them through to October 2016. It will also be interesting to see the squad (or squads) ultimately selected to tour New Zealand.

On the domestic front the County Championship season will also conclude this weekend with the final play-off matches. These are:-

Div 1/Div 2 Play-Off
Warwickshire v Somerset at Moseley CC - Sunday 14th September (NB this game is now at Moseley CC)

Div 2/Div 3 Play-Off
Worcestershire v Netherlands at Birlingham CC - Saturday 13th September

Div 4 Promotion Play-Off
Suffolk v Cornwall - Sunday 14th September


Sunday, 7 September 2014

EWA comfortably beat EWDP U19s

In the last chance for the Academy and EWDP girls to show what they can do before the Winter Training squads are selected later this month, the EWA cruised to an 8 wicket victory with 17 overs to spare.

They were set 151 to win, due in the main part to a solid innings of 43 from Anna Nicholls. Batting at six, she arrived at the crease with the EWDP at 49/4, her team having lost three wickets in seven balls at the same score. Hannah Jones (14) fell not long afterwards and Nicholls was joined by Abbey Freeborn (23) for the only significant EWDP partnership of the game. Together they added 60 runs and took the score to 127/5, but Freya Davies, returning to bowl in the powerplay, had Freeborn well caught by Hennessy at a sensibly-placed slip, and then removed Pape and Norris to finish off the EWDP innings and end with 4/36. Alex McDonald also finished with the excellent figures of 3/19.

In reply the EWA made a good start through Amara Carr (74*), who cut and pulled well, and the hard-hitting Jess Watson (18). Watson eventually fell feathering one behind, but by then the EWA were already well on their way with 55 on the board. Evelyn Jones (36) joined Carr and they batted with freedom, running well between the wickets. The EWDP had no real venom in their bowling attack and it was a surprise when Jones was well-stumped by Freeborn off Patel as she advanced down the wicket. It was the EWDP's last success as Carr and skipper Sophie Luff saw the EWA home with plenty in hand.

[unofficial scorecard]
EWDP u19batsmanhow outbowlerrunsballs
1Lily ReynoldslbwMcDonald2148
2Bhumika Doshict HartleyDavies920
3Emma LamblbwButler824
4Marie Kelly*ct HennessyMcDonald02
5Hannah Jonesct RuddHartley1424
6Anna Nichollsct RuddMcDonald4371
7Abigail Freeborn+ct HennessyDavies2359
8Tara NorrisbowledDavies930
9Charlotte PapebowledDavies15
10Beatrice FirthbowledHennessy25
11Nalisha Patelnotout35
bowlingFreya Davies9.51364
Georgia Hennessy92331
Alex McDonald83193
Steph Butler101281
Alex Hartley103221
Jess Watson2070
EWAbatsmanhow outbowlerrunsballs
1Jess Watsonct FreebornNorris1833
2Amara Carrnotout7495
3Evelyn Jonesst FreebornPatel3661
4Sophie Luff*notout310
5Georgia Hennessydid notbat
6Alex McDonalddid notbat
7Cordelia Griffithsdid notbat
8Steph Butlerdid notbat
9Carla Rudd+did notbat
10Freya Daviesdid notbat
11Alex Hartleydid notbat
bowlingBea Firth61240
Charlotte Pape40250
Tara Norris50191
Marie Kelly40120
Nalisha Patel61231
Sophie Ecclestone71400
Bhumika Doshi1060


Thursday, 4 September 2014

Can we make Women's T20 cricket better?

England duly won the second of the three T20s against South Africa at Wantage Road last night by 42 runs, thanks once again to another fine knock of 75* by Charlotte Edwards, which allowed England to set the Saffers 142 to win.

To be fair to South Africa for the first half of their reply they were in the game thanks to the batting efforts of Dane van Niekerk (34), Marizanne Kapp (27) and skipper Mignon du Preez (15). They took a liking to the pace of Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole hitting nine boundaries in the six over powerplay and taking South Africa to 46/1 (Lizelle Lee the only casualty). But once England could put five fielders out on the boundary South Africa could only get the ball over the rope on two more occasions, and their effort petered out once du Preez and van Niekerk had fallen to hoisted leg-side shots. In fact they lost their last eight wickets while scoring just 28 runs, to be bowled out in the 19th over for just 99 runs. It was a disappointing end for the crowd of around 1,000 and those watching on television.

Television coverage of the women's game is, of course, a two-edged sword. Good games encourage more to follow (and play) the sport, but one-sided games encourage derogatory and negative comments, usually from ill-informed male morons. Unfortunately India chose not to stay after the Test and ODI series and have a T20 series against England, perhaps for fear of their own shortcomings in this format of the game. Given that the T20s are the only format that Sky are willing to broadcast at the moment, the ECB decided that they had to fill the fixtures and keep the sport on the television. Unfortunately so far South Africa have not proved much of a challenge, so the coverage has attracted negative rather than positive reaction. But even two evenly-matched teams often fail to produce a decent viewing spectacle and therefore I think the rules for Women's T20s need to be reviewed.

Much criticism has been levelled at England for their failure to hit 6s (they have not hit one since 29th January 2014), and there was much discussion on Sky about the size of the boundaries at Chelmsford (too big it was thought). Personally I am not that bothered about the girls hitting 6s. What I think is far more important is the lack of boundaries outside of the powerplay overs. The reason is obvious. The girls do not have the power to muscle the ball over the rope when there are five fielders back on the boundary, usually all in front of the bat - three on the legside - deep square, deep midwicket (cow) and long-on, and two on the off-side at long-off and deep extra cover. With little pace on the ball from the spinners and the medium-pacers, if you bowl straight then it is very difficult to get the ball to the boundary. The first change I would suggest therefore is that the maximum number of players allowed outside the circle outside of the powerplay is four.

In addition I would also suggest that the batting team be allowed a second four over batting powerplay spell to be taken before the end of the 15th over. As in the first six overs of the game only 2 fielders would be allowed outside the circle during these overs.

The final suggestion, and this is a bit more radical, is that the number of players in the team be reduced to 10, so that a skipper only has eight fielders available to plug the gaps in the field, along with the bowler and wicket-keeper. I can hear sharp intakes of breath being taken all over the country, and especially at Lords and the headquarters of the Association of Cricket Statisticians & Historians. This would fundamentally change the game. Records would have to be "pre" and "post" the change. The chances of it being implemented are probably less than 1%, but it is at least worth thinking about, isn't it?

Cricket revenues are dictated by television and therefore women's cricket needs to have a product that it can sell to the television companies that will attract viewers. At the moment I am not sure that Women's T20 cricket fulfills that brief. Perhaps some of these changes could be considered by the first Board brave enough to stage their own international T20 tournament?


Monday, 1 September 2014

England crush Saffers in first T20

England comprehensively defeated South Africa in the first of three T20s, winning by 9 wickets, as they did in the semi-final of the T20 World Cup in April.

South Africa were restricted to just 89/4 in their 20 overs, which was sacrilegious - only four wickets down, but with a total that was never going to be enough against any decent side, let alone England. Opener Dane van Niekerk (36 off 54 balls) and skipper Mignon du Preez (28 off 41 balls) added 51 for the second wicket, after the early loss of Chetty to Brunt. That would have been acceptable apart from the fact that it took 70 balls, and they hit only five boundaries between them. True the England bowlers bowled well, but South Africa were timid and they will be angry with themselves that they did not post at least 30 more runs.

For England their fielding was sharp with another memorable catch diving forward from Lydia Greenway at cow corner to remove du Preez, and a sharp run out from Sciver to get rid of Lee, who had been stitched up by her skipper. All the bowlers were on the button, but South Africa kept finding the fielders.

Once again England skipper Charlotte Edwards lead the way with the bat, punishing the short ball and anything with width, hitting more fours on her own than South Africa hit in their entire innings. It was a masterclass from Edwards, more akin to a knock at the Super Threes than an international game. She never looked like she was in trouble and finished 62* off 54 balls. Sarah Taylor finished on 21* from 22 balls and looked equally at home as England romped home in the 14th over with just one wicket down.

South Africa will have to go away, lick their wounds and come out fighting on Wednesday. There is no point them playing the same way again in the next two games. They will be demolished again. They are a young side and they will have learned a lot from this game. They may not be experienced enough to turn it round, but they need to adopt a much more positive approach in the next game.

England will have learned little from this game. Brunt and Shrubsole looked more on song than they have so far this season and Knight's bowling was tight. New Zealand in February next year will be a much tougher challenge. Winfield was unluckily run out when she was accidently obstructed by bowler Moseline Daniels as she tried to take a single. It may pay to drop Edwards further down the order in the next match and perhaps get a look at Wyatt, Sciver and Knight. But with Lottie in such good form she will be loath to step aside.