Friday, 28 November 2014

South Africa go second in ICCWC table after series win against India

South Africa have completed a fantastic 2-1 ICC Women's Championship series win over India in India, and by doing so have moved themselves up to second in the ICCWC points table.

TeamsMatWonLostTiedN/RPtsNet RRForAgainst
Australia Women6600012+0.9521196/236.21130/275.0
South Africa Women632017+0.334852/216.1796/220.4
West Indies Women633006+0.5841128/257.31111/292.4
England Women320015+0.686367/80.1312/80.1
India Women614013-0.371793/224.5855/219.2
Sri Lanka Women311013-0.583315/76.0364/77.0
Pakistan Women303000-1.357467/125.0477/93.4
New Zealand Women303000-1.712392/150.0465/107.3

In the first match of the series they restricted India to just 114 thanks to four wicket hauls from Dane van Niekerk (4/9) and Marizanne Kapp (4/21). At 29/3 their reply looked to be in trouble, but a maiden ODI 50 from Chloe Tryon got the Saffers over the line, with just two wickets in hand. Veteran Jhulan Goswami held the Indian batting and bowling together with 33 and 3/22, but it was not enough to prevent South Africa claiming the two points.

In the second game India chased down South Africa's below par 186/8, in which Chloe Tryon again top scored with 49*, including 18 off the last over of the innings. With India at 73/3 the game seemed to be in the balance, but an 89 run partnership between Shikha Pandey (59) and Harmanpreet Kaur (42*) allowed India to level the series. It was Pandey's maiden ODI 50 as she emerged as a genuine all-rounder.

And so to the deciding game of the series. India were inserted by South Africa and were once again indebted to Pandey, who again made 59, as they struggled to 180 all out. Having been 176/6 it was a total that should have been higher. Harmanpreet Kaur also hit 42 off 39 balls after an extremely cautious start to the Indian innings from Poonam Raut and debutant Deepti Sharma, after Mandhana had gone early. Sunette Loubser (3/28) and Marcia Letsoalo (3/46) were the main wicket-takers, but mention should be made of opener Ayabonga Khaka who opened with five maidens on the trot and went for just 19 off her nine overs. Keeper Trisha Chetty also had a good day behind the stumps with five victims.

In reply South Africa again lost early wickets with Lizelle Lee and Chetty soon back in the hutch, but new girl Nadine Moodley (56) hit her maiden ODI half-century and skipper Mignon du Preez struck 46, before both were out in quick succession with 59 still needed for the win. The nerves will have been jangling as South Africa were without the injured Chloe Tryon, but with Marizanne Kapp and Dane van Niekerk they seemed to have the experience they needed. But when Kapp was run out for 14, the load seemed to be all van Nierkerk's. Thabethe came and went quickly, but the experienced Sunette Loubser (23*), better known for her loopy off-spin, used her experience wisely and became the South African aggressor as van Niekerk (20*) bunkered down. Together they added the 33 runs that South Africa so desperately needed.

India's one day woes continue (they only have 3 points from 6 games), but South Africa have taken another step towards being regarded as one of the top four sides in the world and qualifying automatically for the 2017 World Cup.


Monday, 17 November 2014

Aussies top ICC Women's Championship Table

Australia's comprehensive 3-0 defeat of the previous high-flying West Indies (remember they beat New Zealand 3-0 back in September?) has sent them back to the top of the ICC Women's Championship table, where they will continue to reside throughout Round 2 of the tournament. In Round 3 they meet with England, in England, and only then can they be knocked off their perch. The points table currently looks like this..

TeamsMatWonLostTiedN/RPtsNet RRForAgainst
Australia Women6600012+0.9521196/236.21130/275.0
West Indies Women633006+0.5841128/257.31111/292.4
England Women320015+0.686367/80.1312/80.1
South Africa Women311013+0.583364/77.0315/76.0
Sri Lanka Women311013-0.583315/76.0364/77.0
India Women302011-0.686312/80.1367/80.1
Pakistan Women303000-1.357467/125.0477/93.4
New Zealand Women303000-1.712392/150.0465/107.3

The remaining second round matches are :-
India v South Africa starting on 24th November 2014
New Zealand v England starting on 11th February 2015
Pakistan v Sri Lanka - on a date to be fixed before the end of February 2015

None of these teams can match Australia's 100% record with six wins out of six, so Australia will hold on to their top of the table spot at least until March next year. Who would back against them staying there for much longer?

India lost the two completed ODIs to England this summer and will be hoping to get their first win under their belts against South Africa, who have won one of the two completed games they played against Sri Lanka. But South Africa will be tough opponents and I think they may even end up winning the series in India (probably 2-1).

New Zealand have home advantage against England, and will be desperate to get something out of that series after their disastrous start in the Caribbean, which leaves them firmly rooted to the foot of the table. New Zealand would normally have been considered to be one for the "Top Four", but their place in the top order is under threat from the likes of Sri Lanka and South Africa, who they play in rounds 4 and 6 of the competition. England's overall record against the Kiwis is not that hot - won 28; lost 31, but they have won the last six, last losing to the White Ferns at Lord's in 2010. They must start as favourites to take the series, and they will be looking for a clean sweep, before taking on the Aussies in the English summer.

Sri Lanka will expect to boost their points tally when they take on Pakistan, which they must do before the end of February next year in the last of the Round 2 matches. In Round 3 they host the West Indies, which should be another great series; New Zealand travel to India for what could be another tricky series; and South Africa are hosted by Pakistan. 

No team can afford to slip up if they want to be in the top four and qualify automatically for the 2017 World Cup. Australia have so far been clinical in all six victories. Can England peg them back in 2015? The Aussies are looking very strong!


Thursday, 13 November 2014

Happy Birthday Women's Cricket Blog!!

WCB is two years old today (13th November). It has been an amazing two years for women's cricket, and indeed for the blog. To date there have been 253 postings (about one every three days) and they have been read over 103,000 times, which for "a minority sport", played by women, suggests one of two things - either my blogs are spell-binding or there is not enough coverage of women's cricket in the mainstream media - I think it is probably the latter. As a birthday treat to the blog here are some of the blog's, and women's cricket's, highlights of the last two years...........

The blog started with the build up to the Women's World Cup in 2013 in India and my preview in early January 2013 was the first page to be read over 100 times (339). Mid-tournament it was a blog about the disparity in the Net Run Rate calculation for sides batting first and second that got the views (519 - get a life people), probably after it was mentioned by Daggers on TMS commentary. Australia duly won the tournament beating the West Indies in the final.

My attentions then turned to English domestic cricket - the county season. I suggested that more county games needed to be played and got some good feedback and 441 reads, but this paled into insignificance when I wrote a preview of the Div 1 county season in March which was read by 1,897. The preview of the second division was read by 647.

In May 2013 Mark Lane left his post as England Coach and the new Ashes Series format was announced. What a great success that has been, inspiring more Test cricket to be played, not only here (including another Test against India this summer), but also abroad - India have just announced a one-off Test against the touring South Africans. The announcement yesterday that the entire 2015 Ashes series will be televised live is also testament to the success, and interest in, the series.

In the County Championship Sussex beat Yorkshire in the final with Sarah Taylor scoring 128*, and Somerset earned the right to play-off with Essex to claim a place in Division 1. As it happened it rained and the game never took place, so Somerset had to stay in Div 2.

The Ashes Series started and England drew the Test after a mammoth batting effort from Heather Knight (157) with the help of the obdurate Laura Marsh (55 off 304 balls). England lost the first ODI, but won the next two to lead the Ashes Series. They then won all three T20s to win the series 12-4.

In September 2013 I wrote a piece about women's cricket in 2014, which was well read (545). I was still banging on about more county cricket, preferably played with a white ball and an expanded white ball T20 tournament.

Before the rerun of the Ashes Series out in OZ, and the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh in March 2014 England went to the West Indies with a very young side. It was the tour that saw Nat Sciver, Kate Cross and Lauren Winfield on the field and introduced Tash Farrant and Beth Langston to international cricket. They lost the final of a T20 tri-series to WI, having effectively knocked New Zealand out of the competition, but then won the ODI series with Sarah Taylor in good form with the bat.

So on to Oz for the Jan 2014 Ashes (seems an age ago already). England without the "retired" Holly Colvin and the injured Laura Marsh. In a fantastic fluctuating Test England came out on top with Kate Cross coming of age with the ball and Charlotte Edwards holding the England batting together again. England won the first of the ODIs, but with just one more win needed lost the following two quite badly, so it was on to the T20s and Lottie once again steered her team to victory and to the retention of the Ashes.

While England were winning the Ashes (that always sounds so good) a breakaway T20 tournament called the WICL was proposed, akin to the IPL but for the top women, where they would earn a decent wedge for two week's work. Much excitement ensued until the ECB and Cricket Australia effectively kiboshed the idea when they said that they would not sanction such a competition run by an outside agency. Plans are apparently still afoot for a women's T20 Bash in Australia next season, but the WICL lies dormant for the time-being.

And so on to the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh with England without Marsh, Brunt, Farrant, Wyatt and Winfield. Opportunities given to Rebecca Grundy and Jodie Dibble, and Tammy Beaumont and Fran Wilson recalled again. In a fit of madness WCB, with the aid of Syd the Cynic (@FairgroundTown), decided to set up a fantasy T20 competition. We made it simple because we have other things to do with our lives (well Syd does). I'd like to think it went down well and that we made people think about players beyond our own shores. We had 162 teams entered and I finished a respectable 5th in the Experts' League (Raf was last - @RafNicholson). The league tables pages had over 3,500 views. On the field the Aussies beat us in the final, but the story of the tournament was probably the emergence of South Africa, who reached the semi-finals by dint of beating New Zealand in their group match. They are a team that continues to go from strength to strength.

April heralded a preview of the 2014 County season with Kent (Div 1) and Lancs (Div 2) highlighted as the sides to beat (hardly rocket science), and so it proved as Kent swept all before them, and Lancs won automatic promotion from Div 2. At the start of the next month the ECB announced professional contracts for 18 England players - following Australia's lead the previous year. The new "professional era" of women's cricket had begun! [apparently]

Towards the end of May the MCC Women played a Rest of the World team at Lords to help celebrate Lords' bicentenary. It was a splendid event, but, played on a working Monday, attracted almost no crowd. Great for those that played, but a huge waste of money that could have been better spent on grassroots cricket. It also gave me a chance to rant about radio commentators that are unable to identify women players and fail to pronounce their names correctly. The commentator concerned shall remain nameless in this blog entry as he got a bit miffed about the last one!

England's opponents this summer were India in a Test and three ODIs (the first games in the ICC's new Women's Championship - a tournament in which the top eight sides in the world all play each other to earn the right to qualify automatically for the 2017 World Cup), and South Africa for the three T20s that India apparently did not want to play. England lost the Test to a jubilant Indian team, who have been in the doldrums for the past few years. They deserved their victory and their delight at winning was captivating. England pulled up their socks and duly won the two ODIs played (the other being rained off) and then beat South Africa 3-0 in the T20 series, although the Proteas improved with each game played.

I took the chance at the Test to have a chat with Clare Connor about the future of women's cricket - WICL; white ball County cricket: Test matches: and ECB contracts, which was well read, and also with Dan Norcross, the new voice of women's cricket on the beloved TMS (which was well-read by all his family members).

As I write this the Aussies are in the middle of their ICC WC series with the Windies and England are preparing for their tour to New Zealand in the same competition in February, where I too will be, to cover the series for this blog and anyone else I can con into taking some copy from me.

By its very nature a blog is a pure self-indulgence. The fact that so many of you seem willing to spend time reading it makes it slightly less indulgent. I thank you for that; the girls that play cricket at all levels; and Tim Berners-Lee for his role in this nonsense called the internet!


Thursday, 6 November 2014

2015 County T20 Competition

2015 will see another new format to the County T20 competition it seems with at least two divisions of nine teams, playing each other over four separate dates. On each date three teams will play two games each against two of their opponents.

The top two divisions are

Div 1 - Berkshire, Ireland (promoted), Kent, Middlesex, Notts, Somerset (promoted), Surrey, Sussex, Yorkshire
Div 2 - Cheshire, Derbyshire (promoted), Durham, Essex (relegated), Lancashire, Netherlands (promoted), Staffs, Wales, Warwickshire (relegated)

The fixtures will be played on :-
Sunday 14th June
Sunday 5th July
Sunday 2nd August
Sunday 16th August

The full fixture list is yet to appear on the ECB Women's County Championship play cricket website.