Sunday, 28 December 2014

English trio enjoying their winter Down Under

So the "Aussie Experiment" is coming to an end for Charlotte Edwards and Heather Knight, with both due to return to the UK and the England squad in the New Year. As far as I know Sarah Taylor will remain with the South Australian Scorpions until February, when she will join the England team in New Zealand. They have played the first twelve weeks of the Australian domestic season with three separate states and all have done pretty well. In fact Charlotte Edwards and Heather Knight are the leading run-scorers in the WT20. All their figures are below.

Edwards has led a young Western Australia side who have struggled in both T20 and 50 over formats. Edwards has been her normal reliable self. She tops the run-scorers in the WT20 at the current time (although she has had two more innings than most of her closest rivals) and is 9th in the WNCL list of run-scorers. She averages about 40 in both formats.

Knight probably has the most to smile about. She has batted consistently well for Tasmania in both formats and is 2nd top-scorer in the WT20, with an average of a whisker under 50, in a format in which some have questioned her ability. She has also scored those runs at a very healthy strike-rate, in excess of a run-a-ball (114.92). In the longer format she is also averaging just under 50 and is the 5th highest run-scorer in the league.

Taylor has not fared as well as her two team-mates with the bat. She scored a magnificent 81* off 51 balls for South Australia against ACT in the WT20, but has managed only one other 50 (in the WNCL). She would have liked more. She also did not keep in the final three games of 2014, although she did take over the gloves in the last game when the young Aussie keeper was injured.

Charlotte Edwards (playing for Western Australia - WT20 - p10, w1, l9  WNCL - p5, w1, l4)
WT20 scores - 36, 34, 66*, 34, 46, 66, 7, 17, 4, 52 = 362 @ an average of  40.22
WNCL scores - 63*, 1, 28, 62, 5 = 159 @ an average of 39.75

Heather Knight (playing for Tasmanian Roar - WT20 - p8, w3, l5  WNCL - p4, w1, l3)
WT20 scores - 41, 68*, 53, 17, 0, 70, 66, 24 = 339 @ an average of 48.42
WNCL scores - 75, 27, 19, 78 = 199 @ at an average of 49.75

Sarah Taylor (playing for South Australia Scorpions WT20 - p8, w4, l4  WNCL - p4, w2, l2) 
WT20 scores - 38, 1, 36, 81*, 4, 22, 6, 40 = 232 @ an average of 29.00
WNCL scores - 58, 8, 7, 4 = 77 @ an average of 19.25

Their form bodes well for England's trip down to New Zealand and the second round of the ICC Women's Championship games in February. Knight has certainly thrown down the gauntlet to others who are looking to take her opener's slot away from her in the T20 format of the game. Lauren Winfield got the job in the summer against the South Africans, scoring a match-winning 74 in the third and final T20 of the summer. She may retain the slot with Knight dropping down to four or five.

Perhaps only after that tour will we know if the experiment has really worked, but the results so far look favourable. Next year England's autumn/winter tour will be to South Africa, but with the prospects of a Women's Big Bash looming in Australia, their will be pressure to release several of the England girls to go and play in Australia at least in December and January, if not for the entire Aussie season.

Professionalism brings conflict between players being allowed to play and make a living, and not overplaying, and between tours and competitions. There have already been issues with the proposed WICL T20 tournament, and there will be more during the English summer with county cricket, as England entertain the Aussies for another exciting Ashes series. It is a fine line, and it will not get any broader as the profile of the women's game, and the girls that play it, continue to grow.


Tuesday, 16 December 2014

New Zealand's team to face England

Fellow blogger Syd Egan recently speculated on the England squad to tour New Zealand in February - a tour that I will be lucky enough to be covering. I have to say I cannot wait. For those of you that haven't read Syd's piece yet it is here. His 15 are:
Edwards, Knight, Taylor, Greenway, Winfield, Beaumont, Sciver, Gunn, Hazell, Brunt, Shrubsole, Cross, Jones, Wyatt and Farrant. For what it's worth (which is not a great deal) I think they will probably take Marsh and Grundy rather than Wyatt and Beaumont.

But what of the New Zealanders they will be facing? So far New Zealand have played just three games in the ICC Women's Championship, all against the West Indies, in the West Indies, and they have lost them all. They are bottom of the ICCWC table of eight teams. They will be desperate to get something out of England's tour to New Zealand.

New Zealand currently have 10 contracted players - Suzie Bates, Sam Curtis, Sophie Devine, Holly Huddleston, Hayley Jensen, Felicity Leydon-Davis, Sara McGlashan, Morna Nielsen, Katie Perkins and Rachel Priest. In addition to these another 10 players were also named in the White Ferns High Performance Squad in October - Kate Broadmore, Nicola Browne (who declined a contract), Maddy Green, Georgia Guy, Frances Mackay, Hanah Rowe, Sian Ruck, Amy Satterthwaite, Lea Tahuhu, and Natasha von Tilburg.

The squad that went to the West Indies in September was the contracted 10, plus Green, Guy, Satterthwaite, Tahuhu. No-one really came out of that disastrous tour with any great credit, except perhaps Sophie Devine who averaged 40.25 in the four ODIs - only Bates, Priest and Satterthwaite averaged in double figures and only Devine, Bates and Priest scored 50s. Debutant off-spinner Georgia Guy also did well and was the top bowler with seven wickets.

You would guess that the selectors will stick with the contracted 10, plus vice-captain Satterthwaite, which leaves just 3/4 slots available. Guy deserves to keep one of them, but the others seem to be up for grabs. Seamer Tahuhu only bowled five overs in the Windies and has not put down a huge marker in the current New Zealand domestic season. Frances Mackay on the other hand has had a good start to the domestic season both with bat and ball, but may already be behind Guy in the off-spinning pecking order. On the opening bowler front Hanah Rowe is a young contender. She has had a decent start to her season with Central Districts and at 18 could provide back-up to Nielsen, Huddleston and Leydon-Davis.

A few of the New Zealand batsmen seem to be in decent nick. Sophie Devine scored back-to-back hundreds in the domestic OD competition for Wellington against Canterbury earlier this month; Amy Satterthwaite scored a hundred for Canterbury against Wellington and 97 against Otago; Sara McGlashan scored a hundred against Otago and was 96* against Northern Districts for Auckland; and Kate Broadmore has scored 53* and 115* for Central Districts, which must put her name in the frame for the final squad. Keeper batsman Rachel Priest has also scored a ton for Central Districts against Canterbury in her first OD of the domestic season.

However there have been few stellar bowling performances by any members of the High Performance squad, which could account for the glut of centurions, and must be of concern to the selectors with only just over two months to go until the England tour begins. To add to their woes captain Suzie Bates has not been in sparkling form with either Otago in New Zealand or, beforehand, in the Aussie WNCL with Western Australia (alongside Charlotte Edwards). She, along with the rest of the White Ferns, will have a maximum of six more domestic ODs and three domestic T20s to find some form and force their way into the squad for a very important series for both teams.