Sunday, 17 May 2015

Women's County Champs - Div 1 Week 2 Preview

The second Bank Holiday weekend in May sees the second set of Women's County Championship double headers.

All the teams should be able to pick from their full squads, subject to injury of course, so if you want to go and see some of the best players in the country then get out sometime over this coming weekend (fixtures are at the bottom of this piece).

Table-toppers Surrey are at Reed's School again on both days, where they beat Sussex on the opening day of the season. On Sunday they take on Middlesex who are yet to get their season underway due to rain, and this looks like being Surrey's toughest game of the weekend. Early wickets will be key for Middlesex, particularly those of in-form opener Kirstie White and number 3, Nat Sciver. Middlesex perhaps lack a really penetrating opening bowler, but their spinners - Hartley, Westbury and Dunkley might be able to strangle Surrey's batting if they can get their line and length right. I think Middlesex might just clip high-flying Surrey's wings.

On Sunday Surrey host Warwickshire, who lost both their games in the opening weekend (to Notts and Yorkshire). Surrey look odds-on to come away with the win, plunging Warwickshire into further trouble at the foot of the table. The previous day they will have taken on Sussex, who have not won in their last five county championship games (losses to Kent, Surrey, and Middlesex to end last season and then Surrey and Kent (the infamous tie) at the start of this one). Sussex will be keen to get back to winning ways and should be at full strength as Georgia Adams, Freya Davies, and Aussie import Erin Osborne all report for duty for the first time. Sussex's bowling looks too strong for Warwickshire.

New guys LCB Thunder may also struggle to get their first Div 1 win on the board as they have to travel to Kent and then Middlesex, for their second and third games in the top flight. Sussex proved that Kent's batting line-up is not invincible, but Charlotte Edwards will be determined that Kent pick up two more victories before she and her fellow England contingent concentrate their efforts on the Ashes. Lancs may just pay the price. Middlesex too will not want to slip up against the northerners. If they can make this their second win of the season they will be in prime position to challenge for the title as they have no players likely to feature in the Ashes series.

Kent's Monday game is an intriguing encounter against Notts. Notts' Danni Wyatt will be keen to show the England skipper what she is missing with the bat, and perhaps even the ball, if not selected for the national team. Notts' fortunes may fall on her shoulders, but the sensible money will be on another Kent win. Odds on the tie will be pretty long!

The previous day Notts will have been at Berkshire, who were only just pipped, by two runs, in their opening game of the season against Surrey. They will have taken heart from that and from the arrival of Aussie star bat Alex Blackwell who should make her first appearance of the season. This could be a tight game, hinging on just one key performance on either side. On paper Notts have the edge and I think they will probably win it.

The final game is Berks v Yorkshire on Bank Holiday Monday, which could be another monumental tussle. If Berkshire can make early inroads into the Yorkshire batting line-up then they might just pull off a bit of a surprise victory.

Sunday 24th May
Berks v Notts at Finchampstead CC
Kent v Lancs at Spitfire Ground St Lawrence
Surrey v Middx at Reeds School
Sussex v Warwickshire at East Grinstead CC

Monday 25th May
Berks v Yorkshire at Finchampstead CC
Kent v Notts at Spitfire Ground St Lawrence
Middx v Lancs at Edmonton CC
Surrey v Warwickshire at Reeds School


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