Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Could this be a decisive weekend in the Women's County Championship?

After the latest T20 action a few days ago the Women's County Championship returns to prominence this Sunday with a full list of fixtures, despite the fact that 27 England (Ashes duties) and England Academy (warm-up game v Australia) players will not be available for selection for their counties. It means that the counties that have relied on their England contingent will have to dig into their reserves, and there will be opportunities for others to take the limelight, as Lissy MacLeod did for Berkshire on Saturday. She top-scored with 61 and took 4/26, as Berkshire posted 202 and then bowled out Middlesex for 165.

It was Middlesex's second County Championship defeat in a row, with two T20 defeats sandwiched in between. This Sunday they take on Sussex, who will be one of the teams who will suffer the most due to England duties. Middlesex will be hoping to reinvigorate their season and Sussex will be hoping to maintain some sort of title challenge.

So who will be missing England players this Sunday?

Kent (5) - Charlotte Edwards, Lyda Greenway, Laura Marsh, Tammy Beaumont, Tash Farrant
Sussex (4) - Georgia Elwiss, Sarah Taylor, Georgia Adams, Freya Davies
Yorkshire (3) - Katherine Brunt, Lauren Winfield, Dani Hazell
Berkshire (2) - Heather Knight, Carla Rudd
Lancashire (2) - Kate Cross, Sophie Ecclestone
Notts (2) - Jenny Gunn, Danielle Wyatt
Somerset (2) - Anya Shrubsole, Sophie Luff
Warwickshire (2) - Rebecca Grundy, Amy Jones
Devon - Jodie Dibble
Essex - Beth Langston
Middlesex - Fran Wilson
Staffs - Evelyn Jones
Surrey - Nat Sciver

Div One Games
Lancashire v Berks at Wigan CC
Notts v Yorkshire at Welbeck CC
Surrey v Kent at the Kia Oval
Sussex v Middlesex at the County Ground, Hove

League leaders Kent visit local rivals Surrey at the Kia Oval without five frontline players. Surrey will be missing just Nat Sciver from their ranks. It must flip the odds in favour of Surrey who should have Rachel Candy and Sarah Clarke to lead from the front. Could Surrey inflict the first defeat on Kent this summer?
Yorkshire will be without their captain Lauren Winfield plus Katherine Brunt and Dani Hazell for their trip to Welbeck to take on Notts. Yorkshire had a good win over Middlesex two weeks ago, with their Aussie import Beth Mooney a major contributor with the bat. Notts will be missing Danni Wyatt and Jenny Gunn without whom they may struggle for runs, which should allow Yorkshire to keep the pressure on at the top of the league.
Sussex invite Middlesex down to charming County Ground at Hove and they will have to fill in five gaps left by England duties, plus another as Erin Osborne too is on Ashes' duty, but for the other side. The opportunity will be there for Middlesex, but they are low on confidence and Sussex's young pups have very little to lose. One big performance could win this game for either side.
Winless Lancashire take on a resurgent Berkshire side, who beat Middlesex last Saturday for their second win in four games. Both teams will be missing two English players each, with Berks' skipper Heather Knight perhaps the most influential with both bat and ball. Berks will also be without the services of Alex Blackwell, but they have Corinne Hall to replace her and some experience amongst their ranks and I think they may still have just too much for this Lancs Thunder team.

Div Two Games
Durham v Ireland at Durham City CC
Essex v Worcestershire at Garon Park, Southend
Somerset v Scotland at Brislington CC
Staffs v Devon at Milford Hall CC

Staffs against Devon is the top clash in Div 2, with Staffs attempting to keep their unbeaten record and Devon desperate to keep up a challenge for promotion . They are currently third but have already lost two games. A further defeat would end their chances so they have to go for it against Staffs. Defeat would be a blow but not be a disaster for Staffs. They do still have Somerset (the only other unbeaten side) to play. Hopefully both teams will agree to play that cancelled game at some time before the season ends in September.
Somerset take on Scotland, who will be glad that Anya Shrubsole and Sophie Luff will not be lining up for the west country team. But Somerset are likely to still prove too strong for Scotland, who are yet to get off the mark in this higher division.
Also winless so far are Essex, who entertain Worcestershire, at the generally pretty flat Garon Park. I cannot see it being a run-fest, but Worcestershire might just have the edge with the experienced Kiwi Sian Ruck, opening their bolwing attack. Early wickets from her might just clinch it.
And finally Ireland are at Durham. Both teams are consistently inconsistent so anything could happen. Ireland come off the back off a good win over Devon last time out, and Durham beat Worcestershire in a two run cliffhanger. Ireland will miss the experience of the injured Izzy Joyce, who is likely to miss the rest of the season, and they need at least one of their top order batsmen to stand up and get some runs on the board for the team. It could be another nail-biter?


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