Monday, 24 August 2015

Make or break T20s for England

Wednesday will be Australia's first chance to clinch the Ashes back from England, when they meet in the first of three T20s at Chelmsford. The second will be at Hove on Friday and the third at Cardiff on Monday.

But will England manage to take the series beyond Wednesday's game? The odds don't look good. The Aussies are the current World T20 Champions, having retained the title they first won back in 2010 when they beat New Zealand. In 2012 and 2014 they beat England in the final. They are currently on an unbeaten run of 16 T20 games, which started back in March 2014 against South Africa on their way to their third World T20 title. It is true that during that time they have only played England once (in the final), but they will be keen to extend their run.

As warm-up for these games Australia travelled across to Dublin and took on Ireland. They won all three games comfortably, as you might expect, but it was genuine game time. England by contrast have been ensconced in Loughborough and have apparently played a couple of warm-up games against a young Northants Boys XI. They are now down in Chelmsford where the rain has meant they are in the indoor nets.

The only changes to the England squad are the recalling of the two Danielles - Misses Hazell (actually Mrs) and Wyatt, who come in for Kate Cross and Fran Wilson.

Hazell is England's leading wicket-taker in T20 cricket with 65 wickets in 60 games, but the sparky and intelligent 27 year old seems to be out of favour with the England management for some reason. She looked good with the ball in hand for the EWA in the warm-up games against the Aussies, but she is not the most mobile of fielders and her batting has not been any great shakes this season.

Wyatt is a conundrum. She scores plenty of runs in county cricket, both 50 over and T20 and she is great in the field, with a magnificent arm from the boundary. Originally she was an off-spinning all-rounder, but her bowling went through a lull in 2013 and 2014 with the England skipper having no real confidence in her ability to bowl an over without a bad ball in it.

As for her batting England never seem to have really decided how to make the best of her with the bat. Early on she was promoted up the order, almost as a pinch-hitter, but this failed. She was then shoved back into the middle/late order before she again appeared in the top order against the Aussies in 2013 at Chelmsford (28) and Southampton (0). But by Chester-le-Street she was back to number 6. In the West Indies later that year she started the first two T20s at 7, but was then promoted to open for the next three (37, 13 and 12). She kept the spot for the Ashes T20s in Australia early the next year, but had a miserable time (6, 0 , 6). She was back to 7 for the South Africa T20s last summer and down to 8 in New Zealand, where she did not get to bat at all, in three games. Over the last five years she has played in 56 T20s for England with a top score of just 41 and an average of just 13.16. Quite where she fits into the current England set-up (if at all) is a matter for conjecture.

I think England will start with Winfield, Edwards, Taylor, Sciver, Elwiss, Greenway, Knight, Brunt, Gunn, Hazell, Shrubsole.

As for the Aussies they seem to be in a bit of a quandary over who should open with Elyse Villani. Nicole Bolton is not a T20 player, so Jess Jonassen seems to be the left-hander of choice. But she does not seem to like the position that much and I think someone else may get the role, possibly Healy or Perry. Somehow they will also have to accommodate rising T20 star Grace Harris. She is only here because T20 specialist Delissa Kimmince pulled out of the tour through injury, but Harris impressed in Ireland with her clean hitting and her tidy off-spin, and the Aussies will be keen to blood her against tougher opposition prior to the T20 World Cup next year.

It is difficult to see England getting close to winning any, let alone all three, of the T20s, but one person can win a T20 all on their own. Do England have such a player? They probably do. Are they likely to actually do it though? Probably not.



  1. Danni Wyatt’s T20 batting position profile (where she has actually batted as opposed to listed on a scorecard) is:-
    No 2 = 9, No 3 = 7, No 4 = 2, No 5 = 5, No 6 = 3, No 7= 9 and No 8 = 1
    which does tend to underline your point about the selectors not knowing where she should bat.
    Danni has a really good plus point worth mentioning – her scoring rate. It’s over 100 (so that beats Greenway, Sciver, Winfield, Marsh, Brunt and Gunn (just) ).

    The other Danni (Mrs McGann no less) holds the England T20 record for batting in the most positions. She has managed 9 different positions only having not batted at No4 and No 6. Yep, she has even opened twice (against WI in 2009 and India in 2010).

  2. I don't think this Australia team are unbeatable in T20. There were a couple of shaky moments against Ireland. The last game was very one-sided but the Aussies let Ireland get 115 in the first game with a sloppy finish to their bowling, and a one point were 63-5 themselves in the second game. Only a Perry/Blackwell inspired recovery averted disaster in that one. The other thing is they didn't chase at all in 3 games, so if we win the toss and conditions allow, I suggest batting first.

    There seems little reason not to include Wyatt in the England team. If you compare her stats with Knight, they are about the same, within a few points in batting and bowling average, and strike rate. Wyatt is a bit younger but has way more T20 experience. She has sustained about the same levels as Knight for longer. If England are really going with experience, they'd pick her.

    Not saying Knight should be dropped, but considering her best position in the order, it must be coming in at 6. Her top T20 score was at 6 - 30 off 15 balls vs. NZ in Feb (a game we actually lost, after which Knight suddenly appeared at number 2) and I see no reason to change that. It's not as if she's done that well this summer batting higher up.

    The team you suggest will probably be what they go with. Not sure about the order though, and I fear Elwiss may be left out (she actually hasn't batted in iT20 yet which shows either how long ago it must have been when she last played for us or how low she was batting) which would be unfortunate. Even as an Elwiss fan, I must admit Wyatt may offer more. With Winfield, Taylor and Knight etc. in seemingly no form with the bat whatsoever, it's hard to see how we're going to post much over 100-110 and yet we'll need 130+ to challenge Australia, with good bowling to boot.

    Hopefully form will go out of the window and we'll see the first close games in this series. Although I've given up hoping to win all 3, one more win must surely be possible, and 3 decent, hard working performances are the minimum expectation. A couple of last over finishes would be welcome whichever side they end up going to.

    Weather forecast for Chelmsford now looks OK for the start time of 7pm BUT predicted rain all day before that, may still mean there is a delayed start due to a wet outfield. A reduced match will only benefit the Aussies, I susepct. Our best chance for wins may come after the series is already lost; but at this point I'm willing to take anything we can get. I am attending the Cardiff double header and managed to talk a couple of others into it too (a brazen excuse to get other family members to watch women's cricket, haha!)