Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Isobel Joyce will blog for WCB on Ireland in WWT20 Qualifier

The build-up to the 2016 Women's World T20 Cup in India has already started for the eight teams who are attempting to claim the last two spots in the WT20 competition in India next March.

Bangladesh, who qualified as hosts for the 2013 World T20 Cup, and Ireland, who won their place at the 2013 tournament by finishing third in the qualifying tournament held in Ireland (behind Sri Lanka and Pakistan, who also qualified) are the two favourites to emerge from the eight teams in the 2015 Qualifying Tournament, being played in Thailand at the end of November. Just the two teams that make the final of the Qualifying Tournament will join Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies, when the main tournament kicks off on 11th March 2016.

The format for the Qualifying Tournament is two groups of four playing each other once. The top two from each group then go into the semi-finals and the winners of those games not only qualify for the final, but have a place assured at the main competition.

The groups are:-
Group A - Bangladesh, Thailand, Scotland and Papua New GuineaGroup B - Ireland, Netherlands, China and Zimbabwe.

WCB will be following the whole Qualifying Tournament and we will have our own exclusive insider - captain of Ireland Isobel Joyce. She will be blogging for WCB in both the build-up to the tournament and as the tournament progresses, starting at the end of this month as Ireland head to Spain for a pre-tournament camp. So follow WCB on twitter (@womenscricblog) and here on the Blog for all the news on the ICC Women's World T20 Qualifier.

The 20 games will be played at the Thailand Cricket Ground (TCG) and the Asian Institute of Technology Ground in Bangkok, Thailand. These are the fixtures:-

Sat 28th November 
Thailand v Bangladesh, TCG (1000-1245);
Ireland v Netherlands, AIT (1000-1245);
PNG v Scotland, TCG (1345-1630);
China v Zimbabwe, AIT (1345-1630)

Sun 29th November 
China v Ireland, TCG (1000-1245);
Scotland v Bangladesh, AIT (1000-1245);
Zimbabwe v Netherlands, TCG (1345-1630);
Thailand v PNG, AIT (1345-1630)

Tues 1st December 
Thailand v Scotland, TCG (1000-1245);
Bangladesh v PNG, AIT (1000-1245);
Zimbabwe v Ireland, TCG (1345-1630);
Netherlands, China, AIT (1345-1630)

Thurs 3rd December 
Trophy semi-final 1 (A1 v B2) TCG (1000-1245);
Shield semi-final 1 (A3 v B4), AIT (1000-1245);
Trophy semi-final 2 (B1 v A2), TCG (1345-1630);
Shield semi-final 2 (B3 v A4), AIT (1345-1630)

Sat 5th December
Trophy third/fourth place play-off, TCG (1000-1245);
Shield third/fourth place play-off, AIT (1000-1245);
Trophy final, TCG (1345-1630);
Shield final, AIT (1345-1630)


Thursday, 15 October 2015

WCB launches ODI Team Standings

The new WCB T20I Team Standings table seems to have gone down well, so here is the WCB ODI Team Rankings, which have been worked out in a similar way. I dug out all the results for the last four years for the top 10 teams in world cricket at the moment - the eight that are taking part in the current ICC Women's Championship, plus Bangladesh and Ireland. I then applied this relatively simple formula:-
  • 2 points for a win
  • 1 point for a tie
  • Bonus points based on team positions in the last World Cup in 2013, so if you beat a team you get the following bonus points :- Australia 10, West Indies 9, England 8, New Zealand 7, Sri Lanka 6, South Africa 5, India 4, Pakistan 3, Bangladesh 2, Ireland 1
    (this is just the starting point, and it will change from here on - see below).
As with the T20I table I decided that the recent games had to be given more weight, so I reduced the total number of points from games played over two years ago by half. It produced the following table.

Unsurprisingly Australia, with over an 80% win ratio, are top of the league, quite some way ahead of England. Surprisingly perhaps New Zealand (third in the T20 table) are only fifth in the ODI table, behind West Indies and India. It will be interesting to see if New Zealand can move themselves up the table with wins over Sri Lanka (worth five points each), and West Indies will look to consolidate their position in third with wins over Pakistan (worth six points each). But one loss will mean big points for Sri Lanka (8) and Pakistan (10) and obviously 0 points for New Zealand and West Indies from that game, which will reduce their average score.

The table will be updated after every ODI series - West Indies take on Pakistan starting Friday (four ODI series) and New Zealand host Sri Lanka in November (also a four ODI series) - but with bonus points allocated on current positions in the WCB ODI Team Standings as at the date the series starts. So for example beating West Indies will be worth eight points, and Pakistan four for the upcoming series. 

If you have any thoughts on this table or would like to see the spreadsheet in more detail then please let me know, either via the comments below (with your email address if you want the stats), or you can email me at


Tuesday, 13 October 2015

WCB launches International T20 Team Rankings

A couple of  weeks ago the ICC launched their "innovative new multi-format" women's team rankings (more info here). The system "incorporates results in all three formats of the game into one rankings system". So what that means is they have combined all the results from the last four years for T20Is, ODIs and Tests into one completely meaningless table.

Or am I being too harsh? Surely the three formats are completely different games? What is the point of combining all the results into one table? Much better surely to have three separate team rankings for Tests, ODIs and T20s, as the men do.

The problem with Tests is that in the last four years there have only been five Tests, played by England (4), Australia (3), India (2) and South Africa (1). Given that India have won both their games we will suggest they should be top of the Test League. How can these results be included in any multi-format table when six of the top 10 teams have not played in this format of the game?

Perhaps I thought there is some magical mathematical formula used to iron out these wrinkles (more like large creases)? I have asked the ICC if they could share their secret calculations with us, the general cricketing public, but it seems they are not inclined to do so. Far be it from me to say, but you do wonder if India's recent Test successes, compared with their T20 and ODI failures, may have influenced the ICC's thinking. India are fourth behind Australia, England and New Zealand in the ICC Women's Team Rankings.

So instead of just bleating about the ICC's lack of judgement, as well as their lack of openness, I thought I'd have a stab at creating my own team standings table. For the time being ODIs appear to be covered by the ICC Women's Championship table, which is beginning to reflect current performance (take a look here). I may however turn my attention to ODIs at a slightly later date.

T20Is it is then. So I set about creating the WCB T20I Team Standings. I dug out all the results for the top 10 teams that took part in the last T20 World Cup for the last four years. I then tried various formats of points for wins, plus bonus points for wins against different opponents. In the end I came up with this relatively simple formula:-

  • 2 points for a win
  • 1 point for a tie
  • Bonus points based on team positions in the last T20 World Cup, so if you beat a team you get the following bonus points :- Australia 10, England 9, West Indies 8, South Africa 7, New Zealand 6, India 5, Pakistan 4, Sri Lanka 3, Bangladesh 2, Ireland 1
    (it is not ideal but I needed a starting point, and it will change from here on - see below)

I then decided that the recent games had to be given more weight, so I reduced the total number of points from games played over two years ago by half. It produced the following table.

Initially I was rather surprised that England came out on top, but actually they have a better overall win percentage than Australia, and in their last 12 encounters with Australia they have won 7 of them, so it seems accurate that they should be above them in the table. 

I will update the table after every T20I series - West Indies take on Pakistan at the end of this month and New Zealand host Sri Lanka in November - but with bonus points allocated on current positions in the WCB T20I Team Standings as at the date the series starts. So West Indies 7, Pakistan 4 for their upcoming series. 

If you have any thoughts on this table or would like to see the spreadsheet in more detail then please let me know, either via the comments below (with your email address if you want the stats), or you can email me at

Right I'm off to see what happens if I apply the same rationale to the ODI results over the last four years.


Monday, 5 October 2015

England need to look to the future

England have recently announced their England Women's Performance winter training squad (EWPS) for 2015/2016, which is exactly the same as last winter's squad minus Sonia Odedra. The squad is made up of the 18 contracted players (named in May 2014), plus non-contracted Jodie Dibble, Beth Langston and Fran Wilson. In the words of Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr "plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose" - the more things change, the more they stay the same.

In fact a little research suggests that very little has changed in the England camp over the last few years. Here is the 15 player squad from the summer of 2012 selected to play the Indians :-

Tammy Beaumont
Katherine Brunt
Arran Brindle
Holly Colvin
Charlotte Edwards
Georgia Elwiss
Lydia Greenway
Jenny Gunn

Dani Hazell
Heather Knight
Laura Marsh
Susie Rowe
Anya Shrubsole
Sarah Taylor
Dani Wyatt

Looks very familiar! In fact the only players that have left - Brindle, Colvin and Rowe have done so of their own volition. Certainly Colvin would still be there if she had not decided to take a break from international cricket. These 12 plus Kate Cross, Tash Farrant, Rebecca Grundy, Amy Jones, Nat Sciver and Lauren Winfield make up the current 18 contracted players.

Compare this with the Southern Stars contracted player list from 2102 :-

Alex Blackwell                   
Melissa Bulow
Jess Cameron
Sarah Coyte

Lauren Ebsary
Sarah Elliott

Jodie Fields
Rachael Haynes
Alyssa Healy
Julie Hunter
Jessica Jonassen
Meg Lanning

Sharon Millanta
Erin Osborne
Ellyse Perry

Leah Poulton
Clea Smith
Lisa Sthalekar

Only those in bold are still contracted players. This shows that just nine of those 18 players are still contracted. The other nine have been replaced by Kristen Beams, Nicole Bolton, Renee Farrell, Holly Ferling, Grace Harris, Delissa Kimmince, Megan Schutt and Elyse Villani.

Perhaps the lack of change would be understandable if the England players were all still young. But in fact three of them are over 30 (the oldest being Charlotte Edwards at 35), and the average age for the England contracted players is 25.66. Only Kristen Beams and Alex Blackwell are over 30 in the current Aussie squad and captain Meg Lanning is just 23.

There is of course something to be said for stability in a squad, but new players need to be introduced, played and brought on. England appear to have gone stale. Not only do they not look beyond the current 18 contracted players, but those contracted players have not changed for 18 months and it looks unlikely they will do so for another 14 months. That is not healthy.

The departure of both Paul Shaw (Performance Director) and Lisa Keightley (Head of the Academy) may prove a catalyst for change, but it will depend who takes over from them. More time and money needs to be invested in the Academy players, and Academy games and tours need to be just that. Not games and tours for contracted players. If contracted players need game time then more games should be organised for them. In the so-called Academy tour to Dubai in February five of the 14 players chosen were contracted and four more were from the EWPS. Only five players were genuinely from the Academy. In contrast the Aussies took one young contracted player (Elyse Villani) and included seven teenagers in their squad. In the two day "Academy" game against Australia this summer seven contracted players played, two EWPS players and just two genuine Academy players. Not only did this not benefit the England Academy players, but it meant Australia had a better warm-up game.

The women's game is moving on around the world and England cannot afford to keep looking back. Let's hope the new Head Coach can install that philosophy throughout the England player pathway.


Thursday, 1 October 2015

A coffee with Laney

Sitting outside the Guildford Sainsburys' Starbucks in the Autumnal sunshine a short squat figure in knee-length shorts and a t-shirt saunters across the car park, mobile phone to his ear. He concludes his conversation, which just happens to have been with the England women's captain, and then reaches out an outstretched hand. "Alright mate" he says. I have never met him before but I already like him.

This is Mark Lane, who for five years was the driving force behind England women's cricket. He was the man that took England to the very top of women's cricket in 2009 when they were not only the World Cup holders, but also T20 World Cup holders and holders of the Ashes. That year ended with Lane being named Coach of the Year at the UK Coaching Awards. It was a fair reflection of his status not only within women's cricket, but within cricket in general.

In 2010 England failed to reach the final of the T20 World Cup and in 2011 the Aussies got the Ashes back winning the one-off Test by seven wickets. Then in 2013 England relinquished their World Cup crown, losing their first game of the tournament to Sri Lanka (for the first time ever) and failing to reach the final after losing by two runs to Australia in the their group match. It signalled the end for Lane as England coach. " I think provided you leave something in a better place than when you took it on you have done your job", he says as he sips his coffee, declining a call from a women's county coach to continue our conversation. "I rang my missus, and I said things are changing. This isn't what I signed up for". The ECB wanted to appoint a Performance Manager to "sit above" the day-to-day coaches. "I liked getting my hands dirty. I wanted to feel the pulse of the team". So Lane left by mutual consent and with no animosity to the ECB or them to him. Within three weeks Paul Shaw was appointed to the new post. But two years on, with Shaw now on the way out and England again looking for a Head Coach, is the door perhaps open for him to return?

"Interesting. I haven't really thought about it. I'd have to speak with a few people....being my missus. I loved my five years and hopefully it was a significant difference in taking the team forward". Lane is enjoying being a Dad and having time to take his daughter to school and having the freedom to go and see his Mum over a summer weekend. He is currently working as Academy Coach at Middlesex County Cricket Club, where he helps out not just with the Academy but wherever needed - county age group, women's, girls, with the Seconds. He loves the diversity of the role and getting stuck in. He is also about to become coach at a nearby private school. Life is good. "But having said that...", he ponders "... I loved every second of my days with England. I was proud to be part of something".

Lane's route to England coach started back in 1988, when as an aspiring pro at Surrey, he got involved coaching the Shepperton Ladies. "I'd done my badges starting at 18. I was about 20 years of age. It was my first coaching job. I ended up working with Sandra Dawson for quite some time". She played for Surrey at the time and later went on to keep wicket for Ireland. It was Lane's first encounter with women's cricket, but it made no odds to him - men or women - it was just cricket.

Lane spent eight years trying to break through into county cricket, but finally at 27 decided he ought to get a proper job. He had "been a scaffolder, spent 10 years on the roofs, and I worked in nightclubs for five years" to support his efforts to play first-class cricket. His "proper job" was to work in the Surrey County Cricket Centre in Guildford. He became Head Coach in 1996. He was there for seven years and it was where he met Claire Taylor in 1998. "I was told - 'We've got a woman coming in here' - I said no problem I'll take her. Claire said 'I want to be the best player in the world' and I said 'I want to play football for Man Utd!' But I also said I can give you the skills, but do you have the desire?" She did. Taylor went from being a wicket-keeper with limited batting ability, batting at eight or below, to the number one batsmen in the world in both T20 and 50 over cricket, and in 2009 she was the first female named as one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year.

Lane and Taylor worked together for 14 years. At the time it was unusual for an England player to have their own personal one-to-one coach. It was this connection with Taylor, and her obvious development under his tutelage, that got his name to Clare Connor, then captain of England and to Paul Farbrace, now England Men's Assistant Coach, then England Women's coach. Lane was invited to help coach the England Women's team on a part-time basis, which he did alongside Farbrace, Graham Dilley and Dickie Davis.

England retain the Ashes in 2008 (Mark Lane in red)
(C) Ruth Conchie
Lane bided his time and in 2007 he and Mark Dobson were shortlisted and interviewed for the vacant post of England Head Coach, when Richard Bates left the post. Dobson got the job, with Lane being told at the time that he would never coach England "as he had a tattoo on his leg". But when Dobson deserted the England team whilst on tour in Australia, the ECB called up Lane to take over for the Australia leg of the tour. It went well. England won the fifth ODI to draw the series 2-2. Prior to that England had only won one ODI against Australia in Australia. And then England went on to win the one-off Test by six wickets to retain the Ashes. Lane, originally due to return home again after the Australia leg of the tour, was asked to stay on for the New Zealand leg with Jack Birkenshaw, and later that year, 2008, he was officially appointed as England's new Head Coach.

"The rest is history", he says. In 2013, when Lane left England, he had taken them from fifth in the world, to number one in the world. But more than that "we were the most-feared team in the world. People didn't want to play us. They knew they were going to get beaten." Winning World Cups was great for Lane, but for him the 4-0 drubbing of the Aussies in the 2009 ODI Series in England was his best moment. "In tournament cricket you just have to score one more run than the opposition. As much as you want to win World Cups, you actually judge yourself (as a coach) on the amount of series you win, and the margins that you win them by".

So what does the future hold for Lane? "Hopefully I'm going to the World Cup with Ireland next year". It is the T20 World Cup next March and Ireland are hopeful they can qualify as they did for the 2014 World Cup. As for the Women's Cricket Super League and possibly helping out the Middlesex women if they get a franchise? "I just go wherever I'm needed".

There seems little doubt that England have missed Lane's hands-on approach to coaching over the past two years. With the search on for a new Head Coach it seems as though they are returning to that style of leadership. Could England ask Lane back, as they did with Peter Moores for the men? It is certainly an option that has to be on a table somewhere at Lords over the next few months.