Friday, 26 May 2017

Women's County Champs Double Header

It's another double header weekend of Women's County Championship action, which will see teams in both Division One and Two complete five of the seven games that make up the County Championship "season".

In Division One unbeaten Warwickshire travel away for the first time to take on winless Berkshire and then Middlesex, who only just scraped through against Berkshire last week for their only win of the season. Warwickshire could make it five out of five, leaving Yorkshire and Lancashire left to play at the end of August.

Yorkshire themselves could still be unbeaten when they meet Warwickshire later in the season, but they will have to overcome Sussex and Kent this weekend. They have already accounted for Berkshire, Middlesex and Lancashire, but this weekend could be a tougher challenge. As predicted leg-spinner Katie Levick has been reeking havoc with the ball, with 13 wickets to her name already.

The other two teams realistically challenging for a top two or three finish are Kent and Lancashire. As well as their fixtures against Yorkshire and Sussex respectively, the two meet at the Spitfire Ground on Sunday, with the winner keeping themselves in a position to challenge. Lancs will have to pick themselves up after a recent drubbing by local rivals Yorkshire, and Kent should come out on top.

Desperately clinging to the side of the lifeboat at the bottom of the table are Berkshire, Sussex, Middlesex and Notts. It seems unlikely that Berkshire will get much out of their Warwickshire game, but they must target a win against fellow strugglers Notts on Monday. Notts, on the other hand, will know that if they can beat either Middlesex or Berkshire this weekend then they will be in much better shape than some of their rivals (two wins). Middlesex may well prove too strong for the Midlanders (which would give them two wins too), but the game at North Maidenhead CC against Berkshire on Monday has all the hallmarks of being a low-scoring scrap to the death.

Sussex's batting has been woeful so far this season with a highest score of just 100 in their three matches to date. Someone needs to bat long against either, or both, Yorkshire and Lancs if they are to have any chance of not being nought from five. Sussex must win at least one game this weekend or they will be staring at the prospect of life in Div 2 next year.

Division 1
Berkshire v Warwickshire at North Maidenhead CC
Kent v Lancs at Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence
Middlesex v Notts at Mill Hill School
Sussex v Yorkshire at the Saffrons, Eastbourne

Berkshire v Notts at North Maidenhead CC
Kent v Yorkshire at Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence
Middlesex v Warwickshire at Teddington CC
Sussex v Lancs at the Brighton Aldridge Community Academy Ground

In Division Two Somerset are currently the only unbeaten team and I'd be very surprised if they slipped up this weekend against Worcs, but Wales, who sit in joint second, with Hampshire, with two wins out of three games played, could be a tougher nut to crack. If Somerset could beat them too, then they would have fancied Surrey and Hampshire to play in the last weekend's fixtures, which could be an intriguing finish to the season.

Win or lose to Somerset Wales will hope to keep their promotion hopes alive with a win over inconsistent Devon on Monday. Devon were bowled out for just 45 by Somerset in their last outing, after having opened their campaign with wins over Staffs and Derbyshire. Wales are favourites for the win, although Devon may well have won the previous day against winless Worcestershire.

Hampshire, with Kiwi Suzie Bates and former England skipper Charlotte Edwards, in their ranks, should prove far too strong for Derbyshire and Staffs. I would be very surprised if Bates does not make at least one more hundred, before reuniting with her Kiwi team mates ahead of the Women's World Cup starting at the end of June.

Surrey have the same two opponents as Hampshire, which could make it a miserable weekend for the Northern teams. Surrey, with Nat Sciver, at their core, will be hoping to keep their promotion dreams intact with two more wins, to take them to four from five too.

Division 2

Devon v Worcs at Bovey Tracey CC
Hants v Derbyshire at Basingstoke & North Hants CC
Somerset v Wales at Nailsea CC
Surrey v Staffs at Whitgift School

Devon v Wales at North Devon CC
Hants v Staffs at Cove CC
Somerset v Worcs at Nailsea CC
Surrey v Derbyshire at Reed's School


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