Monday, 25 October 2021

Devine scorches Thunder as Strikers lose "unbeaten" tag.

After a rather damp weekend in Launceston five of the eight teams are tied at the top of the table on five points, with Brisbane Heat heading the standings due to a superior NRR.

All of Saturday's four games fell foul of the weather, and it was only due to an exceptional effort by the groundstaff, that all three of Sunday's games were completed. 

The first was restricted to just 11 overs a side due to initial damp conditions, played between Heat v Strikers. The shortened game favoured Heat's big strikers, who hit an impressive 104/5 off their 66 balls, despite a hat-trick from Darcie Brown halfway through Heat's innings. Georgias Voll (31*) and Redmayne (28) hit most of Heat's runs. In response Strikers seemed to have matters under control through Wolvaardt (54) and van Niekerk (24), who put on 68 for the first wicket, but DvN had chewed up 22 balls for her 24, which meant they only had 68 off 53 balls when she was given out lbw. An initial RRR of 9.54 had gone up to over 12, and that became 15.50 as new bat Maddy Penna struggled. When Wolvaardt fell in the 10th over the game was up for Strikers, as was their unbeaten tag. Heat won by 5 runs.

Having said Sydney Sixers could not bat as badly again as they did against Stars, they did just that against Renegades! Shafali Verma got out first ball; Ash Gardner managed to edge a wide long hop to the keeper; and Alyssa Healy hit another Kaur long hop straight back to her. Sixers were 12/3! It mean that Ellyse Perry (50*) and Nicole Bolton (38) batted like it was a Test Match for 7 overs. At the end of the 11th over Sixers were 41/3 with Perry on 9 off 25 balls and Bolton on 17 off 21 balls. 13 runs off the next over suggested a shift in the gears, but it was a false dawn as Strikers' innings limped to 118/4 with Perry still there at the end, having scored 29 off her last 21 balls. After a positive powerplay from Renegades (44/1) it was a walk in the park for the team in red. Sixers bowling looked innocuous, with Perry failing to give herself a single over. Harmanpreet Kaur put Sixers out of their misery with two 6s at the end of the 17th over. Sixers really are not in a good place at the moment.

The final game went according to plan with Sophie Devine smashing the young Thunder bowlers for a 58 ball century, as Scorchers notched up 186/2. It was Devine's third WBBL century and she looked in fine touch. Thunder struggled to 105/9 in reply with Phoebe Litchfield top-scoring with 24. 

This week's mid-week games are :-

Stars, Canes and Thunder will be desperate to get something out of their two games, with just two wins from eleven games so far between them. Stars play both their rivals, so have the most to gain. Can their batting strength compensate for their bowling weakness? Two wins could rocket them to the top of the table by Wednesday night.

Canes will have to battle out their second game with the in-form Heat, who may well prove too strong for them with both bat and ball. Thunder face a buoyant Renegades in their second game. Could this be Smriti Mandhana's opportunity to kick start her WBBL? If so then Thunder could pick up their first win. 

Martin Davies

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Topsy turvy WBBL07 may be clearer by Sunday night

The focus of WBBL07 moves north on the island of Tasmania, from Hobart to Launceston, for the next few league games, with seven being played over the coming weekend.

Here are this weekend's games (UK times) :-

Undefeated Strikers have the early start on both days, facing off first against Canes and then Heat. Canes will be buoyed by their big win over Stars, particularly bearing in mind Stars then went on to beat Sixers the next day. Canes certainly bowled well, but their batting was almost entirely in the hands of skipper Rachel Priest. Who will stand up against Strikers should she fail? In-form Strikers will fancy their chances.

Heat have shown their good and their bad sides already in their two games against Scorchers. One they lost, when they should have won, and the other they won by a country mile. They are the infuriating, yet loveable, toddler of WBBL07. Some days they will be really naughty, but it is difficult not to laugh as you tell them off. Uber-sensible Strikers might give them a hard time.

Heat's other game of the weekend is against the Stars - the giant-killers of Wednesday! As well as Stars bowled you have to say that Sixers gifted that game to them. I'm not sure Heat will be so generous.

The final two games on Saturday are Thunder v Sixers and Scorchers v Renegades. Sixers can't bat as badly as they did against Stars can they? They do have issues though. They may well be strong enough to beat Thunder, but the road ahead does not look to be without some hazardous obstacles. Scorchers will back themselves to beat Renegades, all the more so after Renegades learned that Georgia Wareham's unfortunate knee injury will keep her out of the tournament. Renegades bowling line-up was thin before. Now it is just skipper Sophie Molineux. Things won't get any better for Gades on Sunday when Sixers are their second opponents of the weekend. 

Finally Scorchers v Thunder will round out the weekend. Thunder are a very young side, led by a 19 year old captain in Hannah Darlington. That is a very big ask. Their batting relies on Smriti Mandhana and 18 year old Phoebe Litchfield. They are both immensely talented, but it is a tough ask to carry the batting in every game. Their bowlers are young too. Sophie Devine might just have a field day.

By the end of the weekend I'd expect Strikers, Sixers, Heat and Scorchers to be the happiest of the eight teams, and filling the top four places in the league.

Martin Davies

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Sixers' batting falls short, as Stars and Canes find their feet

What a difference a day makes!

On Monday Stars got their butts handed to them by Canes, who clocked up their first win of the WBBL07 campaign, but next day Stars dished out a convincing 30 run win over tournament favourite Sixers! But then that is T20 cricket.

Image credit: Punch Magazine, July 17, 1841
To be fair Stars didn't as much lose to Canes, but to Rachel Priest. The veteran Kiwi once again cocked a snook at the White Fern's selection committee by smashing her first WBBL century off 65 balls. Batting first Canes surged to 152/4 with Priest finishing unbeaten on 107. That is 70.39% of her team's runs - the highest percentage ever in the WBBL (courtesy of @_hypocaust). Stars had no answers as Priest helped herself to ten 4s and seven 6s. In reply Stars never recovered from being 3/2 in the third over and were bundled out for just 89. 

With the prospect of playing the mighty Sixers then next day it looked like Stars would start their campaign with a miserable and demoralising 0/3, but their bowlers, and a dismal batting effort from Sixers the next day, would prove otherwise. Stars set Sixers 140 to win, courtesy of 41 off the last 4 overs from Bouchier 32* (25) and Garth 24* (21). Given their power-packed batting line-up Sixers were still favourites to win, but Verma's luck ran out after three balls, and Healy holed out off Sutherland in the deep to leave Sixers 30/2 at the end of the powerplay. With Gardner and Perry there Sixers were still favourites.

Ash Gardner was going at about a run-a-ball, but Perry had 7 off 15 before she hit her first boundary in the 11th over. Two balls later the scoreboard pressure told on Gardner as she sliced to cover. The RRQ had climbed to nearly 9 an over. Nicole Bolton joined Perry. Three more overs - nine, six and four scored. RRQ 10 per over off the last seven overs. Things were getting serious for Sixers. Bolton and Brown departed in the 15th over from Flintoff, with only one run scored, and Sixers were toast! They limped to 109/8 at the end of their allotted 20 overs, with Perry out three balls from the end for 40 off 42 balls. Add that to her one over for 13 and it was a miserable day for the Sixers' skipper.

In the other games Heat took revenge on Scorchers for their Super Over loss on Sunday with a convincing win. Their top three - Harris 34, Redmayne 59* and Voll 24, set the platform for a formidable 162/5. Scorchers lost Mooney early, and after an initially positive start which took them to 34/1 after 4 overs, they found ways to get themselves out and were bowled out in the 18th over for 103. Spinners Yadav, Harris and Jonassen took 6/45 off their 11 overs. Heat will need them to keep having good days with the ball.

And finally Strikers looked assured as they rolled over Renegades. They restricted them to 126/6 with all their bowlers keeping things tight. Chief wicket-taker was Sarah Coyte with 3/20. In reply they never looked troubled. By the end of the powerplay they were 42/2, but from there Laura Wolvaardt (36*) and Tahlia McGrath (50*) sauntered along to finish the game in the 18th over. In all Renegades threw the ball to eight different players, with none of their seamers (with the exception perhaps of Courtney Webb) proving to be accurate or effective. This could be a recurring theme for the Gades.

The results were :- 

Hurricanes 152/4 beat Stars 89 all out (19.2 overs)
Heat 162/5 beat Scorchers 103 all out (17.2 overs)
Renegades 126/6 lost to Strikers 129/2 (17.3 overs)
Stars 139/3 beat Sixers 109/8

The next seven games are being played on Saturday and Sunday in Launceston and we will take a look at them all later in the week.

Martin Davies

Monday, 18 October 2021

Sixers take early lead in WBBL07, but look far from unbeatable

Despite Tasmania being shut down for the weekend due to a covid scare, the first five games of WBBL07 were completed, albeit with no crowds allowed. 

All five games were tight, with all going into the last over, and Scorchers v Heat only being settled after a Super Over.

Here are the results from Week One:-

Stars 99/1 lost to Sixers 100/1 (10.2 overs) (11 over game)
Hurricanes 121 all out lost to Renegades 125/4 (19.2 overs)
Strikers 140/7 beat Thunder 110 all out (19.2 overs)
Hurricanes 125/9 lost to Sixers 129/5 (19.3 overs)
Scorchers 137/7 tied with Heat 137/9, but then won the Super Over - 
Heat 13/2 v Scorchers 14/0 (4 balls)

Strikers took the two victories most people expected with a comfortable win over Stars in an eleven over fixture, but a less than comfortable win over Canes, even though they were only chasing 126 to win. 
Ellyse Villani (54*) looked in good form for the Stars as they posted 99/1, but Alyssa Healy's 50 off 24 balls, including four 4s in an over off both Tess Flintoff and Annabel Sutherland, saw the Sixers most of the way to their first victory. 

In game two Sixers restricted the Canes to 125/9 and, despite losing Healy early, looked to be cruising, needing a run a ball at 72/2 after 11 overs, but Shafali Verma and Nicole Bolton allowed the run rate to creep up to 8s. But Tayla Vlaeminck then conceded 15 off the 18th over leaving just 9 runs from 12 balls. Molly Strano (3/19) removed Verma in the next over and the equation got to 7 off 8 before Ange Reakes hit a beautiful lofted cover drive for 4. It meant two off the last over, but even that was a struggle, as Reakes was bowled, but a Carey wide relieved the tension, before Maitlan Brown added the coup de grace. 

That made it 0/2 for Canes, who had lost on Saturday to Renegades. Canes could only post an under-par 121 all out as they lost wickets consistently with Georgia Wareham the main beneficiary with 3/13 off her 4. Renegades cruised to 90/1, but then lost three quick wickets. A steepling cow-corner 6 from Harmanpreet Kaur in the 19th over steadied Renegades' nerves and they got over the line in the next over.

Strikers opened up their campaign with a convincing 30 run win over a depleted Thunder line-up. Having already lost skipper Rachel Haynes, spinners Erin Osborne and Linsey Smith were also unavailable for Thunder's first game of WBBL07. Chasing 140 they ran out of puff in the 90s losing 5 wickets for 6 runs. New Strikers' skipper Tahlia McGrath had a good day with bat (42) and ball (3/17).

And so to Scorchers v Heat. Scorchers batted first and posted a par 137/7 with Beth Mooney playing the anchor, but with few supporters. Jess Jonassen picked up 3/16. In reply Heat were breezing to victory one wicket down and needing just 51 off 62 balls, but the wheels fell off when they lost Jonassen and Harris in quick succession in the 90s. Off-spinner Lilly Mills took a wicket and conceded just one run off the 17th over, which left Heat needing 20 off the last three overs with Saffers Anneke Bosch and Nadine de Klerk at the wicket. The equation became 12 from 12, but 19th over nerves got the better of them. 10 were needed from the last with Mills to bowl. Five came from the first two balls, but wickets fell from the third and the fifth and three were still needed from the last. Nicola Hancock pumped the ball to long on and the diminutive Poonam Yadav should have been run out by several metres as she came back for the tieing second run, but Mills could not gather the ball. Into the Super Over.

Scorchers threw the ball to Kapp, despite the fact that she is not a death overs bowler, and she proceeded to pitch it halfway down the track, and Bosch proceeded to hit her for eleven runs off the last four balls. Twelve seemed a good score, but Jess Jonassen's chest-high first ball to Sophie Devine was swatted for 6 and her third pitched, but was dispatched over long on for 6 more, to end the game. Heat will be kicking themselves.

Here are the next four games which are all going to be pretty difficult to call.....

Stars batting looked in decent order against Sixers, but their bowling was a bit toothless. Canes will be buoyed by their strong showing against Sixers, but their batting looks thin. If Stars bat first they will win.

The second game on Tuesday is Heat v Scorchers rematch. Heat should have won the first game; then they should have lost before the Super Over; then they scored enough to win the Super Over; but then they still lost! So who knows second time around?

Renegades v Strikers looks intriguing too. Renegades look to have good domestic depth, plus the punch of Rodrigues and Kaur. The same can be said of Strikers, who won their first game without any significant contributions from Dane van Niekerk or Laura Wolvaardt. Who will step up in this one? Strikers might just edge it.

Stars are then out again on Wednesday against table-toppers Sixers. You'd have to make Sixers favourites, but if Stars bat first and put a few runs on the board Sixers might wobble, although we doubt it.

The other big question is whether we will be able to watch these games in the UK? They are not being shown on Sky, but we hope they may be available online at the CA website. We shall see.....or maybe we won't?

Martin Davies

Monday, 11 October 2021

WBBL07 - Not quite Seventh Heaven

The seventh iteration of the WBBL starts this Thursday with 24 games due to be played on the island of Tasmania, before there are further "festivals" in Western Australia, Adelaide and Mackay, where the rest of the games will be played before the finals in late November. For all the fixtures check out our Fixtures Page.

Covid, of course, has meant that the original schedule has had to be altered, and covid has also shaped the squads for this year's competition with regard to the overseas players within each squad. It is good to see Indian players featuring once again, for the first time since 2017. In fact there are eight of them, more than any other nation, across five different teams. There are no English contracted players this year, but regional pros Eve Jones, Maia Bouchier, Issy Wong, and the capped Linsey Smith, will all have the opportunity to show what they can do on the big stage.

There are also five South Africans including Wolvaardt, van Niekerk and Kapp, who all made their mark in the Hundred, in England, in August this year. The usually high number of Kiwis is reduced to just two - Devine and Priest, at Scorchers and Hurricanes respectively. The prospect of substantial quarantine periods, or potentially not being able to get back into New Zealand at all, obviously weighed heavily on their minds.

Here is the current list of overseas players :-

Adelaide Strikers - Laura Wolvaardt (SA), Dane van Niekerk (SA)
Brisbane Heat - Anneke Bosch (SA), Nadine de Klerk (SA), Poonam Yadav (IND)
Hobart Hurricanes - Richa Ghosh (IND), Mignon du Preez (SA), Rachel Priest (NZ)
Melbourne Renegades - Eve Jones (ENG), Harmanpreet Kaur (IND), Jemimah Rodrigues (IND)
Melbourne Stars - Maia Bouchier (ENG), Kim Garth (IRE), Linsey Smith (ENG)
Perth Scorchers - Chamari Atapattu (SL), Sophie Devine (NZ), Marizanne Kapp (SA)
Sydney Sixers - Shafali Verma (IND), Radha Yadav (IND)
Sydney Thunder - Smriti Mandhana (IND), Deepti Sharma (IND), Issy Wong (ENG)

Each team is allowed five marquee players - overseas and Aussie contracted (with a maximum of three overseas). As for the Aussie contracted players (15 of them) they are distributed like this :-

Adelaide Strikers - Darcie Brown, Tahlia McGrath, Megan Schutt
Brisbane Heat - Jess Jonassen
Hobart Hurricanes - Nicola Carey, Tayla Vlaeminck
Melbourne Renegades - Sophie Molineux, Georgia Wareham
Melbourne Stars - Meg Lanning, Annabel Sutherland
Perth Scorchers - Beth Mooney
Sydney Sixers - Ash Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Ellyse Perry
Sydney Thunder - Rachel Haynes

Given this distribution this would certainly suggest that Adelaide Strikers and Sydney Sixers have good depth in marquee players, with the Renegades not far behind. But five players doesn't make a team, so who are the other key domestic players to look out for. Here are a few :-

Adelaide Strikers - Katie Mack, Tegan McPharlin, Maddy Penna, Amanda Jade Wellington
Brisbane Heat - Grace Harris, Laura Kimmince, Georgia Redmayne
Hobart Hurricanes - Maisy Gibson, Molly Strano, Belinda Vakerewa
Melbourne Renegades - Jess Duffin, Carly Leeson, Courtney Webb
Melbourne Stars - Maddy Darke, Tess Flintoff, Erin Osborne, Elyse Villani
Perth Scorchers - Sam Betts, Heather Graham, Alana King, Chloe Piparo
Sydney Sixers - Maitlan Brown, Erin Burns, Nicole Bolton, Stella Campbell, Lauren Cheatle
Sydney Thunder - Sam Bates, Hannah Darlington, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Phoebe Litchfield

On paper Sixers seem to have all bases covered with a strong international batting and spin-bowlng line-up. But with the exception of Ellyse Perry (who seems to having her own struggles of late) their pace attack looks raw, which could leave them exposed at the death of an innings.

Scorchers have three powerful overseas players who could all be potential match winners. They are light on Aussie contracted players, but their "second-string" is full of very experienced WBBL players, who could all contribute when needed. It makes them a strong "team".

Strikers too have two key overseas players in Wolvaardt and van Niekerk. It would be no surprise to see Wolvaardt at the top of the run scorers at the end of the tournament. Their Aussie contingent are also strong, although Schutt missed the Indian tour due to motherhood intervening so may not be at prime fitness. Will she be back to her metronomic and miserly best? Katie Mack and Amanda Jade Wellington both enjoyed the Hundred in England, with Mack excelling in the field and Wellington getting a hatful of wickets at a great economy rate. She will win Strikers games.

Last year's winners, Thunder, have picked up two very useful Indians in Mandhana and Sharma. Skipper Rachel Haynes also missed the Indian tour, and they will need her to add some stability to their batting, where young Phoebe Litchfield could be a key contributor. Perhaps not the strongest team on paper, but they could surprise people again.

Renegades look a bit short on seamers, which leaves the spin of Molineux and Wareham somewhat exposed. With the bat Rodrigues may be their key player, but she may have a lot to do. Kaur and Eve Jones may have to try and hold things together for the team in red.

Much-changed Hurricanes hope that they can do better than they have done in the last few seasons. The veteran Kiwi Rachel Priest will lead them this year, with a new recruit in off-spinner Molly Strano, leading wicket-taker in the WBBL (although WBBL06 wasn't her best with just 8 wickets), in their ranks. They have home advantage for the first set of games, but will it be enough for them?

Heat have performed consistently in the WBBL and have had an uninterrupted preparation for the tournament. They will miss Amelia Kerr and will hope that Jess Jonassen is fully fit after missing the India tour. Georgia Redmayne is the rock with the bat, while the Harris sisters will provide the fireworks, but the question is how often will they fire?

And finally Stars, who have the Aussie captain Meg Lanning in their ranks, but may still struggle to notch up too many wins. Their batting looks solid, but they look light on the bowling front having lost Alana King and Nat Sciver, their leading wicket-takers last year. Left arm spinner Linsey Smith has had a good 2020 in England, and may be needed to steady the bowling effort alongside Aussie veteran Erin Osborne. 

The opening games this week are (UK times) :-

Thursday, October 14
 WBBL - Sixers v Stars
Saturday, October 16
 WBBL - Renegades v Hurricanes
 WBBL - Thunder v Strikers
Sunday, October 17
 WBBL - Scorchers v Heat
 WBBL - Hurricanes v Sixers

You can see all the games in the UK on Sky Sports and Sky Main Event channels. I'd expect the Sixers to be the happiest team on Sunday evening, whilst the Hurricanes may be wondering how to get their season off the ground.

Martin Davies

Friday, 20 November 2020

Who will make the WBBL06 Finals?

With just eight games to play over this weekend there is still only one team who know they have made the WBBL06 semi-finals, and that is Meg Lanning's table-topping Melbourne Stars. Until this year they were the only team never to have made the Finals, and here they are sitting in an unassailable position at the top of the league. The question then is who will join them there?

Whilst mathematically the Renegades and the Hurricanes could still just squeak in, it is statistically almost impossible. The fight therefore for the other three slots will be between Heat, Thunder, Scorchers and Sixers, with the Strikers lurking, but with two massive games to play against teams above them (Thunder and Scorchers). 

So how might the games play out? Let's have a look at each game....

Given that the Stars are already through they might be forgiven for taking their foot off the gas and perhaps resting some of their players. You might expect English pair Brunt and Sciver to only feature in one game this weekend, but Stars still look strong in the batting department even without them. Heat have won five on the bounce, thanks largely to some inspired hitting from Laura Kimmince. But can that sustain them here? It looks doubtful.

Strikers have struggled this season and look destined to miss out (they also play the Scorchers to round off their season). They are a very young team, even their overseas star (Laura Wolvaardt) is only 21! Thunder's big names - Haynes and Knight - have held their batting together and you'd have to back them to do so again here

Canes have struggled with the bat, with four completed innings' totals below 90. Unless Rachel Priest comes good they are unlikely to trouble the Scorchers with Sophie Devine back in their ranks, although early Scorcher wickets could make it a low-scoring thriller!

Sixers just clung on to end their five game losing streak against the Thunder on Wednesday, but they look a nervous team. They are jam-packed with stars, but none have really taken WBBL06 by the scruff of the neck - Healy, Perry, Gardner, Kapp, van Niekerk. But a moderate performance should be enough to beat a Renegades side who have struggled with the bat. 

If the Thunder have beaten the Strikers the day before then playing the Canes gives them an ideal opportunity to cement their place in the Finals. The momentum will be with them and the Canes could buckle.

The Scorchers will be the favourites to take this game out, but the Strikers might just pull off a shock win. If the Strikers' bowlers can keep a lid on the Scorchers top four, then some of the lesser known Strikers' batters might just do what they need for the win.

This is probably the game of the weekend with everything riding on it for the Sixers, who have an inferior run rate to those around them. The Stars might just feel that if they win this won it might keep the Sixers out of the Finals, and thereby get rid of their closest rival. Stars in-form batting line-up of Lanning, du Preez, Villani, Sutherland, and Sciver looks too hot for the Sixers to handle.

The Heat will probably need to win this game to ensure themselves of a place in the Finals. Lose and net run rate might be required to get them through. They will know the calculations before the game starts so winning may not be the be all and end all for them. This could be the Gades' chance to sneak a cheeky win and force everyone to get their calculators out.

If this were all to play out then the top of the table would look like this

Stars               23
Thunder         16
Scorchers       14
Heat               14
Sixers             14

Net run rate would decide the second two teams to qualify for the semi-finals, with Sixers currently significantly in arrears of Heat and Scorchers. 

Is this how it will pan out? Almost certainly not.......but it will be fun to see!!

Martin Davies

Monday, 20 May 2019

WCB R4 MVP Ratings - 19th May 2019

Here are the top 10 players in each of the batting, bowling and overall categories from the fourth round of fixtures in Division One of Women's County Championship. The games were played on Sunday 19th May 2019 and the results were as follows

Hampshire 233/6 lost Kent 235/7
Notts 207/9 beat Warwickshire 203/9
Sussex 176/7 lost to Surrey 177/5
Lancashire 158 all out lost to Yorkshire 160/5

Martin Davies