Thursday, 31 January 2013

India look the business at WWC

India cruised to a 105 run victory over a West Indian side that looked all at sea in the first game of the 2013 Women's World Cup. India's huge total of 284 was based around a fine opening partnership of 175 between Poonam Raut (72) and Thirush Kamini, who hit her maiden century.

Initially they took it easy, going at just four an over. The Raut Ramp proving one of the few effective boundary shots. The 100 was brought up in exactly 25 overs and when Raut was out lbw to Daley there were just 13 overs of the innings to go. But the Indians had it all under control. Long-limbed fast bowler Jhulan Goswami was sent in to swing the bat and she did it very effectively, hitting 36 off 21 balls. When she fell to a catch off the toe-end of the bat, her good work was carried on by Harmanpreet Kaur, who hit 36 off 22 balls. The West Indies tried eight different bowlers, who between them bowled 21 wides. It was a ragged display by the West Indies with ball in hand and in the field.

Unfortunately it got no better when they started to bat. Kycia Knight ran herself out in the very first over attempting a suicidal run to mid-off. Stafanie Taylor and Shemaine Campbelle were both reprieved early on by poor umpiring decisions, but neither could make the most of their luck. Taylor (9) edged behind and Campbelle was bowled behind her legs by Niranjana (21).

The game seemed to be drifting to an inevitable conclusion, but Deandra Dottin had other ideas She smashed 39 off just 16 balls. Niranjana's huge celebration when she had Dottin out lbw playing across a straight one, showed how concerned the Indians had become during her all too brief 21 minute stay at the crease. Where she led Shanel Daley tried to follow. She adopted a no-nonsense approach, hitting hard into the 'V' between mid-on and mid-off, no matter what length the delivery. But when she was the seventh wicket to fall with the score on 148 the Windies capitulated to a confidence-knocking defeat. For the hosts it was the seamers who really tied up the West Indian batsmen. Goswami was accuracy personified; Anita Sharma got the ball to wobble nicely and Nagarajan Niranjana helped herself to three wickets, and some over-excited celebrations.

Windies will need to pick themselves up before they meet Sri Lanka in a potential do-or-die game on Sunday. India on the other hand will be raring to go against England also on Sunday. England will certainly hope to get a similar start to the Indians against Sri Lanka tomorrow.

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Wednesday, 30 January 2013

First four WWC13 games - preview

Finally the Women's World Cup 2013 (wwc13) will get underway tomorrow (09.00GMT) with the hosts India taking on the West Indies in what could be the best of the first round of games. There are effectively three initial rounds of four games, as each of the four members of the two groups (A & B) take on the other three teams in their respective groups.

The first round matches are

India v West Indies [group A]
England v Sri Lanka [group A]
Australia v Pakistan [group B]
New Zealand v South Africa [group B]

India had a fantastic warm-up win against New Zealand, and put up a reasonable effort against Australia and on home soil they will be favourites to beat the West Indies, who have only had one warm-up game when they got mashed by the Aussies. There is a lot resting on the shoulders of Stafanie Taylor for the Windies and  I am not sure that she is fully fit. If Deandra Dottin, Merissa Aguilleira and Shanel Daley can also come to the party then the Windies might just pull off the first shock of the tournament.

You would expect England and Australia to both win their games comfortably. If they bat first they will be looking to rack up more than 300 and I wouldn't mind betting that the tournament's first individual century could come from one of these two games.

New Zealand have had a great time recently, beating Australia in a T20 series and England in their last warm-up game (although they had lost the previous one quite badly to India). South Africa had a good tour to the West Indies just prior to coming to the World Cup and have a potential star of this tournament in Dane van Niekerk (both with ball and bat). The Saffas seem to have trouble scoring more than 200 within 50 overs, but if they can restrict the White Ferns to this sort of score they may be in with a sniff. Sensible money will be on New Zealand to win though.

After all the build-up and the chaos of the past couple of weeks it will be great to get WWC13 underway. The first two of these games will be televised and hopefully all the countries taking part will be showing them. Let's hope that the ICC's live scores on the internet also work somewhat better than they did in the warm-up games.



Tuesday, 29 January 2013

WWC Warm-Ups - NZ beat England; Aussies win again and Sri Lanka beat Saffas

Warm-Up results (29/1/13)

New Zealand 223 all out (50 ovs) v England 210 all out (48.2 ovs) - New Zealand won by 13 runs
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India 222/5 (50 ovs) v Australia 223/5 (38.3 ovs) - Australia won by 5 wickets (69 balls remaining)
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South Africa 164 all out (45.2 ovs) v Sri Lanka 167/8 (44.3 ovs) Sri Lanka won by 2 wickets (33 balls remaining)
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Pakistan 240 all out (48.4)  v Odishi XI 145/8 (50 ovs) - Pakistan won by 95 runs
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Opener Lucy Doolan hit 57 and the in form Sara McGlashan a fine 88 to set England 224 to win, but it could have been a much stiffer task had New Zealand not crumbled from 209/5 to 223 all out in the last five overs of their innings. Chief tormentor for England was Danni Hazell who claimed 5/41 from her 10 overs. England lost openers Edwards and Knight with just 25 on the board, but then Sarah Taylor (32) and Lydia Greenway (51) built steadily to get England to 112/2, but there then followed a middle-order collapse which left England at 152/7. Jenny Gunn (35) and Tammy Beaumont (22) did their best to extract England from the mire, and had reduced the deficit to just 24 with 22 balls to go, but Beaumont, Hazell and eventually Greenway fell to leave England 13 short with 10 balls to go.

Meanwhile Australia cruised to another convincing win this time over the hosts India, who had conquered New Zealand the day before. India set a decent target of 223 with seven batsmen getting into double figures, but none going beyond 35. Veteran Lisa Sthalekar claimed 3/29 off six overs. Australia replied in similar vein with only Meg Lanning missing out on some valuable time at the crease. Alex Blackwell (47) and skipper Jodie Fields (52 retired) made the most of the opportunity. The Aussies still had over 11 overs in hand when they went past the Indian total.

Sri Lanka will be buoyed by their victory over South Africa. Set only 165 to win based around Mignon du Preez (59) and Dane van Niekerk (46) Sri Lanka seemed to have lost the game as they slipped to 66/6 after 22 overs, but good late order batting from Eshani Kaushalya (22), Sripali Weerakkody (54no) saw them home, despite leg-spinner van Niekerk's excellent spell of 3/24 off her 10 overs.

In the final warm-up game Pakistan overcame the scratch Odishi XI comfortably with Nain Abidi (73) and Bismah Maroof (76) adding 148 for the third wicket to help take Pakistan to 240 all out. Asmavia Iqbal claimed 3/20 off 10 overs as the opposition fell well short of their target.


Monday, 28 January 2013

Warm-Up wins for India, Australia and England - WWC 13

Warm-Up Results (28/1/13)

Australia 333/5 v West Indies 198 all out (44.3ov) - Australia won by 135 runs
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England 270/9 v South Africa 219/6 - England won by 51 runs
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New Zealand 201 all out v India 204/2 (43.3) - India won by 8 wickets (39 balls remaining)
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Sri Lanka 189 all out v Mumbai Comb XI 194/6 (42.3) - Mumb XI won by 4 wickets (45 balls remaining)
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India will be cock-a-hoop with their crushing 8 wicket win over a New Zealand side that has been pushing the Aussies hard in recent series. Jhulan Goswami showed that she has lost none of her class as she helped herself to 3/26 off 8. For the White Ferns only Frances Mackay (69 off 101 balls) and Sara McGlashan (56 off 66) really came to terms with the Indian bowlers. In reply Indian openers Punam Raut (69 off 89 balls) and Thirush Kamini (43 off 74 balls) set up an easy victory with an opening stand of 119. Mithali Raj (36no) and Harmanpreet Kaur (46no) finished the job off. Tomorrow they take on Australia who smashed 333 against the West Indies in their opening warm-up game. A win for the Indians is not out of the question.

In the Aussie match against the Windies the Southern Stars top six all got in some useful batting practice with 50s for Villani, Haynes, Cameron and Sthalekar. Meg Lanning failed to make a big score, but then she did not even get a bat. The West Indies struggled against such a big score and were 61 for 3 when Deandra Dottin came to the crease in the 17th over. With a 29 ball 50, including fives 6s (three in a row off Ellyse Perry) she took the score to 133 for 4, but when she fell for 52, the Windies charge subsided as quickly as it had started and they fell 135 runs short. The wickets were shared around, including one for debutant Holly Ferling.

England completed a comfortable victory over South Africa with their total of 270 based around a solid 78 from skipper Charlotte Edwards (94 balls) and a late dash from Heather Knight (42 in 44 balls). The South African's never looked like getting close to the England total, but they will be content with 219 for 6 with good runs for Trisha Chetty (57 off 88 balls) and skipper Mignon du Preez (64 off 66 balls). Holly Colvin claimed 2/29 off her 10 overs. The Proteas will be hopeful of concluding their preparations with a win over Sri Lanka tomorrow, who lost today to a Combined Mumbai XI by 6 wickets.


Friday, 25 January 2013

Women's World Cup - new schedule

Due to the late unavailability of the Wankhede Stadium the original schedule has been changed. The revised schedule is shown below. 

The games likely to be televised on Sky are in bold :-

Thurs 31 Jan - India v West Indies (D/N) Cricket Club of India (CCI)
Fri 1 Feb - England v Sri Lanka (CCI); New Zealand v South Africa Driems Cricket Ground (DCG); Australia v Pakistan Barabati Stadium Cuttack (BSC)
Sun 3 Feb - India v England (CCI); Sri Lanka v West Indies Middle Income Group Ground (MIG) ; New Zealand v Pakistan (BSC); Australia v South Africa (DCG)
Tues 5 Feb – India v Sri Lanka (D/N) (CCI); England v West Indies Bandra Kulra Complex (BKC); Pakistan v South Africa (BSC); Australia v New Zealand (DCG)
Super Six (assuming top 3 qualify)

Fri 8 Feb – England v Australia (CCI); India v New Zealand (BKC) ; West Indies v South Africa (BSC)
Sun 10 Feb – India v Australia (CCI); England v South Africa (BSC)
Mon 11 Feb – West Indies v New Zealand (CCI)
Wed 13 Feb – England v New Zealand (D/N) (CCI); West Indies v Australia (MIG); India v South Africa (BSC)
Fri 15 Feb – 5th/6th playoff (BSC); 3rd/4th playoff (CCI)
Sun 17 Feb – FINAL (D/N)(CCI)


Thursday, 24 January 2013

NZ seal historic series win in Australia

New Zealand will head to India today for the World Cup in great spirits after completing an historic 2-1 series victory over rivals Australia at Melbourne's Junction Oval. They won the third T20 match by seven wickets to record their first series win over Australia in Australia since 1980.

Australia decided to rest the run-machine that is Meg Lanning, presumably to try and encourage the rest of the top order to take some responsibility in setting a decent total, but only Jess Cameron was able to respond as she hit 48 off 36 balls including two big sixes to the midwicket boundary. But the tone was set for New Zealand by Morna Nielsen's slow left arm bowling. She opened and raced through her four overs claiming 1 for 9. Behind the clock after the first 10 overs, the Australia innings never really got going and when Cameron fell with the score at 88 it began to splutter badly with boundaries hard to come by. In the end they could muster only 134 for 5 in their 20 overs, which always looked to be 20/30 runs short on the big fast outfield of the Junction Oval.

So it proved to be as Lucy Doolan (35) and Suzie Bates (67) cruised to an opening partnership of 101, and despite them both falling soon after the White Ferns were able to waltz passed the Aussie's total with seven wickets and 11 balls in hand.

T20 is not ODI cricket, but the White Ferns must take a great deal of confidence from this brief series. Australia on the other hand have possibly raised more questions than they solved. Provided Meg Lanning retains her form then they will score runs, but their bowling looks ineffective, particularly in the spin department. They have already lost slow left-armer Jess Jonassen to injury, and off-spinner Erin Osborne missed yesterday's game with "a niggle". Worrying times for Australia with just seven days before they start their World Cup campaign.


Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Televised Women's World Cup Games?

In response to many queries I have received the World Cup games that were originally due to be televised are shown below. When the schedule for the tournament was announced the ICC stated - "The ICC's official broadcast partner Star Cricket will broadcast 10 of those 25 matches in high definition. The 10 matches that will be broadcast will be a selection of those played at the Wankhede Stadium and the Cricket Club of India, including of course the final on 17 February".

However the schedule has now been changed so that there are to be no games at the Wankhede Stadium. No details are yet to hand of where those nine games originally scheduled for the Wankhede will be played, or where Star Cricket will now place their cameras. The games marked with an asterisk below are those that were originally scheduled to be played at the Wankhede Stadium.

Games originally scheduled to be televised :-

Thurs 31 Jan – 9am – India v West Indies**
Fri 1 Feb – 12.30pm – New Zealand v South Africa**
Sat 2 Feb – 4.00am – England v Sri Lanka**
Mon 4 Feb – 4.00am – England v India**
Wed 6 Feb – 4.00am – India v Sri Lanka**
Sat 9 Feb – 9.30am – England v Australia (if both qualify)
Mon 11 Feb – 9.00am – India v Australia (if both qualify)
Wed 13 Feb – 4.00am – India v Pakistan (if both qualify)
Fri 15 Feb – 3rd/4th Place Final
Sun 17 Feb – The Final


Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Aus v NZ T20 - 1-1 after first 2 games

Australia and New Zealand are competing in a rather odd three game T20 series in final preparation for the Women's World Cup which starts in just 9 days. The first two of the games were played today with New Zealand triumphing by six wickets in the first game (with two balls remaining) and Australia by five wickets in the second (with just one ball remaining). The deciding game will be played on Thursday.

In the first match Australia got off to a disastrous start with Alyssa Healey being run out off the first ball of the match and Jess Cameron then gloving an attempted sweep shot to the keeper off the third ball - 0 for 2. When Lisa Sthalekar then fell to a good catch at square leg in the fourth over Australia were in all sorts of bother at 15 for 3, but Meg Lanning (76) and Alex Blackwell (29) settled things down with a fine partnership of 75 before Blackwell departed. But Lanning then took control and with help from skipper Jodie Fields (17no) Australia reached a passable score of 151 for 7 off their 20 overs. Things looked bleak for the White Ferns when they lost Lucy Doolan and Amy Satterthwaite early in their reply, but solid contributions from Suzie Bates (42), Sophie Devine (39), Frances MacKay (24no) and Nicola Browne (34no off 17 balls including three 6s) saw them close in on the target, but they still needed 29 from the last two overs. Browne clattered 19 of the 21 runs scored from the unfortunate Sarah Coyte's penultimate over of the match and finished it in the next.

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In the second match New Zealand batted first but could only accumulate 132 for 6 in their 20 overs. A good start got them to 121 for 2, but the innings fell away in the last few overs as they failed to build on the good work done by the top order. In reply it was once again Meg Lanning who led from the front with another well-paced 64 off 56 balls. With wickets in hand as the overs started to slip by the Australian middle-order managed to squeeze out the runs they needed although they left themselves with nine required from the last over. A four apiece from Jodie Fields and Sarah Coyte (from the penultimate ball) saw them home. It was an up and down day for both teams and in particular for Coyte.

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Monday, 21 January 2013

Women kicked out of Wankhede

In a crass and rather thoughtless move the Mumbai Cricket Association and the Board of Control for Cricket in India have withdrawn the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai as a venue for any games in the Women's World Cup just 10 days before the tournament starts.

Nine games, including two warm-up games, were due to be played at the stadium, but as soon as Mumbai men's team beat Services in Delhi to set up a home Ranji Trophy final starting on 26 January, moves were made to ensure the home team could play at their beloved Wankhede Stadium. It mattered not that the stadium was due to be used for the most prestigious tournament in the women's cricket calendar.

The revised schedule for the WWC is likely to be published by the ICC on Wednesday this week. It had already had to shift the Pakistan games out of Mumbai to Cuttack due to the objections of political activists to Pakistan players playing in the city. It seems likely that they will try and spread the Wankhede games across the other stadia in Mumbai that are already being used for the WWC.

This badly-timed move by the MCA and the BCCI reflects poorly on them and their view of the women's game in India and indeed throughout the world. One would hope that the ICC have taken note of their attitude to the women's game.

For more information see


Will England retain the Women's World Cup?

The England squad are already hard at work in India in preparation for their defence of the Women's World Cup, which skipper Charlotte Edwards has described as "the ultimate prize". She should know as this will be the fifth time that she has taken part in the competition. She is one of eight members of the current squad that picked up the trophy in Australia back in 2009, when they defeated New Zealand in the final. It is a scenario that she would like to see repeated.

Six of the squad are new to the WWC tournament, but all played in the recent T20 World Cup, also held on the subcontinent in Sri Lanka, in which England looked the team to beat right up until the final when they faltered against a strong Australian team. It will be no surprise if the two teams meet again in the final of this competition. England have just one newcomer to international tournaments in Sussex's medium fast bowler, Georgia Elwiss, who looked the part in the summer when she picked up the player of the series in England's 3-2 ODI series win over India.

Interestingly last summer is the last time England played an ODI - 11th July to be precise. The rest of the summer was spent preparing for the T20 World Cup and then playing in that tournament which ended in October. Since then there have been various training camps, including one now in Pune, but England will have just two warm-up games against Pakistan (hopefully) and New Zealand, before their first World Cup match against Sri Lanka on 2 February. Not ideal preparation, but difficult to do more given that it is a winter tournament for the northern hemisphere teams. Australia and New Zealand in contrast have just finished their domestic season and played each other in the annual Rose Bowl series just before Christmas (the Aussies won 3-1), and West Indies have just hosted South Africa in a five match ODI series (drawn 2-2).

Practice matches aside England look the side to beat in this competition. They have a strong squad of 15, which is important when you play seven games within a maximum of 18 days. In fact I don't envy Mark Lane's task in picking his best 11 for the final if they get there. If you accept that Edwards and wicket-keeper batsman Sarah Taylor are shoe-ins and that Amy Jones is essentially the back-up keeper, then you can perm any nine of the remaining 12.

As pace bowlers you have the experienced Katherine Brunt and the young pretender in Anya Shrubsole, plus Georgia Elwiss (less pace but more accuracy). In addition batsmen Jenny Gunn and Arran Brindle can fulfill the Paul Collingwood role of sneaking through a few inexpensive overs of seam without the opposition realising quite what is going on. On the spin front you have the immensely experienced left arm of Holly Colvin and the tight off-spin of Laura Marsh, who has also flirted with being an opening bat. These two are backed-up by two more off-spinners in the effervescent Danni Wyatt and the dependable Danni Hazell. If the tracks dictate you could see all four playing.

In addition to Edwards, Taylor, Gunn and Brindle as batsmen you have Tammy Beaumont, who seems to have secured the opener's slot with her skipper. That leaves Lydia Greenway who is currently ranked 4th in the World ODI batting rankings, and sets the standard for all to follow in the field, and the youngster Heather Knight.

Ultimately it will probably come down to the team that best adapts to the conditions in India. The tournament is there for England to win if they can do so, but no doubt Australia, amongst others, will have something to say about it. It should be a great festival of women's cricket and great to watch. I for one can't wait.


West Indies wrap up T20 series

West Indies duly completed a 2-0 win in the two match T20 series that ended the South African's first tour of the West Indies. In truth it was not the best of games from the Proteas, who could only set their opponents a target of 95, having laboured to 94 for 6 in their 20 overs. Only skipper Mignon du Preez (26) and wicket-keeper Trisha Chetty (22) showed any real fight, together with a late burst from Dane van Niekerk (19no). Shanel Daley claimed three of the six wickets for the Windies.

Even without their talismanic batsman Staphanie Taylor, the West Indies cruised to victory after the early loss of Juliana Nero and Kyshona Knight. Shemaine Campbelle (33) was the West Indies main run scorer.

Both teams now head to India for the Women's World Cup ( which starts in just 10 days time. The West Indies will be buoyed by their comeback against the South Africans after losing the first two ODIs of their tour, and will expect to make progress from their group to the Super Six stage of the competition and beyond - they face England, India and Sri Lanka initially. The South African's have Australia, New Zealand and Pakistan to contend with, but they too will be hopeful that they will make the Super Sixes.

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Sunday, 20 January 2013

WI beat SA in first T20

Deandre Dottin celebrated her 50th T20 for the West Indies by leading them to a comfortable win over the Proteas in the first of two T20s in two days.

South Africa won the toss and chose to bat, but their innings never really got off the ground starting with the early run out of Thandile Cordes. The only real partnership of note was between Mignon du Preez (39) and Cri-Zelda Brits (36), but spinners Daley, Taylor and Quintyne each took two wickets to restrict West Indies to 113 for 7.

West Indies lost Taylor and Campbelle early in their reply, but this just brought Dottin to the crease, who smashed 48 not out off just 30 balls, including three 6s, and, with the steady batting of Kycia Knight (33no), lead West Indies over the line with 10 balls and eight wickets to spare.

The second game in the series is later today. ESPN livescore will be here

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Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Taylor-made for cricket

There has been a great deal of media speculation over the fact that Sarah Taylor is in discussions with Sussex, the county she represents in the women's game, with regard to her possibly stepping in to help out the men's Second XI if they are short of a wicketkeeper in the early part of the season. I am not sure that it was meant to be any big deal. The two keepers in the Sussex Academy are both still at school, so will be unavailable for the first few weeks of the season.

Sarah is a fine keeper and the standard of Second XI cricket is unlikely to be much higher than Sarah has played in international women's cricket. She would be a decent bat at 7 or 8; standing back is merely a question of getting used to the pace of the bowlers; and she will be better than many keepers at standing-up as she does it the majority of the time she keeps in the women's game. Will she play? Yes I think she might if circumstances dictate (I do not think she will be chosen ahead of Callum Jackson, who is 18 and just about to embark on a tour with England U19s to South Africa), and I am sure she will give a good account of herself. It would be a huge step from there into the First XI however and one that is too big to see being overcome in the near future by Sarah or any other player.

Play or not the best thing to come out of this story is the fact that it has attracted media coverage. Hopefully the next time you will see Sarah's image on the front cover of a national newspaper will be when she hits the
Great news for Women's Cricket
winning run in the final of the Women's World Cup in a month's time.

At the same time all this shamozzle (as Nasser Hussein might call it) was happening, another Taylor, namely Staphanie, was proving that she too was a force to be reckoned with in the women's game. The West Indian is currently ranked 2nd in the world in the ICC's ODI batting rankings, one ahead of Sarah, and was part of the West Indies' team that was taking on South Africa in a five match ODI series, prior to both teams heading to the WWC. Not that you are likely to have heard much about the series, unless you have tried very hard to find out what has been happening. 

To give the West Indies Cricket Board some credit they did decide to livestream over the internet the fixed camera feed that is used to film the games for the team's own analysis. It was limited but it did at least give a view of the batsmen (I cannot bring myself to keep using the word "batters") and the bowlers. But that is where they stopped - they failed miserably to give any twitter or facebook updates on the score; there was no live scoreboard available anywhere on the net; and there was no commentary with the exception of the second half of the first game, and the whole of the second, when we understand a volunteer agreed to step forward and take it on. The three games in Dominica had no commentary at all.

The international players who played out a very good and competitive series deserved better. The livestream attracted around 200 watchers at any one time during the game, but many others would have been turned off by the fact that they did not know who was batting or bowling or what the score was. I resorted to scoring the last game in the series myself from the livestream feed and tweeted updates. At least then the pictures made sense. The West Indies and South Africa are emerging from the shadows of women's cricket, but they need to make a greater effort at exposing their sport to their own potential players and to the eager world that sits in front of a computer screen or a mobile phone.

Finally what is it about the surname "Taylor" - Is there a more popular name in top flight cricket? As well as Sarah and Staphanie, there was of course Claire Taylor - the first woman cricketer to be one of Wisden's Cricketers of the Year back in 2009. Add to them Ross Taylor of New Zealand; James Taylor of England (not the singer/songwriter but the little chap in the cycling helmet); Mark Taylor former Aussie captain; and from the dim and distant past Bob Taylor, former England wicketkeeper. Is it possible that they can all trace their ancestry back to some great cricketing Taylor of the past? Just a thought.


West Indies & South Africa draw series

In a thrilling final match of the series West Indies defeated South Africa by 22 runs, as they managed to defend a below-par score of 177 for 8, based mainly around the contributions of Staphanie Taylor (76) and Shemaine Campbelle (47).

Having been inserted by the Proteas, the West Indies looked like there were heading for a big score as Taylor and Campbelle took their score to 129 after the early loss of Kycia Knight, but when the two of them fell within the space of four overs the West Indies innings subsided to a mediocre 177, which the South African's must have fancied chasing down. Dane van Niekerk (3-31) and Sunette Loubser (1-26) were again the pick of the bowlers, but in truth they all bowled a decent line and length.

Once again South Africa made a poor start in reply losing Trisha Chetty (9) and debuting opener Thandile Cordes (11) with just 24 on the board. Skipper Mignon du Preez (25) and then Marizanne Kapp (40) and Cri-Zelda Brits (35) seemed to have got South Africa back in the game as they took the score to 98 with just three wickets down, but another sudden flurry of wickets put the pressure on Brits to try and lead the Proteas home. For a brief spell she had the company of Chloe Tryon, who looked to have the skill and nous to help her achieve her goal, but when she drove to Taylor at cover and Loubser came to the crease, the West Indies just needed to keep their heads to win - something which the South Africans seemed unable to do. Loubser was soon run out, Dinesha Devnarain came and went and Brits finally managed to get herself run out after a couple of previous unsuccessful attempts.

Taylor was rightly named player of the match and of the series. Both her batting and her bowling are vital to this West Indies side.

Overall the West Indies will probably be disappointed that they did not perform better - certainly with the bat. Their spin bowling options in Shanel Daley (who I think had been carrying an injury and missed the last game), the young Shaquana Quintyne, and Taylor looked reasonable, although off-spinner Anisa Mohammed took just 4 wickets in the series at an average of over 31, which was a poor return for a woman ranked number six in the world.

As for the South Africans, they should take heart from the fact that they have drawn this first ODI series in the West Indies. Van Niekerk and Loubser have spun the ball consistently and bowled a good line and length, but the side's fielding has sometimes let them down, as has their running between the wickets. It is worrying that none of their batters averaged more than 27 and only one, Chetty, passed 50. If they could post totals in excess of 200, as they did in the first game of the series, then they would be a tough side to beat. They will go to the World Cup with high hopes of getting to the Super 6 stage. Anything beyond that will be a bonus.

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Monday, 14 January 2013

Rain keeps Proteas ahead with one to play

Heavy rain in Roseau Dominica forced the abandonment of the fourth ODI between South Africa and the West Indies and meant that the Saffers cannot lose their first-ever ODI series in the Caribbean. The West Indies will have to win the final match of the series tomorrow to draw 2-2.

The West Indies will probably feel most aggrieved at the intervention of the weather, as they had managed to bowl out the South African's for 139 in 43 of the allotted 48 overs. Their reply was cut short after just two overs, without them having lost a wicket.

South Africa's batting line-up has looked fragile since they scored just over 200 in the first match of the series. If their top order goes early they have limited ability to recover. It again proved to be the case in this match. Shandre Fritz and Trisha Chetty were back in the hutch with only 10 on the board. They then struggled to 26 in the 16th over before skipper Mignon du Preez holed out at midwicket. By the time they had got to the 22nd over the score had crept along to just 45 and five wickets were down. Cri-Zelda Brits and Dane van Niekerk finally managed to put together some steady progress, albeit in contrasting fashion - Brits brutal and van Niekerk more refined generally apart from a well-timed 6 over mid-on - taking the score to a respectable 101. But were run out within 5 runs, Brits by several yards attempting a suicidal run. The tail then tried to smash their way to 150, but failed and failed more importantly to use up their full quota of overs.

As it happened it mattered not as more rain - the game had already started late and been interrupted once - came to the Saffers' rescue. They would have had their work cut out defending such a low score.

Tuesday sees the final game in what has been an intriguing series, made all the more so by the West Indies' commendable efforts to broadcast the game via a live webstream, but their more lamentable efforts to give updates of the score anywhere on the net, or allow access to a live scorecard. We wait with bated breath for tomorrow's coverage.

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Sunday, 13 January 2013

Blaze steal Magician's thunder

The Wellington Blaze have defeated the Canterbury Magician's in New Zealand's domestic T20 trophy, thanks in no small part to the efforts of their returning skipper, Sophie Devine. The Blaze were struggling at 12 for 2 when Devine and Lauren Ebsary decided to take matters into their own hands. They blasted an unbeaten partnership of 143 with Devine smashing 83 off 54 balls and Ebsary a more sedate 58 off 46.

In reply the Magicians got to 35 without loss, but from there on in lost wickets at regular intervals. Only Jensen and Birmingham posed any threat and when they went the Magicians crumbled to 117 all out.

The Magicians will have to pick themselves up and dust themselves down as they take on the Auckland Heat in the One Day final tomorrow.

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Rain means Breakers make it 8 in a row!

Heavy rain which swept across Sydney handed the Lend Lease Breakers their eighth consecutive WNCL title. It was tough for the Queensland Fire players who had managed to accumulate 232 for 7 from their 50 overs, thanks in the main to a magnificent 102 not out from their captain Jodie Fields, and had reduced their opponents to 135 for 4 after 27 overs. Only the seemingly immovable object that is Alex Blackwell (42 no) seemed to lie between them and a possible first title.

But 135 was 15 runs ahead of the D/L calculated score, so when the rains came the Breakers took the trophy.

It was a cruel way for the Fire's season to end and it emphasised again the importance of batting second in possibly rain-restricted matches. With the D/L calculations always to hand the side batting second know what they have to do at all times to stay in a winning position.

Next weekend the Western Fury will try and prevent the Breakers doing the double as they take them on in the T20 final, which will be played before the Big Bash Men's T20 final.

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Windies make it 1-2

The West Indies kept their series-win hopes alive with a convincing 8 wicket win over the Proteas in the first of three games at Roseau in Dominica.

Having won the toss the West Indies chose to bowl first, knowing that this was a must-win game in this best of five series of ODIs. South Africa looked tentative against the spin bowling of Shanel Daley and Staphanie Taylor. Trisha Chetty went early to Daley, but then Shandre Fritz and Mignon du Preez took the score to 41 without too many alarms, but albeit without too much pace. Fritz was then caught at slip off Taylor which started a middle order collapse from which the South Africans never really looked like recovering. They lost five wickets for 25 runs to stand at 66 for 6 more than half way through their overs. Taylor and the young Shaquana Quintyne had three wickets apiece. Susanna Benade and the lower order tried hard to hold it together, but the Proteas were bowled out for 120 at the start of the 47th over, Quintyne finishing with 4/14 and Taylor 4/22.

Having dropped Juliana Nero, it was the left-hander Kycia Knight, who had looked good down the order in the previous games, who came out to open with Taylor. South Africa opted for an all pace attack and the innings was already 10 overs old before leg-spinner Dane van Niekerk got her hands on the ball, by which time the West Indies openers were looking set. It was not until the 22nd over that they actually got a breakthrough, when Knight clubbed a full toss from Potgeiter to Benade at mid-on. But it was too little too late as Taylor made her way passed 50 and on to 71 before she lobbed a catch back to Sunette Loubser. Shemaine Campbelle and Deandra Dottin saw the Windies home without further alarms within 30 overs.

South Africa appeared to lack confidence in their own ability to win this game and will have to be more positive in the 4th ODI which starts this afternoon. If the Windies can pull it back to 2-2 today then they will be back in the box seat for the final game on Tuesday 15th January.

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Friday, 11 January 2013

Breakers v Fire in WNCL Final

The Lend Lease Breakers (NSW) will take on the Queensland Fury in Sunday's final of the Women's National Cricket League on Sunday at the SCG.

The Breakers, who lost only one game during the regular season, overpowered the Western Fury in the first semi-final, winning by 110 runs. They notched up an impressive 331 for 5 in their 50 overs thanks in the main to a magnificent 135no (110) by Alex Blackwell, with support from Leah Poulton (52) and Alyssa Healey (51). None of the Fury bowlers could contain the Breakers' batters but Nicky Shaw ended with a respectable 2/48.

In reply the Fury lost wickets at regular intervals around the batting of opener Jenny Wallace, who was finally dismissed 4 runs short of the century she deserved. Ellyse Perry, Sarah Aley and Angela Reakes all took a couple of wickets each. The Fury, who contest the T20 final next week, were left well short on 221 for 8 at the end of their 50 overs.

In the other semi-final the Commonwealth Bank VicSpirit, already out of the T20 competition, failed to reach their first final in five years, as they succumbed to the high-flying Queensland Fury. Despite a star-studded line-up VicSpirit could only muster 209, being bowled out in 48 overs. Only Kelly Applebee (71) and Sarah Elliott (67) offered much resistance to the Fury attack which was lead by Jude Coleman (3/25) and the upcoming Jemma Barsby (3/43).

The Fury made light work of the target with openers Melissa Bulow (64) and Beth Mooney (64) putting on 128 for the first wicket and then Jodie Fields (51no) guiding the Fury into the final with plenty of overs to spare.


Thursday, 10 January 2013

South Africa battle to 2-0 lead over Windies

South Africa have gone 2-0 up against the West Indies after a hard fought 4 wicket win in the second ODI at Basseterre. Having bowled the Windies out for just 128, they achieved their target with just 13 balls to spare and only four wickets in hand.

Having won the toss the West Indies opted to bat first and must have had a target in excess of 220 in mind. They made a more cautious start than in the previous match, but it meant they found boundaries hard to find. By the 10th over they had just 33 runs on the board and the pressure finally told on Juliana Nero as she played over the top of a straight ball from Susanna Benade. Opener Staphanie Taylor and Shanel Daley continued the slow progress and made it to drinks after 17 overs with 51 on the board, but Taylor's lack of foot movement was her undoing immediately afterwards as she drove carelessly to short extra cover. She had managed just two boundaries in her 46 ball 29 and had never looked at ease with herself. Daley fell not long after and when legspinner Dane van Niekerk was introduced to the attack the West Indies looked all at sea.

Deandra Dottin, having survived an easy catching chance at midwicket in van Niekerk's previous over,decided she was going to launch the ball over midwicket's head, but her ugly swipe took her off her feet and Trisha Chetty completed a neat stumping. The West Indies were 87 for 4. Skipper Marissa Aguilleira and the young Kycia Knight were the Windies only real hope of a defendable score, but it was not to be. Aguilleira tried to smear the off-spin of Sunette Loubser to leg and missed and Knight walked past one from van Niekerk for another Chetty stumping. Loubser helped herself to three more wickets to finish with 4 for 11 off 8 overs, and the West Indies limped to 128 before they were bowled out in the 48th over.

South Africa could hardly have made a worse start to their run chase, losing both Shandre Fritz and Chetty for 0 to the spin of Daley and Tyalor. In fact they failed to register a run until the 6th over, but with such a low target they could afford to be cautious and skipper Mignon du Preez and all-rounder Marizanne Kapp eased the total to 45 without too many problems. It was a surprise when Kapp fell to a Daley catch off Mohammed. Benade tried to power Shaquana Quintyne away but mistimed the shot and was caught and when du Preez was run out South Africa were in a spot of bother at 58 for 5. But the experienced Cri-Zelda Brits and van Niekerk took the score to 90 seizing on some loose bowling by the West Indies. Brits fell to a sharp caught behind and, had the umpire given van Niekerk out run out as she struggled to make her ground at the bowler's end shortly afterwards, things may have panned out very differently. However he did not and van Niekerk and Potgieter saw the Proteas home.

The South Africans will be confident that they can wrap up this confidence-boosting series win in the Windies. They have looked very business-like in the way they have gone about things, particularly with the ball. Quite where the West Indies go from here or what their approach will be in the next game of the series on Saturday at Roseau is difficult to predict? Their batting has lacked confidence and a straight bat approach. Will they try and blast their way out of this predicament? It is their natural game, but it could hand the series to South Africa if their big guns fail to fire yet again.

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Tuesday, 8 January 2013

South Africa punish sloppy WI

South Africa cruised to an 80 run victory over the West Indies in the first of five ODIs at Basseterre in St Kitts, thanks to some solid top order batting and five wickets from legspinner Dane van Niekerk (5-28).

Having won the toss the Proteas women made good headway against the opening WI pace attack with Shandre Fritz and Trisha Chetty looking comfortable and keeping the score ticking along. The introduction of the spinners put the brakes on slightly and Fritz was then needlessly run out turning for a second run that was never there, Deandra Dottin hitting the stumps from long range. But skipper Mignon du Preez then shared a stand of 69 with Chetty to take the score to 118 before Chetty was surprisingly bowled by Shanel Daley for a well-made 57. The South African innings then lost its way as Marizanne Kapp was caught, du Preez was caught and bowled by Staphanie Taylor for 48, Dottin claimed another good run out, and Cri-Zelda Brits holed out to the bowling of 17 year old Shaquana Quintyne. The Proteas were wobbling at 165 for 6 and they eventually limped to 206 for 8 from their 50 overs, which looked under par on a decent pitch.

But within 9 overs of their reply the West Indies had slipped to 24 for 3, losing Taylor, Juliana Nero and Daley to catches behind the stumps by Chetty, who had a fine day with the gloves as well as the bat. Had the Proteas held one of the two simple chances Deandra Dottin gave them early on then the game could have ended very early, but she survived to add 45 runs with her skipper Merissa Aguilleira, who adopted a typically cavalier West Indian attitude to the crisis. But those who live by the sword also perish by it, and just as it seemed the West Indies were getting back in the game Aguilleira aimed an ugly smear at Chloe Tryon and was caught. The responsibility for the West Indies' batting fell onto the shoulders of Dottin, but she too gave her wicket away to become one of van Niekerk's five victims. In her next over she had Shemaine Campbelle stumped all ends up. In the next she bowled a bemused Qunityne with a beauty; bowled Anisa Mohammed first ball as she tried to sweep and then completed her hat-trick with the first ball of her next over trapping Tremayne Smartt plumb in front. At 104 for 9 the West Indies were dead in the water and were eventually bowled out for 126 in the 36th over.

It was a decent performance from the Proteas, but the West Indies determination to play across the line, particularly to the leg-spinner proved their undoing. They will need to play straighter and with more self-discipline in the rest of this series if they are not to suffer further defeats. As for the bigger picture it seems unlikely that either England or Australia will suffer too many sleepless nights about facing either team in the World Cup in this form.


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Sunday, 6 January 2013

Aussie domestic season coming to a climax

The Australian domestic season is reaching its conclusion, with both the one day and the T20 tournaments reaching their final stages.

Next weekend will see the semi-final of the Women's National Cricket League (WNCL) 50 over tournament. Queensland Fire will take on Vic Spirit, while the NSW Breakers will play the Perth-based Western Fury. Both games will be played in Sydney.

The finalists for the WNCL T20 tournament  have also been decided. Vic Spirit, who have won the title for the last 3 years have just missed out on another tilt at the title. That honour will go to NSW Breakers (who finished comfortably top of the league and must start as firm favourites) and Western Fury, who have surpassed probably even their own expectations by making the T20 final and the one day semis. As the underdogs they will have nothing to lose. The final will be played on 19th January.


Thursday, 3 January 2013

Women's World Cup Preview

With the WWC just 28 days away now seems like an opportune moment to run through the format of the competition; look at the main contenders; and highlight some of the key players.

England are the holders of the trophy, having beaten New Zealand by four wickets in the final at the North Sydney Oval back in 2009. India beat Australia by three wickets to take third spot. All four teams automatically qualified for this year's tournament as a result of these placings. They are joined by the four teams that came through the qualifying tournament played in November 2011 who are the West Indies (who won the tournament), Pakistan (runners-up), South Africa and Sri Lanka.

The eight teams are split into two groups of four :-
Group A - England, India, West Indies, Sri Lanka
Group B - Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa

Initially the teams play the others in their group. Once these group games are completed the bottom team in each group is eliminated and play off for 7th and 8th place. The others form the Super Six, retain the points already earned against the two teams that qualified in their group, and then play the three teams from the other group. The top two teams after all these games are completed will play in the final on 17 February.

Form suggests that the initial two teams likely to be eliminated will be Sri Lanka and either Pakistan or South Africa, but all three teams are capable of an upset with the West Indies v Sri Lanka contest (4th Feb) as the prime candidate. Obviously the Pakistan v South Africa game  (5th Feb) in Group B will be the key to either team getting through to the Super Six Stage.

In Group A England will be favourites to top the group, but will have difficult group games against India in their own back yard, and the mercurial West Indies. Australia are likely to emerge as group winners in Group B, but they will be hard-pressed by New Zealand, and their day/night game against each other on 5th February should be a titanic struggle. Whoever wins will have their nose in front for the Super Six Stage.

Once the field has been narrowed to six, whoever heads Group A will likely be confident of beating the third placed team from Group B. A win against either of the top two Group B teams will then probably see them to the final. The Group B winners will still have three tricky games to get through. With this format no-one can afford to make a mistake. The England v Australia clash on 9th February may well be pivotal. But also watch out for the West Indies v Australia game on 13th February.

England look to be the team to beat. They have four very good spin bowlers in Colvin, Marsh, Wyatt and Hazell and two of the top batters in the world in Sarah Taylor and captain Charlotte Edwards. However they do tend to rely on these two to score heavily. Without them the batting line-up can sometimes look a little fragile.

Australia have an explosive young batting side with Meg Lanning and Jess Cameron at the forefront, but their bowling may be their Achilles' heel, particularly in the spin department where they will look to the experience of Lisa Sthalekar to pull them through.

New Zealand too look short of match-winning bowlers in sub-continent conditions, but may well amass sufficient runs through captain Suzie Bates and Amy Satterthwaite to put opponents under pressure or chase down large scores. Their recent series against the Aussies was tighter than many people probably expected.

The West Indies are the dark horses of the tournament. In off spinner Anisa Mohammed they have a potential match winner on Indian pitches, but she can only bowl 10 overs. The West Indies also have some powerful batters in Stafanie Taylor and Deandra Dottin, but both are just as likely to make 0 as 100. If they hit form early in the tournament then the West Indies could even make the final.

Finally one should not discount hosts India. They have one of the all-time great batters in the ever-reliable Mithali Raj, currently the number 1 ranked batter in womens' ODIs. But she tends to plough a lone furrow for the Indians. If she can get some support at the crease then in their home country India will be no pushover.

Overall the tournament is about consistency over six games in 16 days, in order to secure a place in the final. England appear to have the strongest squad and I would put them into the final. As for their opponents? I think it will be a close run thing between Australia, New Zealand and the West Indies.


Tuesday, 1 January 2013

NZ announce WC Squad!

New Zealand have today announced their 15 woman squad for the World Cup which starts later this month.

Natalie Dodd (Northern Spirit) is the only new face in the squad, having had a great domestic season (she has hit 4 centuries in her last 6 one day games). The 20 year old, who last played for the White Ferns as a teenager back in 2010, will be pushing for an openers' slot within the team.

The squad is :-
Suzie Bates (c) Otago Sparks
Kate Broadmore Central Hinds
Nicola Browne Northern Spirit
Rachel Candy Canterbury Magicians
Natalie Dodd Northern Spirit
Lucy Doolan Wellington Blaze
Sophie Devine Wellington Blaze
Sara McGlashan Central Hinds
Frances Mackay Canterbury Magicians
Morna Nielsen Northern Spirit
Katie Perkins Auckland Hearts
Rachel Priest Central Hinds
Sian Ruck Wellington Blaze
Amy Satterthwaite Canterbury Magicians
Leah Tahuhu Canterbury Magicians