Monday, 24 February 2014

Closest ever WT20 on the cards

For the first time there will be ten teams rather than eight in the Women's World T20 Cup which starts in Bangladesh on 23rd March, and it could be the closest fought WT20 ever.

The teams are split into two groups of five - groups A & B - who will all play each other once. The winner of Group A will play the second in Group B in the first semi-final and the winner of Group B will play the runner-up in Group A in the other semi-final. It is going to be a dog eat dog affair and I can see every team losing at least one game and the dreaded Net Run Rate coming into play to see who makes those vital semi-finals.

Group A has Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa.
Australia will be the favourites to win the group. They are after all the holders and beat England 2-1 in their latest T20 series. But they did lose all three of the T20 games in England last season and they have lost three of their last five T20 games to New Zealand. They have lost the services of their inspirational captain Lisa Sthalekar since the last World Cup, and Meg Lanning has only just taken on the role from Jodie Fields. They do have a habit of winning the games that matter, but they will be pushed all the way by New Zealand and will get no easy ride from South Africa.
New Zealand too are a team in transition. Coach Katrina Keenan resigned in January and Warren Lees has taken over as "interim coach". He has brought a few new faces into the White Ferns' squad who are currently performing well against the West Indies. They also have the buffer of having Suzie Bates and Sara McGlashan in their midst, both of whom have been in fine form with the bat of late. The two of them are quite capable of taking a game away from any team they are playing, but can they do it game after game. It is a big ask.
And talking of big asks, it will be tough for South Africa to string together four good results on the bounce, particularly when two of those games will be against Australia and New Zealand. They have never beaten either team in a T20. On their day they can be very good with the ball, but they can struggle to post a competitive score with the bat. But if they can get away to a good start in their first match against Pakistan, which they will be expecting to win, then their second game against the Aussies could be tighter than people think.
Pakistan are an improving team, but I think they will have to settle for just one or two victories here. Ireland, who play in Division 3 of the English County Championship, are making their first appearance at a T20 World Cup. They fought their way there through the qualifying tournament (finishing third behind Sri Lanka and Pakistan), but recently beat Pakistan in a low-scoring game in Doha, which will boost their confidence when they meet again. As the underdogs they have nothing to fear and can hopefully play with freedom and get some decent results.

Group B has Bangladesh, England, India, Sri Lanka and the West Indies.
With all due respect to Bangladesh I think this looks like a four-way contest for the two spots available in the semis.
England made it to the final two years ago and were favourites to win, having been dominant in the earlier rounds, but they lost by four runs to Australia. But in those intervening two years they have lost five players from the team that played in the that final - Holly Colvin and Arran Brindle have retired, Laura Marsh and Katherine Brunt are injured and Danielle Wyatt has been left out of the squad. It will be a very different looking team that takes on West Indies in a crucial first match in Group B on 24th March. England have in fact lost more T20 matches against the West Indies than they have won (6/5), including three out in the Caribbean last October. England approach T20 in a much more controlled way than do the West Indies, which is perhaps dictated by the very nature of the players on the field. England do not have the pinch-hitting openers or the lower order batsmen capable of clearing the boundary rope. The West Indies have a much more cavalier approach, but will they have the explosive Deandra Dottin in their team? And if so will she have any sort of form?

Dottin was suspended by the WICB in January for "behaviour unbecoming that could bring the game of cricket into disrepute or be harmful to the interests of cricket", after an incident during the Tri-Nation Twenty20 Women's Series last October in Barbados. No-one is saying what the incident was, but it seems to have been something off the field. She was not selected for the current West Indies tour of New Zealand, but the door seems to have been left ajar to "reintegrate" her back into the Windies team as she is said to have been undergoing "evaluation" through to the middle of March. Reading between the lines it sounds as though if she is contrite and keeps her nose clean she will be back in, but without too much match practice under her belt. The Windies are currently having a tough time of it in New Zealand (two heavy ODI losses), but they may still come good in the five match T20 series.

India have some great players in their team, but they are not a great T20 team, and Indian Women's cricket seems to be in the doldrums at the moment, not helped by the mysogynistic attitude of the BCCI. They have the talent to win games, but they may well not. In fact if they lose their first game to Sri Lanka then they may be left fighting it out for the wooden spoon with Bangladesh. Fortunately the 2016 T20 World Cup will be held in India, so they will automatically be there come what may at this tournament.

Sri Lanka are the dark horses in Group B and I am going to stick my neck out and suggest they may well sneak a semi-final spot (probably on NRR!). This is a competition which they are targeting. They have some explosive top order batsmen and some good spin bowlers. They will be tough to beat and if they can get off to a good start against India, who they have beaten before, they will trouble both England and the West Indies.

I will wait for the result of the NZ v WI T20 series and for all the squads to be announced before I give my final verdict on the four to make the semis, but it is shaping up to be a great looking tournament. Shame only the semis and the final will be on tv and then only on satellite. Hopefully there will be more online streaming of the earlier games - more news on this as I get it.


Tuesday, 18 February 2014

England name youngsters in squad for WT20

England have pulled out a few surprises in their squad for the WT20 in Bangladesh which starts on 23rd March.

The squad is

Charlotte Edwards (captain) (Kent)
Tammy Beaumont (Kent)
Kate Cross (Lancashire)
Jodie Dibble (Devon)
Georgia Elwiss (Sussex)
Lydia Greenway (Kent)
Rebecca Grundy (Warwickshire)
Jenny Gunn (Nottinghamshire)
Danielle Hazell (Yorkshire)
Amy Jones (Warwickshire)
Heather Knight (Berkshire)
Natalie Sciver (Surrey)
Anya Shrubsole (Somerset)
Sarah Taylor (Sussex)
Fran Wilson (Somerset)

Missing out are the injured Laura Marsh, Katherine Brunt and Tash Farrant, along with Danielle Wyatt and Lauren Winfield, who were both in the Ashes squad, but have been dropped.

Young left arm spinners Rebecca Grundy (23) and Jodie Dibble (19) have been selected ahead of Wyatt, who has been having a rough time with the ball of late. Interestingly Grundy, who is a member of the England Women's Performance Squad, did not make the recent Academy tour of Sri Lanka due to injury, but Academy girl Dibble did, and she took full advantage of the conditions in Sri Lanka, taking nine wickets in six games. She gets good loop and has a good cricketing brain. She too has had her injury problems - in fact she used to be a pace bowler until she suffered a shoulder injury about three years ago.

On the batting front Tammy Beaumont is rewarded for her efforts with the bat in Sri Lanka as captain of the Academy team, plus the fact that she already has nearly 50 appearances for England under her belt. It is true that she held the Academy batting together in Sri Lanka, but her major runs were scored in the 50 over format against less than formidable bowling. Fran Wilson (22) also gets the call back into the fray, having last played for England back in 2011. She too was in Sri Lanka and is a busy batsman at the crease and uses her feet well to the spinners. She is also an excellent fielder.

Reading between the lines of the ECB press release ( England are not talking their chances of winning the WT20 up too much with this squad. Lots of talk of experience and looking forward to seeing how they can perform. They are in a tough group and T20 is a very unforgiving format. The senior players are going to need to be at their best. Interesting times indeed.


Monday, 17 February 2014

England's 15 for Bangladesh?

Assuming Katherine Brunt and Laura Marsh are not fit I don't think there will be any great surprises in the England 15 for the Bangladesh T20 World Cup which is likely to be announced this week. I suggest the squad will look like this

Some certainties:-
Charlotte Edwards, Sarah Taylor, Lydia Greenway, Heather Knight, Nat Sciver, Dani Hazell, Anya Shrubsole, Jenny Gunn

Tash Farrant, Amy Jones, Lauren Winfield, Kate Cross, Georgia Elwiss, Dani Wyatt, Tammy Beaumont (added following Arran Brindle's retirement)

Missing out (from winter training squad):-
Laura Marsh, Katherine Brunt, Beth Langstone, Fran Wilson, Arran Brindle (having announced her retirement from international cricket) and Rebecca Grundy

England will probably travel to the tournament as second favourites, behind the Aussies, and they have by far the tougher of the two groups - they play Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and the West Indies. Only the top two from the group will get through to the semi-finals so they cannot afford any slip-ups. It is going to be tough, especially as T20s can turn on the performance of just one individual, either with bat or ball. Potential banana skins are the West Indies (will they have Dottin back?), Sri Lanka (who fancy themselves at T20), and India (can be poor but have some classy performers). England will have to be at their best to beat these teams and I can see one or two "shock results" in this group.

In Group A Australia have New Zealand, Ireland, Pakistan and South Africa. You would expect the Aussies and New Zealand to emerge from this group, but I have a feeling that South Africa might do well, although they may not be consistent enough to make it through to the semi-finals. 

It all kicks off on 23rd March with Australia v New Zealand, followed the next day by England v West Indies. It should be a cracking tournament.

Full fixtures are available here-


Tuesday, 11 February 2014

England wrap up tour with second 50 over win

England wrapped up their tour of Sri Lanka with a second 50 over win over an inexperienced Sri Lanka team. They won by 47 runs, having posted 241/4 thanks in the main to a fine 140 not out from skipper Tammy Beaumont. In reply Sri Lanka always looked likely to fall short as they lost wickets regularly but they plugged on gamely with the final pair scoring 54 runs between them.

Beaumont & Carr enjoying their century stand
England openers - Beaumont and Amara Carr (46) set England on course to a decent score with an opening stand of 105, although it did take almost 35 overs. Beaumont and Fran Wilson (28) added another 81 for the second wicket, but by this time there were just over five overs left. Having reached her hundred Beaumont finally cut loose and England added 36 in the last four overs for a reasonable score of 241/4.

Sri Lanka got off to a good start with 36 coming off the first five overs, but Madashani then lobbed Georgia Holmes to Carr at extra cover and three overs later her fellow opener Hansika drove Georgia Hennessy (3/33) to the same fielder at mid-off, where she completed a tumbling catch. Sri Lanka were 56/2 in the 9th over. Runs continued to come easily to the Sri Lankans, but they lost their third wicket in the 13th over when Hennessy bowled Sri Lanka skipper Ranasinghe, and Hennessy claimed the fourth wicket in her next over bowling Sanjeewani playing am ambitious pull shot to a full ball and missing. Sri Lanka were 97/4. Alex McDonald (2/7) and Jodie Dibble (2/27) effectively dried up the Sri Lankan scoring as they bowled a 13 over spell for just 20 runs and took four more wickets. At 141/8 Sri Lanka were on borrowed time, but they stretched the game out into the 44th over with their final two wickets, claimed by Hollie Armitage and Steph Butler.

Sri Lanka's focus has clearly been on the T20 format of the game during this series and the sides put out in the two 50 over games were not that strong. England won both games, but only after a batting scare in the first game and with a bit of a drawn-out struggle in the second. This is a young Academy side and they will all have taken something from the tour - the first to Asia for many of them. The experienced Tammy Beaumont has pulled the batting through in most games and the bowlers have worked hard in very hot conditions. Now it is back to rainy England and the domestic season which starts in about 11 weeks.

scorecard -


Sunday, 9 February 2014

Images from the first Academy 50 over game at the Premadasa Stadium

Tammy and Alex planning how to
salvage the England innings

Jodie Dibble watches on as the ball evades TB
The crowd watch on enthralled
TB takes evasive action

Just before England claim the last wicket

England recover to win first 50 over game v Sri Lanka XI

England Academy recovered from the depths of 57/7 to post a half-decent 157 all out against a very young and inexperienced Sri Lanka XI, and then bowled their opponents out for just 118 in the 35th over, to win the first unofficial ODI by 39 runs.

The England innings was held together by skipper Tammy Beaumont, who showed her experience to put together a knock of 69 from 111 balls. She was the eighth wicket to fall having opened the innings with Amara Carr (0) who edged behind in the first over of the match. From there on until Alex McDonald (20) came to the crease it was a procession of batsmen coming in and going out again. Fran Wilson (2) was bowled; Helen Shipman (3) was caught at short midwicket; Georgia Hennessy was lbw going back to a length ball; Hollie Armitage was caught and bowled; and Jodie Dibble was another backfoot lbw victim. At 57/7 in the 20th over England were in a mess, but in McDonald Beaumont finally found a partner who could stick around with her. The pair added a priceless 75 runs in 17 overs without too many alarms with Beaumont in particular punishing the odd bad ball. In fact it was a surprise when Beaumont was bowled in the 37th over to leave England on 132/8. McDonald's 52 ball stay at the crease ended 10 runs later when she edged Dharmasiri (3/26) to the keeper's left side, where she took the catch at full stretch. With 12 overs of the innings left Carla Rudd (16) and Freya Davies (6*) did their best to use as many as possible, but Rudd was bowled in the 45th over by one that cut back from opener Kanchana (2/28) after a useful partnership of 16 runs in seven overs, leaving England with 157 and at least something to bowl at.

But things looked rather ominous as Sri Lanka raced to 13 after just six legitimate balls from openers Odedra and Davies, but when Davies finally got her radar sorted out she claimed the first wicket trapping G Perera lbw for a duck. Odedra claimed the first of her three wickets (3/28) in her third over as Weerakkody (10) flashed outside off stump and edged through to keeper Rudd. In her next over she accounted for Hansika (6), bowled, and in the next N Perera (0) caught low at first slip by Beaumont. Sri Lanka had slipped to 38/4. When Gunawardene (13) smashed a long hop from Dibble down Hennessy's throat at deep back ward square they were 49/5 and that soon became 58/6 and then 59/7 as Lakshika (7) was bowled by Dibble cutting a ball too close to her body, and skipper Surangika (2) was adjudged lbw to McDonald. Harshita (8) and Dharmasiri (26*) did what they could to rebuild the Sri Lankan innings, but Harshita was caught well by Beaumont at silly mid-off off Butler's offspin (3/23). Dharmasiri found another willing ally in Kanchana (9), but when she eventually fell to Butler caught well on the midwicket boundary by Wilson, Sri Lanka were all but done for at 109/9. It took another four overs for Butler to wrap up the game for England when she claimed her third wicket as number 11 Ranaweera was given out lbw.

Top scorer for Sri Lanka was the England wide count of 30 (perhaps another reason why these girls need to be playing more white ball cricket?). England may have used up their Get Out of Jail Free card in this game and will want to bat much better and bowl much straighter in the final game on Tuesday.

scorecard -


Friday, 7 February 2014

England Academy and Sri Lanka XI share T20 series

A T20 double header at the Pramadasa Stadium in central Colombo brought the England Academy v Sri Lanka XI T20 series to a close. In the morning's game Sri Lanka triumphed by 14 runs as England failed to chase down Sri Lanka's 137/4. In the afternoon it was England's turn to come out on top winning by a hefty eight wickets,chasing down Sri Lanka's under par 111/8 with 18 balls to spare.

In the first game some of Sri Lanka's more senior members of their 40 woman squad took to the crease and all seemed comfortable against the England attack. Having got them off to a good start the youngster Perera (25) hoisted Sonia Odedra to Helen Shipman at long-off in the last of the first six powerplay overs, with the score on 38. After a further 50 run partnership with the day's skipper, Siriwardene, Atapattu (35) went in similar fashion in the 14th over, as Odedra returned to finish her spell (2/26). Sri Lanka managed to add 32 in the last 5 overs, losing Siriwardene (29) in the 17th and Surangika (7) off the last ball of the innings to reach 137/4, which looked a reasonable total on a good deck, but with slightly larger boundaries and a much slower outfield than at the Nondescripts' ground earlier in the week.

After a blistering 22 off the last six balls in the previous game, Alex McDonald, was promoted to the pinch-hitter opener's spot, with skipper Tammy Beaumont. After six overs though England had only reached 35/1 with Beaumont (7) bowled through the gate by Weerakkody. McDonald continued to swing lustily but without quite the success of the previous game and she finally came unstuck in the 10th over for 24 with the score on 58/2. In fact the main impetus was provided by Fran Wilson (44 off 36 balls, including five of the ten boundaries hit by England). But having been up with the run rate at the end of the 10th over (62/2), the run rate started to slip as boundaries became a rare commodity. Helen Shipman went for 8 in the 16th over and Wilson in the next as the required rate moved up from just over six an over to over nine by the end of the 15th (89/2) and then over 13 by the end of the 17th over (98/4). Hollie Armitage (9) managed a defiant 6 in the 18th over but was then bowled in the next, by which time the game had gone. Jodie Dibble (9) was stumped off the last ball as England finished well short.

scorecard -

In the afternoon game Sri Lanka fielded a much younger side and it showed. Electing to bat they managed to get to 71/1 by the end of the 10th over thanks to a decent partnership between Weerakkody (30) and Perera (26), plus a healthy smattering of wides from the England girls. But three wickets fell for two runs to Georgia Holmes (1/23) and Steph Butler (3/18) and the Sri Lanka innings went into freefall. Only 38 more runs were added in the next 8.4 overs as England bowled tighter lines and protected the boundary. Jodie Dibble (2/16) helped herself to a run out and two wickets in the last over as Sri Lanka limped to 111/8.
Holly Armitage swings away another 4 to reach her 50
England sent in two pinch-hitters this time in the shape of Alex McDonald and Hollie Armitage to try and make use of the first six overs. And it worked, after a fashion, with England on 41/1 after the initial powerplay (McDonald going for 12 in the fifth). Hollie Armitage (60) was in the mood by this time, and as Sri Lanka tried out eight different bowlers she straight drove and pulled her way to a fine half-century. She was finally stumped swinging a little wearily in the 14th over, by which time England were nearly home on 97/2. It was left to Fran Wilson (20*) and Tammy Beaumont (8*) to steer the ship into port with three overs to spare.

This tied the series 2-2. The teams meet again at the same stadium on Sunday in the first of two 50 over games which are going to be long tough games in the 33 degree heat.

scorecard -



Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Mendis wallops Sri Lanka to victory in second T20

A stronger looking Sri Lanka line-up won the second of four T20s against the England Academy thanks to some pedestrian batting by England and some explosive batting by Sri Lanka'sYasoda Mendis, who struck 58 off 40 balls, including seven boundaries and two sixes, as she lead the Sri Lankan reply to England's 124/6.

After a bright start by England's Tammy Beaumont and Georgia Hennessy which took them to 19/0 after just two overs, England bumbled along losing wickets at regular intervals. Hennessy (4) was bowled heaving across the line to an old England favorite Eshani Kaushalya and in the same over she claimed Fran Wilson for a third ball duck as she mistimed a pull, giving the bowler an easy return catch. Beaumont and Helen Shipman looked reasonably at home against the Sri Lankan pace attack, but when slow bowlers Ranaweera and Fernando and then Ranasinghe were introduced to the attack, the run rate stalled. 39/2 after seven overs became 54/4 after 11 overs as first Shipman (9) and then Sophie Luff (4) were stumped off left-armer Ranaweera. Beaumont and new partner Sonia Odedra could only manage singles until the 15th over when Odedra finally broke the shackles with a pull for four off a rare short ball from Ranasinghe. But still England were only going at five an over as they reached 75/4 at the end of the 15th. Beaumont reached her 50 (52 off 50 balls) in the 18th over crashing the returning right arm seam of De Silva for four through extra cover. It had not been a fault-free innings having been dropped twice, but it was a resolute knock by the skipper. Unfortunately she perished next ball trying to sweep De Silva's next ball and being bowled. Young Hollie Armitage (1) took one for the team holing out to long off and so England approached the final over on 101/6 with new bat the tall left hander Alex McDonald on strike and seamer Weerakkody with ball in hand. After a first ball sighter McDonald hit her for 6,4, wide, 4, 2 and 6 to end on 22 not out off six balls and move the England score to a more respectable 124/6. Odedra (16* off 27 balls) watched on from the non-strikers end.

Tammy Beaumont congratulates Alex McDonald
on her 22 off just 6 balls

All looked well as Jodie Dibble opened with a maiden to a watchful Attapatu, but her opening partner Mendis was in no mood to hang around as she laid into the England bowlers, driving McDonald for six and hitting three consecutive fours off Freya Davies with drives through extra cover and a back cut, before edging the next ball off the stumps through the vacant slip area for another four. Sometimes fortune favours the brave. After five overs the Sri Lankans were well ahead of the rate on 43/0 and Mendis continued the charge hitting another six over long-on off Hennessy and bringing up her 50 in just the ninth over off 35 balls. Sri Lanka cruised to 74/0 after 10 overs, but finally Steph Butler got the breakthrough England so desperately needed as Mendis (58) swung the off-spinner high to cow-corner where Fran Wilson took a magnificent two-handed catch high above her left shoulder. In the next over Attapatu (14), who had looked out of touch, finally fell missing an expansive drive off Hennessy and England may have thought they were in with a sniff with Sri Lanka at 82/2 with just over eight overs to go. But it was not to be as catches went down and run out opportunities were missed. Hasini Perera (23) kept her head as others perished around her swinging from the hip when there was no need to do so. England were finally put out of their misery by a sweetly struck extra cover drive by the veteran Sripali Weerakkody (4*) off the second ball of the 18th over which took Sri Lanka to a five wicket win and level the series 1-1.

England will need to be more positive with the bat when the two sides meet again on Friday for two more T20 games to end the T20 series at the imposing Pramadasa Stadium. They will also hope there is more in the wicket for their seamers and that Mendis does not have another one of those days.

scorecard -  


Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Images from Sri Lanka v Eng Academy 1st T20

A few images from the first T20 game played at the Nondescript Cricket Ground in Colombo

Georgia Hennessy

Tammy Beaumont

TB smashes but straight to cover

Helen Shipman

Alex McDonald gets to face the last ball of the innings

Hollie Armitage and Alex McD - innings done!

Time to field

Freya Davies preparing to bowl

FD in delivery stride

The Crowd!!

Monday, 3 February 2014

Academy start with a win over Sri Lanka - just

England Academy managed to pull out a win by just one run against a young Sri Lankan side in the first match of their six match tour of Sri Lanka (four T20s and 2 ODIs). But Sri Lanka will be cursing that they did not make better use of the last three balls of their innings when a win was in their grasp.

Having lost the toss England were invited to bat first and skipper Tammy Beaumont opened up together with pinch-hitter Georgia Hennessy. The opening seam attack of de Silva and Kaushalya kept things tight and Hennessy (2) perished to a good catch at slip by Fernado from a flashing drive. Fran Wilson came in to join her skipper and immediately hit Kaushalya for two fours with a nicely timed pull and then a cut. At the end of the power play England were handily placed at 35/1 but Beaumont (23) perished soon after slapping a wide half-volley to Sri Lanka skipper Atapatu at extra cover. After taking 15 from Perera's only over of the game England had moved to 60/2 after 10 overs and had the platform to go on, but were tied down by some decent off-spin from Fernando and left arm spin from Ranaweera. By the end of the 15th over they had only nudged the score on to 81/3, having lost Wilson (36) dragging the ball onto her own stumps trying to sweep Fernando.

England needed a big last five to post a decent score of around 120/130, but it failed to materialise as both Sophie Luff (4) and Helen Shipman (32), after a mature knock, were both run out. Sonia Odedra could manage only seven off 12 balls and Holly Armitage (3*) and Alex McDonald (1*) remained the not out batsmen and the England score was just 111/6.

After the first over of the Sri Lanka reply things looked dire for England trying to defend their total. Atapattu helped herself to three fours off Odedra's over which went for 13. With nine coming off the third and 11 off the fourth, Sri Lanka had raced to 35/0 thanks to Atapattu and her opening partner Mendis, who hit off-spinner Steph Butler over the top of mid-on for four and then a six. But after a poor first over left arm spinner Jodie Dibble found the perfect length to bowl Atapattu (19) looking to drive. In her next over she also accounted for Mendis (24) adjudged lbw sweeping. Dibble, McDonald and Freya Davies then kept the Sri Lankans in check leaving them at 70/2 after 13 overs. This led to a silly run-out in the next over as Hansika tried to steal a second to McDonald at deep cover. After 15 overs the Sri Lankans were beginning to struggle at 84/3 needing 38 off the last five overs, but England allowed them to keep ticking the score over with singles, despite which they seemed to have got the job done as Odedra came in to bowl the last over with Sri Lanka on 100/5 and needing 12 to win. A first ball wide was followed by a single and then a perfectly struck four by de Silva, leaving six more required off four balls. Two came from the next as de Silva was dropped at deep midwicket and then she lost strike with a single to long off. It was the defining moment as S Weerakkody could not lay a bat on the penultimate ball as she swung wildly when a simple tap and run would have been a better option. She managed to hit the last, but Sri Lanka could only run one which meant the victory was England's.

Overall it was a decent performance from England in their first game, but they can expect Sri Lanka to come back hard at them in their next game on Wednesday at the same ground.

For a full scorecard see