Friday, 31 January 2014

Women's Cricket in The Ladybird Story of Cricket

The picture below is from a book called The Story of Cricket. It was part of a run of kids 'finding out' books published by a company called Ladybird, covering everything from technology to sports; and in the 60s and 70s no self-respecting, middle-class family bookshelf would be seen without a few titles in the series!

Judging from its much-thumbed condition, my copy of The Story of Cricket was clearly a book I read from cover to cover many times; but there was one page in particular that sparked my interest...

Cool - women playing cricket! 

And [redacted] (ahem!) years later... here I am!

Women's Ashes 2nd T20

Random thoughts on #WomensAshes T20 at the MCG -
  • For me, the most telling moment of the day was Arran Brindle bowling Jess Cameron - she looked absolutely delighted, which given the match situation, you can bet your last dime she wouldn't have been had this game actually mattered. But with The Ashes won, England's heads were already on the plane home. In baseball, they don't bother playing dead rubbers. Maybe they have a point?
  • Talking of points... the issue of the test points came up again in commentary, but it occurs to me that even if the test had been worth only 4 points, Australia (as the "challenger") would still have needed to win 5-of-6 limited-overs matches. Surely there has to be a better answer than reducing the test to just 3 points though? I think so, and I'll be blogging about it soon!
  • Amy Jones' inexperience showed badly today - playing a classic forward defensive stroke in the 14th over of a T20, when there's proper batting still to come, is not what was needed. You get the feeling that perhaps what she really needs is a 'run in the team' - a chance she has never remotely been give, in stark contrast to...
  • Danni Wyatt is obviously a long-standing and important part of that intangible, but psychologically critical, entity 'The Dressing Room'. She is popular with the fans; and she has about a squillion followers on Twitter. BUT SHE IS NOT AN OPENING BATSMAN! Loz Winfield is, and could hardly have done any worse; and it is not as if Wyatt's bowling is making up for it right now. (Though obviously with only 11 fit players, England had little choice but to field Wyatt in this match.)
  • Dani Hazel was England's only real bright spot today - she was excellent... again! But it bodes-ill for the World T20 that she is our only functioning spin option right now; although presumably England will be hoping to have Laura Marsh back then - they really need her!

Thursday, 30 January 2014

The International Women's Championship - A Good Thing, But...

Amid all he hullabaloo surrounding the ICC this week, there's been some interesting news for women's cricket - the announcement of an official 'International Women's Championship' which will to a certain extent decide who gets to compete in the World Cup.

I say "to a certain extent" for a couple of reasons.

First, the system is way-loaded in favour of the existing Top 8. The bottom sides in the IWC won't be relegated directly, but will play-off against the higher-ranked sides in the second tier for the right to appear in the World Cup. (And presumably be part of the top tier in the following cycle.)

Second, as we all know where the ICC are concerned, these rules can become remarkably flexible when needs-be! Would they really allow England or Australia to be relegated? (Clue: No!)

Of course, England or Australia finishing towards the bottom of the IWC is unlikely; but as things stand right now, there is a very real possibility that India could do so; and much as the BCCI have shown their general indifference to women's cricket recently, it is difficult to believe that they or the ICC would allow India to be relegated from the top tier!

Overall though, I think the IWC sounds like A Good Thing(TM) -
  • It will mean more cricket - maybe not for England, who already play more than anyone else - but for the other top sides.
  • It will give additional significance to the bilateral series which occur between World Cups, as teams fight for potentially crucial points.
  • It provides a clear path for the likes of Ireland and Scotland to make progress in the women's game. 
 My one big 'But' concerns that final bullet -
  • Ireland or Scotland making headway would be fantastic; but I do fear what would happen to (say) Pakistan if they end up back in the bottom tier - they've made such progress, and it would be a real pity to lose that by putting them back to Square 1. Of course, for an Ireland or a Scotland to get promoted, someone is going to have to be relegated; but given the fragile state of women's cricket in some of the potential relegation countries, it could be a death-sentence for the game there, and that would be a bitter pill to swallow after everything that's been achieved.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Womens Ashes 1st T20

Random thoughts after England's #WomensAshes victory -
  • 150 wasn't a bad total - in the entire history of women's T20Is there have only been a couple of occasions when a team has chased more. Australia did their job batting first; but England just did theirs better batting second and made it look easy in the process.
  • Tash Farrant bowled really, really well I thought. She isn't a great "threat" but she maintains a remarkably consistent line and length and is clearly difficult to 'get away'. I couldn't help but feel we could have done with some of her in the ODIs - particularly the 3rd!
  • Sarah Taylor might be one of the best in the world already, but she still continues to develop as a batsman. Her innings in the 2nd and 3rd ODIs were a sign of a more mature approach - she didn't get herself out trying to set off at 90mph. Similarly today - she held back just enough. It was also interesting to see a ramp/scoop - a shot I don't remember her playing before - though it went a little too close to the fielder for my liking!
  • The commentators were asking why Australia didn't deploy Ellyse Perry earlier to try to break the Edwards-Taylor partnership - Charles Dagnall on Twitter called the decision "weird". I guess the plan was to keep Perry in reserve as the best option for bowling the overs at the end where England might need (say) 10-an-over to close-out the innings; but in hindsight...
  • Yet again the double-header format failed to draw much of an early crowd. You can see why the TV companies like it - they can fulfill their moral obligation to televise some women's games, at the very marginal cost of turning the cameras on a couple of hours earlier; but whether it really benefits anyone else is an open question?

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Women's Ashes 3rd ODI

The latest Random Rants™ from the #WomensAshes -

  • To be fair, this game was an accurate reflection of where these two teams are: close! 
  • But...
  • The selection of Amy Jones turned out to be a very poor decision in retrospect - fielding a 'hitter' over an additional bowling option might have made sense if England were chasing; but they chose to bat. Jones' batting was never used (see below) and Wyatt's bowling might have been handy (although... again... see below).
  • If Jones was going to play, then why was Brindle - the least 'hitty' player in England's line-up - sent in ahead of her in the final overs, when hitting was what was needed? England had already fiddled with their order to send Sciver in ahead of Brindle - they should have done so again and given Jones a chance. Jones would have at least scored runs or gotten out, and the latter would have left England no worse off than they were to be anyway.
  • Brindle scored at less than a run a ball in those final overs, even though there was batting (Jones) still to come. She was just playing her game, the way she always does I guess, but her inability to adjust arguably lost England this match.
  • I suppose the coaches would argue that fielding Wyatt is illogical when she isn't bowling well - and she isn't bowling well, let's face it. The person England really needed to take some pace off at the death was Holly Colvin. She wasn't available, obviously... but whose fault is that? Not Holly's, that's for sure! But arguably the England management must bear some responsibility for failing to provide the feasible career-path that might just have kept her in the game and seen her take the field on this tour.
  • Finally, some good news for those who like a flutter - Siddy Power - the entirely fictional betting arm of this blog - is now paying out on Ellyse Perry as Player of the Series - congrats Ellyse!

Friday, 24 January 2014

Ellyse Perry & Arthur Milton - The Last Of The Dual Internationals?

You've probably never heard of Arthur Milton. He was a Gloucestershire batsman who made his debut in 1948, going on to score over 30,000 First Class runs in a career which spanned 4 decades, and playing a handful of Tests for England in the late 1950s.

But it was his 'other' career to which Milton owes his place as a footnote in history. In the early 50s, he spent his winters playing football on the right wing for Arsenal; and in 1951 he appeared for England in a single international -  a 2-2 draw against Austria at Wembely Stadium, playing alongside Billy Wright and one Alf Ramsey.

Milton's Test appearances and sole football 'cap' make him one of only 12 men to have played international cricket and football for England. The list includes legendary names like C.B. Fry and 'Tip' Foster; but Milton was the last. It has never happened since, and will probably never happen again.

This is not for want of talent in many cases - to cite just two of the better-known examples, both Phil Neville and Gary Lineker played high-level schoolboy cricket and would probably have played for England had they chosen that path.

But there's the rub - the demands of top-level professional sport mean you have to choose these days: cricket or football? One or the other?

I thought about Arthur Milton when I caught a brief shot of Ellyse Perry at the end of the 2nd ODI earlier this week. Although Australia had won, you wouldn't have known it from her expression, which looked more like the '1000 yard stare' associated with traumatized Vietnam veterans.

Some wondered if she was injured?

I think it was both more, and less, than that.

Like Milton, Perry is a dual-international. Just a few weeks ago she was playing professional football, getting hacked-to-pieces in Australia's ultra-competitive W-League; and now she has thrust herself into the furnace of an Ashes series.

When Perry began her dual-careers, they were semi-professional at best; but both games have become increasingly professionalized in the past half-decade, demanding ever-more commitment both on and off their fields of play. Perry's achievements have been remarkable, but are they sustainable in the new professional era?

Both sports are rumored to have asked Ellyse Perry to chose - a question she has even moved football teams to avoid answering - but perhaps the time has come when she must do so; taking consolation in the fact that she has done something that, in all probability, no one ever will again.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Women's Ashes 2nd ODI

Random reasons for England fans to be cheerful, despite Australia's first victory of this #WomensAshes:
  • England continue to be a T.E.A.M. - they aren't reliant on any one star; and every one of the top 6 has now scored a half-century on this tour. 
  • Runs for Knight and Taylor, who between them had scored just 34 in the series prior to today, are especially welcome news.
  • Kate Cross didn't get off to a great start, but she came back and bowled some good overs later. With the news that Katherine Brunt's injury is tour-ending, Cross is going to have an important role to play now.
  • Keeping the series alive wasn't just vital for Australia - it was a net positive for women's cricket in general. In fact, the interests of the game as a whole might just best be served by three more Aussie wins, leading to a dramatic climax in the final T20, which will be broadcast live on Free-To-Air TV in Australia, if not here in the UK :-(

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Age & Experience In The #WomensAshes

Age and experience matter in cricket - certain aspects of the game, like the bowling and playing of spin, can take years to master; and cricket does not penalize age to quite the extent that other sports do - losing your 'turn of speed' is for example much less problematic for a cricketer than for a footballer.

So how do England and Australia match-up in this Women's Ashes, looking at all the players who have played so far, in the Test and the 1st ODI?

When it comes to age, England and Australia are level-pegging. I have to admit that I wasn't expecting this - perhaps misled by the fact that Australia's stars Perry (23) and Lanning (21) are both relatively young compared to Edwards (34) and Brunt (28), I expected Australia to be a much younger side than England. In fact, while England's average age is 26, Australia's is only a year younger at 25.

When you factor-in experience though, it is a different story. I have commented previously that England play a lot more international cricket than anyone else; and that is reflected in the average number of 'caps' across all 3 formats.

Australia average 64 caps, while England are nearly twice as experienced with an average of 115 caps each.

I'm not suggesting that this explains everything about the way the series has gone so far... but it might explain something!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Women's Ashes 1st ODI

Random thoughts on the #WomensAshes ODI at the MCG -

  • You can't help but feel that Australia lost this match as much as England won it. The Southern Stars took a long time to get started, with the run-rate not creeping over 3 until the 38th over; and though they hit out at the end, they just didn't have the platform to post an imposing total.
  • The Ausies were also poor in the field. Brindle and Greenway had more lives than Sonic The Hedgehog. I thought this would be one area where the Australian's more professional setup would really start to show already, but so far it hasn't.
  • All credit to Greenway and Brindle though for one of those partnerships where you really wish the Player of the Match award could be cut in half and shared.
  • Brindle is actually lucky to be there, in a way - if either Winfield or Beaumont had taken their chances in the West Indies, she might have found herself watching from the sidelines; but she has proved her metal and shown once again that her nightmare at Lords last summer was just an aberration. 
  • Heather Knight's form is becoming a bit of a worry. Her hundred in the practice match at the start of the tour, and England's lack of credible alternatives, mean she isn't drinking in the Last Chance Saloon quite yet, but she's possibly walking in that direction again.
  • This is more of a hunch than a worked-through theory, but... Powerplays really don't work in women's cricket. I'm not sure they do any harm either... but their main contribution to the women's game seems to be to confuse and puzzle inexperienced commentators who are thinking in men's cricket terms and wondering why they haven't been taken full advantage of!

Saturday, 18 January 2014

The Women's International Cricket League #WICL Changes Everything

So it is now official - the Women's International Cricket League had arrived - and I honestly don't think it is exaggerating to say that this changes EVERYTHING!

If you want to find out more, I'll leave their fantastic brand new web site - - to do the talking on what exactly it's all about.

Suffice it to say that this is one of the most exciting developments in the history of the sport - the bold, ambitious investment in a serious, commercial future for the game, that we've been calling for so long.

It'll shake things up... it's bound to shake some people up too... but history isn't made by sitting around waiting for stuff to happen - it is made by doing. And WICL are doing!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

England Face Cross \ Brunt Dilemma in #WomensAshes

Martin Davies over at WCB expects England to go into next week's ODIs with an unchanged team.

I'm not so sure!

Taking 6 points from the Test was obviously a massive achievement, and they say you shouldn't change a winning team; but England's selectors have got to be concerned about a batting-order which collapsed to 32/3 in the first innings and 10/3 in the second.

The obvious solution would be to bring in an all-rounder -  Wyatt or (more likely) Elwiss - in place of a bowler; but this leaves the selectors with a massive headache. Assuming she is fit, Shrubsole will play, there's no doubt about that; but who do you drop between Brunt and Cross?

Katherine Brunt has led England's attack into battle on over 100 occasions; but right now, Katie Cross is in the sort of form that just can't be ignored, while Brunt had a pretty so-so Test match, even if you ignore the first-innings "red card".

It is a tough call to make though; and things only get more complicated for the selectors, because in theory Cross is going home for the T20 leg of the series, to be replaced by Tash Farrant, who is on the plane to Australia as I write.

I understand that there is nothing in the rules to prevent Cross staying on, despite not being named in the original squad; and there is a precedent for this - Heather Knight was not selected originally for the T20s last summer, but stayed on and played anyway.

(Cross probably won't thank me for mentioning this though - Knight's T20 jaunt culminated in a season-ending injury, which had her hobbling around on crutches for several months afterwards.)

My personal opinion is that Cross should play and stay. It is hard on Brunt, but that's top level sport - Cross seized a chance that I'll admit I didn't think she'd get, and she deserves a chance to finish the job she started in the Test of retaining those Women's Ashes.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

England Top Playing Time Table

The following table shows the number of days of cricket played since the 2013 World Cup.

Team T20 ODI Test* Total
England 10 8 8 26
West Indies 10 9 0 19
Sri Lanka 10 6 0 16
Pakistan 7 8 0 15
South Africa 6 8 0 14
Australia 3 3 8 14
Bangladesh 6 6 0 12
Ireland 5 6 0 11
New Zealand 4 3 0 7
India 3 3 0 6

* One Test = 4 Days

A table like this is never completely fair, of course: Ireland have just played their T20 WC warm-up tournament, whereas India are yet to do so; and Australia's situation is made to look more respectable only because they've played two Tests.

Nevertheless, I think it is instructive. England fans may kvetch about our team's place in the ECB pecking-order, but at least we are playing matches regularly - India haven't played a single game since last April; and since the WC, Australia have played the two Ashes series and nothing else.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

2014 Fixture Update - England Women v India

Although there still hasn't (as far as I'm aware) been any official announcement, a second Royal London ODI against India has crept in under the radar - at the Home of Cricket in London on August 25th 2014.

We now have two confirmed ODIs for India's tour:
  • 25 August 2014 - ODI v India @ Lords
  • 29 August 2014 - ODI v India @ Scarborough
(Presumably there is one more ODI to add to the list - if you spot it, let me know!)

The T20s which follow are:
  • 1 September - T20 v India @ Chelsford
  • 3 September - T20 v India @ Northampton
  • 7 September - T20 v India @ Edgbaston
UPDATE: Added T20 fixture info, via
Thanks to Martin Woodward for the heads-up on Lords; and Kev Wright for pointing out the T20s listed on

Monday, 13 January 2014

Womens Ashes Test Day 4

Random thoughts on the #WomensAshes -
  • Which idiot said Australia would win this game? 
  • Although Katherine Brunt remains the nominal leader of England's attack, and took the first over as usual today, for most of the past year it has been Anya Shrubsole who has looked the more dangerous. We saw that again today. Brunt opened, but it wasn't until Shrubsole came on that things... magic things... started to happen.
  • Ellyse Perry was deservedly MVP, but she looked absolutely knackered when she came on to the field at the end. The commentators kept asking why she hadn't bowled "earlier" / "sooner" / "before X", but she bowled more overs than anyone else on either side in this game, and was clearly suffering. 
  • England by contrast shared things round a bit more, and not being over-reliant on one player has got to be an advantage going forwards into the rest of this series, with less than a week until the ODIs.
  • At 3:56 this morning, former England player Beth Morgan tweeted Isa Guha: "Memories of Bowral Ish?" She was referring to England's last Test victory down-under back in 2008. Of course Beth and Isa both remember Bowral - they were on the field that day - but most of* the rest of us don't because those were the days when all the coverage you got was a next-day report hidden in a dark corner of Cricinfo. How brilliant is it that this time we will all remember, thanks to the wonderful live video provided by Cricket Australia? Hopefully they've set a precedent which the ECB can follow next summer... if SKY (who own exclusive rights to all cricket played in England, but seldom exercise those rights for women's cricket) will let them.
* Edit - see comments!

Sunday, 12 January 2014

The Match That Saved Test Cricket

Before this match concludes - before the joy of victory or the misery of defeat can color my judgement - I offer some thoughts on what this Test means for the future of the long-form game.

Women's Test cricket is in a bad way. In the past 5 years, just 4 Tests have been played, all of them between England and Australia; and you have to go all the way back to 2007 to find the last Test involving any of the other nations*.

And it wasn't just the quantity that was at issue, it was the quality too. As the game at Wormsley last summer petered-out into a bore-draw I found myself privately questioning whether the format had any future at all.

But now... oh boy! The past three days has been the most joyous sporting spectacle I've witnessed in many-a-year.

Yes, we've seen four (count 'em!) insane batting collapses, but they've been driven by quality bowling from the likes of Perry and Cross; and what's more, on three occasions so far, we've then seen the game subsequently wrestled back into balance, with bravery and fortitude from Brindle, Perry and Edwards.

By this time tomorrow, someone will have won and someone will have lost. Eleven women and their fans will be in heaven, while eleven other women and their fans will be somewhere else entirely! 

One thing is for sure though - we may never see another Test that doesn't involve England and Australia... but this game has guaranteed that Ashes Tests are here to stay!

(Though possibly with slightly fewer points attached! Somewhat counter-intuitively, the very closeness of this game makes it even less likely that the losing side can come back to win the series, due to the devastation they will inevitably feel in the wake of their defeat.)

* South Africa v The Netherlands in July 2007.

Womens Ashes Test Day 3

Random thoughts on the #WomensAshes:
  • Did someone tell Elyse Villani it was a T20 game? She had a let-off in the very first over as she tried to get 'em in boundaries, but she carried on and then paid the price. I guess that's just the way she plays?
  • Although she went on the last Ashes tour down-under, Katie Cross didn't get a game on that trip, and was later told by England Academy that she needed to buck her ideas up if she was ever going to make it in cricket. Ideas were bucked, and less than two years later I think we can hereby consider 'it' officially made!
  • That England recovered from 10/3 to set Australia a respectable target was quite an achievement, but I'd still have backed Australia, especially at 28/0 after six overs. It's England's to lose now though.
  • Don't tell him I said this... we don't want it going to his head... but Charles Dagnall is becoming a World Class cricket commentator, capital letters included! It isn't just that he's done his homework on women's cricket (though he has) but that he finds those linguistic nuances in the different adjectives which really reflect the subtleties of the game. I suspect we'll soon be losing him to the big city of "proper" cricket and I for one will be sorry to see him go.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Women's Ashes Test Day 2

Random thoughts, sponsored by Nescafe:
  • Katherine Brunt's dismissal for a 'second yellow card' felt desperately harsh. The rules are the rules; but they are there to prevent intimidation and KB was guilty of nothing more than trying too hard.
  • Although she bowled several maidens, I thought Jenny Gunn wasn't quite 'there', especially in the first session. Her game relies on keeping things very tight to take wickets, and it wasn't until after lunch that she found her lines at all; and even then she didn't actually look especially threatening, with the Stars happy to 'milk her for dots' knowing there was plenty of time left in the match.
  • With Australia 8-down after tea, I had half a thought that we'd be better-off holding back a bit so we wouldn't have to go out and bat again at the end of a long, hot day. In the light of what happened, it mightn't have been the worst idea in the world!
  • Lottie Edwards has long been fighting her own private Battle of Wounded Knee, so her injury is not the world's greatest surprise, unfortunately. It could be critical for the state of the series though - England need her for her captaincy as well as her batting, and every moment without her is a moment England could do without!
  • I saw a few comments on Twitter criticizing Cricket Australia's marketing efforts for the lack of local awareness in Perth, leading to empty stands at the WACA. I think this is unfair. Cricket Australia are doing a tremendous job marketing both the Southern Stars and the Women's National Cricket League, but with limited funds available you have to make some choices. Yes, we had great crowds in England last year, but it is worth bearing in mind that far more people are watching this game via the free live web feed (which is not cheap to run) than were in attendance at Wormsley or Chelmsford; and it's that kind of global awareness that women's cricket really needs.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Women’s Ashes Test Day 1

Random thoughts, brought to you in conjunction with coffee - a LOT of coffee:
  • England were quite aggressive in their selection. By fielding Katie Cross - an out-and-out bowler - ahead of the all-rounder Georgia Elwiss, they stated their intent to win the game, rather than just not lose it!
  • At 30-something-for-3 England might have been wondering if they had made the right decision on Cross/Elwiss; but Arran Brindle, whose classical, scholarly approach to her cricket is well-suited to the Test format, led the recovery.
  • Lydia Greenway also played well, I thought - although she didn’t make big runs, she played the innings she needed to play at that stage of the match.
  • I described Nat Sciver before as "a keeper" (as in, "we'll keep her"!) and her innings today totally underlined why.
  • This wasn’t the BEST day… but it wasn’t a total disaster in the end either: we recovered from the mini-collapse; Anya Shrubsole got those two fantastic late wickets; and Brunt, Shrubsole and Cross is a strong attack to take to the Southern Stars tomorrow.
  • The live feed on the Cricket Australia web site is great. It’s obviously done on a budget - hence no replays - but the picture quality is good, and there are enough cameras to catch most of the action - though the (apparently brilliant) catch that dismissed Brunt eluded them/us. 
  • I’m not sure I can take three more days of Aussie commentators spending half the time discussing men’s cricket though! (And Isa Guha needs to remember that she is talking to the audience, not the person next to her - I know your co-commentator hasn’t head this story before, Isa, but we have… three times now!)

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Live-Streaming The Women's Ashes Is Not A Favour - It's An Investment In A Professional Future For Our Game

Cricket Australia have confirmed that they will be live-streaming the Women's Ashes Test and ODIs via their web site. (The T20s are on TV anyway.)

The stream will also include synced-up radio commentary, which (I assume?) is being shared with TMS, so we'll even get to hear Daggers and co!

It's great news for fans, but further to yesterday's article it is important to understand that Cricket Australia aren't doing us a favour here - this isn't an act of charity - it's business!

As Tom Lehrer wrote of The Old Dope Peddler:

"He gives the kids free samples, because he knows full well; 
That today's young innocent faces will be tomorrow's clientele!" 

And that's exactly what is going on here - Cricket Australia are giving us a 'free sample' in the hope that more of us will get addicted and later pay for it!

It's what all businesses do - it's called investing - spending money now to build up the fan-base that they hope will one day pay them back!

And yes, one day I'll have to get my credit card out and fork-out for a live stream. But that will be a good day, because the money I hand over will be creating a sustainable, professional future for our game.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Women's Cricket Needs To Beak Its Cycle Of Poverty

Isabelle Duncan has written a lengthy piece for All Out Cricket chronicling the barely-professional state of the women's game.

Responding to the retirement of Holly Colvin, Duncan writes:
I implore the powers that be to balance the scales [vis-a-vis the men's game] and give these talented women a decent wage with security and peace of mind for the future.
Although I think Duncan's heart is in the right place, I think this is somewhat missing the point - we shouldn't be imploring the ECB for charitable handouts; we should be looking for ways to build a sport that is actually self-sustaining from a commercial perspective.

This is where I think the ECB are getting things spectacularly wrong with their focus on participation.

Participation is a laudable goal, for sure, and is important to the long-term success of the England team; but unless we marry this with a business strategy, we are never going to move on and break our current cycle of poverty. Because, in short, participation doesn't pay the bills!

There are at least two far more business-like approaches currently being attempted.

In South Africa the women's national game has gone 'all in' with a big sponsor - Momentum - who are working hand-in-hand with them over the long-term to build a commercially successful sport.

Meanwhile in Australia they've made a fantastic effort to commercialize and market not just the "Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars" but the domestic WNCL competitions too, with sponsors being brought on board on a team-by-team basis, paying not only player's expenses, but a small match fee on top; plus cool 'white ball' uniforms which fans will want to buy and wear.

This is how you build a game which can give the top players the rewards we all want them to have; not by begging for charity from the men's game, while we don't even have a sponsor for our county championship.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Women's Ashes Selection (Updated!)

We shouldn't read too much into England's teamsheet for the Shooting Stars game, especially as they seem to be doing a pick'n'mix, with one XI batting and another bowling.

In the 'Nothing to see here!' column, the selection of Amy Jones to keep wicket (one would assume) suggests that they are worried about Sarah Taylor's back... but they are always worried about Sarah Taylor's back, so there is nothing new there - she will keep in the Test!

Similarly, the omission of Anya Shrubsole hints at injury concerns there too, but I will be amazed if she doesn't play. (EDIT: Anya has said on Twitter that she will bowl on Day 2 anyway!)

The absence of Danni Wyatt and the inclusion of Georgia Elwiss, however, would seem to be significant. I had backed Wyatt to play on the basis of an ECB article; but a couple of people commented that I was reading too much into it, and there was no way England would play two spinners in Perth. It looks like they were right, and Elwis will play ahead of Wyatt.

(I think playing Elwiss makes sense too, and not just because of the spin/seam thing - Wyatt's skill-set is more suited to the limited overs game, especially her 'bish, bosh, bash' batting.)

My updated guess at the team for the Test would therefore be:
  1. Edwards
  2. Knight
  3. Taylor
  4. Greenway
  5. Brindle
  6. Sciver
  7. Wyat Elwiss
  8. Gunn
  9. Hazel
  10. Brunt
  11. Shrubsole

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Women's Ashes Selection - 3 Gaps To Fill

With the Shooting Stars warm-up game just around the corner, it's time to talk teams!

At either end of England's order, we have 3 nailed-on selections and one highly likely:
  1. Edwards
  2. Knight
  3. Taylor
  4. Greenway
  8. Gunn
  9. Hazel
  10. Brunt
  11. Shrubsole
This leaves 3 gaps to fill in the middle of the order, from amongst Brindle, Sciver, Winfield, Wyatt and Elwiss. (Neither Jones nor Cross are likely to play unless there are injuries to Taylor or Brunt / Shrubsole.)

An article on the ECB's web site strongly hints that Danni Wyatt has found her bowling boots once again and will fill one of these spots as the second spinner - her selection assisted by the fact that she can bat handily down the order.

The Number 5 batsman comes down to a choice between Brindle and Winfield - a race which I suspect Brindle will win on experience.

This leaves Elwiss and Sciver fighting it out for the final place on the team-sheet. With Elwiss having not played international cricket for the best part of a year, Nat Sciver is (in rugby parlance) the 'man in possession' so my guess is that her's will be that final name.

Likely team:
  1. Edwards
  2. Knight
  3. Taylor
  4. Greenway
  5. Brindle
  6. Sciver
  7. Wyat
  8. Gunn
  9. Hazel
  10. Brunt
  11. Shrubsole