Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Foreign Stars Could Halt Spanish Footballisation

It was a wet weekend in the Women's County Championship Royal London One Day Cup, but not wet enough to stop Kent continuing to make my theory of the Spanish Footballisation of English women's cricket look like something of an understatement as they took Warwickshire to the cleaners, the butchers and the undertakers, winning by 10 wickets, with only Amy Jones providing any kind of resistance for The Bears.

Is it any wonder that we see Heather Knight admitting that the best a team like Berkshire can hope for is to come third?

We need to find a way to balance things out; and I wonder if one answer might be for the various boards to provide a proper framework for genuine foreign stars to come and play in England over our summer.

It's true that we have some overseas players in the championship, and they are welcome additions to the scene, but I'm talking about superstars - the Lannings, Dottins and Mithalis of this world, who might actually make a difference - dragging the "normally aspirated" teams up to a competitive level with the turbocharged "big two" and maybe even pulling-in a few more spectators for Double-Bonus Brownie Points™.

Rumour has it that at least one county did try to pull-off such a coup this season, but it fell down because they were dealing with the player herself - not even an agent - and it appears to have simply gotten too complicated at her end so she pulled out! So what is needed is for the boards to step-up and devise a framework under which this kind of arrangement can happen easily, with everyone knowing exactly where they stand through the process.

It could be a win for everybody, with the foreign stars getting some cricket over their off-season (but not so much it breaks them) and the Royal London Cup becoming a more attractive, competitive proposition.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Thank You!

With the cricket squelched off* in Berkshire yesterday, I retired to The Walter Arms in the honoured company of the Twitterati of women's cricket, among them: @RafNicholson, @wmnscricketblog, @DonMiles13 and @uk_crunch.

We enjoyed a couple of hours shooting the cheese (sic!) about the women's game, so if you are a player or administrator and your ears were burning between about 12 and 2 pm... sorry about that!

But rest assured, there was one conclusion we all agreed on: we love women's cricket!

We love the players who thrill us on the field; and we are eternally grateful to the coaches, scorers and administrators who make it all possible with their (in many cases unpaid) work behind the scenes.

So... from us to you, we have just one thing to say; and it's so important, I'm going to say it on behalf of us all, in really big letters:


* It was actually a beautiful day, but rain earlier in the week had left the bowlers' run-ups in a dangerous state of 'squelchiness'!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Super 3s 1st OD In Brief

Emeralds v Rubies

Charlotte Edwards' Rubies beat Jenny Gunn's Emeralds by 4 wickets in the first One Day trail at Loughborough.

England spinner Danielle Hazel had her batting boots on for the Emeralds, hitting 71 off 76 balls; but no one else could muster more than 20, as the Emeralds were bowled out for 156, with Steph Butler and Alex Hartley taking 3 wickets each for the Rubies.

In the Rubies' reply,  Edwards fell early to Rebecca Grundy, who ended with impressive figures of 4/15 from her 10 overs. But nonetheless the Rubies cruised to victory, making the target with 9 overs to spare, with Nat Sciver top-scoring on 44 and Loz Winfield (34) and Georgia Adams (33*) also in the runs.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Super 3s T20s In Brief

Game 1 - Emeralds v Rubies

In-form Georgia Hennessy top-scored for the Emeralds with 36, as they made a run-a-ball 120/4. Rebecca Grundy then took 3/8 in her 4 overs as the Rubies fell away to finish on 104/7, with Paige Scholfield top-scoring with 46.

Game 2 - Sapphires v Emeralds

Hennessy starred again in Game 2, taking 3/14 as the Sapphires slipped to just 86 all out. The Emeralds then made the runs in less than 10 overs, with Hennessy making 26 and Danni Wyatt top-scoring on 35*.

Game 3 - Rubies v Sapphires

Charlotte Edwards led the way with 75 off 55 balls, and Tammy Beaumont contributed 42, as the Rubies made a huge 163/3. The Sapphires made a game of it, largely thanks to Fran Wilson's 68, but it wasn't enough and they finished on 139/7.

Full scorecards here!

Sunday, 11 May 2014

National Press Round-Up

With the start of a new county season last weekend, I took a look at the national press to see how they are covering domestic women's cricket.

(NB Recycling the ECB's Super 3s Press Release doesn't count as "coverage"!)

BBC Web Site: Nothing.

Sky Sports Web Site: Nothing.

The Guardian: Nothing.

The Daily Mail: Nothing

The Telegraph: (Go on - guess!) That's right - nothing!

Now... it could be just me reading too much into the data, but... I'm sensing some kind of pattern here!

To be fair, there has been some coverage in the local press - rounds of applause go to (for example) The Leicester Mercury and The North Devon Journal. (Oddly, lower-division sides seem to be better-served by the local press than the top-tier teams.)

But in the nationals... for all their self-congratulatory articles about how women's cricket is 'on the up'... the actual coverage of anything below international level is basically non-existent.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

County Web Sites

A week after the first matches of the season, I thought I'd see whether some of the top county web sites had been updated with the latest news.

Berkshire - my local team - are the only Division 1 side not to be part of a professional men's setup, so we can cut them a bit of slack; but even so, their web site has not been updated since August last year.

Kent have updated their site for 2014, and they list the fixtures; but there is no news from last week's games. To be fair, Kent do have a very active Twitter account for the women's team, so there's a bonus brownie-point for that! (Update: There is also a write-up in the news section of the web site - so more bonus brownie-points there too! HT @stumpedblog.)

Yorkshire have similarly updated their site for 2014, but it contains only a very general overview and no news. (There was no news of the women's team in the main 'News' section either.)

Sussex have a very professional setup for their women's team. (I think they are the only team with a fully-professional women's coach???) And like Kent, they do "do" Twitter quite well; but their web site hasn't been updated since prior to last summer's finals days, even though they won the championship!

As we can see, the results of my survey show that several counties are a bit "all out for 80" on this one!

Without wishing to sound like a broken record, I can't help feeling that part of the problem is our 'small fish in a big pond' status. All of these web sites are 'sub-sites' of the corresponding men's team; so they are managed by people for whom women's cricket is a pretty low priority. For example, neither Sussex nor Yorkshire appear (?) to have a link off the main "men's" home page; and I had to resort to Google to find them!

But if we are serious about trying to promote the women's domestic game... and Lottie seems to think that we are... then we need to do better!

Friday, 9 May 2014

ECB Go Full 1984 For Supers

In their latest press release, the ECB get excited about the "Supers" which begin this weekend in Loughborough, pitting the top England players against each other in a short, sweet series of T20 and OD matches.

I quite like the concept of this competition, and Clare Connor is absolutely right when she says it is important because it bridges the gap (more of a yawning chasm, if we're honest) between domestic and international cricket.

But it's this quote that I found most... er... 'interesting':

"Over the years the competition has been very effective in unearthing fresh new talent, with the likes of Natasha Farrant and Natalie Sciver being the most recent examples of players who have performed well in Super 3s and as a result been called up to the England Women’s team."

[My emphasis!]

Really ECB? Because that's not quite how I remember it!

I do remember a competition called the 'Super 4s' which has been going, on-and-off, for several years; and which last year was down-graded to Super 3½s  - with a schoolboy team making up the numbers.

This year, not only has it been down-graded again, but the ECB are now trying to pretend it was always a Super 3s.

As George Orwell wrote in 1984: "Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia."

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Royal London Cup: Middlesex v Kent

Kent made it 2-from-2 this weekend as they beat Middlesex on a sunny Bank Holiday Monday in Edmonton, north London.

Kent batted first, and it was all about Charlotte Edwards as the England skipper raced to 44, with Tammy Beaumont still in single-figures when Lottie was brilliantly run out by Anna Nicholls' direct hit from cover-point.

The run-rate then slowed down distinctly as Beaumont and Lydia Greenway dug in to take Kent past the hundred mark by drinks; with TB reaching her second half-century of the weekend, before being caught the next ball. Laura Marsh (who batted but did not bowl) also followed her to the fifty mark as Kent closed on 231.

Middlesex's reply began solidly enough, with Helena Stolle and Natasha Miles 44/0 after 10 overs; but they had slowed to 69/0 after 20; and when the wickets started to fall thereafter their challenge began to falter. However, some strong hitting Anna Nicholls (41) towards the end brought Middlesex up to a respectable 197 before they were all out; although this was somewhat abetted by the fact that Kent spent the final overs of the game with just 10 players on the field, with Charlotte Pape in hospital with a dislocated finger and Deanna Cooper on the boundary having twisted her ankle fielding the ball.

It was doubtless a disappointing day for Middlesex but not a dispiriting one; and their young amateur team can feel proud of their showing against the seasoned pros from Kent.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Cricket Australia Issue WICL Spoiler

In a move straight out of Business 101, Cricket Australia have issued a classic 'spoiler' story aimed squarely at the WICL.

(No... we don't mean they've told everyone who's going to win - we'll leave that one to the [REDACTED FOR LEGAL REASONS].)

In business, a 'spoiler' is when you announce a product you don't actually have yet, in order to unsettle a competitor or their customers. That is exactly what is going on here on the Official Cricket Australia web site, under the headline 'CA to launch Women's BBL'.

The headline says 'launch' but the story frankly admits that they don't actually have anything concrete to launch - they've shoehorned-in an old quote from Ellyse Perry, and roped-in a couple of other players to re-tweet their link, giving the announcement an air of authenticity, but the actual story here is clear.

The timing is the real give-away - the WICL have just begun a big drive for sponsors and broadcasters; and only now do Cricket Australia push this out. It is a transparently dismal attempt to unsettle the WICL's potential partners, by raising the possibility that something even bigger may be just around the corner, reducing the value of the WICL's proposition to the brands and TV companies they are currently wooing.

No doubt the 'Women's BBL' story will be repeated in every newspaper across the cricketing land - trumpeted as a victory for women's cricket and women's sport in general; but I for one am calling it for what it is: deeply cynical and disappointing behaviour by Cricket Australia.