Sunday, 29 June 2014

Royal London Cup: Berkshire v Middlesex

Heather Knight made her first real "score" of the county season as Berkshire beat Middlesex by 5 wickets on a sunny Sunday in Wokingham.

Put into bat, Middlesex started strongly, with openers Helena Stolle (29) and Natasha Miles (41) putting on 83 for the first wicket; but Berkshire's bowlers were on top from then on, with Fi Morris taking 3/17, as Middlesex ended all out on 173, with only Beth Morgan (22) putting up much resistance in the later overs.

In reply, Berkshire's captain Heather Knight took a long time to get going - she was still on just 10 when Corinne Hall became the second of Maia Bouchier's 3 victims, with The Beavers looking perhaps in a little trouble at 36/3.

However, with Middlesex's attack depleted by the loss of Izzy Westbury to a shoulder injury, sustained whilst batting earlier in the day, Knight and Amanda Potgieter (38) took Berkshire to 120 before Potgieter was well bowled by Sophia Dunkley. But with Knight looking increasingly confident, playing largely straight down the ground as is her wont, Berkshire got home by 5 wickets, with 8 overs to spare - Knight finishing on 66*.

It is worth noting one other significant contributor to the day's affairs - Ms Extras, who made a whopping 69 runs over the two innings, 52 of them coming in wides, including a couple of 4s. I'm not sure I'd go quite so far as to say that the 35 wides Middlesex conceded cost them the game, but they certainly didn't help!

Saturday, 21 June 2014

WICL: The Case Against - Keeping Women In Their Place

As we all know by now, the ECB don't want their cricketers playing in the WICL. But why? What is the case against? It seems to come down to this:
  1. It's a private company.
  2. Er...
  3. That's it!
Pretty-much the only case anyone has been able to make against the WICL is that it is a private company.

And much as I applaud multi-millionaire Giles Clarke's sudden conversion to radical communism and the abolition of private property, I'm having a hard time believing it!

Lizzy Ammon has gone slightly further here (in an otherwise supportive piece) by suggesting that a private company might threaten the "reputation of the game" and hinting that a private company might carry more risk of corruption; but if Clarke is really worried about malfeasance, he'd be better off doing more to tackle actual, proven corruption in the men's game, rather than railing about possible corruption in a women's tournament that hasn't actually happened yet!

So, what's the real truth? I guess like most things in life, it's about power. Power to control the women's game, and ensure that it doesn't become financially competitive with men's cricket. It's about keeping women 'in their place' on the sidelines, earning pocket-money salaries that Clarke himself wouldn't get out of bed for. That's why Clarke really opposes the WICL. And oddly enough... that's why I support it!

Monday, 16 June 2014

Royal London Cup: Middlesex v Surrey

Middlesex beat Surrey by 4 wickets on an inclement day in north London.

Surrey, put into bat on a mizzly morning, looked to be in real trouble as they slumped to 93/8, but a 9th-wicket stand of 84 between Catherine Robson and New Zealander Rachel Candy dragged them up to 177 off their 50 overs.

Middlesex replied slowly, and at the half-way point looked to be falling a bit short, finding themselves at 79/5 after 25 overs; but former England star Beth Morgan became the difference between the two teams as she swiped her way to 79* from 91 balls. It wasn't the prettiest innings, but it was mighty effective and took Middlesex past their target with 2 overs to spare.

It has to be said that Surrey missed the bowling of Nat Sciver, who spent much of the game fielding on the boundary and looking none too happy about it, apparently at the behest of the ECB. I know that the contracted players are England's first and foremost, but it is a pity that when the fans do turn up to county games, they don't get to see the stars make a full contribution.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Edwards, Knight & Taylor To Play Aussie State Cricket

Giles 'Mystic Meg' Clarke may have told England's contracted players that there's no WICL in their future this winter; but three of our biggest stars have been handed a rather nice consolation prize - the chance to play state cricket in Australia's WNCL.

Sarah Taylor will keep wicket for the South Australia Scorpions; Heather Knight will be stepping out for the Tasmanian Roar; while Charlotte Edwards will captain the Western Fury.

The WNCL is arguably a much more challenging environment for these top players than English domestic cricket; so not only will the three teams involved benefit, but the players will too.

The England stars won't quite be playing a full season - they are scheduled to return home at Christmas, so they'll miss the chance to play in the WNCL finals in February.

But my real hope is that this is part of a deal with Cricket Australia which will see some Southern Stars playing in our own Women's County Championship prior to next year's Women's Ashes in England. (In which case... I call dibs on Meg Lanning for Berkshire right now!)

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Super 3s 3rd OD In Brief, Plus What Have We Learned?

In a match reduced to 20-overs by torrential rain, Charlotte Edwards' Rubies beat Heather Knight's Sapphires by 8 wickets.

With the Sapphires put into bat, Knight made a run-a-ball 42, but everyone else found runs hard to come by as the Sapphires totalled-out at just 88 from their 20 overs.

The Rubies then knocked them off in less than 12 overs, with Lottie hitting 50 off 39 and... stop me if you've heard this before... everyone else finding runs hard to come by.

So what have we learned from this years Super 3s?

Well... Lyd and Lottie can bat - they topped the averages to the surprise of absolutely nobody! Danni Wyatt didn't have too bad a time with the blade either - averaging 40-odd. (I haven't seen Wag play this year, but I've heard good things from more than one person who has, which is great news for England fans!)

The bowling numbers are a bit more interesting, with Rebecca Grundy leading the way with 10 wickets, ahead of Alex Hartley and Steph Butler, both with 8. But whether any of them will get much of a look-in over the more established names when the England teams to play India and South Africa are announced remains to be seen. (My guess is not!)

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

WICL: Clarke Comes Out Swinging

Giles Clarke came out swinging this morning, and sadly for Shaun Martyn and Lisa Sthalekar of the WICL, it wasn't that sort of out... or that sort of swinging!

The ECB's press release was hard-hitting and aggressive, with Clarke and corner-man Clare Connor coming out 100% against the WICL.

Connor's emphatic opposition to the project was something of a surprise to me, as she had previously expressed a much more positive public stance.

Clare Connor's position just a few months ago: an "exciting addition" to the calendar.

Head Honcho Giles Clarke (who is clearly leading the charge on this one) claims that "there is no support or interest for this proposed event" but I can assure him that there is plenty of both among the fans and the players.

Clarke, who made his millions at that well-known charitable institution Majestic Wines, then goes on to criticise the WICL for being a "privately run competition" as if: (a) that made a difference to anything; and (b) he would never do anything for money.

A completely random picture of Giles Clarke. (No idea who the other bloke is.)

To say I'm disappointed is an understatement; but I suspect my feelings are nothing compared to those of the players who are being denied the chance to participate in the WICL - the kind of opportunity men's cricket players take for granted, as they earn their six-figure-sums from their Big Bashes and their IPLs.

Will any of the England players rebel? Maybe not - people generally don't when you hold a gun to their head. But let there be no doubt that this is exactly what the ECB are doing.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Super 3s 2nd OD In Brief

Same Bat's "favourite player never to have played for England" - Sonia Odedra - had a day-to-remember with the ball, taking 5-42 as the Emeralds beat the Sapphires by 49 runs.

With Jenny Gunn rested (injured?) Lydia Greenway took the helm for the Emeralds and batted a captain's innings of 93, before being stumped by Amara Carr off the bowling of Sapphires skipper Heather Knight, with the Emeralds finishing on 312/4.

In reply, Heather Knight made 69 and Georgia Adams 87; but from 192/0 the Sapphires were sent back one-by-one by Odedra, who saw off Knight, Adams, Wilson, Elwiss and Dibble, to leave the Sapphires closing on 263/6, 49 runs short of their target.

Monday, 2 June 2014

WICL An Unprecedented Opportunity

Along with a couple of other prominent bloggers, I spent the best part of two hours today chatting with Shaun Martyn - one of the two people behind the WICL, the other of course being Southern Stars legend Lisa Sthalekar. (Edit: See Martin's full write-up here!)

With negotiations on-going, an awful lot of what was said was 'off the record', but I can tell you this:

The WICL offers an unprecedented opportunity for the players we love.

All of the players, from the stars to the journeymen, stand to make real money from the WICL. You've no doubt heard about the big names earning $40,000; but WICL have also made an unparalleled promise to pay all the players a minimum of $5,000 upwards for appearing. (That's $5,000 (USD) to take home too - all expenses and local taxes will be paid outside of that!) That's huge for players outside of the not-that-gilded elite, most of whom have never earned a penny from cricket.

It's a revolutionary move, which reflects the WICL's clear determination to do right by the long-under-remunerated players, without whom there wouldn't be a game! They deserve this opportunity, and that's why the WICL has to be given a chance.