It's hard to believe that the RLWODCCC is over already - not half way through August! I guess this new calendar makes sense, in that it allows the England players to participate in the entire caboodle; but it is still a private disappointment that I have to wait until NEXT YEAR to see another county match!
I've come to love watching the domestic game from up-close on the boundary. Earlier in the summer I attended a day of the men's Test v Sri Lanka at Lords, and while the view from yeigh-high in the stands was fantastic, the whole experience was also slightly disorienting. Where I really wanted to be was up by the rope, somewhere around deep backward point, sitting on my deck-chair with the grass under my feet!
It was fantastic to be proved completely wrong (at least for the moment) about the Spanish Footballisation of women's county cricket! (I predicted that one impact of professionalism would be a two-horse, Barca/Madrid style race for the championship between Kent and Sussex; with everyone else fighting it out for third.) However, it does have to be said that the failure of my prediction was mostly because it was more of a one-horse race this year, as Kent swept all before them in the 50-over competition.
Sussex's implosion in the final third of the championship was certainly unexpected, but in retrospect not entirely inexplicable - retirements, injuries and ECB directives for contracted players not to bowl/ bat/ keep - all took their toll. But they'll be back; and I certainly wouldn't rule out my Spanish Footballisation prediction over the longer term, with the fantastic support that Sussex get from their "brother" club down on the south coast, including the most professional coaching setup in the women's domestic game.
At the nether-end of the table, Essex were relegated, and Warwickshire look likely to join them. I saw Warwickshire play Berkshire in the final round... or more accurately, Warwickshire play Heather Knight, who scored a century and took a fifer... and it wasn't pretty - with players standing disinterested in the outfield; and in one case completely ignoring a fielding opportunity because the girl in question was too busy grouching to her (boy?)friend on the boundary that she hadn't had a bowl yet!
My local team, Berkshire, ended up a creditable third - though partly
because two of their most difficult games (Sussex and Kent) were
cancelled; and I feel compelled to admit that the T20s (where they
scraped through the relegation play-offs) are perhaps a fairer
reflection of where they stand.
Finally, my 'Team of the Year' would have to be Middlesex
- one of only two all-amateur outfits in the championship - who proved
what you can achieve by being "A TEAM" - rather than a
collection of individuals who happen to turn up at the same ground on
the same day! Much credit for this must go to Beth Morgan, their Captain
Fantastic, for building a team spirit that is clearly unmatched
elsewhere; and I can't wait to see how they build on this next year - I'm looking forward to it already!