Friday, 14 November 2014

Women's Ashes - Points of Order

The schedule for next summer's Women's Ashes has been announced, together with some significant tweaks to the format.

So... here are the deets:

Date Format Venue Win Draw
July 21 ODI The County Ground, Taunton 2 1
July 23 ODI Bristol County Ground 2 1
July 26 ODI New Road, Worcester 2 1
August 11-14 Test The Spitfire Ground, Canterbury 4 2
August 26 T20 Essex County Ground, Chelmsford 2 N/A
August 28 T20 County Ground, Hove 2 N/A
August 31 T20 SWALEC Stadium, Cardiff 2 N/A

There's actually quite a lot to digest here, so let's break it down!

It's great that the schedule has been announced so early - fans do need time to make their travel arrangements and book their hotels, so it is fantastic that the ECB are at last recognizing that their are women's cricket fans who want to plan ahead!

Not only that, but all of the games are taking place at proper county grounds, designed to cater for bigger crowds. (Sorry Wormsley - you are lovely, but...) Sadly, there's no Lords on the agenda; but you can't have everything I guess; and I accept that there are some draw-backs (not least financial ones) to half-opening the Home of Cricket for women's games, even if it is The Ashes.

Now on to the changes in format!

Firstly, the Test has been moved to the middle of the series. My understanding is that this was mostly driven by TV scheduling, and the need to find a window which didn't clash with any of the men's games; but I think it is nonetheless a positive move in terms of not front-loading the Big Points.

And secondly... about those Big Points: the Test will now be worth just 4 points, rather than the previous 6. The value of the Test will be argued long and hard by fans, as it has been by the administrators, so I'm told! And the bottom line is that most of us agree that the Test probably should be worth 6 points "philosophically"; but practically this makes the series too unbalanced and I think 4 is therefore a good compromise.

Finally, SKY have announced that the whole caboodle - Test and all - will be broadcast live and in full. I'm not SKY's biggest fan, but you have to give them some credit here, as well as the ECB for nudging away at them to take up the rights they've paid for and give the game the exposure it deserves.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

South Africa Face India Test

The BCCI have announced that in addition to their Women's International Championship ODI face-off, South Africa and India will play a one-off Test this November.

This will be the first time since 2007 that a women's Test has been played which didn't involve either England or Australia, so it is pretty big news - women's Test cricket looked to be in a critical condition two years ago, but the efforts of the EBC/CA have breathed new life into it, and now the BCCI/CSA are following-suit.

Of course, whether the BCCI's motivations are entirely altruistic is a question which sometimes has to be asked!

Were I a cynical man, I might suggest that India stand to benefit most directly from playing their strongest format first, and tiring the Women Proteas small squad out over 4 days, prior to their crucial 12-Pointer* WIC series.

But I'm not a cynical man... not today anyway! So for now, let's just celebrate the addition of another Test to the women's international calendar, and wish good luck to all involved!

* Although only 6 points are a stake, because India and South Africa are effectively battling it out for 4th place in the WIC, there are 6 points more for the winner, but also 6 points fewer for the loser - hence the term "12-Pointer". (See here for a definition of the more traditional term "6-pointer" as applied to football.)

Sunday, 2 November 2014

South African Stars to Play Domestic Cricket in England in 2015

South African all-rounder Dane van Niekerk will play domestic cricket in England next summer.
21-year-old DvN is one of the brightest up-coming talents in world cricket right now. A genuine all-rounder, who would be picked for South Africa on her batting or her leg-spin bowling alone, she shone in the T20s in England back in September, top-scoring for the Women Proteas, with over 100 runs in the three-match series, and bowling beautifully, getting real turn and healthy economy.

Her scorecards from South Africa's recent series in Sri Lanka were similarly exciting. With TWO Man of the Match performances - one a 4/17; and the other a 70 not-out, off just 68 balls - she basically took home the T20 silverware single-handed!

And... rumor has it that DvN isn't the only South African star heading to England next summer either - more on that one soon hopefully, when it's official too!