Friday, 30 January 2015

Why Knight & Edwards Should Open In T20

On the Women's Cricket Blog Audiocast, Martin Davies argues that Nat Sciver should open the T20 batting for England. I can see the logic - open with your biggest hitters to get off to a flyer - the "pinch hitter" strategy.

The problem is that the numbers really don't support the theory of Sciver in that role. Here are England's T20I Strike Rates for the past two years:

Holly Colvin7140
Anya Shrubsole11138
Arran Brindle8121
Heather Knight12106
Charlotte Edwards20105
Lauren Winfield11102
Sarah Taylor21101
Natasha Farrant7100
Beccy Grundy6100
Lydia Greenway2099
Jenny Gunn2192
Nat Sciver2290
Susie Rowe288
Dani Hazell2284
Danni Wyatt1683
Amy Jones872
Tammy Beaumont1072
Jodie Dibble10

As we can see, ignoring the obvious non-starters, the leading candidates are... Heather Knight and Charlotte Edwards; while Nat Sciver languishes some way down the order, despite having had 22 matches in the past two years to prove herself. 

I believe that, in the absence of a genuine Alyssa Healy-style "bully", England have to open with their best two batsmen; and when those best two batsmen also happen to have the highest strike-rates... then it really is a no-brainer!

Monday, 26 January 2015

Wyatt Still Hopeful Of Bowling

The England selectors have made it pretty clear that Danni Wyatt's seat on the plane to New Zealand next month is as a "batter" (sic.!) and as such it is well-deserved - she scored over 500 county runs last summer, at an average of 42; and she was a crucial part of the Notts team which triumphed in the T20 Cup.

With the ball, though, it has been a different story. As a bowler, Wyatt has had a rough couple of years, following back problems which came to a head in 2013, culminating in a wicketless tour of the Caribbean, which seemed to seal her fate as an international spinner.

But she still harbours hopes of adding to her 70-odd international wickets, and having remodelled her bowling action, she has told the Nottingham Post that she still believes she has something to offer.

"It's been hard work remodelling my action, but I'm looking forward to testing it out in New Zealand."

With Marsh and Grundy coming back - not to mention Hazel and Knight in the mix too - England suddenly have a lot of spin options going for them... and that's even before A Certain Someone makes her come-back next summer... but Wyatt is nothing if not a fighter, so it will be interesting to see!

Sunday, 25 January 2015

2015 Champions League Final - Match Report

(Warning - the following may be a figment of my sleep-deprived imagination!)

Australia's New South Wales Breakers have won the inaugural 2015 Women's Champions' League in style, after convincingly beating England's Kent in the final at Lords.

As we know, the Breakers cruised into this final, thrashing New Zealand's Auckland Hearts by 9 wickets; while Kent scraped through against India's Railways, winning a rain-affected match by 3 runs on Duckworth Lewis.

Having won the toss, Kent captain Charlotte Edwards chose to bat, and her and Tammy Beaumont made a solid defensive start, reaching the 10-over mark without loss, but with just 17 runs on the board. When Beaumont eventually fell in the 16th over, LBW to Sarah Jane Coyte for a painstaking 7, it brought Lydia Greenway to the crease. Greenway upped the rate a bit, putting up a stand of 93 with Edwards; but it was the returning Elyse Perry who eventually made the breakthrough, with Greenway caught at deep fine leg, getting a top edge attempting to sweep the Aussie quick one too many times. Edwards reached her hundred in the 39th over, but was run-out shortly afterwards attempting to up the rate; and Kent eventually closed on 203/9, with Perry the pick of the bowlers, ending with 4 wickets for 19.

Chasing 204 to win, the Breakers got off to a flyer, with Haynes and Healy both racing to quick-fire half-centuries within 15 overs. When Healy finally holed-out on the long-on boundary for 64, it brought captain Alex Blackwell to the crease. With no scoreboard pressure, Blackwell and Haynes could sit back and pick off the not-infrequent bad balls, and by the time Haynes was unluckily given out for 89 - LBW to fellow leftie Tash Farrant - a delivery which replays clearly showed was missing by a mile - the Breakers needed just 22 more; and fittingly it was Man-of-the-Match Elyse Perry who hit the winning runs; as the Breakers brought it home with 14 overs to spare,

It was a sobering lesson for English cricket fans, who were forced to accept that they just can't compete with Australia for the quality of their domestic game. With the best English players spread out across twenty-odd counties in the two top divisions, the talent is just too thinly distributed; and unless things radically change, this wonderful new "Connor-Clarke" trophy is destined to remain elsewhere for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

New CRICKETher Podcast - England Squad For New Zealand

Raf Nicholson & Syd Egan look forward to England's tour to New Zealand in the new CRICKETher podcast.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Softball? No Thanks!

Over at The Telegraph, Scyld Berry thinks we should be making some changes to women's cricket:

[The ECB should] devise a semi-hard ball for girls and women so they can participate in mass numbers and ensure the sport’s future in Britain... Cricket in Britain needs females to play in mass numbers if the sport is not going to become a middle-class niche, as it seems otherwise destined to be.

I'm all for tweaking the game to make it more appealing for players and spectators, but this is going to far! A semi-hard ball? Relay throws? Basically... he wants to turn women's cricket into softball!

The implication here is that women and girls are put off playing because of the hard ball; but here's the thing: recent tragedy aside, cricket is one of the safest things you can do!

If you want danger, ride a horse...

... or play netball! (Yes, really!)

... or cross a road!

... or cross me by suggesting stupid changes to our game... because then I'll show you exactly where you can stick your semi-hard ball!!