Saturday, 28 February 2015

Sciver Delivers

If England's Nat Sciver is looking at her career options after cricket, she should consider pizza... because today she proved that she really can deliver!

England needed 120-odd when Sciver entered the fray in the 25th over; and with 4 wickets down, New Zealand probably felt they had England's tail in sight.

Sarah Taylor... who seems by all accounts back to her nonchalant brilliant best... took England a little closer; but when she fell, that was the key moment for Sciver. England still required over 60. Yes, there were overs in-hand, but the pressure was on - a tail-end collapse would have felt all-too-familiar to England fans; but Sciver stood up and was counted, closing-out the victory on 65 not-out, with a hat-full of overs to spare.

So Aussies beware - Nat's back on track!

Now... bring on the summer, and some games I can actually watch!!

Friday, 27 February 2015

Clark: 2-to-3 Overseas For WBBL

Belinda Clark, the former Australian captain, now a senior administrator at Cricket Australia, has been speaking to the BBC about the Women's Big Bash.

The main take-home is that she expects "2-to-3" overseas players in each of the eight teams - that's... *thinks*... *Googles*... 16-to-24 overseas players; and with Clark also mentioning that she expects them to come from a variety of countries, that's not many, and suggests that some of the England players who (so I'm told) are excitedly hoping to play, might be disappointed.  

Clark was also asked about broadcast rights, and reading between the lines, her answer implies that these would be new rights, not falling under existing BBL broadcast contracts. That's sort of good news, in that it raises the possibility that it could be on free-to-air TV in the UK; but I recommend not holding your breath on that one, because Clark said very clearly that they were talking to pay-TV, which would obviously be where the money to fund the competition in the short term could come from, although thinking long-term, that is a terrible strategy.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

ECB Moot "Fully Pro" Women's Game By 2020

Cricinfo are reporting that the ECB's latest discussion paper includes the proposal (or more likely, the aspiration) for a "fully professional" women's game by 2020.

There are no further details in the Cricinfo report, but a "fully professional" game would surely imply an extension of professionalism to the domestic game; which is currently (England-contracted players aside) more "semi-amateur" than "semi-professional". (No slight on the players - that's just the way it is!)

Needless to say, it is quite an ambition for a domestic game where crowds can generally be counted on the fingers of two hands, if not one!

But if the ECB (or "CEW" [Cricket England & Wales] as the report also suggests they may soon be re-branded) are up for it... then so am I!

Saturday, 21 February 2015

2015 Young Cricketers Announced

The MCC have announced the recipients of their Young Cricketers "scholarships" for 2015. They are:
  • Grace Gibbs
  • Georgia Holmes
  • Georgia Hennessy
  • Steph Butler
  • Lydia Harris
  • Carla Rudd
  • Freya Davies
  • Amara Carr
  • Sophie Luff
The YC's program offers coaching over the winter and matches during the summer, typically against county-level "boys" sides. The YCs receive a small amount of financial help; and in the past have also had the opportunity to earn their keep, for example by working in the Lords Shop during (men's) Test matches.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

5 Things That Need To Happen For WBBL To Be A Success

A Stand-Alone Window

WBBL needs its own spot in the calendar, which doesn't clash with anyone's international commitments. Both Charlotte Edwards and Heather Knight would have missed this year's WNCL final, had their teams qualified. This mustn't happen in WBBL - it isn't fair on the players; and it isn't fair on the fans.

The WORLD'S Best Players

WBBL needs all the top players, from all over the world - the existing MBBL limit of 2 foreign players needs to be raised to at least 3. This makes sense commercially - Indian players generating interest in India, South African ones in South Africa, etc. - and it raises the bar for women's cricket as a sporting spectacle,

Their Own Team Names

The teams can be aligned to the MBBL teams - they can share their colors and their grounds; but they need their own team names, not "The Women's Sydney Sixers" but the Sydney Seventy-Niners! (Or whatever!) This demonstrates that women's cricket is not just an adjunct to the men's game; but something to be valued in its own right.

Global Coverage & Access

WBBL needs visibility to be a success - this means ideally getting it on free-to-air TV, even if this necessitates taking a short-term revenue hit. Likely the temptation will be there to sell WBBL and MBBL as a single package... no doubt to be snapped up by Sky in the UK; but if so, WBBL risks being shunted into the backwaters. This mustn't be allowed to happen; and whoever buys the rights must at the very least be obligated to broadcast all matches.


WBBL might be an overnight sensation; but it probably won't be, and Cricket Australia must be in this for the long-haul. It might take a generation to make this a real success of this commercially; but WBBL has to keep the faith that our sport is amazing and given time it will succeed.

WBBL Hands Destiny Of Women's Cricket To Australia

The official announcement of the Women's Big Bash might well be the final nail in the coffin of the WICL; but if it is a victory for the ECB, who opposed the WICL from the start, it is a pretty pyrrhic one.

To be fair, ECB opposition to the WICL came mostly from the ECB's then-chairman, Giles Clarke. Several other voices within the ECB were far less rabidly hostile; but when Clarke put his foot down, they were left with little choice but to fall into line.

Now we have the WBBL on the horizon. It differs from the WICL in one key regard - it falls under the direct auspices of the ICC; but otherwise it is essentially the WICL in all-but-name - big, brash and ambitious, it looks set to take the world of women's cricket by storm... and it will all be controlled by Cricket Australia.

And this is why Clarke's victory is a pyrrhic one - he has prevented WICL taking-over women's cricket; only to hand its destiny instead to Cricket Australia. It's the IPL all over again... and remind me again how that one ends...???

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Who Is England's Best Bowler?

On this tour, the statistics speak for themselves - only one England bowler has taken wickets and been economical. (Oh... and her 79 in the 3rd ODI is also England's highest score with the bat!)

Shrubsole6 5.51
Everyone ElseDon't EvenGo There

P.S. - Heather, if you're reading this, please can you wire the money directly to my Swiss bank account this time. (The cheques are such a pain - I have to go all the way to Geneva to pay them in!)

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Women's International Championship Standings Clarified

The ECB's Twitter feed states that England are now "joint second" in the ICC Championship; whilst the table on CricInfo shows them in third, behind South Africa on Net Run Rate. What's the truth?

ECB Tweet
ESPN CricInfo
The answer to this question lies in the ICC's Playing Conditions - these state what happens if teams finish the championship equal on points; and the answer is... more complicated than you'd think!

In the event of a tie, it is 'Games Won' which is the first determinant of standing; and then only after that does N.R.R. come into play.

So since England and South Africa have both won 3 games, N.R.R. does come into play and England are third... right?

Well... yes... but... technically, both 'Games Won' and N.R.R. are only applied once all games have been completed; therefore as things stand right now, England and South Africa are indeed "joint second"!

Nat Bat Chat (Or Why Sciver Needs To Deliver!)

When she made her England debut against Pakistan in 2013, Nat Sciver was definitely considered a Bowler Who Can Bat. But increasingly she's playing as a batsman, and on that score she's not performing at the level she should be.

How different it was a year ago! Coming off the last Women's Ashes in Australia, Sciver had the world at her feet, having averaged 34 in that series, and been a critical part of England's success.

But since then, things have gone downhill fast, and in 12 international innings since, she has averaged just 11, with a highest score of 23; the situation reaching its apotheosis today in the 3rd ODI against New Zealand, when she was run out for a duck. 

For an all-rounder, this might (just about) be acceptable; but Nat has hardly bowled outside of T20s in 2014/15; and a Batsman Who Can't Bat But Can Bowl Very Occasionally really isn't what England need in their flaky middle-order right now.

I don't think England will, or should, drop Nat for the remaining ODIs or T20s; but if she's to be a part of England's next Ashes triumph in 2015... Sciver needs to Deliver.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

England Missing Brindle

In an attempt to explain England's flaky batting, I've turned to Science™. In the past 3 years, England have played 30 ODIs, of which they've won 21. It's not a bad record, but watching the team it often feels like their middle-order is fragile and lacking authority; notably when Arran Brindle hasn't been playing.

These are England's batting stats, with and without Brindle, since the start of 2012.

Collective AverageR.P.O.
With Brindle
Without Brindle

The difference is crystal-clear: England have been scoring a lot more runs (and scoring them significantly faster) with Brindle than they have without her; especially when you consider that the "With" line includes all 6 recent Ashes ODIs, facing the strongest attack in the world, led by Ellyse Perry!

So perhaps what England need is not the "Big Hitter" we've all been dreaming Nat Sciver or Loz Winfield might turn out to be, but a new Arran Brindle? Ironically, the closest player we have to this is the one we left at home, when even the ever-patient England selectors finally got fed-up with her, long after the fans did - one Tamsin Tilley Beaumont! As "Nice Problems To Have" go... this isn't one!

UPDATE: FWIW, with/ without Nat Sciver:

Collective AverageR.P.O.
With Sciver 
Without Sciver

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Football TV Deal Terrible News For Cricket Fans

Football execs are doubtless celebrating their latest TV deal, but it's bad, bad news for cricket fans.

Word is that Sky have agreed to pay almost TWICE what they were paying before, for LESS football; and the consequences are inevitable: subscriber numbers will fall, and those left will have to pony-up ever-more to watch Sky Sports.

And with no option to "just" watch cricket*, us cricket fans are on the hook for this just as much as football fans, with the added "bonus" that our sport gets none of the proceeds of our subscription hikes - it all goes to line the pockets of the Prima Donnas in the Premier League!

But still... at least we get to watch all the games. Now... when does the England / New Zealand series start again - I'm looking in my Sky planner, and I can't seem to see it anywhere???

* I know there are options to "just" watch SS2, but this isn't quite the same thing - that sub will go up just as much percentage-wise as the other!