Previous Page (Danni Wyatt Chooses Sussex)
Following England's defeat in the semi-final of the
WT20 there have, not unexpectedly, been a plethora of articles on the
web and in the papers suggesting the reasons. Hardly anyone, it seems, thinks
that reaching the semis of a worldwide tournament is an achievement;
it's a failure. I cannot accept that this is true. While I have much
sympathy for some of the reasons given why England did not go one stage
further, showing you in the top four in the world is not a minor matter.
That's not to say, of course, that we shouldn't analyse
the reasons (If you're an England supporter) and try and figure out how
have done better. It's not hard to look back through the matches that
got England to the semis and see a common thread, and most writers have
latched on to it rather easily; that is the lack of runs from the middle
order, but it not the entire story. With scores in the range 105-130 (in
the main) to chase it is apparent that batsmen need to achieve scoring
rates in the region of 87 to 108 - hopefully more to ensure you
don't win every match on the very last ball! (And yes, Sanjay
they are batsmen - no need to be embarrassed at using the word). In
attempting this, the middle order has struggled, with the exceptions of
Brunt and Wyatt. If you wish to criticise Wyatt, and some have, it would have to be on
the number of runs scored. She has in fact the highest strike rate in
the England squad (120) through the tournament (according to Cricket
Archive). The actual number of runs you get (as long as your
average is not in single figures!) may be less important. Scoring a lot
of runs at too slow a rate is a recipe for a quick exit from any T20
look here at the stats for the WT20 so far (I know they are not
quite complete as I type!). Count down the names - the first England
player you arrive at is Danni Wyatt in 9th position. You have to get to
number 19 before you'll find another. If you scan across checking
averages etc you also have to remember that openers have the luxury of
the most time - the middle order players may well arrive at the crease
with just a few balls left and death or glory are their only options.
They do not have the luxury of 20 overs stretching in front of them.
Their job is quite different and it's necessary to read their stats
accordingly. If I have hinted that England have batted too slowly at
times, putting unfair pressure on the later players, that does not mean
that those players are 'exonerated' from criticism. Even if their run
total is low, their scoring rates must be high if they are doing their
This analysis is all the more difficult in that you are
playing sides of very unequal quality. The openers can sometimes "fill
their boots" and it's not impossible - in 'ordinary' circumstances
anyway - that the lower order won't even get a bat - or perhaps I should
say that if the top order do their job, the lower order shouldn't get a
bat. Thus they will be required only when tougher opposition is
encountered, another thing that mitigates against good stats.
All this is fine theory, but match conditions,
especially the way the balls have been losing their hardness so quickly,
complicates matters even more. Middle order batsmen have had a very soft
ball to contend with - the openers the benefit of a harder one. A better quality of cricket ball might
at least take that out of the equation. Surely that problem
should be solvable.
Nonetheless everyone seems agreed it did not go "as it
should" from England's viewpoint. I came across
one article in the Independent which brings up another point which
several have made, but the analysis here is interesting.
Since England lost to Australia in the final of the last WT20 two
years ago, their last match before becoming professional,
there has not been a single debutant in their T20 side.
A chasm has emerged between the first batch of professional players and
I am not sure how Tiim Wigmore, the author, views this
chasm. He would seem to agree with a view I have held for a while, that
England have been very conservative in their choice of squad. Not only
that but even within that squad, some players have simply been reduced
to carrying drinks for the majority of the matches. This conservative
approach might be understandable in the last few months with a coach
whose familiarity with women's cricket is patchy to say the least. It is
not really forgivable for the period prior to his gaining the job, and
having the South African series and the WT20 under his belt, won't
really be forgivable from now on...
This was highlighted by the lack of Amy Jones in whites
in the Ashes Test of 2015. Even if the management were struggling to
think of those in the Academy who might step up (and I would contend
they shouldn't have been) then her omission was frankly breathtaking.
Could anyone else make 155* against one of the best bowling attacks in
the world? I'll let you answer the question. Even if they believed that
she was not a player ready for Test cricket, she had - very obviously -
just entered such a rich vein of form that that alone should have
settled the matter even if this was the only Test she ever played. That
I should add is not my opinion. I am confident she's a better player
than that - not a 'one off wonder'.
Amy Jones acknowledges the applause having made her
century on the way to 155* (above)
... and strikes one of her 24 boundaries
Does this make Amy a T20 contender? Well
it's true that the 155* doesn't answer that question but would you say
she is worse/better (cross out the non-applicable) than others used
regularly? If we need to try someone (or several) new, then why not her
who has been around with the England side drink-carrying far too long?
There is another who should be given a run at the job. Georgia Elwiss
seems to be in and out of the XI so fast her head must spin. Without a
consecutive series of games you can never tell the worth or otherwise of
any player. All you will do is your best to ruin any confidence they may
So next time you consider the England
line-up, don't forget where they bat - consider who has the easiest job
(not that any are easy as such) and ask yourself whether when you go
into bat would you prefer 20 overs ahead of you with the field in, or
three overs left with 5 out and more than a run a ball required. You
need different temperament players for each job, the added problem for
the middle/late order being that if 3 or more wickets go down quickly,
they are suddenly playing out of character as if openers. You need to be a more
versatile player to come in at say 4 to 8 than you do to open when your
job is probably going to be very similar to the last time you walked to
the wicket. It's not an easy job. The question, however, is, can someone
else do it better?
To add to the criticism that has been
flying around, I have heard some say that the Academy lacks players who
could fill the shoes of the current set. If that really is true - and I
reserve judgement, frankly doubting that - then it is a terrible indictment of the running of
that organisation. In some cases they possibly/probably could,
and one thing is for sure. If you don't give them a try, you'll never
For further thoughts from England
supporters, try CRICKETher's comments to their
"England do an 'England'" article.
... it's West Indies (in U-19, women's and men's).
Finals tend to have a habit of being a disappointment in that they lack the
excitement caused by a tight finish. I remember well the
match at Lord's when a black-eyed Katherine Brunt won the match is the first
couple of overs. The semi-final on the other hand had been a match even more
remarkable than the final at Eden Gardens today. Well not this time -
Australia and the West Indies provided a game to remember.
I have my usual list of bullet points in my notebook, but I'll not bore you
with these on this occasion. This match just deserved to be savoured.
One or two things did catch my eye however, like the spectator determined to
pick the winning side - he was wearing an Australian cap and a West Indies
shirt! Also I did jot down the word 'imperious' about Meg Lanning's batting
only for Alan Wilkins to use it an over or two later. If Villani was
aggressive then imperious seemed an appropriate adjective.
The match (and the semi-final) did emphasise to me some things I already
knew - namely that Dottin was one of the finest (possibly the finest) cover
fielder I have ever seen. But it also showed me things that I was not aware
of, in particular the huge talent of a certain West Indies opener, Hayley
Matthews. Looking back at her stats I should not have been surprised but
they had somehow crept up on me without my being aware of it. The one
innings at Kolkata was all you needed to see, however, to know this lass
will play for many years in this spot for the WIndies. There surely can't be
a side in the world that isn't envious that they haven't a Hayley in their
ranks, although it must be said Villani ran her close this day.
West Indies earned their win and you'd have to say it was a big one, not
just chasing down 148 but doing it with 8 wickets still in the locker - and
it was so nearly 9. True it was in the last over but West Indies
accomplished it with the precision of a Michael Bevan.
These matches, or at least those shown on TV in the UK, have revealed
successes and failures throughout and given me food for thought on this
format. To return to the dreaded bullet list (I promise to refrain for a
while after this...)
The most successful teams in this series have played
'no-fear' cricket. Those that played with caution went out early.
You must score big at the top of the order, but
probably even more important than that, if batting second, you
must be up with, or preferably ahead of the rate when you lose your
first couple of wickets. If you're not, the later batsmen are being
asked to do more than the top order. This they can't be expected to
deliver on a regular basis. From time to time maybe, but if you're the
top order you must play like it and not make life harder for those
that follow than it was for you when you arrived at the crease.
Low, slow wickets do not good T20 matches make! The
final's success was due in a large measure to providing a wicket on
which runs can be scored without too big a struggle.
I had written in my notebook "Villani made a fine 39"
for at that point one of the umpires, Aleem Dar, managed a 'not out'
verdict to a ball which produced 3 reds on hawk-eye, meaning it
wasn't even an 'umpire's call' on any of the criteria on which lbw is
decided. This is very poor in any match, let alone a world final. He
was not alone. The standard throughout this competition has not been
high, and I am puzzled why. I have never know such a long series of
matches where this has been true, even in the days when top umpires
were not hiding their disdain at umpiring mere women.
I am pleased that the stats did reveal something I
have been typing throughout and which I know you'll be bored with by
now, but indulge me one more time. And that is that Australia
progressed to the final hitting only one six along the way. Yes, I
know that there were five in this match and the side that hit the most
(3-2) won the game. However, I think only one six means I can rest my
case. Sixes don't, on the whole, winning sides make since they cost
too many wickets in the attempt.
Several times (3, maybe 4) the idea of collecting the
ball from a fielder in front of the stumps and not in the 'old
fashioned' position behind has cost the fielding side a wicket. I
think the experiment needs to be brought to a dignified conclusion.
Yes, it will occasionally make the difference between not out and out,
but the stats seem to be against the idea. What would help fielding
sides much more is some urgency on the part of the bowler (or nearby
fielder) to get behind the bowler's stumps. Sides seem far too relaxed
Expecting sides to jet all around a major country like
India is not going to improve the quality of cricket. It is also
grossly unfair when one side has more than 12 hours in the air while
the other stays put. This is not a level playing field. On the
whole the players have given us a top rate tournament - the tournament
organisers need to get their act together - they have the easier job -
and the organisation can be improved dramatically.
Quote of the tournament - "that ball was in the air so
long I'm surprised it's not air-sick" - Ian Bishop about a spin
I must conclude by saying 'well done' to the West
Indies. Has this hat-trick of U-19, women's and men's success in the
format been done before? I don't know the answer but I doubt it. They
deserved their win in the two tournaments I have followed with all the
players making a contribution in one game or another.
I am hugely looking forward to the 2017 50-over World
Cup! What will those teams produce then? It seems to me that the field
is more wide open than ever before and hopefully that makes for an
exciting contest. Sadly, I expect to be able only to watch a small
sample of the games as matches will probably be played on the same day.
If I am right, it's hard to see why one goes to the trouble of ensuring
the best teams in the world play each other and the organisers ensure
you can see as little of it as possible! I live in hope but...
My thanks to all the players who have kept me anchored
to my sofa in the last couple of weeks! It has often been miserable
weather as I watched. What a way to spend a rainy March/April
day - I can think of no better... except possibly watching the
Addendum: (added 04.04.16) : I have just come across
this article which suggests the WBBL is responsible for West Indies
Win. I take it there were no English,
South African or Australian players in the WBBL then? Oh, there were -
then tell me why they didn't win. At least the daftness of the idea
raised a smile.
The ECB have recently announced that Kia, one of the world's major car
manufacturers, will be sponsoring the Cricket Super League which starts its
T20 format competition this year. A search on the 'Net has not provided any
firm details on what that sponsorship may mean apart from the statement "The
partnership includes a range of sponsorship and marketing rights, including
activation at the venues for all 15 group stage matches and at finals day at
the Essex County Ground on 21st August."
Now I really can't make out what "activation" means, and what are those
'sponsorship rights'? If your searches have been more thorough than mine
please let me know and I'll amend these words.
Page (new women's cricket book due for release)