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2017 Diary

A Ramble on Women's Cricket
 - with diversions -

This diary will be updated erratically throughout the year.

Previous Page :  Ashes ODIs

 

The Ashes

 

Firstly. Click here for all the Stats you are ever likely to need for this series ...

 

... and you'll find the latest links to newspaper and web site reports on the Ashes on the same page.

 

 

The One and Only Test

 

As I'm sure I've typed before you will find plenty of excellent reports around the 'Net, but you'll also find amazing ignorance from reporters who have, allegedly, watched and written not just about women's sport but cricket in particular. Try this as a "for instance".  If you can stomach it until the end, and I had to grit my teeth to do so, then you'll find an interesting note among the comments. It seems "Doctor Rotcod" (whoever he may be) pays rather more attention to cricket generally than the writer. Now I have not checked his facts, but I am assuming them to be accurate as no one has rushed forward to challenge them, and, as there's always others apart from the article writer anxious to 'put down' the women's game, I have to assume they are correct.

 

The facts (according to Doctor Rotcod)? Try this clip...
Good to see Perry get a double century with a strike rate of 57,better than Smith, Khawaja or Williamson in the Trans-Tasman a year or so back
Haynes, Healy and Johansen pushed it along too. After scoring 160 or so off the first 80 overs, the Aussies made 260 from the next 80.No complaints about that.
A touch of sanity...
All this comes in the wake of a statement by Belinda Clark, and presumed to be on behalf of the ICC, that they are not looking to play, around the globe as a whole, more than the one Test every two years and that between Australia and England. If this ambition (or perhaps I should say 'lack of ambition') is realised then any of you readers in South Africa and New Zealand may as well chuck away your whites now (if you ever had any).
I hope that none of this takes away from Perry's enjoyment of the moment, even if a former Australian captain is speaking as if she'd like to sound the death knell on Perry's career in the baggy green.

[Ellyse Perry]

Ellyse Perry batting in the hard-hat version of the 'baggy green'.

This is Perry's seventh Test Match, her first being in 2008. Most male internationals of similar standing would play more in a year, than she has played in the 10 years (from 22 July 2007) that she has spent in Australian colours. I would say this is disgraceful and while I understand the money constraints of the early days, does this really apply now with all the cash the ICC has in the bank? I don't think so. It's a matter of choice, and, as so often in life, women draw the short straw. (And I should remind anyone who may not know - this is being typed by a man!).
Her knock of 213* is the third highest score by a batsman in Test history, ironically behind an Indian player (Mithali Raj) and a Pakistani (Kiran Baluch). It seems they can look forward to never playing a Test match again. They must look back on an era that has disappeared for them.
[Mithali Raj]  Don Miles

The Straight Bat and High Elbow that is Mithali Raj

I have wondered, however, if there's something else which may cause Mithali a quiet smile. Her 2nd place in the all-time list was in grave danger but she retains it by a single run! Baluch's 242 was probably out of sight in view of a declaration that had to come at some point. There was no other reason I could ascertain why the first women's triple century might have been on the cards otherwise.
I have now watched three double centuries with the naked eyeball (so to speak) and an additional one on the 'box', missing only two possible, Rolton's and that of the top of the pile, Baluch's. The fact that I have watched only twenty years of this sport that has been playing Test cricket since before World War II shows that things are already changing around the format.
I feel too that it is significant that the players like the format, the crowds seem to like it, and even TV has picked it up, usually the last to cotton on. Only the ICC it seems would rather sit on its cash mountain and, presumably, spend it on franchises of some sort or another, or more likely on the men's form of the game. It seems the business minds there, who always appear to want to maximise the money, have not opened their eyes to a growing market - a classic business error.

T20s (and all that)

With the first game in the series lost you might have felt that from England's point of view there was only pride to play for. You may be right in terms of the points table and hence the destination of the Ashes. However, that's not to say we can't stir up some controversy. It happened in fact in this first T20, when, after three umpires couldn't make up their mind on Heather Knight's dismissal, she was given out, not out and then out again. It showed three umpires not familiar with the Laws of the game, and that, perhaps, was the saddest comment of all. Notes here, and later confirmed by the MCC Laws Blog, showed she should have remained at the crease.
Check this Lord's site out for the definitive answer.
Now all umpires make mistakes and all the time we use humans to do this job it will be ever thus. Misjudging a nick of the arm or the glove (which was it?) or judging if that ball would have missed or hit the bails (lbw?) is something that cricketers simply have to live with. But should they have umpires who don't know the Laws of the game? I think not at any level, let alone international! The very least that should happen is the three are returned to some courses and pass whatever tests are required all over again. For a motoring offense it is no use saying you didn't know the Law and it shouldn't be for cricket either!  Sadly not understanding the MCC's Law book is quite common at lower levels of the women's game, but at international...?
Would this error have made any difference to the result of the match and thus possibly the series? We'll never know, of course, but if England manage to win the final T20 I suspect they'll feel justified in flying home feeling rather 'miffed'.
In the 2nd T20 match of this series, England adopted a rather more aggressive approach both in choosing their batting order and in the manner of the execution of the plan. Opening with Wyatt is surely the least difficult decision any coach/captain ever had to make. Not only had she come off a maiden 50 (off 36 balls!) but her career strike rate of over 100 means that if she gets any runs at all they will be quick in coming! You'll not die wondering with Wyatt at the crease and that's what T20 cricket is supposed to be all about. It's an unusual card but illustrates how T20 needs to be played, only one player in England's line-up having a strike rate below 100. With 20 overs and 10 wickets it doesn't matter if you lose (not too many) wickets. You could claim you can lose one every two overs and win the match. Even 6 off 5 from Fran Wilson (bearing in mind where the overs had ticket over to) is what you need.

[Danni Wyatt]  Don Miles

Danni Wyatt  (note where the keeper's gloves are!)

That Match!

If the series had been lacking excitement much of the time - perhaps until Perry, Knight and Elwiss showed what can be done with application, then a different sort of excitement pervaded Manuka Oval for the 3rd T20.
Firstly Beth Mooney demonstrated what many Australians had been claiming for a while; that she could bat not just solidly but with real gusto. 117 off 70 balls with the rather sensible ratio of 19 fours to 1 six (strike rate 167), means this player has a long future ahead of her. The Australians now have two players in their armoury (if we forget someone currently on the injury list) to whom century-making looks like 'all in a day's work'. I'd wonder why that might be except that the answer is a tad too easy. Just in case you're new to this sport (and this web site) I'll tell you. It's because they pay more attention to the 'grass roots' and fashion their skills at 50-over cricket. Anyone who knows cricket will not be surprised that that actually fits you best for the 20-over version of the game.

Beth Mooney, here representing the Yorkshire Diamonds in England's Kia Super League

However, if she felt she had the fruit bowl (a strange choice) for the Player of the Match Award solidly in her grasp, then she was much mistaken. Along came one of the most exhilarating players to watch in the modern game. Danni Wyatt has long promised big things and if she hasn't realised them as often as she might in T20s it's simply that batting that low in the order for England has often meant she had few balls to play with. True she's opened as a 'pinch-hitter' but that always mean your scores will be something of a lottery. Despite this she still has one of the highest (if not the highest) strike rates in the England squad and, quite simply, that's what T20 cricket is all about. Finesse is unlikely to help you here - although Mooney's innings did show what can be done with largely 'proper cricket' shots.

Danni Wyatt, here representing England in a T20 against South Africa

That doesn't mean Danni isn't able to use the delicate manoeuvre or subtle touch. What she can do in spades is play with guts and determination. Dropped off a sitter at 14, she ploughed on as if nothing had happened. [There have been a number of reports that she was dropped twice or even three times- but three careful watches of that innings by a correspondent means I can be sure it was only once and that some journalists simply can't recognise who is who in a women's team! - one other batsman was dropped three times...] Many might have retreated slightly with the fear of repeating the error, but she was obviously well aware even a slight retrenchment simply wasn't 'on' if England were to succeed in what was to become a record chase. Her 100 off 57 balls with 13 fours and 2 sixes (strike rate 175) stood out as one of the finest (if not the finest) T20 knocks of all time.
There have been just 6 T20 centuries (including these) and here we had a match with two! Who are the ton-up players? They are Lanning (126), Mooney (117*), Fritz (116*), Dottin (112* and also 112) and now Wyatt with 100. That's 2 x Australia, 1 x South Africa, 2 x West Indies and 1 x England. But check the opposition! Lanning's was made against Ireland and Fritz against the Netherlands. The rest against countries who played in the recent World Cup.
Watching Wyatt's innings I know that many were reminded of that famous stand at the Oval in 2009 where Claire Taylor and Beth Morgan put on 76 for the 3rd wicket to gain an improbable win for England.  Wyatt's performance was even more remarkable, With England on 30-3 at one point and only Knight (51) able to get into double figures to support her, this was (almost) a one-woman show. Together they added 139 to England's score, the 5th highest all-time partnership in women's T20 cricket.
So unlikely did it seem at 30-3 that England could make this that I joked after the match that I had hidden my hats for fear someone would ask me to eat one. They would have been justified!
With the Ashes points now level at 8-8, England could fly home reasonably happy. They hadn't regained the Ashes it's true, but neither had Australia won them. The opposition had retained them! This will continue happening, of course, all the time no one wakes up to the fact you could have an uneven number of points in the series. I know this doesn't guarantee a result (rain!) but it does improve the chances, and let's face it many competitions describing themselves as 'leagues' play off for top spots these day - take the Kia Super League as an example. Maybe the Ashes could also figure out something along those lines in the event of a tie.
If there was a down side to this series it was the fact that no reserve days had been arranged for the single day games. This is, quite simply dereliction of duty on the part of whoever made that decision. Fortunately they would not have been needed but that's not, frankly, the point. On the plus side, those in England could enjoy a 'streaming' service to watch the matches free of change. Let's see more of this in cricket for both genders, please!
Maybe England will be flying home thinking 'at least we held them to a tie' and Australia will be thinking 'if only we'd had Lanning!' They'd both be justified in their thoughts.
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