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since 1997 Feb 16
2020 Diary
A Ramble on Women's Cricket

 - with diversions -
This diary will be updated erratically throughout the year.
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Sana Mir Retires

Few women have scored 2,000+ runs & taken 200+ wickets in international cricket. Here, thanks to 'Hypocaust' is the complete list.

Lisa Sthalekar (AUS)
Jenny Gunn (ENG)
Shashikala Siriwardene (SL)
Sana Mir (PAK)
Stafanie Taylor (WI)
Ellyse Perry (AUS)

She is the 5th highest wicket-taker in women's international cricket, and presided over the period when Pakistan became competitive with international teams from the top level of the sport, and, not unnaturally, Pakistan's most capped player.

Sana during a tour to England in 2013

 

Pakistan will miss her experience and her courage. She has set an example of what can be achieved to those that will follow her.

 

Another Remarkable Stat

 

Thanks again to 'Hypocaust's' remarkable handle on the numbers of the sport, here's another which may, but possibly shouldn't, take you by surprise.

 

 

Laura Wolvaardt has just reached her 21st birthday at the time of writing. If you were watching the semi-final of the recent T20 World Cup, you'll remember (how could you forget?) that remarkable off drive, when she took paces outside her leg stump in order to cream it through the covers. I think it is possibly the most inventive way of using a classic cricket shot that I have ever seen. The ball would have been a leg-side wide, possibly as wide as another set of stumps, if she had just remained anchored to her stance. The drive was played in as classical a way as you could ever wish to see.  The shot below is not from that match unfortunately but can give you a slight flavour of her driving skill.

 

 

The shot during that semi-final produced one reaction on Twitter saying "Can you marry a cricket shot?". I understand, as the Americans would say, exactly where that was coming from.

 

But back to Hypocaust's stat. He researched the number of 50s scored by players as they reached that age. Turns out Laura has made 18 and is top of the list, one innings more than a certain Sachin Tendulkar. Now there's a stat anyone could be really proud of!

 

 

The Latest Ideas? 

 

Let's make the game slower, and other strange ideas!

 

(FYI the word 'batsman' is used here and generally on this site as a gender neutral term!)

 

I suppose the 'Lockdown', which has been necessarily imposed in most countries in the world to some degree or another, was eventually going to 'get to' everyone, and when I read this... I realised it has finally hit the world of women's cricket. The mental strain of not seeing family or your close friends takes it's toll and it starts becoming apparent in newspaper articles when the cranks come out of the woodwork with odd ideas in order to fill the column inches they can't with match reports or current comment. If any comment is made by someone in 'power', then players then seem to feel obliged to follow them, perhaps concerned that if they don't tow the line or make positive noises about everything going on, then their contracts may be at risk. I can think of no other explanation for some of the ideas floated recently.

 

Imagine the following scenario... Katherine Brunt is bowling in an ODI or T20. She's at the start of her run showing the usual concentration and comes swooping in. She releases the ball, but what flies out of her hand is a table tennis ball. Now, digging out your school-time physics, would the ball reach the batsman? I guess it's probably 50/50 it would make it and if it did it would be travelling very slowly. Piece of cake for the batsman you might instinctively think, but the same rules of physics would apply to the batsman as to the bowler and even the finest cover drive might just trickle to cover.
 
Now I don't suppose anyone is suggesting making the ball quite as light as this (although some of the articles appearing in the press lately have made me wonder), so the above scenario is unlikely to ever occur - be fun to do the experiment though. However, I hope you can see what I'm getting at. I do not have a physics degree (just an 'A' level half a century old and hardly used since!) so I wouldn't like to judge what would make for the 'fastest' game although I have a feeling it might be that somewhere near 5oz could just be perfect for bowler and batsman alike...

 

The other suggestion made was that pitches should be shorter - this apparently would make the bowling quicker. That's really quite a quaint notion. So, using this logic, the ball will leave Katherine's hand at different speed depending on the length of the pitch? You don't need to have studied physics to know this is just arrant nonsense! It may reach the barsman in less time as it has a shorter distance to travel but it won't be going down the wicket any faster. From the batsman's perspective the ball will be going through the air more quickly but possibly (depending on the length of pitch chosen) but probably no more than if she had advanced a pace or two as she may regularly do anyway. This is because cricket balls do decelerate on the way down, though not as much as the fluffier tennis ball does. Thus, to the quality players it would make little difference but might harm the development of newcomers to the sport. I'm not sure opening this gap, however marginally, is a great idea.

 

But how about the practicalities of this idea? Firstly, I am not going to be the one to tell the groundsmen all around the country that they have to prepare two different length pitches - if you think it's a great idea I'll leave that to you! It's hard enough much of the time to find one reasonable wicket in club, county and even higher levels of the sport where not all groundsmen have yet come round to the idea that women might like to play from somewhere near the middle of the square and not have one boundary that would give the fielders a 100 yard dash on one side of the wicket and 30 yards on the other. That's the one place the groundsman might be willing to let you have for fear of the bowlers footmarks being on a perfect length for the male spinners playing the next game on that strip.

 

One idea that seems to be likely to find favour with the men's BBL is the awarding of a 'free hit' if you bowl a leg-side wide. This sport has become too batsmen friendly in recent times and if we want to recover the bat/ball balance then this seems to be going in the wrong direction. Also the (currently) legitimate tactic of firing a ball down the leg side to dismiss an advancing batsman makes this idea interesting. If she's stumped then does the next batsman get the free hit? All sounds a bit weird...
 
You'll have gathered by now I consider these ideas as either simply daft (for instance, likely to lead to a slower game) or just plain impractical, especially at the lower end of the game where in so many countries, including England, the lower echelons have been largely ignored for far too long, with the result participation (and hence the pool of players for the elite end of the game) has been greatly reduced.
 
This 'lockdown' really has a lot to answer for.

 

If you want a more reasoned argument than the rant above then try this...   or better still, take a listen here... from 7 minutes in! (Or listen to it all; this series of Vodcasts is well worth a 'follow').

 

 

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