A Ramble on Women's Cricket
Yesterday (as I type this) it would have been possible, if you were in the right place, to have watched two of the best Test(-type) innings you will have seen in many a year, and you would have needed to watch two different matches.
The strange goings on in the men's Test at Trent Bridge will not fade into history in a hurry. Australia dismissed for 60 runs in less overs than the average T20 - how likely is that? One of the Australian women at Beckenham ruefully remarked part way through the day that Root had in fact scored more than the entire Australian line-up. And now I've given away the answer to the conundrum I set in the first sentence - you would have needed to be sitting at Beckenham watching the men's Test on your laptop courtesy of SkyGo, or perhaps in the pavilion where I imagine there would have been a television on somewhere, while watching the goings-on in the middle right under your eyes.
When I sat down to write this piece I debated long and hard about where to start it. I considered "when you drop a batsman from your XI immediately after she has just made the team's highest individual score, there's little you will have accomplished apart from potentially severely denting her confidence". You would need to be a remarkable character indeed not to wonder what on earth you had done wrong! Following that inexplicable decision by those in charge, you then find yourself in and out - mostly out - of the side thereafter.
Well yesterday (as I type this) Amy Jones made a statement with the bat the like of which I don't believe I have ever seen before in the women's game. It wasn't just the score of 155* when the Academy side declared at 360 for 8, but the manner in which she made it. If there is a 'right way' to play a Test Match innings, then this was it - caution at the start, steady build-up, fine shots off front and back foot in the middle of the innings, and some powerful aggression later as the century approached with the scoring speeding yet again as the declaration seemed imminent. I saw only one false short throughout, an inside edge that disappeared to fine leg. It did not provide Australia with the slightest chance. Was this a flawless innings? Although I did not see every single delivery, as far as I could see it was. It showed a player not just on the top of her form, but of considerable ability and perfect temperament.
What in this innings particularly impressed me? Well there was steady and sensible accumulation at the start, the clean hitting of the drive later in the innings on the ground or so firmly over the bowler's head that boundary riders had no chance, and there wasprobably the fiercest pulling of the ball I have seen from anyone so far this season, rivalling, or perhaps beating that of Nat Sciver for Surrey against Sussex in the County Championship. Yes, I know timing makes all the difference but you wonder how the ball can fly so fast from the bat when held by someone with such a slight frame.
Don't read this and think that any slogging was involved - these were proper cricket shots played in a text-book manner. The innings also showed that Amy can read the match situation, knowing when caution was required, and when runs were more important than the possible loss of her wicket.
Firm shots to off and leg-side marked a player in real touch
Those at Trent Bridge, exciting as their day will have been, will have missed out on an equally fine innings played against a full Australian attack. I have run a headline on my site for a while linking to an article entitled "What has Danni Wyatt got to do". My question is, do I now need to run one entitled "What has Amy Jones got to do?". At Canterbury this coming week I'll have my answer.
I have typed only occasionally in the last few weeks in spite of what as been going on in the women's cricket world - or perhaps I should say because of what's going on...
Taking as many photos as I do at each match - sorting through the chaff in the hope of finding the odd useful picture - and then processing that picture for use on the site (bearing in mind the tendency of many to steal them) takes quite a few hours of work. Also I am well aware that others write match reports with great speed and (relative) newcomers to the match reporting world like CRICKETher, Women's Cricket Blog etc. can give you varied views on the game compared with the reports by players on the BBC and elsewhere. In other words this side of the game is well covered and certainly better covered than it has ever been.
However, as far as other comment goes, and the above sites give plenty of that too, there sometimes stands out something, given the time (and some would say the expertise with the English language!) I would (could) have written myself. Firstly, if you watched the women's Ashes Test at Canterbury, either in the flesh or on the box, try reading this for a different point of view from that in the mainline press.
On the same day I also came across a small bullet list from a County Captain expressing views that have caused me too a worry for a while, especially since the Super League was announced.
Bullet Point One : Just consider the case of Amy Jones higher up this page or try this article by CrunchCricket
Bullet Point Two : Read CRICKETher's Piece on England Selection or this article from the Women's Cricket Blog
Bullet Point Three : Simply ask any County Women's-Team Coach, or indeed and Club Coach or Captain. In my many enquiries this summer I have yet to find a contrary view. This is perhaps the most concerning of the three and, if you try and think forward five to ten years, the one most likely to have a huge impact at the top. The county teams might well not agree they are part of the underbelly, and I would agree with them. They are more and more frequently deprived of players it is true, but the ECB would no doubt draw the next players for England not from them but from the EWA. I leave you to decide what you would call the underbelly.
I have expressed doubts about changes to the structure of the game in this country before and probably been right and wrong in equal measure. The near future is both potentially exciting and worrying, also in equal measure. I must type again on both the 'exciting' and the 'worrying' when I have sorted through some of the thousands of images sitting on my hard drive.
And One Comment on Canterbury not much Expressed...
The standard of the umpiring was poor and I have expressed that in as flattering terms as I can bring myself to type. Umpires from what is supposed to be the top bracket should not be giving lbws when balls pitch well wide of the leg stump, or catches when the ball deflects from the helmet rather than the bat. These are just the two most obvious examples and I have no doubt 'hawk-eye' would have found more. I am the first to say everyone makes mistakes, but at this level you would hope that basic errors had been eliminated.
If you want the umpiring standards improved, I would suggest you find a few women umpires who would relish the chance to stand rather than some men whose body language suggests they are really bored with the occasion. To give just one instance stand this lady where she belongs - behind the bowler's stumps!
A Health Warning to Kent CCC
During the course of the match the electronic advertising boards on the edge of the ground started to show a red square which flickered rather violently. Later a second occurred further down the line. I am not epileptic but it set me wondering that if anyone in the crowd was unfortunate enough to suffer, the flashing light could have sparked an attack. I trust this has been corrected and that Kent CCC have ensured the Health & Safety of their customers.
What Has Jones Got to Do?
Well, I did say (further up this page) that I might have to type this! Typing following the Test Match, and knowing the manner in which England collapsed in the second innings, or even the performance of some of the 'top' names in the first, I have to wonder yet again why Amy Jones was not included in the side.
Would she have done well? Who knows... Would she have done worse than the England top order? I leave you to decide the answer to that question - you obviously don't need to ask me mine.