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2008 Diary

A Ramble on Women's Cricket
 - with diversions -

This diary will be updated periodically throughout the year.

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[Early June]
It seems the weather won't leave the Super 4s alone. Round 1 was completed with the full complement of overs but Round 2 had to be cut to 35. Nonetheless it produced some interesting cricket, not least a hat trick from Danielle Hazell. This set me wondering if this had been done before in this competition (anyone know?). It also sent me browsing that excellent software Cricket Statz using a Super 4s database compiled by Marion Collin. So, and it's too early to be playing this game really!) here's the Honours Board, just one of the huge number of reports this software will produce, for the 50 over game so far this year. I'll be keeping this up to date from time to time as the tournament progresses here.
Honours Summary 2008
All matches, Super 4s 50 overs 26-May-2008 to 06-Jul-2008
Statistic Name Club Figures
Best Batting Average C M G Atkins Rubies 84.00
Highest Score EJC Rainford-Brent Diamonds 133
Best Batting Aggregate L J Poulton Sapphires 215
Best Bowling Average A R Stevenson Diamonds 10.00
Most Wickets J L Gunn Emeralds 9
Most Wickets in Innings D Hazell Sapphires 5-27
Most Catches K B Baker Diamonds 5
Highest Innings Score Diamonds Diamonds 299
Lowest Innings Score Emeralds Emeralds 116
And how does that table look in the 'all-time' time frame.
Honours Summary
All matches, Super 4s 50 overs 18-May-2002 to 01-Jun-2008
Statistic Name Club Figures
Best Batting Average C M Edwards Diamonds 76.76
Highest Score C M Edwards Diamonds 199*
Best Batting Aggregate C M Edwards Diamonds 1919
Best Bowling Average B Nicholson Knight Rider 1.40
Most Wickets I T Guha Rubies 41
Most Wickets in Innings H L Colvin Rubies 5-7
Most Catches S C Taylor Sapphires 21
Hat Trick D Hazell Sapphires 1
Highest Innings Score Diamonds Diamonds 337
Lowest Innings Score Super Strikers The Super St 54
The 2nd round of the County Championships has also just been completed with Sussex, currently top of the table, beating Notts. I'm sorry there's no pictures from this game but carrying a camera that day proved more than a certain part of my anatomy was prepared to put up with.
Some of the Notts players had decided to come to Brighton a day early and enjoy the local amenities - an excellent idea. One of the points about living on the south coast is you tend to ignore them. It's a strange quirk of human nature that the "grass is always greener" elsewhere and you don't appreciate what's close to home. I have to hope the season for the 'Counties' continues to be bright as I feel that this year is the end of an era for which I'll for ever be nostalgic - but more of that later.
[Late June]
... and I have just returned from watching a 53 ball hundred from Marcus Trescothick and England playing an 'Academy' side, both matches in the T20 format. The wicket was in the centre of the square and the boundaries pushed as far as Taunton will allow - not quite then as the girls usually find it. I have probably rabbited on here about the general unsuitability of T20 for the women's game (and if I have or haven't I have no doubt I will again) and the size of the pitch rather proved my point. If you are going to try this out then push the boundaries in - something that wasn't possible on this occasion, with one match following on the heels of the other. After the experience I am also doubtful about playing after the men rather than before them and let me give the argument against this practice.
1. Large boundaries - they were as large as they can get at Taunton. Hence sixes were few (1) and 4s not in plentiful supply either.
2. Crowd disburses when the 'main' fixture is over. Although there would be some disturbance (which I am sure the players could cope with) the crowd would be growing if the game were played first.
3. Too much lager. Some - fortunately only a few - of the crowd were pretty obnoxious, having had way too much to drink. I doubt it bothered the players but it certainly disturbed some of the parents and regular supporters of the women's game. Remarks were typically misogynistic and/or crude.
And for playing first...
1. Crowd assembling (which they do early) - see above
2. Boundaries could be expanded as crowd will wait a few minutes for this to take place (but not for the women playing second)..
3. Lager not drunk in same quantity yet.
4. The crowd is not yet used to sixes aplenty and bowling in the 90s (mph).
Anyway if you have a contrary opinion, let me know.
And no sooner do I have one controversy to write about than there's another...
The "Collingwood Incident" gave rise to quite a bit of heat on the 'Net's newsgroups. If you are not aware of the collision between Sidebottom and Elliott in the men's ODI recently then skip this section. I am of the school that thinks he had plenty of time to consider the matter and to withdraw the appeal. Mark Benson (an umpire at the match) appears to have done his best to persuade him that was the right call but Collingwood remained unmoved - or at least unconvinced. The "Spirit of Cricket" appears to apply only on the village green if others follow his example - and not always there. I was somewhat relieved when NZ won the match feeling that maybe justice had been done, and amused to watch some of the most fundamental errors (that you only expect to see on the village green) from both sides during the final couple of overs. It's surprising what a little adrenaline can do to rubbish your thinking processes.
And now the ECB have announced the programme for the Women's T20 World Cup which, with the withdrawal of Zimbabwe from the men's, means it will take place in the UK.  Well, hats off to them for a full detailed list when we still, at the time of typing, don't have the programme for the Women's World Cup in Australia in 2009 which takes place months earlier. Parents and supporters here in England (and, of course from the other countries taking part) have problems sorting flights and accommodation when all is clouded in mystery! Is the delay down to the ICC or to Cricket Australia? I have no idea, but I feel sure some spectators will already have decided it's too late to sort things out and get early (and hence cheaper) bookings. It's no wonder sometimes that the sport is not well supported!
Part of a report I wrote for a cricket newsgroup. It sums up my feelings concerning the format for the 'Counties' for next year ...
Undefeated in the six matches that constitute a women's County Championship, Sussex regained
their title after two years of Kent dominance. New captain Alexia Walker and Aussie coach John
Stock were understandably delighted and I wonder if it's a tribute to the ECB Academy at
Loughborough that, of the four divisions that make up the tournament, the captains of the winning
teams from the top three divisions were, in Alexia's words, "all Loughborough girls".

"Loughborough Girls" left to right Alexia Walker (Sussex), Salliann Briggs (Yorks)
and Nicky Shaw (Surrey)
The format changes dramatically next year when the 'festival' aspects, which this year consisted of
three days at Taunton, is abolished, each division is enlarged to six teams from the current four and all games are played on a 'home and away' basis.

Many supporters mourn the passing of the festival tradition (originally five days at Cambridge and
latterly three at Taunton) which goes back several decades but some players have expressed their
agreement that a rest between fixtures is welcome.

As a County committee member I have to admit to being concerned over the extra expense involved and the many hours on the road, with its concomitant damage to the environment and players, supporters and team pockets which will ensue. Coming from Sussex I dread the possible trip in future years to Durham and no doubt they will not look forward to visiting us. The lack of cash in the women's game may mean the old days of the WCA before the ECB merger may just reappear with players with deeper pockets representing counties in the future. I do hope it doesn't come to this!!
My worries can be partially delayed however, with Division One next year consisting of Sussex, Kent, Somerset, Surrey, Berks and Notts.

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