It’s the Ashes!

I hope you all enjoyed my debut for Women’s Sports UK (WSUK) last week.  I certainly enjoyed writing it.  Since then we’ve had the start of the Women’s Ashes.

Pretty much like the men’s, all went well to begin with.  I don’t know how many times I’ve said it, but it goes for both the men’s and women’s, that you’ve got to make the most of the Australians when they’ve only just arrived.  And we did.  The first one-day went completely to plan from England’s point of view as they won by 4 wickets at Taunton.  However, it doesn’t take long for the Aussies to acclimatise and in the second and third one-days England were outplayed and out-thought, losing the second by 63 runs and the third by 89.

I’m afraid there were some glaring issues in the latter two games that will have to be tackled before the 3 Twenty20 games at the end of August and beginning of September.  I don’t have concerns about the test match – it’s the short form we’re lacking in.

Let’s state now that I adore Charlotte Edwards to the point of hero-worship.  But I am not blind to her faults.  Very much like Alastair Cook, she is a creature of habit.  She has her plans – and they are good plans – but is reluctant to deviate if they don’t work.  Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole opening the bowling – 5 overs each.  No questions.  No messing.  No change.  It didn’t bring a wicket in the second game so, guess what, let’s do it all again in the third!  At the risk of sounding like Geoffrey Boycott (put me down now) if plan A doesn’t work you’ve got to have a plan B, then a plan C etc.  I’m afraid she didn’t look like she even had a B.  I don’t know what the answer is to that, she’s been captain for over 200 internationals now and I’m not the person to tell her she’s doing it wrong!  All I’m saying is that there’s got to be more flexibility as games very rarely go completely to plan.

Secondly, and I really do feel I’m attacking the twin pillars of English women’s cricket, someone needs to get hold of Sarah Taylor and tell her 30 is not enough.  So many times she gets a start but doesn’t carry through.  Dan Norcross made exactly the same point in the TMS commentary yesterday.  He’s someone else I rarely agree with, but on this occasion I found myself nodding along.  She’s one of the best batters in the world so it’s about time she acted like it.

In the meantime Meg Lanning, Elyse Perry, et al, go past England without pausing for breath.

Enough of this carping.  On the positive front, the coverage of the Ashes has been brilliant so far.  There’s so much discussion out there about the game and its future and it’s not just comparing it unfavourably to the men’s game.  In fact you know you’ve made it when they’re starting to talk about it in the Daily Telegraph.  Excellent piece today by Jonathan Liew on Meg Lanning and her place in women’s cricketing history.

I’m going to be in Canterbury for the test match so expect plenty of comment!

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3 thoughts on “It’s the Ashes!

  1. Good article. I tend to agree, generally speaking. The only part where I thought you were wrong enough to comment is the following:

    “Secondly, and I really do feel I’m attacking the twin pillars of English women’s cricket, someone needs to get hold of Sarah Taylor and tell her 30 is not enough. So many times she gets a start but doesn’t carry through. Dan Norcross made exactly the same point in the TMS commentary yesterday. He’s someone else I rarely agree with, but on this occasion I found myself nodding along. She’s one of the best batters in the world so it’s about time she acted like it.”

    Nope, sorry.

    Since her 3 consecutive ducks in the 2013 ODI WC, Taylor’s scores have been 88, 28, 15, 34, 22, 32, 64, 55*, 100, 9, 63, 64, 20*, 23, 16, 45, 2, 89*, 93, 30, 43 and 1.

    That’s an average of 49.2 over the course of 22 innings. Phenomenal, coming in quick time as they have. Her strike rate is about 15 points higher than Edwards’. And all the while, a great wicket-keeper too. Those peddling the myth that Taylor “is still not living up to her promise” would do well to note these numbers as they clearly tell a different story. We see it all the time – those batters that make the most 100s and 50s are also the most inconsistent, unless they have truly staggering records. That’s not Taylor’s style, she’s consistent.

    These numbers ARE Taylor fulfilling her promise. Sarah Taylor is England’s second best player, and has been for some time. I’m afraid Taylor’s stats speak for themselves, and although seemingly much maligned for a player who’s so great to watch, believe me she is not the cause of England’s woes.

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    • Thanks for your comments and for Sarah Taylor’s stats. That certainly seems to show I’m a bit harsh in my assessment, but it’s just the impression I get. The stats don’t lie though, so thank you again.

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  2. No problem. I think the thing with Taylor is that she’s so naturally talented and makes it look so easy that whenever she gets out, you just think she could have just carried on the way she was going.

    You’re not alone in your concerns about the rigidness and infexibility of Edwards’ tactics sometimes. But after all she’s done for England, and well, just women’s cricket overall, she’s earned the right to do just about anything she wants with the team, and certainly to bow out when and how she chooses. So there’s not much chance of that changing either.

    I don’t mind losing to Australia so much (they are the number one ranked side after all), it’s the manner of the defeats that hurts. My frustrations generally stem from the ECB’s insistence that everything is fine and rosy when it isn’t. We do not have strength in depth. The professional contracts are great, but they’ve only moved the problem of investment back a step because we now have a huge chasm between contracted England players and normal County players, meaning England have to play boy’s sides or their own internal Academy sides to practice at a decent standard. We have the surreal situation of sides being picked based on performances from arbitrary matches of “England A vs. England B”. The pool of paid players is fixed for too long – if form dips, players remain in the frame, and other players who rise to prominence from the Counties, have no chance until the next contract review. England need to play more cricket to improve, but the limited international schedule doesn’t support it at the moment.

    Women’s cricket is a great sport, and I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve seen since I’ve been following it the last 2-3 years. The men’s game is completely irrelevant to it and disconnected, well that’s at least how I look at it. There’s so much men’s cricket played, it can get a bit tiresome sometimes and the women’s game is refreshing different. Regardless of what happens with England over the next couple of years, we’ll have the increased coverage of the WBBL down under and hopefully the women’s Super League (not to be confused with the FA WSL) over here which will mean Joe Public can actually pay to go along and see some T20 games at some proper grounds with decent facilities. I can’t wait to go along. Hopefully there’ll be radio or even TV coverage of some of it as well. As you say, all this can only help grow the game, so it will benefit us in the long term even if England enter a bit of a dip meanwhile in the short term.

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