Kia Super League preview part 6 – Surrey Stars

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Here’s my preview of the squad of the Surrey Stars, written for WSUK.

http://www.womenssportsuk.com/cricket/news/kia-super-league-preview-part-6-surrey-stars

My colleague, Simon Cafferty helped me out and wrote previews of Yorkshire Diamonds and Lancashire Thunder.  You can read them here:

http://www.womenssportsuk.com/cricket/

 

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Women’s Sports Column 23-29 July

CiUasEcWsAAh-HkWelcome to this week’s column. Apologies for the lack of a column last week, but some of you may have seen I was invited to the Isle of Wight to watch the Magenta Project giving some professional female sailors the chance to sail a 32ft foiling catamaran. And most exciting it was too. Hopefully, if someone is interested enough, they will take the resulting article from me and you will all be able to read it. It’s such a great story and deserves to be spread far and wide.

Anyway, enough self promotion. This week I have stories from tennis, rugby union, football, cycling, golf, an Olympic snippet, cricket and a good-news “And finally” to send you into the weekend happy.

After her disappointing second round defeat at Wimbledon, Joanna Konta came storming back this week to win her first WTA title when she beat Venus Williams 7-5 5-7 6-2 in the Stanford Classic in California.

She looked to be cruising at 7-5 4-1, but Venus is never one to give up. She came back to win six out of the next seven games and take it to a deciding set.

Konta took the title on her third match point.

Her good form has continued into the Rogers Cup this week. She is now into the quarter finals after she beat American qualifier Vania King 7-5 6-1 in the third round and Varvara Lepchenko 6-3 6-2 in the fourth. Lepchenko beat British number three Naomi Broady in the first round, 6-4 3-6 6-3.

 

Stunning news from rugby union this week as the RFU announced that they will be awarding 48 professional contracts to England women players for the season 2016/17. After the Olympics in Rio, 16 players will be awarded full-time contracts to focus on 15-a side rugby. An additional 16 players will receive part-time contracts to focus on sevens. Then 16 short-term contracts will be awarded to allow players to attend residential camps ahead of major tournaments such as the Six Nations and Rugby World Cup.

In making the announcement, RFU Chief Executive Ian Ritchie said,

 “The RFU is committed to supporting the growth of women’s rugby. We are immensely proud of England Women’s achievements and we want to provide the best support to continue this success.

“More women and girls in this country are playing rugby than ever before and England Women are important role models to encourage more people to try our sport.”

This is a seismic shift in the position of women’s rugby in England and will be key in the build-up to the World Cup in Ireland in 2017. Mind you, it also means that big things will be expected of the squad – if they could win the World Cup without contracts, what should they be able to do with them?

 

The Women’s Under-19s Euros have been taking place in Slovakia over the past two weeks – who knew? (and the answer to that is no-one if you just follow the mainstream sports media)

The teams into the final tournament group stage were France, Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Germany and Austria. France finished top of group A and played runners up in group B, Switzerland, in the semi-final. Spain topped group B and played Switzerland, runners up in Group A, in their semi-final.

28 July

France 3-1 Switzerland

Switzerland took the lead just before half-time through Géraldine Reuteler. But an inspired substitution from France saw replacement Clara Mateo score in the 46th minute, set up another for Marie-Antoinette Katato in the 50th and put away the third and her second in the 54th minute to secure their place in the final.

Spain 4-3 Netherlands

The other semi-final was a thriller. Netherlands took the lead twice before succumbing to a hat-trick from Spain’s star striker Sandra Hernàndez.

Suzanne Admiraal scored the first for Netherlands in the 22nd minute, but Hernàndez struck back almost immediately to make it 1-1. Netherlands then took the lead for a second time through Jill Roord, but 10 minutes later Hernàndez scored her second to level it once again. Spain then made it 3-2 through defender Marta Cazalla, with Hernàndez completing her hat-trick in the 81st minute. Michelle Hendriks got a third for Netherlands, but it was nothing more than a consolation and Spain had booked their place in Sunday’s final.

The final is on Sunday 31 July. There is an excellent UEFA website dedicated to this tournament. If you would like to read more about it, here’s the link: http://www.uefa.com/womensunder19/

 

In the FAWSL Manchester City are looking more and more unbeatable. They demolished Notts County at Meadow Lane 5-1 to maintain their unbeaten record with 23 points from nine games – seven wins and two draws.

Notts County Ladies 1-5 Manchester City Women

City took the lead after just five minutes through Jane Ross. On 25 minutes Jill Scott doubled the lead with a header. It was 4-0 at half-time when Ross scored a second on 41 and in injury time Georgia Stanway made it four. After half time, County pulled one back through a penalty, scored by Jess Clarke, but it was not to be the start of a comeback and Izzy Christiansen scored City’s fifth to inflict County’s worst defeat in the Women’s Super League.

Chelsea Ladies 4-0 Doncaster Rovers Belles

Still no joy for the Belles as Chelsea ran out comfortable winners at Staines Town. Eni Aluko scored the first after 13 minutes, but this was the only goal in the first half and Doncaster must have gone in at the break with hope. However, they were unable to penetrate in the second half and Chelsea doubled their lead in the 68th minute through Ji So-Yun. Aluko got her second with seven minutes to go, and Beth England completed the rout in the 89th. Belles are still winless, and indeed pointless, after six games.

Sunderland AFC Ladies 0-4 Arsenal Ladies

Early goals seem to be key to success, if this week’s results are anything to go by. Arsenal struck in the 10th minute through Vicky Losada. Jordan Nobbs made it two with a stunning strike on 24 after a fine passing move with Dan Carter at the heart of it. After the break, Carter herself grabbed a goal and Fara Williams the fourth for Arsenal from the penalty spot in the 53rd minute, after missing another penalty earlier in the game.

Reading FC Women1-1 Birmingham City Ladies

Reading were denied their first Super League win by German international, Isabelle Linden, who scored her first goal in English football on Sunday. Melissa Fletcher put the home side in front with a header early in the second half. Birmingham’s equaliser came on the 73rd minute and the points were shared.

Sunday 24 July 2016

FA WSL 2

Yeovil Town Ladies FC 4-0 Durham Women FC
Oxford United Women 0-1 Everton Ladies FC
Sheffield FC Ladies 2-2 Millwall Lionesses
Watford Ladies FC 0-2 Aston Villa Ladies FC

Saturday 23 July 2016

FA WSL 2

Bristol City Women 3-0 London Bees

 

The International Crown golf tournament was won by United States this week. This biennial competition, played in even-numbered years, is contested by eight countries determined by the World Ranking of the top four players from each country. Countries must have a minimum of four ranked players to be eligible. The top four ranked players from each qualifying country should make up their team, but if a player chooses not to or is unable to play, their place should be taken by the next ranking player.

The competition takes place over four days. It comprises three days of four-ball rounds and one of singles. After the four-balls, the bottom three countries are eliminated.

The eight countries finished in the following order: USA, Korea, England, Chinese Taipei, Japan, China, Thailand and Australia. The last three on this were eliminated after the four-balls.

England led after the first round of four-balls, but couldn’t maintain their good form. USA finished the tournament on 13 points, with Korea second on 12. England and Chinese Taipei tied for third on 11. The England team was made up of Charley Hull, Melissa Reid, Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Holly Clyburn.

 

It’s the Women’s British Open at Woburn this week and it’s good to see it on terrestrial TV. Check it out on BBC2 if you get the chance.

After the first round the leaderboard is as follows:

10 M Lee (Kor); -7 A Jutanugarn (Tha); -6 S Feng (Chn); -5 S Lewis (US), MH Lee (Kor)

Selected others:

-3 C Hull (Eng); -2 C Matthew (Sco), B Law (Eng); -1 JE Shadoff (Eng); +1 C Woods (US), L Young (Eng); +2 L Davies (Eng), L Ko (NZ)

South Korea’s Mirim Lee made a storming start with a course-record 10 under 62. She is already three shots ahead of Ariya Jutanugam of Thailand with Shanshan Feng a further stroke behind in third. England’s Charley Hull, playing on her home course, had a steady start and is currently tied 11th on three under par.

 

In cycling, the 89km-long La Course took place on Sunday in Paris. Australian Chloe Hosking sprinted away down the Champs Élysées to win with Finland’s Lotta Lepisto in second and Marianne Vos third.

The 13-lap race included several crashes, one of which involved Hosking’s Wiggle High5 teammate, Briton Dani King.

An interesting Olympic snippet has emerged this week. For the first time, the Australian team will have more men than women competing. It was a close-run thing, but the late expulsion of the Russian women’s rowing eight meant that the Australian squad was called-up as replacement.

The team now comprises 212 women and 207 men.

“It’s a very strong statement that shows women’s sport is genuine sport,” said Australian Olympic team boss Kitty Chiller.

“It’s about time the female athletes were given the credit, recognition and accolades they so richly deserve.”

I think we all agree with that, don’t we?

 

I wouldn’t be doing my cricket-promoting-loving job if I didn’t give one more plug to the Kia Super League, which starts on Saturday. The ECB has been on overdrive over the last fortnight, getting the women on TV, radio and in print wherever they can. Pity it hasn’t been a bit more of a consistent build-up to keep people thinking about it, but there we go. I’m hoping it’s not panic on the ECB’s behalf – I haven’t heard anything about ticket sales.

My WSUK colleague Simon Cafferty and I have previewed the six teams for WSUK; here’s the link http://www.womenssportsuk.com/cricket/.

It’s no secret that I’m backing my local team, Loughborough Lightning, for the title (which has probably put the mockers on them). I would encourage my readers to get out and see a game if they can. It’s not on television (scandal, no room to talk about that here), but there are several matches on Test Match Special on 5Live Sports Xtra.

Here are the fixtures again:

Sat 30 Jul Yorkshire Diamonds v Loughborough Lightning (Headingley 14.30)

Sun 31 Jul Southern Vipers v Surrey Stars (Ageas Bowl 14.00)

Sun 31 Jul Western Storm v Lancashire Thunder (Taunton 14.30)

Wed 3 Aug Loughborough Lightning v Lancashire Thunder (Haslegrave 16.30)

Thurs 4 Aug Surrey Stars v Yorkshire Diamonds (Kia Oval 18.30pm)

Fri 5 Aug Lancashire Thunder v Southern Vipers (Stanley Park, Blackpool 14.30)

Fri 5 Aug Loughborough Lightning v Western Storm (Haslegrave 16.30)

Sun 7 Aug Western Storm v Surrey Stars (Bristol 14.30pm)

Mon 8 Aug Southern Vipers v Yorkshire Diamonds (Ageas Bowl 14.00)

Tues 9 Aug Surrey Stars v Lancashire Thunder (Guildford 14.30pm)

Fri 12 Aug Loughborough Lightning v Surrey Stars (Haslegrave 16.30pm)

Fri 12 Aug Western Storm v Southern Vipers (Taunton 17.00)

Fri 12 Aug Lancashire Thunder v Yorkshire Diamonds (Old Trafford 18.00)

Sun 14 Southern Vipers v Loughborough Lightning (Ageas Bowl 14.00)

Sun 14 Yorkshire Diamonds v Western Storm (Headingley 14.30)

 

Finals day is Sunday 21 August at the Essex County Ground, Chelmsford.

 

And finally, doctors gave her just a 1% chance of survival following a motorbike accident in Vietnam, but now Scottish judoka Stephanie Inglis is going home.

In the accident she suffered two neck fractures and a serious head injury. Whilst in hospital she contracted infections including pneumonia and septicaemia. She’s had deep vein thrombosis and was also unable to talk after undergoing a tracheotomy.

She has been in Edinburgh hospital for six weeks, but now returns to Inverness to continue her recovery.

A crowdfunding campaign, set up by her judo teammate and friend Khalid Ghelan, raised over £304,000 to help pay for her treatment in Bangkok.

She obviously has a fearsome amount of determination;

“My physio is helping me improve every day, I’m feeling much more confident on my feet plus I have an occupational therapist and a speech and language therapist, so I think my speech is back to normal.”

What can I say that won’t sound trite or insincere? Inspirational, humbling: definitely. And with that kind of drive and courage, who’s to say she can’t return to the top? A great way to end this week’s column.

Women’s Sports Column 9-15 July

standard-pitch-dimensionsIt’s column time again – gosh this week has gone quickly. I’d like to say it will be an island of sense in this sea of world chaos, but I think I might just be guilty of over-selling it….

Anyway, this week we have stories from athletics, tennis, football, golf, cricket, gymnastics, rugby union (missed from last week) and a happy story for “And finally”.

Obviously the selections are being made for Rio at the moment. Apologies if I don’t get everyone in here, but it’s pretty well publicised news that can be picked up in the mainstream press (is it possible?).

A couple of athletics stories should be mentioned, though. After I reported Jo Pavey had achieved the qualifying time for the 10,0000m last week, she has indeed been picked for Rio.

On the other side of the coin is high jumper Isobel Pooley. She will miss the Olympics due to an ankle injury. She could compete, but has been told that it would be unwise to do so as it would make the injury worse, so she has pulled out. Pooley may well have been a medal contender.

Britain also had a good final day of the European Championships with the women’s 4 x 400m winning gold with the fastest time in the world this year. France were second and Italy, third.

The four; Emily Diamond, Anyika Onuora, Eilidh Doyle and Seren Bundy-Davies took the title in a time of 3:25.05 seconds.

The full women’s athletics squad for Rio is as follows:

100m: Asha Philip, Desiree Henry, Daryll Neita. 200m: Dina Asher-Smith, Jodie Williams. 400m: Christine Ohuruogu, Emily Diamond, Seren Bundy-Davies. 800m:Lynsey Sharp, Shelayna Oskan-Clarke. 1,500m: Laura Muir, Laura Weightman.5,000m: Eilish McColgan, Stephanie Twell, Laura Whittle. 10,000m: Jo Pavey, Beth Potter, Jessica Andrews. 3,000m steeplechase: Lennie Waite. 100m hurdles: Tiffany Porter, Cindy Ofili. 400m hurdles: Eilidh Doyle. High jump: Morgan Lake. Pole vault:Holly Bradshaw. Long jump: Lorraine Ugen, Shara Proctor, Jazmin Sawyers.Hammer throw: Sophie Hitchon. Discus throw: Jade Lally. Heptathlon: Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Jessica Ennis-Hill. Marathon: Sonia Samuels, Alyson Dixon.

Relays: 4x100m: Asha Philip, Desiree Henry, Daryll Neita, Dina Asher-Smith, Bianca Williams, Ashleigh Nelson, Louise Bloor. 4x400m: Christine Ohuruogu, Emily Diamond, Seren Bundy-

It was a stunning end to Wimbledon last weekend. Serena Williams was an absolute vision of sporting prowess as she blasted Angelique Kerber off the court to win 7-5 6-3 in the singles final. It was her 22nd grand slam victory, bringing her level with Steffi Graf.

Later on in the day on Saturday she still had enough passion and puff to win the doubles with sister Venus. They beat fifth seeds Babos and Shvedova 6-3 6-4.

Heather Watson made up for her disappointment in the singles by taking the mixed doubles title with partner Henri Kontinen from Finland. They beat fifteenth seeds Farah and Groenefeld 7-6 6-4. They had never even played together before the championships began.

As I reported last week, it was the first time there had been wheelchair singles at Wimbledon. Top seed Jiske Griffioen of Netherlands took the title against compatriot Aniek Van Koot, who had beaten British favourite Jordanne Whiley in the semi-final, 4-6 6-0 6-4.

Whiley did take the wheelchair doubles title with her partner and best mate Yui Kamiji from Japan. The top seeds beat second seeds Griffioen and Van Koot 6-2 6-2.

The girls’ singles was won by Anastasia Potapova of Russia beating of Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine 6-4 6-3 and the girls’ doubles champions were Usue Arconada and Claire Liu of USA, who beat Caty McNally (USA) and Mariam Bolkvadze (Georgia) 6-2 6-3.

In other tennis news, it has been confirmed that Maria Sharapova will miss the Olympics as the verdict of her appeal will not be known until September.

 

Big news from English football this week.  It has been announced that from the season 2017-18, the FAWSL will become a winter league instead of a summer league. It will be played from September to May. This brings it in line with other European divisions.

It’s a big, bold decision – part of the thinking behind a summer league is that it will attract fans who are missing the men’s game during the summer. But it is good to know that the FA thinks the women’s game can stand on its own and that attendances will stay as they are or even improve.

A one-off competition, the FAWSL Spring Series will take place from February to June 2017, alongside the FA Cup, to transition from one schedule to the other. This will also benefit the England team as they prepare for the European Championships which take plce in Netherlands in July/August 2017.

There will also be a winter break in the 2017-18 season from mid-December to mid- January.

Whatever happens, the current situation could not have continued. The summer schedule was bitty at best, with four weeks sometimes between games. This is just not acceptable to England’s top clubs who want to be competitive in Europe.

 

Results from FAWSL1:

Saturday 9 July

Liverpool Ladies FC 2-0 Reading FC Women
Harding 17’
Coombs 24’

Sunderland AFC Ladies 4-0 Doncaster Rovers Belles
Mead 34’, 45+3’
Sharp 39’
Chaplen 78’

Sunday 10 July

Arsenal Ladies FC 2-0 Notts County Ladies FC
Van de Donk 10’
Dobbs 56’

Chelsea Ladies FC 1- 1 Birmingham City Ladies
Aluko 52’
Ayisi 48’

Also some news which is, on the face of it, comical, but actually is another one of those occasions when you think about it and say, “it would never have happened if it were a men’s game.”

Last week a game between Western New York Flash and Seattle Reign in the NWSL had to be moved due a scheduling clash. It was moved to the outfield f a nearby baseball stadium. Consequently a pitch was marked out that was barely big enough for children to play on.

Two problems with this: a) why was a music festival scheduled in the Sahlen’s Stadium – surely they knew there was a game on? And b) what on earth went on to mark out such a ridiculous pitch?

Needless to say the players and coaches were not happy. The Reign coach, Laura Harvey said,

“for any players/staff to be put in a position like we were tonight is not acceptable”.

Jeff Blush of the NWSL made this statement:

“the field dimensions were not up to our standards, but due to various factors, the league office made the decision to grant an exception for this evening’s match. In retrospect, we made the wrong decision.”

Do you think?

 

Talking of farce, another situation occurred at the US Women’s Open last week. Brittany Lang won the title, but only after Anna Nordqvist was given a two-stroke penalty during the play-off for grounding her club.

Sounds logical? Yes, but the penalty occurred in the second hole of a three hole play-off but the players were not informed until they were on the final hole. Lang made a par on the final hole, while Nordqvist only made bogey and lost by three strokes.

Nordqvist was quite laid-back about it considering she was only told about the penalty after she had played her third shot on the last. She said she didn’t know if it would have made any difference to the eventual outcome, but she certainly would have been more aggressive on the last if she had known she had two shots to make up.

Again, you have to say, would this have happened if it had been between Jordan Spieth and Rory McIroy?

 

Two pieces of cricket news this week. Firstly, Cricket Australia has announced that it is to invest $4 million in grassroots women’s cricket.

The money, “Growning Cricket for Girls”, will go to better coaching facilities and improving the cricketing pathway for 11-18 year olds. $1 million per year for four years will go into local associations, clubs and secondary schools. Of this, $50,000 will go towards employing full-time female participation specialists.

Secondly, Scottish Wildcats have qualified for the ICC Global Qualifier to get into the World Cup. They have take an unassailable 2-0 lead against Netherlands Women.

Both games were decided by the Duckworth/Lewis method due to rain.

In the first, Scotland posted 218/5 off their 50 overs. Netherlands were set a revised target of 161 in 26 overs, but fell short on 133/7, losing the game by 27 runs.

In the second, Scotland batted first again, posting 222/9 off their 50. Rain intervened again and Netherlands were set 178 in 37 overs. They fell short again, ending on 169/6 and losing by 8 runs.

Scotland now goes forward to the ICC Global WCWC Qualifier in 2017.

 

So it’s good news for Australian cricketers, but not so for its gymnasts. The Western Australian Institute of Sport (WAIS) has announced that it is shutting its Women’s Artistic Gymnastics National Centre of Excellence in Perth at the end of 2016.

Needless to say the closure is largely due to funding issues, but Gymnastics Australia has denounced the decision in a public statement:

“On the eve of the Olympics, women’s sport in Australia has been dealt a huge blow by today’s shock revelation that one of the nation’s premier training centres for elite gymnasts is to close,”

GA’s President, Jacqui Briggs-Weatherill went on to say,

“This is a very cruel and short-sighted decision by WAIS that if not reversed will end the Olympic ambitions of many young women in one of Australia’s fastest growing sports.”

 

For the last couple of weeks the Women’s Rugby Super Series has been taking place in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. Didn’t see it in the mainstream media even though England’s women are currently World Champions? No, neither did I and, to my eternal shame, I missed reporting on it last week. Anyway, to make amends, here are the details:

The tournament took place between USA, Canada, France and England.

England were dealt a shocking and bitter blow in the first game on 1 July as they were beaten 52-17 by Canada. They recovered to beat France 17-13 on 5 July and then beat USA comfortably 39-13. This match included an impressive hat-trick of tries from winger Lydia Thompson.

Canada were the eventual winners of the tournament, unbeaten in their three matches. England finished second with two wins, France third with one and USA fourth having lost all of their matches. England will take heart from their comeback, having fallen to such a disastrous defeat in the first game.

 

And finally, this great story pinged into my inbox this week – I don’t know how many of you will have seen it already, but it bears re-telling. Manar Sarhan, a dentist from Cairo, has become Egypt’s first female football pundit. She appears on the private CBC television channel and has recently been commenting on Euro 2016 matches.

She started volunteering in journalism in 2002, filming her favourite Egyptian club Zamalek. She then wrote for several newspapers before being discovered by the CBC channel.

Unsurprisingly the reaction was mixed. She says:

“I was mocked in the beginning. They would tell me ‘Girls belong in kitchens’,” (I think we’ve all heard that one)

But Sarhan is not one to give up. She is now acknowledged as an expert on the subject;- her analysis of tactics and team plans is regarded as impressive.

She has learnt Spanish so that she can follow La Liga and also intends to learn Italian and Portuguese to be able to follow more European football.

Her ultimate aim is to work in European football. Go get it, I say!

Women’s Sports Column – 2-8 July

CAYFS5MZWelcome to this week’s column. Plenty to get through this week including football, cricket, athletics, tennis, golf, rugby league, netball, transgender rights, sailing and, I’m afraid, another corking “And finally”.

It’s about time that people realised that when it comes to football it’s no use relying on England’s men to come up with the goods (brilliant stuff from Wales, by the way). Last year we cheered, yelled and cried along with the Lionesses as they brought home a bronze medal from the World Cup in USA. Well, this week, Team GB’s deaf women footballers did their thing and won a bronze at the Deaf World Cup in Italy.

It was a tough tournament as when China withdrew at the last minute the format was changed from two groups to just one round-robin first stage.

Each of the six teams played five times in nine days!

The top two played for the gold, while the third and fourth finishers played for bronze.

Team GB had a mixed first stage; they began with at 2-2 draw against Poland, then they beat hosts Italy 5-0, lost 4-0 to USA and beat Turkey 6-0. They needed to beat Russia in the last game to play in the gold medal match. However, Russia scored in the last minute to win the game 1-0 and send GB to the bronze medal match.

They faced Poland again for bronze and this time a draw was never on the cards. They went 1-0 up and held on until five minutes from the end when Ceara Toal from Leicestershire scored a second to secure the medal.

The eventual winners were USA who beat Russia in the final 3-0.

This achievement should not be underestimated. The women had to raise every penny to get to the championships. There was quite a lot of publicity when Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland contributed 5k to help get the women there, but there were hundreds of other people who gave what they could by chucking into collection buckets at the FAWSL (and other ) games.

 

England’s women cricketers completed a clean sweep over Pakistan on Thursday with a sixth win in a row. They won all of their ODIs comfortably and were equally good in the three T20s. Before the series started I expressed concern at the route new coach Mark Robinson was taking by dispensing with the services of Charlotte Edwards and Lydia Greenway. England were also without Sarah Taylor for the whole series.

In my preview for Women’s Sports UK I suggested that if ever England were there for the taking by Pakistan, this would be the time. So from now on I’m going to cease with the punditry and just present the facts! I’ll be writing a suitably chastened review for WSUK which I would encourage you to read but just to point out the records broken in the series:

    • Highest ODI total: 378-5 (Lauren Winfield 123, Tammy Beaumont 104, Natalie Sciver 80), 2nd Royal London ODI, Wednesday 22nd June, New Road Worcester
    • Highest IT20 total: 187-5 (Tammy Beaumont 84, Lauren Winfield 72), 1st NatWest IT20, Sunday 3rd July, The Brightside Ground, Bristol
    • Highest ODI opening partnership: 235 (Lauren Winfield & Tammy Beaumont) 2nd Royal London ODI, Wednesday 22nd June, New Road Worcester
    • Highest IT20 opening partnership: 147 (Lauren Winfield & Tammy Beaumont) 1st NatWest IT20, Sunday 3rd July, The Brightside Ground, Bristol
    • Heather Knight became the first player in the world (male or female) to take 5 wickets (5-26) and score a half century (50*) in a ODI
    • Tammy Beaumont’s 342 run aggregate in the Royal London ODI series was the highest ever in a three-match ODI series (male or female)

In other exciting cricket news, the ICC has applied for women’s cricket to be included in the 2022 Commonwealth Games in South Africa.   If it happens, it will be yet another showcase for women’s cricket, so fingers crossed that the ICC will be successful in their application.

ICC Chairman, Shashank Manohar, said

“The Board has taken a strategic decision to support the inclusion of women’s cricket in the 2022 Commonwealth Games as it will enhance the profile of the sport and create additional exposure and experiences for female cricketers, as well as opportunities to engage with the Commonwealth Games on important social justice issues and initiatives.”

He went on to say that the Olympic Games will be another target for women’s cricket and the ICC will be meeting with the IOC later on this year.

 

The European Athletics Championships have been happening this week in Amsterdam. Dina Asher-Smith claimed a stunning gold on Thursday in the 200m with a season’s best 22.37 seconds.

Tiffany Porter could not defend her title, but took a creditable bronze in the 100m hurdles.

And we have to say all hail Jo Pavey (again). She has just run the Olympic qualifying time for the 10,000m at the age of 42. She finished in fifth in Amsterdam with a season’s best 31 minutes 34 seconds. She will now have to see if she is selected, but it will be a crying shame if she isn’t.

The only sad news to report is that after missing out on the 800m final and picking up an injury, Jenny Meadows has decided to retire.

 

Not much to cheer about for British women’s tennis at Wimbledon over the last fortnight (so far).

As I suggested in my last column, Angelique Kerber was far too strong for Laura Robson in the first round and she lost 2-6 2-6. It may be some consolation to Robson that Kerber has now reached the final and will play Serena Williams on Saturday 9 July.

More disappointingly, British number two Heather Watson also went out in the first round to Annika Beck 3-6 6-0 12-10, having squandered three match points.

Katie Swan lost in the first round to Timea Babos, 6-2 6-3. She was also playing in the Girls’ singles, but had to retire with a leg injury in the first round.

Naomi Broady was the fourth Briton to go out in the first round, losing 6-2 6-3 to 17th seed, Elina Svitolina.

British number one Johanna Konta went out in the second round, losing to Eugenie Bouchard of Canada, 6-3 1-6 6-1.

Tara Moore had an excellent win over Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium in the first round, 6-3 6-2, but succumbed to 13th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second, 1-6 6-2 3-6.

Most exciting this Wimbledon week is that the championships is, for the first time, including wheelchair singles.

Wheelchair ace (no pun intended) Jordanne Whiley drew fellow Briton and doubles partner Lucy Shuker in the quarter final. She won the match 6-1 6-1 and will now face Aniek van Koot in the semi-final.

 

The football transfer window closed this week with Notts County Ladies making the most signings. There are mutterings and mumblings about just what is going on at Birmingham City Ladies, which reached a peak a couple of weeks ago when England internationals Jade Moore and Jo Potter revealed they had bought themselves out of their contracts. In very similar statements they expressed a kind of nebulous dissatisfaction with the club – this is Jo Potter’s:

ClGKFzvWEAAd5Zu

Notts County also signed goalkeeper Lizzie Durack from Harvard University.

England international Natasha Dowie and midfielder Becky Easton have left Doncaster Belles. Easton has decided to retire to concentrate on her studies, while Dowie has not signed elsewhere yet as she is concentrating on recovering from injury.

 

In excellent news for women’s rugby league this week, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats have become the first Super League side to launch a women’s team.

Wakefield Trinity Ladies will be part of the Women’s Premier League from 2017. Championship sides Featherstone Rovers and Bradford Bulls already have teams, but Wakefield will be the first Super League side.  It is a sign of the growth of women’s rugby league, but it is a shame that the ladies will not be playing at Wakefield’s Belle Vue ground, but will be based at local amateur club Sharlston Rovers.

 

Royal Troon Golf club has left the stone-age and voted “overwhelmingly” to allow women to join as members. In a statement they said that a recent consultation of current membership showed that over three-quarters were in favour of the move. While it is obviously a sound result, it’s probably only at “Two cheers” as E.M. Forster would have it, as it shouldn’t even be an issue in the 21st century.

 

The new line-up for the 2017 Vitality Netball Superleague has been announced, not without controversy. There will be three new teams; Severn Stars, Scottish Sirens and Wasps Netball. There will, however, be no place for Yorkshire Jets. Apparently the new line-up was published in error on England Netball’s website.

Jets finished bottom of the league last season, without a win to their name, and it is unclear what their future will be. Their captain, Stacey Francis, spoke to Sky Sports:

“It’s really sad and it’s really hard to get your head around.

“I’m a very loyal person and the core of Superleague franchises have been around for a long time now. I envisaged playing for the franchise for as long as I possibly could and absolutely building on last season.

“The performances and the results were poor but at no point did anyone say we were a lost cause in terms of performance, and the debrief at the end of season was incredibly productive and lots of conversations were already happening about how we would move forward next season.”

Let’s hope that the Jets keep their team together and their fanbase expanding. If they do this I can’t see how the Superleague could block their return in 2018.

 

As I predicted some time ago (and it gives me no pleasure to say this), the next big story in athletics will surround transgender athletes. As we near the Rio Olympics there are going to be more scare stories and general hysteria (word deliberately used) about the issue. I’m not saying that it’s not a serious issue, but the amount of ignorance and misinformation printed or published in the next few weeks will far outweigh any scientifically-based, thoroughly researched and balanced pieces.

Most recently I have seen:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3671937/Transgender-British-athletes-born-men-set-make-Olympic-history-competing-games-women.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/11903290/Eight-of-Irans-womens-football-team-are-men.html

I suggest you all read up on it – the facts not the fiction and make your own decisions. This is such a grey area that needs some sensible discussion. One thing we don’t need is the demonising of transgender athletes, whose lives and decisions, you can guarantee, will be under the microscope to the nth degree before they are allowed to compete at any event.

 

Sailing update from Abby Ehler:

In sailing this week, Team Magenta 32 competing in the World Match Race Tour were eliminated early in the qualifying series, much to their disappointment.  The team has continually been making positive ground in the 2016 circuit, racing against some of the worlds best match racers, and as the Tour’s first all-female team they have have certainly made their mark on the course.  Results aside there are many positives to take away from their involvement in this particular circuit including the inspiration provided to others, one supporter wrote in “You have together opened up another door for more women sailors to compete in what is a male dominated arena and you continue to inspire in so many more ways that you can imagine to so many.”  The team hope to secure funding to be able to continue their course in the high performance sailing world.

The ‘La Solitaire Bombard Le Figaro’ Race concluded on Thursday 7th July in La Rochelle following 1525 miles of coastal single handed racing split into 4 stages.  What makes this race so unique is that is requires the sailors to be excellent short course racers, skilled navigators and weather routers and able to pace themselves to manage the sleep deprivation and hard living conditions, whilst maintaining the boat at sea and above all being competitive and determined to get through all the challenges that this Race entails! There were a total of 39 competitors, 5 of which were women: Justine Mettraux (SUI), Cecile Laguette (FRA), Sophie Faguet (FRA), Claire Pruvot (FRA) and Mary Rook (GBR).  Justine Mettraux has finished the event 3rd in the Rookie division, a great achievement in her first attempt at this hardcore race!

 

And finally, curse of the creepy middle-aged man strikes again! Most of you will now have heard of British men’s player and number 772 in the world, Marcus Willis. He did wondrous things to reach round two of Wimbledon. And behind every great man, so they say, is a great woman – enter girlfriend Jenny Bate. Bate, a dental surgeon by profession, was apparently largely responsible for Willis not giving up on his tennis career when it seemed it was not going anywhere.

Unsurprisingly the BBC and newspapers committed many column inches and footage to the attractive woman. Not too worried about that, although we could have done without a shot of her after every point.

But BBC commentator Andrew Castle just couldn’t help himself,

“It’s a pity my dentist doesn’t look like that,” he snickered like a lecherous schoolboy.

And it’s a pity you don’t realise you’re old enough to be her father, Andrew…..