Women’s Sports Column 7-13 April 2018

the-ball-stadion-horn-corner-47343Welcome to this week’s column.  There’s plenty to get our teeth into this week with the ongoing Commonwealth Games, World Cup qualifiers in the football, play-offs in rugby union, tennis, lacrosse, and top-class international cricket.

So, to coin a phrase, let’s crack on.

Commonwealth Games

So much going on, and so much I’m probably going to have to miss out or this column will be 5000 words long!  So, again, apologies to anyone who thinks I’ve missed something vital (which I probably have).

 Netball

England Roses are through to the semi-finals where they will face Jamaica.  They finished top of their group.  The other semi-final will be between Australia and New Zealand.  Although, after watching Australia demolish Jamaica I am tempted to say just give them the gold now, I am hoping that the Roses beat Jamaica and somehow can stun the Aussies in the final.

Basketball

More surprisingly, England’s basketball team (ranked 21 in the world) are through to the final of their tournament, having beaten Canada (ranked fifth in the world) in the semi-final 65-53.

They will face either Australia or New Zealand who play the second semi-final.

Hockey

England’s women lost out in the semi-final to New Zealand in a penalty shootout.  They now face India in the bronze medal match on Saturday.  The gold medal match will be between Australia and New Zealand.

Badminton

Mixed doubles pairings of Chris and Gabby Adcock and Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith are both through to the semi-finals.

Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour is through to the semis in the singles.

Doubles pairing of Lauren Smith and Sarah Walker are through to the women’s doubles semi-finals.

Rugby Sevens

It’s the inaugural women’s sevens at Gold Coast 2018.

In Pool A: England won their first match, against Fiji, 17-5, but then lost to Australia 29-12.

Wales have lost both of their matches so far, 34-5 to Australia and 29-7 to Fiji.

England and Wales play each other in the final pool game on Saturday.

In Pool B: New Zealand beat Kenya 45-0 and South Africa 41-0.  Canada also won their first two matches.

Athletics

It’s been a mixed Games for home nations athletes.  Katarina Johnson-Thompson took gold in the heptathlon, while Niamh Emerson, also from England, took bronze.  Dina Asher-Smith (Eng) won bronze in a strong 200m field.  Eilidh Doyle took silver for Scotland in the 400m hurdles.  Shara Proctor won bronze in the long jump for England.

Also Caster Semenya of South Africa won the 800m/1500m double.

Sophie Hahn took gold for England in the T38 100m and Olivia Breen of Wales took bronze in the same event.  Breen also won gold in the T38 long jump.  Maria Lyle won silver for Scotland in the T35 100m.  Hollie Arnold won T46 javelin gold for Wales.

 Other medal highlights:

  • Fabulous diving from Scotland’s Grace Reid who took gold in the 1m springboard.
  • Bronze for Lesley Doig and Claire Johnston for Scotland in Women’s Pairs bowls
  • Laura Holford silver for Wales in the rhythmic gymnastics Hoop.
  • Kirsty Barr of Northern Ireland silver in the women’s trap and Sarah Wixey of Wales bronze in the same event.
  • Seonaid McIntosh two bronzes; women’s 50m rifle prone & 50m rifle 3 positions for Scotland

One more round-up next week, including how the team sports ended up, boxing, squash, table tennis, more athletics and anything else I can fit in!

Football – World Cup Qualifiers

There have been some excellent performances from the home nations over the last week.

England 0-0 Wales

Wales’ goalkeeper, Laura O’Sullivan, put in an outstanding performance to deny England three points at Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium on Friday.

But it could have been even worse for England if Tash Harding’s shot in the ninth minute had been adjudged to have crossed the line.

It wasn’t, and England went on to have 22 shots on target, none of which went in, largely due to a stalwart Wales defence and the heroics of O’Sullivan.

Unsurprisingly, Wales manager Jayne Ludlow was ecstatic with the performance,

“From a female football perspective it’s probably the best (result in Wales’ history),” she said in an interview with the BBC.

Bosnia-Herzegovina 0-2 England

England were back to goalscoring form in Sarajevo on Tuesday.

There was a momentary wobble when Alex Greenwood was sent off before half-time for a second yellow card.  She was penalised for diving, when actually she was pretty obviously caught by the Bosnian defender.

But the home side couldn’t make the extra player count.  Toni Duggan scored the first and Jodie Taylor a stoppage-time penalty to ensure the three points.

Bosnia-Herzegovina captain Amira Spahic was also sent off towards the end, also for a second yellow card.

With the win England went top of Group A, two points ahead of Wales.

Scotland 3-0 Poland

Scotland’s qualifying campaign got back on track with a comfortable win in Paisley on Wednesday.

The away side started well with Ewa Pajor in particular causing problems for the Scottish defence.

But in the second-half Scotland came into the game.  Lee Alexander saved a penalty from Pajor and the Paulina Dudek was sent off for the Poles for a second yellow card offence.

As soon as Poland were down to ten, Scotland took advantage.  Zoe Ness scored two and Erin Cuthbert a third to seal the game for the Scots, taking them to second in the Group 2, six points behind leaders Switzerland and with a game in hand.

Netherlands 7-0 Northern Ireland

Unfortunately, Northern Ireland’s chances of qualifying for the 2019 World Cup are just about over.

They were thrashed by European Champions the Netherlands in Eindhoven on Saturday 7 April.

They were 4-0 up by half-time with two from Lieke Martens, one from Vivianne Miedema and a penalty scored by Sherida Spitse.

It was more of the same in the second-half.  Shanice van de Sanden, Spitse with her second and a Billie Simpson made it a woeful night for the Northern Irish.

Northern Ireland 0-3 Norway

It didn’t get any better for Northern Ireland on Wednesday as they slumped to a poor home defeat to Norway at Shamrock Park in Portadown.

After a goalless first-half, the away side took the lead on the hour through Caroline Graham Hansen.  She then poached a second late on with Isabell Herlovsen scoring a third for Norway.

Football – Domestic

Just the one result this week with the international break in full swing:

FAWSL2

London Bees 2-1 Aston Villa

Katie Wilkinson opened the scoring for the home side just before the half-hour.  Bees doubled their lead in first-half injury time through Destiney Toussaint.

It looked like three points and a clean sheet until the penultimate minute when Ebony Salmon grabbed a consolation goal for Villa.

The result took London Bees up to fifth, but still five points behind Durham in fourth, having played a game more.  Aston Villa stay second from bottom with seven points from 12 games.

Lacrosse

Home Internationals 6-8 April, Edinburgh

There were no less than four tournaments taking place in Edinburgh at the weekend.

England took all four titles, as they did in Cardiff in 2017.

Senior A team:

England 21-7 Wales

Scotland 6-14 England

Senior B team:

Wales 6-19 England

Scotland 6-19 England

England 17-2 Ireland

England also triumphed in the Under 19 A and B tournaments.

Cricket – on the pitch

India sealed a fine 2-1 series win against England this week.  In a see-sawing series, England took the second game easily, having been outplayed in the first.  They were, however, unable to maintain this form in the third match and succumbed to the home side again to lose the series.

Second ODI

India 113 all out (37.2 overs)

England 117/2 (29 overs)

England won by 8 wickets with 126 balls remaining

It was all about England’s spinners in game two.  Mithali Raj won the toss and elected to bat.

But 4/32 for Dani Hazell from her 10 overs and a career-best 4/14 from Sophie Ecclestone saw the home side slump to 113 all out.  Top scorer for India was Smriti Mandhana with 42 with Deepti Sharma chipping in with 26 not out further down the order.

In response England motored away.  Danni Wyatt scored 47 from 43 balls.  Amy Jones was the only player to miss out, going for a duck bowled by Ekta Bisht.  Tammy Beaumont and Heather Knight saw it home, scoring 39 and 26 respectively and reaching their total with more than 20 overs to spare.

Third ODI

England 201/9 (50 overs)

India 202/2 (45.2 overs)

India won by 8 wickets with 28 balls remaining

England couldn’t maintain their good form of the second ODI as they lost to India in the final game to win the series.

Knight won the toss and chose to bat.

Amy Jones was unluckily run out for 94, and while captain Knight scored 36, no-one else made a significant enough contribution to get England to a useful score.  The wickets were evenly shared by the Indian bowlers with Goswami, Gayakwad, Sharma and Yadav bagging two each.

Opener Jemimah Rodrigues fell for two, caught by Beaumont off the bowling of Shrubsole.  When Krishnamurthy went for seven, also to Shrubsole, England must have thought they were in with a chance.  When the home side had reached 99 Mandhana retired hurt.

But a 103-run third wicket stand between Raj (74 off 124 balls) and Sharma (54 off 61) saw them home.

In the process Raj also took Charlotte Edwards’ record for the most 50+ innings in ODIs.

Cricket – off the pitch

Excellent, and somewhat surprising, news this week from Wisden.  Three out of the five of Wisden’s Cricketers of the Year are women!  Heather Knight, Nat Sciver and Anya Shrubsole all make the list.

Of course it was a sensational year for women’s cricket as a whole with the World Cup causing such a wow in the cricketing world and so many female cricketers becoming household names.   This is happening not just in England, but also particularly in Australia, New Zealand and India.

For three England players to be recognised by Wisden in this way, as well as Shrubsole appearing on the front cover is most definitely a breakthrough.  Only two women have been named in the list before – a list that started in 1889; England’s Claire Taylor and Charlotte Edwards.

India’s Mithali Raj was also named World’s leading Women’s Cricketer.

Heather Knight captained the England side with a cool calmness that belied her experience.  She was filling the giant shoes that belonged to Charlotte Edwards and didn’t miss a step in doing so.  She scored 364 runs during the World Cup, averaging 45.

Nat Sciver’s summer will be remembered for the “Natmeg”, but was actually so much more.  She scored 369 runs during the World Cup including centuries against Pakistan and New Zealand.  Her bowling has also progressed this year.

Anya Shrubsole’s contribution to the tournament has been well-documented already, not least in this column!  At the risk of alienating you all by saying “I was there” yet again, I can honestly say that England had lost that final if it hadn’t been for Shrubsole.  She took 6/46 including the last wicket and putting herself firmly into the history books.

For the sake of balance, I must add that two chaps also made the list: West Indies batsman Shai Hope was the shining light for the Windies during their tour of England last year.  He became the first man to score a hundred in both innings of a first-class match at Headingley during the second Test.

Finally, Jamie Porter of Essex was the leading wicket-taker in the County Championship Division one last season.  He took 75 wickets as Essex won their first title since 1992.

Tennis – on the court

Monterrey

Top seed Garbine Muguruza triumphed at the Monterrey Open at the weekend.  She beat second seed Timea Babos, 3-6 6-4 6-3.

There was also good news for Naomi Broady in the doubles as she won her first WTA Tour title with partner Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain.  They defeated Mexico’s Giuliana Olmos and American Desirae Krawczyk in the final, 3-6 6-4 10-8.

Volvo Car Open

Meanwhile in Charleston twelfth seed Kiki Bertens took the title, defeating fifth seed Julia Görges in convincing manner, 6-2 6-1.

Tennis – off the court

World number 83, Madison Brengle is suing the WTA and ITF for injuries she alleges were sustained in the course of anti-doping tests.

Brengle has a condition which means she reacts badly to injections.  Her solicitor says that,

“Tennis authorities ignored evidence of her professionally-diagnosed condition and refused to provide alternative testing or a medical accommodation.”

Brengle has been left with swelling and weakness in her serving arm and hand.

In a statement Brengle said,

“I am bringing this action in an effort to force those who control the sport I love to understand that players are not commodities and should be treated with respect and dignity.

“The unbridled authority of officials to subject players to the kind of abuse I suffered cannot be tolerated; players must have a say in matters involving our health and safety.”

News to follow as the case develops.

Rugby Union

It was the first leg of the Premier 15s play-off semi-finals at the weekend, as although Saracens look to have already secured their place in the final, it’s still all to play for between Harlequins and Wasps, with Quins taking a six-point advantage into the second leg.

Gloucester-Hartpury 0-62 Saracens

Saracens were out of sight in this match after just twenty minutes as they scored four tries without reply.  Marlie Packer drove over for the first before Helena Rowland scored a second then prop Samantha Martinez Gion and Lottie Clapp scored to put the Saracens firmly in control.

Bryony Cleall scored a fifth before half-time and the away side went in 33-0 up at the break.

There was more of the same in the second-half.  Hannah Botterman scored the sixth, Packer scored her second and Garnet Mackinder added an eighth.

But they weren’t finished there.  Poppy Cleall went in for a ninth and Mackinder a tenth and her second of the match.

Wasps 19-25 Harlequins

It was an altogether tighter affair at Twyford Avenue.

Wasps opened the scoring on nine minutes when Liz Crake went over to score her first try of the season.

But four minutes later Quins were level as Abbie Scott crossed in the corner.  They went ahead on 16 minutes when Deborah McCormack went over to make it 10-7.

Quins scored again through Natasha Bradshaw to make it 17-7 at half-time.

In the second-half Wasps brought themselves back into it with tries from Louise Dodd and Abby Dow, making it 19-17 to the home side.

But it was Quins who were to have the last word –Ellie Green kicked a penalty and Fiona Pocock scored a last minute try to take the game and the lead back to The Stoop on Saturday.

Join me for more next week. 

 

 

Women’s Sports Column 24 – 30 June 2017

water-815271_960_720Welcome to this week’s column.  Having seen my third cricket match in a row abandoned on Tuesday, I’m now officially considering myself a curse, so if I were you I wouldn’t be inviting me to a wedding or garden party-type event any time soon.

This week’s stories come from tennis, horse racing, cricket, golf, football, basketball, rugby union and taekwondo.

Football

Injuries

Two major injury blows for Scotland this week ahead of the Euros, which begin next month.  Defender Jen Beattie and striker Kim Little have both been ruled out.

Beattie, who plays for Manchester City in the WPL has an ankle injury, whilst Arsenal star Little ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament during training and faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

Horse Racing

Melbourne Cup-winning Australian jockey, Michelle Payne has been stood down from riding after testing positive for a banned substance.

After being tested on 11 June her urine sample showed traces of Phentermine, an appetite suppressant.

An enquiry into the findings will be held this week.

Rugby Union

England head coach, Simon Middleton, has announced his squad for the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup, taking place in Ireland in August.

He has clearly placed his faith in experience as between them the squad has 1,207 caps.

The squad in full:

Forwards: Zoe Aldcroft (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 4 caps), Sarah Bern (Bristol, 10 caps), Rochelle Clark (Worcester Valkyries, 124 caps), Amy Cokayne (Lichfield, 28 caps), Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins, 25 caps), Vicky Fleetwood (Saracens, 61 caps), Sarah Hunter (C) (Bristol, 93 caps), Heather Kerr (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 8 caps), Justine Lucas (Lichfield, 22 caps), Alex Matthews (Richmond, 31 caps), Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield, 46 caps), Izzy Noel-Smith (Bristol, 31 caps), Marlie Packer (Bristol, 47 caps), Abbie Scott (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 17 caps), Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 105 caps).

Backs: Rachael Burford (Harlequins, 67 caps), Natasha Hunt (Lichfield, 37 caps), Megan Jones (Bristol, 4 caps), La Toya Mason (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 66 caps), Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 85 caps), Amber Reed (Bristol, 39 caps), Leanne Riley (Harlequins, 10 caps), Emily Scarratt (VC) (Lichfield, 69 caps), Emily Scott (Saracens, 23 caps), Lydia Thompson (Worcester Valkyries, 34 caps), Danielle Waterman (Bristol, 70 caps), Kay Wilson (Richmond, 44 caps), Amy Wilson Hardy (Bristol, 7 caps).

As a reminder here are England’s pool games:

Pool B

England v Spain
Wednesday 9 August – UCD Bowl, Dublin (KO 2pm)
Live coverage ITV4 from 1.30pm

England v Italy
Sunday 13 August – Billings Park UCD, Dublin (KO 2.30pm)
Live coverage ITV1 from 2pm

England v USA
Thursday 17 August – Billings Park UCD, Dublin (KO 2.30pm)
Live coverage ITV4 from 2pm

Taekwondo

On Wednesday Bianca Walkden became the first British fighter to defend a World Championship title when she took gold in Muju, South Korea.

Walkden beat home favourite Saebom An 9-3 in the semi-final, before going on to defeat Jackie Galloway of the USA 14-4 in the final of the +73kg category.

Jade Jones had to settle for bronze on Friday after losing in the semi-final 14-8 to Lee Ah-reum of South Korea.

Golf

The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is currently underway in Chicago.  The first round was cut short due to thunderstorms, but the leaderboard stands as follows:

-5 C Choi (Kor), A Yang (Kor)*, -4 B Altomare (US), J Klatten (Fra)*, -3 M Wie (US), B Henderson (Can), A Lee (IS), S Oh (Aus), K Kaufman (US)*, E Pederson (Den)*

Of the British players Jodie Ewart Shadoff (Eng) is -2 but is yet to complete round one.  Catriona Matthew of Scotland is +2 and also has to finish off her first round.  Mel Reid of England lies +3 and Charley Hull +4.

*Denotes unfinished round.

Tennis

Eastbourne

The top players are preparing for Wimbledon this week.  Eastbourne has its usual impressive line-up.

British players

Johanna Konta is seeded five.  She had a great start to the week, and on Thursday completed an impressive double as the tournament struggled to get back on track after severe rain delays.  However, during her defeat of Angelique Kerber in the quarter-final she fell heavily and suffered a back injury, causing her to withdraw from her scheduled semi-final with Karolina Pliskova.

What a good week it had been until then, though.  In the second round she easily defeated Sorana Cirstea of Romania 6-2 6-2. On Thursday she had to play two matches; In the third round she faced French Open champion, Jelena Ostapenko. Konta took the first set 7-5, Ostapenko hit back to take the second 6-3 and the decider went to Konta 6-4.  Later on she played world number one Angelique Kerber, defeating her in fine style 6-3 6-4.

Obviously there will now be concern over Konta’s participation at Wimbledon, which begins on Monday.  Let’s hope her withdrawal from Eastbourne is just precautionary.

Heather Watson has also had an excellent week.  In the first she defeated Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine 6-4 4-6 6-4.  In the second she had a fine win against fourth seed Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia, 7-5 6-4.  In the third she faced Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia and beat her 6-4 6-3.  In the quarter-final she faced Barbora Strycova and again won, this time in three sets, 6-1 1-6 6-4.  She plays Caroline Wozniacki, who defeated second seed Simona Halep 5-7 6-4 6-1.

Stop press:  Watson has just been defeated by Wozniacki in a tight match -6-2 3-6 7-5.  Wozniacki plays Karolina Pliskova in the final on Saturday 1 July.

Naomi Broady lost in the first round 6-2 6-7 6-1 to Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic.

Off the Court

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) announced this week that starting in 2018 the Davis Cup and Fed cup will combine to become a World Cup of Tennis.

The finals of the men’s and women’s tournaments will be brought together.  For the first three years the competition will be held in Geneva.   Geneva fought off bids from Copenhagen, Miami, Istanbul, Turin and Wuhan to win the right to host the event.

It may also be that the Fed cup semi-finals will also be included which would allow the ITF to expand the top group to 16 teams, the same number as are in the Davis Cup’s top group.

Wheelchair tennis

This year there will, for the first time, be a warm-up event before Wimbledon for the top wheelchair players.

It will be at Surbiton and will be over three days from 6 July.  The top 13 men and women players will take part and there will be both singles and doubles events.

Hockey

Women’s Hockey World League semi-finals
Quarter-final results:

New Zealand 2-0 Italy
Australia 0-2 China
Netherlands 2-0 Spain
South Korea 3-2 Belgium (After extra time.  1-1 after 60 minutes)

The semi-final line-up will now be:

South Korea v China
Netherlands v New Zealand

Both ties will be played on Saturday 1 July.

Wheelchair Basketball

Great Britain’s women lost in the semi-final of the European Championships this week.  They were defeated 59-42 by the Netherlands.  They will now play for bronze against France on Friday 30 June.

The final also takes place on 30 June.  The Netherlands will play Germany who defeated France 46-33 in the other semi-final.

Cricket

Women’s World Cup

Right, we’re eight games in and what do we know?  I don’t think my predictions have been too bad so far.  Australia have been excellent from the start, England have started slowly (as usual) and are improving, and India are looking ominous indeed.  West Indies look as if they’ve never met each other before and Pakistan show promise, but not enough.  South Africa and New Zealand are bobbling along, possibly under the radar, and Sri Lanka have a new star in Chamari Atapattu.  So far, so good.  So what have been the facts and figures:

Match 1:

Straightforward for New Zealand

New Zealand v Sri Lanka
Bristol – 24 June
New Zealand won the toss and put Sri Lanka in to bat.

Sri Lanka 188/9 (50 overs)
New Zealand 189/1 (37.4 overs)
New Zealand won by 9 wickets with 74 balls remaining

Atapattu top scored with 53 for Sri Lanka, but 188 was never likely to be a challenging total for the powerful New Zealanders.  Holly Huddleston with 5/35 was the pick of the bowling.

As expected, New Zealand reached the target with plenty to spare, losing only one wicket, that of Rachel Priest for 2, in the process.  Captain Suzie Bates scored the first century of the World Cup, finishing on 106 not out.  She was ably backed up by Amy Satterthwaite who was 78 not out at the end.

Match 2:

Good Start for England (not)

England v India
Derby – 24 June
England won the toss and put India in to bat

India 281/3 (50 overs)
England 246 all out (47.3)
India won by 35 runs

Poor bowling and even poorer batting for England is only half the story.  India batted, bowled and fielded with talent and passion on Saturday, and England were lagging sadly behind.  In fact England got further than they should have done as India were clearly the better side.

The first wicket stand was 144 and when Smriti Mandhana was out for 90 it was captain Mithali Raj who took it on.  Punam Raut was second to go, but not until she had scored a fine 86.  Raj hit 71 and Harmanpreet Kaur 24 not out.  The bowling was not good with Katherine Brunt particularly being hit to all parts, conceding 50 from just seven overs.

England are not particularly known for their chasing either, so it was always going to be a battle to reach this target.

Captain Heather Knight scored 46 and there was a fine knock of 81 from Fran Wilson, but they were both run out.  In fact there were four run outs in the innings as England strove to score at the high rate required.  In the end they fell short.

Match 3:

Pakistan close to upset

Pakistan v South Africa
Leicester – 25 June
South Africa won the toss and put Pakistan in to bat

Pakistan 206/8 (50 overs)
South Africa 207/7 (49 overs)
South Africa won by 3 wickets with 6 balls remaining

When Pakistan posted a total of only 206, South Africa must have been confident they would chase it down easily.  But they were made to fight every step of the way.

Nahida Khan top scored for Pakistan with 79, with pretty much everyone else making a contribution.

When South Africa started with an opening stand of 113 they seemed to be cruising.  Laura Wolvaardt scored 52 and Lizelle Lee 60, but after that the scoring rate was relatively slow.  Three quick middle order wickets saw Pakistan in with a chance, but Sune Luus and Shabnim Ismail saw them home.

Match 4:

Controversy at the toss ends with West Indies batting when they should have bowled

Australia v West Indies
Taunton – 26 June
West Indies won the toss and batted

West Indies 204 all out (47.4 overs)
Australia 205/2 (38.1 overs)
Australia won by 8 wickets

There was confusion and controversy at the toss in Taunton when Stafanie Taylor, on calling correctly said “bat” and then changed her mind and said “bowl”.  It seemed that they were going with bowl, when Australian captain Meg Lanning decided to challenge the decision saying that they should go with what Taylor said first.  Taylor didn’t press it and said they would bat.

Turns out they perhaps should have bowled.  Opener Hayley Matthews made a fine 46 and Taylor 45, but the going was slow and the target a small one for a crack Australian side.   Ellyse Perry took 3/47 in nine overs.  But Australia also bowled eight wides, a total they would look to improve upon.

In response Nicole Bolton made 107 and Beth Mooney 70 as they reached their target with 12 overs to spare.

Match 5:

Sciver and Knight take it away from Pakistan

England v Pakistan
Leicester – 27 June
Pakistan won the toss and put England in to bat

England 377/7 (50 overs)
Pakistan 107/3 (29.2)
Match abandoned – England won by 107 via D/L method

As I have already said, I was there to see the rain come down, but I was also there to see a heartening performance by England after their poor display against India.  England began badly. Both Taylor and Beaumont scratched around, timing very little and were both out cheaply.  But Knight and Sciver then took it on.  Knight began slowly, but it seemed as soon as Sciver came in it gave the captain confidence to play her shots.

It was a very enjoyable to see the battle to get to the century mark.  Both players scored their maiden centuries, Knight out first for 106 then Sciver for137.  Katherine Brunt came in and scored 9 off 5 balls, but was then out and was clearly so angry I was surprised she didn’t explode as she stomped off the pitch.  Jenny Gunn was out first ball – in fact she had a poor match but a nice cameo from Dani Wyatt (42 not out) in her fiftieth ODI and Fran Wilson (33) led England to an enormous score.  Pakistan were not helped by some friendly bowling and some less than sharp fielding.

In response Ayesha Zafar looked classy again.  In fact Pakistan batted well, but they were well behind the rate when the rains came.  Zafar was 56 not out and I would have liked to have seen more of her.

Great stuff from England though – a much needed shot in the arm after the first match and a large, appreciative crowd at Grace Road enjoyed the spectacle.

Match 6:

Nothing doing at a soggy Derby

New Zealand v South Africa
Derby -28 June
Match abandoned without a ball being bowled (no, I wasn’t there…)

Match 7:

West Indies snail’s pace no match for India

India v West Indies
Taunton – 29 June
India won the toss and put West Indies in to bat

West Indies 183/8 (50 overs)
India 186/3 (42.3 overs)
India won by 7 wickets with 45 balls remaining

This match just made us all who were watching or listening, say “what on earth were you doing, West Indies?”  Put in to bat they never got going at all.  Hayley Matthews did her best scoring 43 off 57 balls, but there was no back up.  With Stafanie Taylor and Deandra Dottin on strike it should have been a run-fest, but when Dottin ran Taylor out it all went to pot.  Dottin went completely into her shell, scoring a terrible 7 from 48 balls and this timidity seemed to communicate itself through the team as the ball was repeatedly patted back to the bowler or just a few feet away.  The Indian spinners bowled ridiculously tightly with the pick Poonam Yadav, taking 2/19 off her 10 overs.

India were never going to have a problem in chasing it down.  Raut went for a duck but the classy Smriti Mandhana was great again, scoring 106 not out.  Mithali Raj chipped in with 46 and the result was never in doubt.

Match 8:

Lanning century eclipsed by new Sri Lankan superstar, but Australia still win

Australia v Sri Lanka
Bristol – 29 June
Australia won the toss and put Sri Lanka in to bat

Sri Lanka 257/9 (50 overs)
Australia 262/2 (43.5 overs)
Australia won by 8 wickets with 37 balls remaining

Remember the name – Chamari Atapattu – potentially Sri Lanka’s first superstar.  Atapattu scored a marvellous 178 not out, over 68% of her team’s runs, the third highest score in women’s ODIs and second highest at a World Cup.  She hit 22 fours and 6 sixes off 143 balls.

But it was not enough.  Australia kept their heads and wickets intact.  Opener Mooney went for a duck, but Bolton scored fifty and the captain Lanning 152 not out as they won with over six overs to spare.

We can only wait with bated breath to see what happens in the second week!  Coverage continues on Sky (seems to be only occasionally on screen but mostly online) and BBC Test Match Special on 5Live Sports Xtra.

And finally,

No “and finally” as such except to say there will be no column next week as I am away, but it will be back the week after, packed with more World Cup news, Wimbledon news and anything else I can pick up along the way.

Women’s Sports Column 20-26 May 2017

county2Welcome to this week’s column.  We’re heading towards some exciting stuff this summer – but then there’s always exciting stuff in the world of women’s sport, isn’t there?  Well I think so, and I’m glad to see my followers do too.  This week I have stories from football, netball, tennis, athletics, hockey, cricket and lacrosse.  Plus a disheartening “And finally” from cricket – remember I said I was going to stop reading the comments sections after articles?  Well I haven’t yet, but this week has made me even more resolved to do so.

Onward!

Netball

Round 16 of the Super League was completed over the weekend.  Loughborough are still top of the pile after a convincing win over Celtic Dragons on Saturday.  Lightning lead the table by nine points.  The others in the top four are Wasps, Thunder and Storm.  Bath are still in the hunt for a Final Four place as they are level with Bath on 30 and lie in fifth.  This week’s scores were:

Friday 19 May

Severn Stars 64-47 Team Northumbria
Team Bath 63-47 Sirens

Saturday 20 May

Loughborough Lightning 74-44 Celtic Dragons
Hertfordshire Mavericks 46-60 Manchester Thunder

Monday 22 May

Wasps Netball 64-70 Surrey Storm

This Bank Holiday weekend it is round 17.  I will be at Loughborough v Team Northumbria on Saturday, so if you see me come and say hello!

This round’s televised match is on Monday 29 May and is Manchester Thunder v Team Bath.  It will be live on Sky Sports at 7.30pm.

Lacrosse

As usual thanks to Martin for keeping me on my lacrosse toes.  Last week Centaurs were crowned National Club Champions.

The three winners of the North, South East and South West leagues played in a round-robin format tournament to decide the champions.

The scores were as follows:

Oxton 15-4 Bristol Bombers
Centaurs 25-3 Bristol Bombers (15-3) Mercy ruling
Centaurs 10-10 Oxton

Thinking of the Lacrosse World Cup, which is only 50-odd days away, there were several England and Wales players on show.  Oxton had England players Torz Anderson, Sophie Brett, Charlotte Lytollis and Olivia Wimpenny.  The Centaurs had five Wales players in their team as well as England player Sophie Morrill.

Although the two teams could not be separated at the final whistle, the title went to Centaurs on goal difference.  As the mercy ruling had been applied at 15-3, the difference was just one goal.

Tennis

Off the Court

Injuries

Caroline Wozniacki withdrew from the Strasbourg Grand Prix with a back injury.  She retired during the second set of her first-round match against American Shelby Rogers.

With the French Open only a week away there must be a doubt as to whether Wozniacki will take her place in the draw.

World number four Simona Halep may also be a doubt as she tore an ankle ligament during the Italian Open final.  She has described her chances as “50-50”.

Players returning

Petra Kvitova is hoping to play at Wimbledon, she has revealed this week.  We still do not know if she will play in Paris, but if not she definitely has her sights on a return at Wimbledon.  She has already won the title twice and it will be good to see her back on the court as soon as possible.

Another player who may make her return at Wimbledon is Victoria Azarenka.  She gave birth to a son in December and now she says she is “ready to start competing” again.  She will play in one of the warm-up tournaments and then hopefully take her place in the main draw.

If she plays her first tournament within 12 months of giving birth she will retain her ranking of six in the world.

Qualifying for Roland Garros

Heather Watson is through to the second round of qualifying after beating Russian Anastasiya Komardina 3-6 7-5 6-1.   She has to win two more matches to make it to the main draw.  However, British numbers three and four, Naomi Broady and Tara Moore lost in the first round of qualifying and will not compete.

Laura Robson

Laura Robson is still on the comeback trail. Her persistence and tenacity cannot be denied, and it seems to be paying off.  She won the ITF 60k Kurume tournament in Japan last week and now moves back into the world top 200.  She moves from 218th to 169th.  She defeated fellow Briton Katie Boulter in the final 6-3 6-4.  It is hard to believe she is still only 23.

On the Court

Italian Open

Eighth seed Elina Svitolina won the Italian Open last weekend.  She defeated sixth seed Simona Halep 4-6 7-5 6-1.  As mentioned earlier, Halep tore an ankle ligament during the match and is now a doubt for the French Open.

Strasbourg Grand Prix

The quarter-finals took place on 25 May and the results were:

Samantha Stosur(6)  beat Carla Suarez Navarrro(4) 7-5 6-4
Daria Gavrilova (7) beat Ash Barty 6-4 6-7 7-6
Caroline Garcia (5) beat Karolina Pliskova 7-6 6-2
Peng Shuai (8) beat Shelby Rogers 6-0 6-4

The semi-finals will be on 26 May and the draw is:

Peng v Stosur
Garcia v Gavrilova

Hockey

Hannah Macleod has announced her retirement from international hockey.

She was part of the GB team that won gold so thrillingly at Rio in 2016.

Macleod will now concentrate on her coaching role with the England Under-21 squad.

Cricket

Quadrangular Series

19 May

South Africa 323/8 (50 overs)
Ireland currently 203/6 (50 overs)
South Africa won by 120 runs

Third place play-off

Ireland finished their tournament on a winning note as they beat Zimbabwe in the third place play-off.

Ireland 254/5 (50 overs)
Zimbabwe 235 all out (49.4 overs)
Ireland won by 19 runs

Captain Laura Delaney led from the front as she scored 81 for Ireland with Shauna Kavanagh backing her up with 67.  But Ireland will be really happy that they were able to take 10 Zimbabwe wickets.  Pick of the bowlers was seamer Aoife Beggs who took 5/52.

Final

India continued their excellent form in the final as they reduced South Africa to 156 all out in just over 40 overs.  They then reached their target losing only two wickets and with 102 balls to spare.

South Africa 156 all out (40.2 overs)
India 160/2 (33 overs)
India won by 8 wickets

Top scorer for South Africa was Sune Luus with 55.  The phenomenal Jhulan Goswami was in the wickets again taking 3/22 off 8 overs, while Poonam Yadav took 3/32 off 9.

India lost Deepti Sharma early on for 8 and Mona Meshram for 2, but the in-form Punam Raut with 70 and captain Mithali Raj with 62 saw them home. South Africa also bowled 15 wides.

Athletics

The news came this week that Welsh discus thrower Philippa Roles has died at the age of 39.  Roles competed at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 for Team GB.  She finished fourth at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester and Delhi and sixth in Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne.

No cause of death has yet been revealed.

Her personal record was 62.89 metres, which is fourth in all-time British rankings.

Football – On the Pitch

Spring Series

Saturday 20 May

Arsenal Ladies 4-2 Birmingham City Ladies

Arsenal are now second in the table with this win over the Blues at the Hive.  The away side took the lead in the first minute when Rachel Williams headed home a Sarah Mayling cross.  Heather O’Reilly equalised for the Gunners two minutes before half-time from a through-ball by Danielle Van De Donk.

After the break Van De Donk got a goal of her own to put the home side ahead, but just three minutes later Williams was on the scoresheet again to equalise for Birmingham.

But in an inspired substitution saw Arsenal take the points as Louise Quinn headed in from a free kick in the 78th minute to make it 3-2 and again from a corner in the 90th to make the final score 4-2.

Bristol City Women 1-1 Liverpool Ladies

It was honours even at the Stoke Gifford stadium as Bristol took a valuable point from the Spring Series’ early pace-setters, Liverpool Ladies.

The away side were on top throughout but were held until the 80th minute when Katie Zelem fired in after a poorly-cleared cross.

It looked as though Liverpool had secured the win, but City weren’t beaten and five minutes later Lily Agg headed in from Claire Emslie to see the points were shared.

Sunday 21 May

Manchester City Women 5-1 Yeovil Town Ladies

It is safe to say that City have hit their straps.  Things started badly for Yeovil when on 10 minutes Ann-Marie Heatherson turned a Lucy Bronze cross into her own net.  Two minutes later City were two up when Jill Scott lobbed keeper Megan Walsh.

On 20 minutes Lucy Quinn got one back for the Lady Glovers, but there was to be no comeback.

Jane Ross scored the Champions’ third before half-time and the game was effectively over as a contest.

In the second-half Ross grabbed a second and Kosovare Asllani City’s fifth.  Ellie Roebuck saved a penalty from Sarah Wiltshire for Man City.

The only fly in the ointment for City was Carli Lloyd’s 89th minute straight red card for an elbow.

Sunderland AFC 0-7 Chelsea Ladies

Chelsea were five-up by half-time in this match and even had time to miss a penaly – a complete mauling for the Lady Black Cats.

Gemma Davison missed the spot kick that would have put Chelsea one-up, but it obviously did not knock their confidence.

Erin Cuthbert scored the first on 17.  Karen Carney doubled the lead on 31 after a precise pass from So Yun Ji.  Three minutes later Maren Mjelde got their third and substitute Ramona Bachmann the fourth on 41.  Cuthbert scored her second just before half-time and a dejected Sunderland team left the field.

Sunderland’s defence performed much better in the second-half, but they couldn’t stop the returning Fran Kirby from scoring a double on 80 and 85 minutes to complete the rout.

Chelsea would have been very heartened to welcome back Kirby after injury but disappointed to see Eni Aluko limp off in the first-half.

Thursday 25 May

Manchester City Women 1-0 Chelsea Ladies

After their stunning win on Sunday, Chelsea would have been fancying their chances against the champions.  There was, unsurprisingly, an emotional atmosphere at the Academy Stadium as a minute’s silence was held for the victims of the attack on the Manchester Arena on Monday.

But it was Chelsea who had trouble in settling.  They were defence-minded in the first-half and by the time they decided to take the attack to City it was too late and Manchester had got into their stride.

The only goal of the game came from Toni Duggan just before the half-hour.  How Chelsea must be sick of the sights of Duggan who has now scored 10 goals in 10 games against them.  Nikita Parris also looked lively for City although her finishing left something to be desired.

Off the Pitch

Notts County

Well, I didn’t see this coming.  New Notts County owner Alan Hardy has confirmed that he plans to bring women’s football back to the club.

As you will know, I have had plenty to say on this subject and could say plenty more, but this new announcement has thrown me somewhat.  I don’t want to be sceptical or cynical and would be more than happy to see a new team, so I’ll hold my thoughts until we see just what comes next.

This is what Hardy has said so far:

  • He wants to put together a sustainable model, which first sees a girls’ academy being set up.
  • He wants a clear pathway for academy players to progress through to a women’s first team.
  • He sees it as a long-term project
  • He knows they will have to work through the leagues and divisions but is willing to commit to that

On the problems he had with the previous set-up:

“Unfortunately, the ladies’ team I inherited was an entity on its own. There was just the first-team; there was nothing that was attaching it to the club in any way – probably because it was brought over from Lincoln and it had no structure or foundations.

“As of next season, we will have an under-nines, under-10s and under-11s girls’ academy, which will be playing in the boys’ Young Elizabethan League (YEL).”

All good words so far.  I just hope that the FA offers as much support as it can – very often (and I know I’ve said this before) I feel the FA has all the ideas (the “initiatives” – ugh beginning to dislike that word) regarding women’s football, then sets everyone adrift to fend for themselves with little or no back-up.  And before you all yell that clubs have to sustain themselves and why should they be propped up by the governing body – I don’t mean that they should be propped up – just that the FA should be aware of potential problems or issues and should be available to provide assistance.

It’s not just football that does this, but I would suggest the ECB and RFU are equally culpable.  And to support this, Chelsea manager Emma Hayes had her say about the FA this week.

Emma Hayes

The Chelsea manager pulled no punches on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.  She said that the FA is guilty of treading women’s football as an “afterthought” – something with which I would heartily agree.

She made the claim with reference to the training and pay of match officials.  She said that the pool of referees is too big and when it comes to payment, officials at WSL matches are paid around half the amount of those in the men’s National League (the top division of which is the fifth tier of English football).

The FA was quick to issue a response to the criticisms.  With respect to the officiating “problem” it has a “Gameplan for Growth” strategy:

“We acknowledge there is more to do but our commitment is clear”, it said.

“The FA is also: developing a pathway to recruit, train, deploy and mentor more women and men, from all walks of life, to referee at every level of the women’s game, and we’re reaching out to everyone involved, including clubs, to get a clearer understanding of peoples’ perceptions of officiating and seeking ways in which standards could be improved.”

It’s very interesting that the FA felt the need to issue a statement only hours after the interview.

Bibiana Steinhaus

The Bundesliga will see its first female referee next season.  38-year old policewoman Bibiana Steinhaus had previously been a fourth official at a Bundesliga match and has been a German FA referee since 1999.

She has already refereed the 2011 Women’s World Cup final and the women’s 2012 Olympic final.

Did I read some of the comments after this article on the BBC?  Yes I did.  Were they as bad as you think?  Yes, they were.

Signing

Arsenal have signed Netherlands international Vivianne Miedema from Bayern Munich for the new 2017/18 winter WSL season.

Miedema, a forward, already has 48 caps for the Netherlands and had been at Munich for three seasons.

And finally,

The BBC released a “Breaking news” item online this week that said that both Heather Knight and Sarah Taylor are included in Mark Robinson’s World Cup squad.  Any genuine cricket fan will see this as great news.  It is a real result that Taylor is available for selection and that Knight looks to be overcoming injury.

So, and yes, I know I should know better by now, I thought I’d look at the congratulatory comments after the article.  Except at that point, there weren’t any.  There were just four or five from men saying this was not news and why were the BBC covering it?

For a brief, fleeting but naive moment I thought the comments meant that both players were so good they couldn’t be left out.  Alas no.  What they were actually saying was that the article was not news because there was no competition for places in the squad and they just put anyone available in it, and of course, by implication, that women’s cricket was beneath notice.  They were, of course, displaying their total ignorance of the subject: Sarah Taylor has been out of the England set-up for a year, dealing with her anxiety issues, whilst Captain Heather Knight sustained a stress fracture in her foot at the training camp in the UAE and was (and still may be) a doubt for the World Cup.

So what makes these men think they are qualified to comment?  Do they care that they are so spectacularly wrong?  Probably not, but I just wish the wilfully uninformed would stay out of it.

If you can’t be bothered to get your facts right, don’t be bothered to comment.  Thanks.

And finally (2)

I’m currently writing a short four-part history of cricket for WiSP Sports.  If you would like to read part one here’s the link:  WiSP Sports.

There will be no column next week as I’m away watching the Champions’ Trophy – yes I do watch men’s sport too…..

Women’s Sports Column 29 April – 5 May 2017

Squash-racquet-and-ballIt’s that time again!  Not quite sure where the week has gone, but gone it has and so here comes the column.  Plenty of news again this week with stories from cycling, football, badminton, boxing, squash, hockey, tennis, cricket, rugby and netball.  This week’s “and finally” comes from basketball.

Cycling

Tour de Yorkshire

Lizzie Deignan won the Tour de Yorkshire at the weekend.  She finished the 122.5km course in three hours, nine minutes, 36 seconds.

Deignan was part of an eight-strong group that broke away with 60km to go.  Then three riders, including Deignan pulled ahead.  Deignan then made her move with 14km left and was never headed.

Top five finishers

  • Lizzie Deignan (GB/Boels Dolman) 3hrs 09mins 36secs
  • Coryn Rivera (US/Team Sunweb) +55secs
  • Giorgia Bronzini (ITA/Wiggle High 5) Same time
  • Amy Pieters (NED/Boels Dolman)
  • Hannah Barnes (GB/Canyon SRAM Racing)

Squash

England’s women won the European Team Championships last weekend.  They beat France in the final 2-0.  Wales beat the Netherlands 2-1 in the third place play-off.

Final:
England beat France 2-0
Sarah-Jane Perry beat Camille Serme 11/8, 8/11, 9/11, 14/12, 11/7
Fiona Moverley beat Laura Pomportes 14/12, 11/5, 4/11, 7/11, 11/8
Victoria Lust v Coline Aumard (match withdrawn)

Third place play-off:
Wales beat Netherlands 2-1
Tesni Evans beat Milou van der Heijden 11/6, 11/4, 11/7
Lowri Roberts lost to Tessa ter Sluis 5/11, 13/11, 6/11, 8/11
Deon Saffery beat Natalie Grinham 9/11, 11/7, 13/15, 11/6, 11/8

Boxing

Katie Taylor’s winning run now stretches to five.  She stopped Nina Meinke of Germany in the seventh round of her latest bout at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

She is now able to challenge for the WBA world lightweight belt currently held by Cecilia Comunales of Uruguay.

Rugby Union

The news Lichfield fans dreaded came this week when the RFU announced that they have been unsuccessful in their appeal against being excluded from the new Women’s Super League.

An independent panel heard the appeals from both Lichfield, who finished second in this year’s Premiership and Thurrock, who finished top of the second flight and should have been promoted.  The panel found that the RFU had followed correct procedure in selecting the teams for the new Super League, but it should also be noted that the panel was not constituted to decide whether the decisions made were the correct ones, just that correct procedure had been followed.

Lichfield will now play in the second tier of English rugby and may, in all probability, lose the services of their current internationals, such as Emily Scarratt and Amy Cokayne.

Badminton

Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour won silver at the European Championships this week.  She was defeated in the singles final by Spain’s Carolina Marin, 21-14 21-12.

It was Gilmour’s second final defeat in a row and three successive wins for Marin.

Cricket

Good and bad news on the cricket front this week.

Bad news first.  England captain Heather Knight has fractured a metatarsal whilst training for the World Cup in the UAE.

She will be out for five to six weeks, hoping to be back in time for the beginning of the tournament, which starts on 24 June.  Fingers crossed her rehabilitation goes to plan.

The good news also concerns the World Cup with the news announced this week by the ICC that every match will be broadcast live for the first time.  The prize money will also be doubled.

It’s all a bit last minute, as with so much surrounding women’s sport, but not perhaps one shouldn’t be churlish.

The prize fund goes up from $1m to $2m.

The ICC is also to publish plans later in the year for growing the women’s game with the aim

“To move towards equality across the game within 15 years”

Bold words – can they live up to it?  Call me cynical, but let’s see the full document before we leap in the air with joy.

Ten games will be broadcast live on TV, with the other 21 streamed live on the ICC website.  There will also be radio commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Xtra and highlights on the BBC Sport website.

Tennis

There was heartening news this week as Petra Kvitova took her first steps on the practice court after the attack which left her with a career-threatening hand injury last December.  She posted a photo of herself on the court in Monaco.

It is still unclear whether she will be fit to play in the French Open at the end of May.

Football

Off the Pitch

BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year

The shortlist for the 2017 has been announced:

Melanie Behringer (Bayern Munich and former Germany midfielder)

Ada Hegerberg (Olympique Lyonnais and Norway striker)

Hedvig Lindahl (Chelsea and Sweden goalkeeper)

Marta (Orlando Pride and Brazil forward)

Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns and Canada forward)

You can vote via the BBC website.  The closing date is Monday 15 May.

Notts County Ladies

It’s good to see that clubs are busy snapping up former Notts County Ladies players.

Reading Women have been the biggest beneficiaries signing England internationals Jade Moore and Jo Potter and Kirsty Linnett.  Both Moore and Potter are in the England squad for this year’s Euros.

Carly Telford and Laura Bassett are the two remaining England internationals from Notts County’s squad yet to find a new club.

Carly Telford has rejoined Chelsea Ladies until the end of the Spring Series.

Yeovil Town Ladies have signed County’s second ‘keeper, Megan Walsh for the rest of the Spring Series.

Yeovil Town

It is likely that Walsh will go straight into the side as first choice goalkeeper Charlotte Haynes will be out for up to eight weeks after breaking her hand against Chelsea on Sunday.

On the Pitch

Women’s Champions League

Manchester City were beaten 3-2 on aggregate by cup-holders Lyon this week.  They trailed 3-1 after the first leg – the damage was done.  They put up a creditable performance in Lyon to win the leg 1-0 with a goal from Carli Lloyd, but it was not enough to take them through.  A crowd of 19,214 saw the home favourites progress to the final.

In the other tie, Paris Saint-German beat Barcelona 5-1 on aggregate.  They won the second leg in Paris 2-0 with an own goal and a penalty.

The final is on Thursday 1 June at the Cardiff City Stadium at 7.45pm.

FA Women’s Spring Series

Friday 28 April

Liverpool Ladies 4-2 Reading Women

Liverpool took the lead through Tash Harding after just two minutes.  But Reading hit straight back just a minute later when Liverpool ‘keeper Siobhan Chamberlain spilled a Brooke Chaplen shot, which went into the net.

The away side took the lead four minutes later when Melissa Fletcher fired in from ten yards.  Liverpool pulled level on 24 with Harding’s second and went ahead again ten minutes later when Caroline Weir tapped in from an Alex Greenwood cross.  The teams went in with the home side leading 3-2.

Laura Coombs dealt the telling blow scoring five minutes after the restart and giving Liverpool all three points.

Sunday 30 April

Chelsea Ladies 6-0 Yeovil Town Ladies

Chelsea demolished newly promoted Yeovil in their first game of the Spring Series, but it took them until nearly half-time to take the lead.

In the 45th minute and in first-half injury time Ji So-Yun scored twice to demoralise Yeovil who had held out in the face of repeated Chelsea chances up to this point.

In the second-half the home side cashed in on their superiority with goals from Drew Spence, Erin Cuthbert, Crystal Dunn and Ramona Bachmann.

Sunderland AFC 0-0 Arsenal Ladies

There were chances for both sides but neither could break the deadlock at the Hetton Centre on Sunday.

Wednesday 3 May

Manchester City Women 1-1 Birmingham City Ladies

City underperformed in this match and deserved nothing more than a draw.  In contrast, Birmingham played to the best of their potential to take the point.

Carli Lloyd missed several chances for the champions, but Birmingham’s resolute defence held out.

The away side took the lead in the 14th minute with a header from Emily Westwood.

It took until the second half for Man City to get going and when they did they had periods of sustained pressure.  The pressure told in the 58th minute when Lucy Bronze ran at the defence, beating two defenders to score the equaliser.

Yeovil Town Ladies 2-3 Bristol City Women

It looked set be Yeovil’s first point of the Spring Series until an unfortunate own goal from Nicola Cousins deprived the home side of the draw.

Bristol took the lead after just five minutes from the penalty spot.  Lucy Quinn brought down Claire Emslie, who got up to convert the resulting spot kick herself.

The home side drew level in the 27th minute with a header from Annie Heatherson and it was all square at the break.

In the second –half the home side took the lead as Sarah Wiltshire scored from 25 yards.

But Bristol weren’t finished.  Three minutes later they equalised through Chloe Arthur.

It was level until two minutes from time when Cousins’ deflection of an Arthur shot took the ball past goalkeeper Walsh.

Reading Women 0-4 Chelsea Ladies

Another day, another impressive win for Chelsea as they scored four without reply at Reading.

Karen Carney got the first on the half-hour, the only score in the first-half.

After the break Drew Spence scored from a few yards out, Ji So-Yun struck the away side’s third and a fourth came from Hannah Blundell with nine minutes to go.

Thursday 4 May

Arsenal Ladies 4-4 Liverpool Ladies

In a pulsating match at The Hive, Arsenal came back from 3-1 down and looked to have snatched all three points when a late equaliser for Liverpool gave the away side a deserved draw.

Liverpool took the lead on the 13th minute when Alex Greenwood scored straight from a corner.  It was, perhaps, an indication of how the match was going to go.

The Gunners equalised on the half-hour through Chloe Kelly.

Then Liverpool moved up a gear with goals from Tash Harding and Caroline Weir before the break to take the away side 3-1 up at half-time.

After the break Danielle Carter got one back and the game was on again.

On the hour Carter was in for a second and the score was 3-3.

Arsenal looked to have completed a famous victory when a Jordan Nobbs stunner took them 4-3 ahead.  But Liverpool were determined to have the last word as on the 84th minute Gemma Bonner made it 4-4 with a header from a Greenwood corner.

Netball

Rounds 12 and 13 of the Vitality Netball Super League were played over the bank holiday weekend.  True to the commentator’s curse that I knew must come, I put the complete mockers on the league leaders, Loughborough Lightning as they lost their showcase game, held in front of a packed house in Leicester, to title rivals Wasps.  They were back on form on Monday, beating Sirens comfortably and now lead the table by three points from Wasps with five rounds to go before the semi-finals.

Round 12 results:

Friday 28 April

Team Bath 59-33 Severn Stars

Saturday 29 April

Sirens 69-47 Team Northumbria
Celtic Dragons 53-55 Manchester Thunder
Hertfordshire Mavericks 56-63 Surrey Storm
Loughborough Lightning 54-57 Wasps Netball

Round 13 results:

Monday 1 May

Surrey Storm 49-56 Team Bath
Celtic Dragons 41-45 Hertfordshire Mavericks
Wasps Netball 62-46 Severn Stars
Manchester Thunder 56-47 Team Northumbria
Sirens 46-57 Loughborough Lightning

Round 14 is this weekend and the televised match is on Monday 8 May, Team Bath v Wasps Netball, 7.45pm live on Sky Sports.

Hockey

Surbiton completed the league championship and cup double at the weekend with a 5-0 win over Clifton Robinsons in the Investec Women’s Cup final at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre last weekend.

Surbiton have lost only one game this season, 3-2 to Leicester in February, and have now won four successive league titles and three of the last four cup finals.

Surbiton took the lead through Giselle Ansley and they were two up when Emily Atkinson bagged their second with Hollie Webb a third before half-time.

They didn’t let up in the second-half with Ansley scoring a second, and Hannah Martin the team’s fifth two minutes from time.

Surbiton now go into the Euro Hockey Club Cup in Den Bosch, Netherlands, facing Spanish side Complutense on 2 June.  If they win this they will play the winners of the Den Bosch v Hermes-Monktown tie.

Canterbury are also involved and will play Hamburg on the same date.

And finally 

And finally, some good news!  I was despairing that I would ever be able to report this, but happily I was wrong.

After four long years of campaigning, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) has approved the wearing of headcoverings under certain conditions.

The decision was supposed to have been made in August 2016, but was postponed until January 2017.  It was postponed again in January.  But, finally the ruling has been released.  The conditions are:

  • it is black or white, or of the same dominant colour as that of the uniform
  • it is one same colour for all players on the team
  • it does not cover any part of the face entirely or partially
  • it is not dangerous to the player wearing it and/or to other players
  • it has no opening/closing elements around the face and/or neck
  • it has no parts extruding from its surface.

We must also remember this has a bearing not only for the wearing of the hijab for women, but also turbans for men.  More than 130,000 people signed a petition to end the headgear ban.

The somewhat truncated Women’s Sports Column 18 – 24 June

laura 1I wasn’t going to write a column today. I worked through the night at an EU Referendum count and thought I would be too shattered to write. Now I’m not only shattered, but thoroughly disheartened at the course the UK has decided to take.

But putting that aside (not quite sure how), I was pleased this morning to receive another fantastic sailing update from Abby Ehler (see below) and this has encouraged me to make a few scribbles of my own, if only to remind myself that there is still some good stuff going on out there. So here it is, short and sweet. No “And finally” this week, as I think the start of this post fulfils the criteria this time round.

Stories from football, cricket, tennis, hockey and sailing:

The FAWSL resumes this weekend after the international/mid-season break. I hope you can all remember where we were, but if not, here’s a quick re-cap:

Manchester City are top of FAWSL1 having won six of their first seven matches and having drawn their last match at Liverpool 0-0. Chelsea are hot on their heels with 15 points from six games. At the bottom it’s Doncaster Rovers Belles, who are yet to pick up a point this season, although they have only played three games.

This week’s Division 1 fixtures are:

Saturday 25 June

Arsenal Ladies FC v Sunderland AFC Ladies 2pm

Sunday 26 June

Manchester City Women v Liverpool Ladies 2pm

Notts County Ladies FC v Doncaster Rovers Belles 2pm

Wednesday 29 June

Sunderland AFC Ladies v Chelsea Ladies FC 7.30pm

Birmingham City Ladies v Arsenal Ladies 7.45pm
Doncaster Rovers Belles have also announced their new manager this week. It is Emma Coates, former first team coach. There has been some mutterings about the timing of the news as it seems that former manager, Glen Harris, was sacked up to two weeks ago, but the news wasn’t made public. The club says this is due to some backroom re-organisation, but there have been complaints that Harris was treated badly over the sacking. We’ll have to see how the new boardroom and management appointments work out.

The Deaf World Cup started this week in Capaccio-Agropoli, Italy. Britain’s women played Poland on 22 June. They drew 2-2.

Tonight (24 June) they play hosts Italy, then USA on 26 June, Turkey on 28 and Russia on 30 June.   The knockout stage/play-offs begin on 1 July.

 

A new era for English women’s cricket began this week with the first post-Edwards/Greenway internationals against Pakistan.

And England have made a storming start. After a disappointing start with no play at Grace Road on Monday (I was there), the reserve day came into play (I couldn’t be there) and England dominated from the start. Sorry, no in-depth report, but the scores were as follows:

Pakistan batted first and made 165 all out from 45.4 overs. This was actually their best score against England. Ameen scored 52 and new captain, Heather Knight, took an impressive 5/26.

England made light work of the reply, however, reaching their target of 166 for just three wickets in 31.5 overs. Tammy Beaumont looked in fantastic form with a career-best 70 and Knight weighed in with 50 not out and England won by seven wickets. Unsurprisingly, Knight was Player of the Match.

The second game, at Worcester on 22 June was even more one-sided. Records fell as England posted a massive 378/5, their record ODI total. The innings contained 39 fours and 11 sixes with 132 coming off the last 10 overs.

Openers Lauren Winfield and Tammy Beaumont scored 123 and 104 respectively and further down the order Nat Sciver scored a huge 80 off 30 balls.

Although Pakistan, bettered their highest score again, it was only by one run as they made 166 all out in 47.4 overs with Bismah Maroof taking 61 and vice-captain Anya Shrubsole took 4/19. England won by 212 runs. The Player of the Match award was shared between Beaumont and Winfield.

The third ODI takes place at Taunton on 25 June. It is live on Sky.

 

The first round of the Wimbledon draw has been made.

British number one Johanna Konta faces Monica Puig from Puerto Rico.

Heather Watson has drawn Annika Beck and Laura Robson has a tough task against Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber.

Tara Moore plays Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium, while Katie Swan faces the fearsome Timea Baos of Hungary, ranked 45 in the world.

 

The Hockey Champions Trophy is taking place in London this week. After Great Britain’s excellent recent series against Netherlands, they went into the tournament full of confidence. However, things have not turned out as they would have liked.

They started well with a 2-2 draw against Argentina in their first match and then lost 2-0 to 2012 Olympic champions, Netherlands.

They suffered a scond defeat, this time to New Zealand on Tuesday 1-0. To cap it all they lost again on Thursday, this time 2-0 to USA.

GB are now highly unlikely to take a medal of any colour.

 

Sailing update from Abby Ehler

Dee Caffari and Libby Greenhalgh recently competed in the Three Peaks Yacht Race.  This Race is unlike any other yacht race, it is so much more than a yacht race, in total, the team of five must sail 389 miles, climb 11.176ft, run 72 miles and cycle 36 miles.  The race is ranked amongst the 10 most difficult endurance races in the world, alongside the Marathon des Sables and the New Zealand Coast to Coast.  Dee was delighted to lead the Sail 4 Cancer Team this year in the 39th edition of the event but it was tough, much tougher than expected.  There is a reason the salty old seadogs do so well in this race, there are little tricks and secrets all along this coastline and experience pays dividends. Dee, despite her extreme experience was most definitely a rookie in this event, but loved it!  The aim for the team was to raise funds and awareness for the charity Sail 4 Cancer.  Dee is an ambassador for the charity, so to face a challenge for this great cause was a pleasure for her through all the discomfort the team would face, it is insignificant compared to what those families and individuals suffering from the effects of cancer experience.

An all-female team Team Concise/The Magenta Project competed in the Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race which started from Wicklow, Ireland on Saturday 18th June.  The team finished 3rd in their division, a great result for the team, battling fairly intense conditions that the Irish Sea had to offer.  Team Concise

This week in Hono Sweden, Team Magenta 32 hosted their first ever clinic for up and coming female sailors to experience sailing and racing in the high performance M32 catamaran, a much smaller scale but similar concept to the current America’s Cup boats. Team Magenta 32 are the only female team currently competing on the World Match Racing Tour and were keen to pass on their experiences to others to help promote and inspire girls at the high performance end of the sport.  “It’s been incredible to see the motivation of the sailors that came to try the M32” commented Kate Macgregor, former Olympian.  Following it’s success, The Magenta Project intend to pursue this initiative at varying location in the future.

In France, The “La Solitaire Bompard – Le Figaro” race set off from Deauville on 19th June, the first leg of 350 miles cumulated in Cowes, IOW, before a further 3 legs finishing up in La Rochelle later this month.  The Race is a single handed race, the boats are 32 feet long and their skippers must learn to manage all aspects of the boat as there are no crew members to assist in sail changes or navigation.  The circuit has a huge following in France and this year is the first time the race has visited an English port.  Five female skippers are competing this year, including Britain’s Mary Rook, who is part of the UK’s Artemis Offshore Academy.  This is the first time in the history of the Race there have been so many female skippers so this marks a really positive shift in diversity in the fleet of Le Figaro. These women are top-level sailors and are an inspiration to many.   http://www.lasolitairebompard.com/en/s01_home/s01p01_home.php

No column next week as I’m away.  Will be back (hopefully, and all being well) on the 8 July.

Women’s Sports Column 27 May-3 June

greenwayThis week’s stories come from cricket, football, hockey, tennis, gymnastics, rugby and sailing – plus a good news “and finally” that should make you punch the air with delight!

Cricket stories coming thick and fast. Lydia Greenway became the latest senior England player to retire this week. This comes after the shock departure of Charlotte Edwards and Sarah Taylor’s break from cricket for an unspecified period.

Greenway was an accomplished batter, scoring 4.108 runs in an international career which spanned 13 years. She won 14 test caps, 126 one-day caps and 85 in T20s.

But it is for her fielding prowess that she will be remembered. She took women’s fielding to another level with her athleticism and willingness to put her body on the line.

Head Coach, Mark Robinson, made it clear to Greenway that she has no part in his future plans – the Robinson revolution is now in full swing. She will still play for Kent in the county championship and for the Southern Vipers in the inaugural Kia Super League later in the summer.

 

 

In better news, the ECB announced today (Friday 3 June) that Heather Knight will take over from Charlotte Edwards as captain of England, with Anya Shrubsole stepping up to the vice-captain’s role.

Knight’s career has been impressive thus far; five test caps, 55 ODI caps and 33 T20I caps and while she has built her reputation on her batting, her bowling has improved immensely over the last couple of seasons and now she is seen as a significant threat with both bat and ball. With a top score of 157, she was named Player of the Series in the 2013 Ashes. Her bowling best is currently 4 for 47, achieved on the tour to New Zealand in 2015.

 

She should be under no illusion that this will be an easy task. In the past few weeks England has lost Edwards and Greenway, with Taylor unavailable for selection for an unspecified period. Many commentators on the women’s game are asking where the runs are going to be coming from. As well as captaining, Knight will be expected to score plenty and contribute with the ball.

 

Somerset bowler Anya Shrubsole has been appointed vice-captain. The 24-year old is currently enjoying her best England and domestic form and should be a great support to the captain. She was named Women’s Cricketer of the Year this year, taking 32 wickets in all formats in the last 12 months.

 

Knight’s first series as captain will be against Pakistan. The tourists will play three one day internationals and three twenty20 internationals. The first match will be at the Fischer County Ground, Grace Road, Leicester on Monday 20 June.

 

 

The England Lionesses take on Serbia home and away in quick succession over the next week in two Euro 2017 qualifiers. On Saturday they are at Adams Park, home of Wycombe Wanderers. Kick-off is 5.30pm and will be live on BBC2 and 5Live Sports Extra.

 

Star striker Fran Kirby and defender Gilly Flaherty have withdrawn from the squad with injury.

 

England are currently second in the table, one point behind Belgium, who are away to Estonia on 3 June.

Also tonight (Friday 3) Scotland play Iceland at home, kicking off at 7pm, Northern Ireland v Georgia at the same time, while BBC2 Wales will show Wales v Norway on 7 June, kicking off at 5pm.

 

 

In domestic football, Brighton and Hove Albion have been promoted to WSL2 from the Women’s Premier League (yes, it is complicated). They beat Sporting Club Albion in the play-off 4-2.

 

They will take their place in Women’s Super League 2 in spring 2017 and are the second team to do so after Sheffield United were promoted last year. Even though they won the play-off they had to comply with licensing requirements of the Super League before they would be admitted.

 

The requirements included financial and business management checks, facilities and marketing capabilities. All of these have been satisfied and they will take their place next season in an expanded league of 20 teams.

 

 

 

 

The 2016 French Open final will between world number 1, Serena Williams, and world number 4, Garbine Muguruza in a repeat of last year’s Wimbledon final.

 

In the semi-finals Williams won a scrappy match with the unseeded Kiki Bertens of Netherlands 7-6 6-4. Both players seemed to be struggling with injury. Indeed Williams has not looked happy all week. Bertens should really have taken the first set, but Williams broke back in the tenth game to bring it back to 5-5. The sent went to a tie-break which went Williams’ way 9-7. After that it was difficult to imagine Williams letting it go – and she didn’t, taking the second set 6-4.

 

The second semi-final was a peculiarly one-sided affair, which was unexpected. Sam Stosur had been playing some spectacular tennis to get this far, but she was totally outplayed by Muguruza, winning the match in straight sets 6-2 6-4.

 

The final will take place, weather permitting, on Saturday 4 June.

 

Great Britain’s women’s hockey team put in two impressive performances this week to remain unbeaten in their two-test series against world champions Netherlands this week.

They won the first 2-1 in Amsterdam. GB took the lead through Lily Owsley but Netherlands equalised just before half time through Kitty van Male. Helen Richardson-Walsh’s 39th international goal took the match for Great Britain.

The second game, played on 2 June ended as a 1-1 draw. Alex Danson socred her 90th international goal with just three minutes to go after Netherlands had taken the lead through an Eva de Goede penalty.

The team’s next competition will be the Champions Trophy in London. They will compete against Netherlands, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and United States. The tournament begins on 18 June.

 

 

The European Gymnastics Championships have been taking place in Bern this week. Great Britain’s women have qualified in first place for the team final. They finished on 173.363, one tenth of a point ahead of Russia. The team final is on Saturday.

 

The individual competition is on Sunday with the women competing in the following disciplines:

Becky Downie – beam and uneven bars

Gabby Jupp – uneven bars

Ellie Downie – floor and vault

Claudia Fragapane – floor and vault

 

 

Australia have won their first Women’s Sevens Series title. They take the crown from New Zealand, who had won it for the previous three years.

 

They lost the final of the last round at Clermont-Ferrand in France to Canada but still finished 14 points ahead of New Zealand in the overall standings.

 

England finished fourth in the competition and also finished fourth in the last round, having been beaten by New Zealand in the third place play-off 22-5.

 

England will be greatly heartened by their performance during this series. They will be looking to put in a good show at the Olympics in Rio later in the summer, when Women’s Sevens makes its Olympic debut.

 

I have a new section to offer in the column this week. As everyone probably knows by now, my knowledge is not encyclopaedic, and one sport I know very little about is sailing. So I have to thank Abby Ehler, professional sailor and someone much more in tune with it than I, for this excellent update which will, hopefully, become a regular feature.

The Atlantic Cup

Libby Greenhalgh, former navigator onboard Team SCA, joined forces with Oakcliff Sailing (headed by Dawn Riley, legend in Sailing), to do a double handed race known as the Atlantic Cup.  The duo were new to short handed sailing, however they have finished 3rd on the podium, and were the first female team to compete in this event, so great news!  Here is a link to the event website news page.

http://www.atlanticcup.org/atlantic-cup-news/leg-1-finish-tales-sets-new-course-record

World Match Race Tour

American, Sally Barkow, again ex Team SCA, is currently competing in the World Match Race Tour which is a series of events held around the world in high performance catamarans, she heads up Team Magenta 32 and they are currently competing in Newport, RI.  Sally is the first female World Match Race Tour card-holder. The World Match Racing Tour is the longest running, global, professional sailing series. This is the first time in its 22-year-history that a tour card has been awarded to an all-female team.

Sally and team have qualified through to the Super 16 and the Newport event concludes on Saturday, so all eyes on Team Magenta 32, who have steadily been progressing through the ranks throughout the events.

http://wmrt.com/

https://www.facebook.com/TeamMagenta32/

We will have more news mid June at the start of the Figaro single handed French Elite Champs, there are 5 girls competing, which is a record number for this event.

And finally, let’s have a good fist pump story, shall we? Australian netball has made a brilliant advert for its team and for women in sport in general. Watch it – it’s great. It encompasses everything I fight for regarding women’s sport.

http://www.sportette.com.au/finally-commercial-women-sport-gets/