Welcome to this week’s column. Something a bit different on offer this week as I’ve just read a really excellent book on women’s swimming; Swell by Jenny Landreth and I wanted to share my view of it with you.
But before I get on to that, it would be remiss of me if I didn’t get the usual stuff in, so this week sees stories from football, cricket, cycling, tennis, netball, athletics and rugby league.
Let’s crack on.
No prizes for guessing the performance of the week – 17-year old Amelia Kerr made history this week when she broke Belinda Clark’s record for an ODI innings of 229, scored in 1997, when she scored 232 not out against Ireland in Dublin on Wednesday. But she didn’t leave it there – she also took 5/17 in her seven over spell. Her 232 came from 145 balls and included 31 fours and two sixes, the second of which, on the last ball of the innings, took her to the record. She also became the youngest double-centurion (male or female) across all cricket formats.
In fact, Ireland have been given a bit of a battering in their series against New Zealand and the White Ferns are getting into some serious form before they face England later in the summer. In the only T20 they won by 10 wickets and in the ODIs New Zealand have won by 346, 306 and 305 runs.
England v South Africa
Well it’s been a “game of two halves” so far in this three-ODI series. Which England team will turn up on Friday? Who knows? But it’s clear that England must be more consistent if they are to dominate their opponents this summer, while South Africa will take great heart at their own progress.
First ODI – Worcester
England 189/9 (50 overs)
South Africa 193/3 (45.3 overs)
South Africa win by 7 wickets with 27 balls remaining
England won the toss and elected to bat. And what a dismal performance it was. Amy Jones fell first for 19, but Beaumont, Taylor and Knight made only 12 between them as they slumped to 39/4.
Only Katherine Brunt, you can imagine her chuntering about having to do it all on her own, showed any fight, scoring 72 not out from 98 balls as wickets fell around her.
It was also great bowling from South Africa; Shabnim Ismail took 3/25 from 10 overs and Ayabonga Khaka 3/42 from her 10.
England’s bowlers had as poor a day as their batters. Opener Lizelle Lee smashed 92 not out from 128 balls, Dane van Niekerk 58 and Mignon du Preez 36 not out as South Africa claimed a comprehensive victory.
Second ODI – Hove
England 331/6 (50 overs)
South Africa 262/9 (50 overs)
England win by 69 runs
England had obviously been told to up their game at Hove. And up it they did. Centuries for Beaumont (101 from 109 balls) and Taylor (118 from 106 balls) saw them post a competitive 331. Only Nat Sciver failed to contribute, making just six.
But was it enough? A blistering start from the South African openers took them to 142 off 25 overs when Wolvaardt fell for 32. Lizelle Lee, meanwhile, was dispatching the ball with ease again and made 117 off 107 balls before she went bowled Georgia Elwiss, caught by Danni Wyatt, an innings that included 13 fours and five sixes.
Chloe Tryon came in further down the order and caused mayhem, scoring 44 off 26 balls. But after she was out, again caught by Wyatt off the bowling of Ecclestone, South Africa couldn’t maintain the momentum and fell well short.
One-all in the series and all to play for today (Friday 15 June).
Tennis – on the Court
World number one Simona Halep broke her Grand Slam duck at the weekend as she defeated Sloane Stephens of the US, 3-6 6-4 6-1.
Stephens made a storming start, looking a class above Halep, hitting winner after winner as Halep couldn’t keep up and she took the first set 6-3.
But Halep found a reserve of strength in the second, taking four games in a row after going a break down. Although Stephens tried hard to strike back, Halep took the set 6-4.
The third ended up quite one-sided as Halep took control and Stephens tired. She broke the American twice to take a 4-0 lead. There was no coming back for Stephens and Halep took the match with her first match point.
It was a fitting final between two well-matched players, even though Stephens was somewhat of a surprise finalist. As a result of this run Stephens will rise to fourth in the world rankings.
On to the glories of the all too brief grass season.
We’re at the quarter-final stage of the Nottingham tournament, but there are a couple of earlier round results that bear mentioning.
In the round of 16 we had the match-up many wanted to see – Johanna Konta v Heather Watson. In the end the tie went to the fourth seed, Konta, 6-4 7-6 and she now plays the unseeded Dalila Jakupovic in the quarters.
The standout British performance, though, came from Katie Boulter. She is through to her first WTA quarter-final after she defeated Sam Stosur of Australia 7-6 6-1. She plays number one seed and another Australian, Ash Barty, later on today (Friday 15 June).
The other two quarter-finals are Donna Vekic (6) v Mona Barthel and Naomi Osaka (3) of Japan v Mihaela Buzărnescu (5) of Romania.
Heather Watson is still in action in the doubles and is through to the semi-finals with partner Mihaela Buzărnescu, where they face Lizette Cabrera and Irina Falconi for a place in the final.
Tennis- off the Court
Sara Errani’s doping ban has been increased from two to ten months. She tested positive for banned drug letrozole – a cancer drug taken by her mother which somehow got into the family’s food.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport accepted that the medicated had got into the food, but said that Errani was guilty of a “light degree of fault”, and dished out a 10-month ban.
She was initially banned for two months but the Italia anti-doping agency asked for a longer ban.
Errani, unsurprisingly, is unhappy with the decision,
“I am really disgusted by this matter. I don’t think anything similar has ever happened or been managed – in my humble opinion – in such a shameful manner,” she said.
Brazilian tennis star, Maria Bueno, has died at the age of 78.
Bueno, Latin America’s most successful female tennis player won 19 major titles during her career in the 1950s and 60s. This included three Wimbledon singles titles (1959, 1960, 1964) and four US titles.
She also won the Wimbledon women’s doubles title twice, first with althea Gibson in 1958 and then again with Billie Jean King in 1965.
The Women’s Tour
Apologies for being so slow but the Women’s Tour of Britain is upon us and this year the prize fund has been doubled – matching that awarded in the men’s race. For the first time it also has its own broadcast coverage, instead of being tacked on to that of the men’s race.
ITV4 are screening highlights of each of the five stages, as follows:
Stage One: Framlingham to Southwold
Wednesday 13 June, 21:00
Stage Two: Rushden to Daventry
Thursday 14 June, 20:00
Stage Three: Atherstone to Royal Leamington Spa
Friday 15 June, 20:00
Stage Four: Evesham to Worcester
Saturday 16 June, 20:00
Stage Five: Dolgellau to Colwyn Bay
Sunday 17 June, 21:00
Check out the website: http://www.womenstour.co.uk/
Jolien D’hoore (Mitchelton-Scott)won stage one, ending up on Southwold seafront (one of the loveliest places on Earth), finishing ahead of former World Champion Marta Bastianelli (Alé Cipollini) and Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb).
Dani Rowe (King) was the highest finishing Briton in fifth.
The Green Jersey passed to Coryn Rivera after stage two when she won the stage in a sprint finish with Marianne Vos (Waowdeals Team) in Daventry. Christine Majerus (Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam) was third.
Rivera now has a 15-second lead over the field. Dani Rowe (King) lies in second with Vos in third.
Sarah Storey will make her return the Great Britain Para-cycling team at the Road World Championships in Italy from 2-5 August.
The women’s team: Karen Darke, Hannah Dines, Lora Fachie (piloted by Corrine Hall), Megan Giglia, Crystal Lane-Wright, Mel Nicholls, Liz Saul, Sarah Storey, Katie Toft.
After Tahnee Seagrave’s triumph last week at Fort William, Rachel Atherton has won gold at the next Mountain Bike World Cup leg in Leogang, Austria.
Miriam Nicole of France took silver and Australian Tracey Hannah, bronze. Seagrave had finished third, but was disqualified being adjudged to re-enter the course on the wrong side of a marker.
Plenty of football news this week: home nations qualifiers, just what is going on a Liverpool? and the worst kept secret in football is finally confirmed.
Friday 8 June
Russia 1-3 England
It was a good performance from England against a poor Russian side that saw them go back to the top of Group A.
Nikita Parris opened the scoring with a header after 22 minutes. Jill Scott then got two (27 and 36 minutes) to put the visitors into a three-nil lead.
After the break the Lionesses took their foot off the gas and will be disappointed that they allowed the home side to score, Elena Danilova taking her chance to make the final score 3-1.
Sunday 10 June
Northern Ireland 0-5 Netherlands
The European champions looked a class apart as they demolished Northern Ireland at home.
The Irish managed to keep the score down to just 1-0 by half –time, the goal coming through Lineth Beerensteyn.
But the second-half saw four more through Danielle van de Donk, Shanice van de Sanden, Sherida Spitse and Jackie Groenen and the Netherlands are four points clear of Norway at top of Group C.
Tuesday 12 June
Wales 3-0 Russia
England weren’t on top of the table for long. Wales put in an excellent performance to beat Russia in Newport on Tuesday and take them one point back ahead of their English rivals.
After a goalless first-half, Wales upped their game and Kayleigh Green bagged a brace (48 and 62 minutes) before Tash Harding sealed it with 22 minutes to go.
Russia had nothing in response.
Poland 2-3 Scotland
Performance of the week, however, must go to Scotland who came from two goals down to beat Poland in Kielce on Tuesday.
The Poles took an early lead through Dzesika Jaszek, which they held until half-time. On 66 minutes they were two-up when Sophie Howard turned the ball into her own net.
But Scotland fought back. Kim Little bagged the first from a free-kick and Jane Ross brought it level with nine minutes to go.
Lisa Evans got the winner in the 90th minute to take the Scots to just three points behind Switzerland, who are top with six wins from six and 18 points.
It was announced this week that former England captain Casey Stoney will be the manager of the new Manchester United women’s team.
In an interview with the BBC she said,
“This the biggest club in the world.
“The fact we are going to have a women’s team and I’m going to be able to introduce that from scratch, to build a team, build a philosophy, with the biggest club in the world, means that, for me, there is no more exciting opportunity.
“I truly believe Manchester United has the ability to change the face of women’s football forever.”
Let’s face it, expectation will be incredibly high; having attracted such a high-profile manager, it will also attract some equally high-profile players. If they don’t win the Championship at the first attempt, questions will be bound to be asked. Stoney is never one to shirk a challenge though, and for us neutrals it promises to be quite something to behold.
What on earth is going on? This week they’ve lost a manager, gained a manager and dispensed with the services of three more players.
England defender Alex Greenwood, Martha Harris and Amy Turner have all reached the end of their contracts and have been released.
Wales captain Sophie Ingle has left to re-sign for Chelsea.
Not long after, manager Scott Rogers also left the club after three years in charge. He had been number two to Matt Beard from 2014 until Beard left for the States in 2015.
But that was not the end of the story this week. Chief executive Peter Moore said,
“The search for a new manager is underway and we hope to make an appointment in a decisive and timely manner.”
An understatement: just four days later, Liverpool revealed their new manager to be Neil Redfearn.
Redfearn had been manager of Doncaster Rovers Belles since December 2017.
“It is a massive privilege and real honour for me to have been appointed as manager of Liverpool Ladies. It is a team with big potential which should be challenging for trophies on a regular basis.
“Liverpool Football Club is a huge club and I have every confidence that we will be competing at the top end of the Women’s Super League this season. I am over the moon to have been given this opportunity and cannot wait to get started,” he said.
It’s certainly been a turbulent couple of weeks for the Reds and Redfearn will have to have a clear plan of action – surely he has a number of signings in his sights and will need to bolster the squad after all the departures. He needs to show his own and the club’s commitment to the women’s game as a response to some of the recent questions raised about the owners’ motivation and support for the women’s side.
The Lady Glovers have announced Lee Burch as their new boss. Burch was formerly at Millwall Lionesses and won the League Managers Association’s WSL2 manager of the year this season.
He will have the task of seeing Yeovil through their first season as a full-time professional side in the new Women’s Super League.
Dina Asher-Smith backed up her British record run in Oslo last week with victory in the Stockholm Diamond league event. She won in a time of 10.93, just 0.01 seconds outside her new British record. Murielle Ahoure of Ivory Coast was second.
At the same meet, Lorraine Ugen won the long jump with 6.85m, while Laura Muir finished second in the 1500m behind Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia and Beth Dobbin was second in the 200m.
Last weekend’s Superleague results:
Friday 8 June
Team Bath 42-43 Loughborough Lightning
Saturday 9 June
Celtic Dragons 42-83 Wasps Netball
Surrey Storm 52-51 Team Northumbria
Benecos Mavericks 47-52 Manchester Thunder
Monday 11 June
Manchester Thunder 68-48 Celtic Dragons
Severn Stars 55-36 UWS Sirens
Leaders Wasps bounced back (and how) this week with a thumping win over Celtic Dragons, while second-placed Lightning played out a thrilling game, winning by a single point over Team Bath.
Thunder are also making a late run and there are now three teams on 39, stretching ahead of the field. Wasps play their game in hand this weekend so all should become much clearer by the end of this round of games.
This weekend’s fixtures are:
Friday 15 June
Team Bath v Wasps (7.30pm)
Saturday 16 June
Celtic Dragons v UWS Sirens (4pm)
Severn Stars v Team Northumbria (6pm)
Surrey Storm v Manchester Thunder (6pm)
Benecos Mavericks v Loughborough Lightning (6pm)
Monday 18 June
Wasps Netball v Benecos Mavericks (7pm Live on Sky Sports)
Just one result from the Super League this week:
Sunday 10 June
Wigan Warriors 50-0 York City Knights
When you read a good book about women’s sport or even a general sports book written by a woman, and it’s a fabulous read, you should just shout about it. So here I am, SHOUTING.
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with swimming and it appears from this book that I’m not alone. I love swimming in the sea, but living in landlocked Leicestershire means I don’t get much opportunity. I hate swimming in indoor pools – too self-conscious, too slow, too much chlorine. It’s quite a while since I’ve actually been swimming and this book has encouraged me to try again. Hence I will not be here next week, because hopefully I will be swimming in the sea!
Anyway, the book I’m talking about is Swell, by Jenny Landreth. It was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2017 (somewhat of a miracle in itself). And what a great read it is.
It’s a mixture of autobiography (or Waterbiography as Landreth calls it), and a history of women’s swimming in Britain. I learnt so much. As in most aspects of women’s history, women had to fight for every minute of allowed swimming time in Britain. From being able to go in the sea (via ridiculous bathing machines) to being allowed a couple of hours a week in a public baths, each right has had to be negotiated and battled for by bands of determined women and girls who could not stand by and let the inequalities and injustices of women’s swimming go unchallenged.
There is a wealth of detail in this book; how and where women were first allowed to swim, what they were allowed to wear (no change there, then) and with whom they were allowed to swim. How could they learn to swim when men were the only teachers and they weren’t allowed to be at the pool at the same time?
Landreth talks about the real heroes of women’s swimming – those who pioneered; in the sport itself, in its organisation and in its coaching. She raises a glass (or two) to those who broke through the boundaries and are still doing it today; those who swim long distance, elite swimmers and the every day woman who still has to fight to do her 10 lengths of the baths of a morning before the rest of the world claims her time.
It’s a marvellous, incredibly funny book that will make you laugh out loud (I guarantee). I laughed out loud and punched the air in equal measure.
Go out and buy or borrow it folks. It should definitely be on everyone’s sporting bookshelf.
Swell is published by Bloomsbury with a retail price of £9.99.
As I said, there will be no column next week, as I will hopefully be swimming somewhere in the North Sea next week , emerging blue no doubt and cursing Jenny Landreth soundly for encouraging me to get out there. Back with you all in a fortnight.