Welcome to this week’s column. After a slightly ranty piece last week, hopefully this week’s will be a bit calmer (but also longer!). There’s another bit of “feedback” on women’s football in this week’s “And finally”, but I’m sure you’ll all be able to appreciate the irony when you read it – it certainly made me laugh! Hey ho. Stories this week come from tennis, football, netball, cricket, rugby union, athletics, motorcycling (yay!), hockey, rugby league and volleyball.
So plenty to get through. Let’s crack on.
After Wang Qiang had retired in the first semi-final against Anett Kontaveit (6-2 2-1), the second semi-final was won by Aryna Sabalenka. She beat the last remaining seed, Ash Barty (16), 7-6 6-4.
The final saw a straight sets win for Sabalenka 6-3 6-3 over Kontaveit.
This week the WTA tour moves on to Beijing for the China Open.
Still no joy for Jo Konta as she departed the China Open in the first round, beaten by 10th seed Julia Goerges of Germany 6-2 4-6 6-3.
British number three Katie Boulter also fell in round one after coming through qualifying, losing to Kirsten Flipkens 4-6 6-2 7-5.
And to complete a miserable trio of results, British number two Heather Watson didn’t even make it to the main draw, losing in the final round of qualifying 6-0 6-3 to Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan.
Other top names to fall in the first round proper were Petra Kvitova and Elina Svitolina. Simona Halep had to retire with a back injury.
Three out of the four quarter-finals have been completed at the time of publishing:
Caroline Wozniacki (2) beat Katerina Siniakova 6-2 6-2
Anastasija Sevastova beat Dominika Cibulkova 6-3 7-6
Naomi Osaka (8) beat Zhang Shuai 3-6 6-4 7-5
Still to play: Wang Qiang v Aryna Sabalenka
Sevastova will face Osaka in the first semi-final on Saturday 6 October
In the doubles the semi-final line-up is:
Lucie Hradecka/Ekaterina Makarova (7) v Gabriela Dabrowski/Xu Yifan (3)
Elise Merterns/Demi Schuurs (4)v Barbora Strycova/Andrea Sestini Hlavackova (2)
Both matches to be played Saturday 6 October.
Race to Singapore
We’re only two weeks away from the end of season WTA Finals in Singapore and, as it stands, only three places have definitely been bagged. US Open champion Naomi Osaka has become the latest to qualify for her first WTA Finals. There is also still some doubt as to Simona Halep’s fitness, after she pulled out of the China Open this week.
Top 20 singles players with their points as of 1 October:
Simona Halep (6911) (Q)
Angelique Kerber (5256) (Q)
Naomi Osaka (4351) (Q)
Petra Kvitova (4300)
Caroline Wozniacki (4087)
Elina Svitolina (3841)
Sloane Stephens (3824)
Karolina Pliskova (3601)
Kiki Bertens (3591)
Elise Mertens (3080)
Aryna Sabalenka (2990)
Serena Williams (2976)
Daria Kasatkina (2920)
Madison Keys (2752)
Julia Goerges (2715)
Garbine Muguruza (2606)
Ashleigh Barty (2475)
Anastasija Sevastova (2465)
Caroline Garcia (2360)
Jelena Ostapenko (2299)
The fixtures for the 2019 Netball Superleague are out. Check out where your favourite team will be and when at https://www.netballsl.com/competition/fixtures/
The first weekend will be a “Super 10” event where all 10 teams will be in action, this time at the Arena Birmingham on Saturday 5 January 2019.
Tickets went on sale on Thursday 4 October. It will sell out – so get your tickets as soon as possible.
With Sri Lanka v India done and dusted and West Indies v South Africa drawing to a close, it’s now the turn of the Southern Stars and White Ferns to complete their T20 World Cup warm up series.
Second T20 – Tarouba
South Africa 101/8 (20 overs)
West Indies 102/1 (15.8 overs)
West Indies won by 9 wickets with 27 balls remaining
West Indies went 2-0 up in this five-match series with another good performance. Offspinner Anisa Mohammed took only the ninth hat-trick in women’s T20 history as South Africa were restricted to just 101. She finished with figures of 5/24 from her four overs.
Lizelle Lee went for a 12-ball duck, but fellow-opener Dane van Niekerk top-scored with 36 as South Africa tried to build a total. Three other players made decent double figure scores, but Mohammed then took three wickets from the last three balls of the innings to keep the total down.
West Indies made short work of the chase, losing only one wicket (Hayley Matthews for 17), in the process. Natasha McLean scored 42 and Stafanie Taylor 35 as West Indies won with more than four overs to spare.
Abandoned without a ball being bowled
There are still two T20s to go, on 5 and 7 October.
Meanwhile, in Australia, the Southern Stars have just whitewashed New Zealand in a three-match T20 series played over a week. They will then play them in a three-match ODI series starting in February 2019.
Australia were too strong all-round for New Zealand in this series. All three matches followed the same format with New Zealand batting first, not making enough and Australia knocking them off. By match three, New Zealand’s confidence was obviously knocked allowing Australia to press home their advantage to win easily.
New Zealand 162/5 (20 overs)
Australia 164/4 (17.4 overs)
Australia won by 6 wickets with 14 balls remaining
With Suzie Bates out for just three, bowled by Ellyse Perry, it was up Sophie Devine and Jess Watkin to take it on. Watkin made 18 from 15 balls before she was stumped by Alyssa Healy. Devine carried on, making 43 from 33 before she was caught by Beth Mooney off the bowling of Ash Gardner. New captain Amy Satterthwaite fell cheaply for just two, but Katey Martin top-scored with 56 not out from just 34 balls as the White Ferns set a competitive target.
Australia started badly, losing the top four for 45, but captain Meg Lanning and Rachael Haynes steadied the ship and then took on the chase. Lanning scored 6 off 44 and Haynes 69 off 40 as New Zealand were unable to take any further wickets and Australia got home in the eighteenth over.
New Zealand 145/8 (20 overs)
Australia 149/4 (18.5 overs)
Australia won by 6 wickets with 7 balls remaining
Suzie Bates led from the front with 77 from 52 balls, but there was precious little below her backing her up. Amy Satterthwaite was the next best scorer with 27. Megan Schutt was the star with the ball for Australia, taking 3/15 from her four overs.
In response, Mooney went for a three-ball duck, but Healy scored 57 and Elyse Villani 50 not out to get Australia on their way. It was a closer affair, but the Southern Stars still managed to reach their target in the penultimate over.
New Zealand 103 all out (18.6 overs)
Australia 105/1 (12.3 overs)
Australia won by 9 wickets with 45 balls remaining
The third game was the least competitive. New Zealand were battered and bruised and barely put up a fight.
New Zealand seemed to be batting in slow motion. The openers scored 11 each but took up 27 balls in the process. The only batting of note came from Katey Martin who was 35 not out by the end. Perry was fearsome, taking 4/21 from her four overs. Sophie Molineux took 3/11 from four.
It was never enough and Australia set about the chase with gusto. Healy pushed it from the off, scoring 67 from 44 balls and by the time she was out, caught Tahuhu, bowled Devine, the game was effectively done (98/1). Beth Mooney ended with 29 not out and Ash Gardner 5 not out as Australia romped home with more than seven overs to spare.
Anyone betting against Australia for the World T20? I’m certainly not.
The England squad for the T20 World Cup in November has been announced and contains three as yet uncapped players.
The squad in full: Heather Knight (capt), Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Ecclestone, Tash Farrant, Kirstie Gordon, Jenny Gunn, Dani Hazell, Amy Jones (wk), Nat Sciver, Linsey Smith, Anya Shrubsole, Lauren Winfield, Danni Wyatt.
Sarah Taylor is rested, as part of the management of her mental health and Amy Jones takes up the gloves. Of course Taylor is a hard act to follow, but from what I saw of Jones in the summer, her keeping has really come on and she will be, excuse me, a safe pair of hands.
Two of the uncapped players are from Loughborough Lightning. Linsey Smith and Kirstie Gordon are both left-arm spinners. Although Gordon has played for Scotland the games did not have first-class status.
All-rounder Sophia Dunkley earned her place after a storming Kia Super League season with champions Surrey Stars.
Alex Hartley, Georgia Elwiss and Laura Marsh are among the big names to miss out.
Last weekend’s Premier 15s results were as follows:
Bristol Bears 41-14 DMP Sharks
Gloucester-Hartpury 40-41 Loughborough Lightning (Lightning won with the last play of the game)
Wasps 29-10 Worcester Valkyries
Harlequins 27-6 Firwood Waterloo
Richmond 12-30 Saracens
It’s four from four for Saracens with a full complement of bonus points. They sit top of the table with 20 points. Loughborough Lightning are second with 19 and Wasps third with 15. At the bottom, Worcester Valkyries have two losing bonus points from four games and DMP Sharks are second bottom with five.
There are no Premier 15s fixtures this weekend.
The last round of league fixtures in the Super League took place last weekend. This weekend sees the play-offs.
Friday 28 September
St Helens 24-14 Castleford Tigers
Sunday 30 September
York City Knights 6-50 Leeds Rhinos
Wigan Warriors 26-8 Bradford Bulls
Leeds Rhinos finished top in the regular season with 20 points from 12 games. Wigan finished just one behind and St Helens were third with 17.
Sunday 7 October
Leeds Rhinos v Castleford Tigers (1pm)
Wigan Warriors v St Helens (2pm)
The play-off winners will face each other in the Women’s Super League Grand Final at the Manchester Regional Arena on Saturday 13 October at 1pm. The Women’s Championship Grand Final will be the curtain raiser to the main event and begins at 11am. Tickets can be purchased on the gate; £5 for adults and free for under-16s. So if you’re in the area on Saturday 13, get out there and show them some support.
Sunday 30 September
Birmingham City 2-3 Manchester City
McManus ‘8 (OG – check it out if you haven’t seen it – also features in “And finally”), Sargeant 49’
Weir 54’, Parris 65’, Wullaert 73’
Chelsea 2-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
Kirby 32’, Cuthbert 36’
Liverpool 0-1 Reading
Bristol City p-p Everton
West Ham United 2-1 Yeovil Town
Kiernan 67’, Kmita 80
Arsenal are still top, although they didn’t play last weekend. They have nine points from three matches. They are ahead on goal difference from Birmingham City, who have nine from four. Manchester City lie third on eight points. At the bottom, both Yeovil and Brighton are still to get off the mark.
Manchester United 0-0 Durham
Charlton Athletic 4-1 Lewes
Clifford 9’, Gurr 60’, Agg 79’, Graham 85’
Bergin 77’ (Pen)
Crystal Palace 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Balfour 8’ (Pen)
Dean 15’, Addison 65’
Leicester City 4-2 London Bees
Axten 2’, Ayisi 33’, Dugmore 40’, Nymoen 82’
Littlejohn 50’ (Pen) 70’
Sheffield United 4-1 Aston Villa
Jones 4’ 51’ 71’, Paul 35’ (Pen)
In the Championship, Manchester United are top, their goal-scoring bonanza having come to an abrupt halt against Durham, with 10 points from four games. Tottenham are second with nine from three with Lewes third on nine from four games and with a worse goal difference. At the bottom, Aston Villa are the only side yet to register a point.
The draw for the last 16 was made on Monday 1 October:
FC Zurich (SUI) v Bayern Munchen (GER)
Wolfsburg (GER) v Atletico Madrid (ESP)
Ajax (NED) v Lyon (FRA)
Barcelona (ESP) v Glasgow City (SCO)
Linkoping (SWE) v Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)
Chelsea (ENG) v Fiorentina (ITA)
FC Rosengard (SWE) v Slavia Praha (CZE)
LSK Kvinner (NOR) v Brondby (DEN)
Both Glasgow City and Chelsea have difficult draws. Ties will be played on 17-18 October and 31 October-1 November.
FA Women’s National League Cup
The draw for the second round of the League Cup has also been made:
Huddersfield Town v Burnley FC
Stoke City v Norton & Stockton Ancients
Derby County v Bolton Wanderers
Hull City v Birmingham & West Midlands
Brighouse Town v Leeds United
Blackburn Rovers v Fylde
Nottingham Forest v Chorley FC
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Sunderland AFC
Billericay Town v Chichester City
Cambridge United v Leyton Orient
Cardiff City v Cheltenham Town
Queens Park Rangers v Loughborough Foxes
Oxford United v Crawley Wasps
Larkhall Athletic v AFC Wimbledon
Southampton v Plymouth
Watford v Coventry
Ties will be played on 14 October.
Don’t forget England Lionesses play two friendlies in the next week. On Saturday 6 October they face Brazil at Notts County (12.30pm kick off) and on Tuesday Australia will be the visitors at Craven Cottage, Fulham (7pm). Tickets will be available on the gate.
There was a really good piece on the BBC website this week about Scottish Women’s Football (SWF), in which the chair, Vivienne MacLaren stated that the organisation would not consider sponsorship from alcohol or gambling companies.
In an interview with BBC Scotland she said,
“Over 80% of our members who play football are in youth teams and are under 18,”
“I understand why, in the men’s game and other sports, it fits very well with what they are trying to do.
“But, for us, it is very much family-orientated. Even in our senior teams, there are many players who are under 18.
“We know it is a minority of people with issues around alcohol and gambling, but they are still serious issues.
“We want wee girls playing football to have positive role models and a bit of a cleaner view of life.”
We all know how women’s sport struggles for sponsorship, but I absolutely applaud SWF’s stance. I am absolutely sick to death of gambling adverts every five minutes during games, posters on billboards and logos on shirts. The UK has serious problems with both alcohol and gambling without sports viewed by millions of people a week being bombarded with advertising for both. Let’s hope that companies from other sectors take their chance to sponsor some quality sport.
Check out the full interview here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/45704266
World Cup Qualification
There is one European World Cup place still up for grabs. This Friday, the four best-placed runners-up will play the first leg of a two-legged play-off for the right to compete in the two-legged play-off final on 5 and 13 November.
Netherlands v Denmark
Belgium v Switzerland
The second leg is on Tuesday 9 October. News of both legs will be in next week’s column.
It’s not often I get to feature any form of motorsport in this column. Obviously, there’s a very good, albeit very disappointing reason for this – it’s still largely a boys’ club. But this week we have a good news story from the world of motorcycling.
Ana Carrasco, aged just 21, has become the first woman to win a motorbike world title.
She won the World Supersport 300 title by one point from fellow-Spaniard Mika Perez.
She won her first race in the series in Portugal in 2017. Since then she has gone from strength to strength, finally taking the championship lead in May at Imola.
She started from 25th position on Sunday at Magny-Cours and finished 13th, which was enough to take the title.
Here’s hoping this high-profile success will inspire other young women and girls to take up the sport.
Great Scottish Run
Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia won the Great Scottish Run half-marathon on Sunday in a time of 1:09:15. Rose Chelimo of Kenya finished second in 1:10:07 with Alia Gray of USA in third with a time of 1:13:32.
I rarely feature volleyball and I really feel I should. It’s a great team sport and in the equality stakes it rates highly. I suggest you all check out the Volleyball England website. It’s clear, informative and easy to use. I’ll outline the basics here, but go and check it out for yourselves. And if you find you’re in the area of a game, go and see it.
The NVL (National Volleyball League) is the top competition for volleyball in England. The men’s and women’s competitions are organised in the same way. The top league is the National Super League with National Division 1, National Division 2 and 3 National Division 3 beneath them.
I’m going to concentrate on the Super League, with apologies to everyone else. The structure is a new one, so we’re all learning together. From 2019-20 there will be 10 teams in the Super League, but this year (2018-19) there are nine. All teams play each other once before Christmas and then the league splits into two halves.
The top half plays each other twice to determine positions one to five and the bottom half plays each other twice to determine sixth to tenth (ninth this year). The team that finishes bottom is relegated and the team finishing ninth (eighth this year) plays-off against the team which finishes second in NVL division one.
Got that? Good.
There has only been one fixture so far this season:
Bristol VC1 2-3 London Orcas
I’ll try to remember to include scores when appropriate, but if I do forget, please check out the website.
Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division
29 September results:
Surbiton 1-0 Clifton Robinsons
East Grinstead 2-1 Beeston
Holcombe 1-1 Buckingham
Bowdon 2-2 Canterbury
University of Birmingham 2-1 Slough
After two games Surbiton are top with maximum points. Then come three teams on four points. Slough are bottom and the only team yet to pick up a point.
This weekend’s fixtures:
Clifton Robinsons v Holcombe (1pm, Coombe Dingle Pitch 1)
University of Birmingham v Buckingham (1.30pm, Birmingham Uni Pitch 1)
Bowdon v Beeston (1.45pm, Bowdon Club)
Canterbury v Slough (4pm, Polo Farm SC, Pitch 1)
East Grinstead v Surbiton (4pm, East Grinstead Hockey Club)
You just have to laugh – no, really. The BBC ran a “story” on Tuesday where it invited comments on which was the worst own goal of the weekend; Abbie McManus (Manchester City) and two from male footballers, one from Stuttgart and one from Olympiakos. “Right,” I thought, “Here we go. Fill your boots chaps, go for it all you women’s football-haters, just go for it. Now’s your chance to come up with the highly original ‘all female ‘keepers are rubbish’, line.” I looked briefly at the comments, only to find the first said something like “why do you put women’s football in with this? You should not be giving it space.” And I thought, “Wow, way to absolutely make a complete mess of it…..”
And, and finally,
Apparently, according to the BBC a new study has found that 84% of “general sports fans” are interested in women’s sport. More than half of the number surveyed were men. The countries included in the survey were the UK, USA, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia and New Zealand. It was found that 51% of men surveyed were supportive of women’s sport.
Check out the facts and figures here:
I’m always healthily sceptical of such surveys and I certainly wouldn’t use the figures to “prove” or “disprove” anything – I gather the chap mentioned in this week’s “And finally” was probably not among the 51%………
More news and views next week.