PREVIEW: Middlesex look to defend their T20 Title

Middlesex begin their T20 Title defence on Sunday as they host Hampshire and Sussex at Mill School.

The hosts welcome back T20 players wicketkeeper Amara Carr and opening quick Lauren Bell to the side which retained the London Cup at Lord’s last month. Carr will bolster the batting line-up and add pressure behind the stumps – especially important in T20 cricket. Bell will likely open with Katie Wolfe and her ability to bowl accurate inswingers could prove key in taking early wickets. Wolfe enjoyed success against Berkshire, taking an impressive 3-12, and will look to continue her economical bowling in the shorter format.  Middlesex can call on Sophia Dunkley again with both bat and ball as she returns from England A duties, seeking to continue her fine form and push for England T20 selection. In the County Championship Dunkley has accrued an impressive 497 runs at the excellent average of 82.83. The experienced duo of Beth Morgan and Olivia Rae both showed the importance of taking singles when under pressure last week. This is an important skill to be utilised in T20s, while the pair also have the ability to find the boundary, as Rae showed on the first ball she faced. Leg-spinner Emily Thorpe will hope her three wickets in last week’s win over Berkshire are a taste of what’s to come.

Sussex have some strong players including England and Kia Super League representatives who will all be aiming for strong performances to gain selection later in the season. Allrounder Georgia Elwiss is returning from injury but did well last week against Kent scoring 53. Sussex skipper and season-leading run-scorer Georgia Adams and fellow opener Izzy Collis also batted well, scoring 65 and 67, and will be key wickets. With the ball Sussex will probably open with England’s Freya Davies and Loughborough Lightning’s Tara Norris who have claimed seven and 11 wickets for the county this year. Left-armer spinner Linsey Smith is a third Sussex player who will be hoping for early success for the county as she vies for an England spot having made her debut in the World T20 last year.

Hampshire have a strong set of allrounders in Maia Bouchier, Charlie Dean, Fi Morris and Katie George who have all performed this season and will have key roles to play on Sunday. Morris is the county’s second leading run-scorer with 174. Hampshire’s batting will also be strengthened by the addition of South Australian and Adelaide Strikers player Sam Betts. With ball in hand spinner Morris has been the key, claiming 12 at 19.25, and will aim to continue her form in the T20s. Fellow spinner Providence Cowdrill has also been important in Hampshire’s attack, picking up 12 scalps.

Middlesex play Sussex at 10:30am and Hampshire at 4:30pm, so head to Mill Hill School to support the hosts in their T20 Title defence.

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Middlesex 2019 Season Preview

Naomi Dattani and Natasha Miles will captain Middlesex this year in the County Championship and T20 respectively. With the start of the summer only a few days away, we preview their season with One-Day captain Naomi Dattani and meet two new members of the squad.

Middlesex have made a few changes to this year’s squad with batter Cordelia Griffith moving from Essex for the County Championship as well as the T20s, sixteen-year-old right-arm seamer Sonali Patel named in the senior squad for the first time, experienced Scottish batter Olivia Rae for both campigns and pace-bowler Lauren Bell signed for T20.

Dattani spoke about the squad’s winter training and how they are gelling as a team, ‘It’s been really good, we’ve had a lot of young players coming through and developing their skills. We had a few new names in the squad this year and we’ve got to see them over the winter so preparation’s been good. Everyone’s getting more confident in their skills and their knowledge of the game. Over the winter and towards the end part of last season everyone’s started to gel as a team and understand each other’s personalities, and how to have a laugh and a joke with it.’

Despite the disappointment of being relegated to Division T20, Dattani is confident the squad can learn from their T20 success, ‘I think it’s just trying to use the success and the skills we had from the T20 format into the longer format and how we can maintain concentration levels. Being patient with the ball and the bat and just do the basics well over a longer period of time. We’ve done a lot of work on rotating the strike and getting players to really think about those basics and hopefully that will really show in Division Two this year.’

Speaking about her aim for the season Dattani said, ‘As a team we just want to do the basics well and have fun on the pitch and create a foundation for everyone to show off their skills that we see in training all the time. Hopefully we can build on each game and create a winning momentum through the season. Personally I just want to continue building on the things I’ve done in the past. I’ve worked a lot on my mind-set and confidence and just believing in the skills I’ve got. I hope I can put in consistent performances for the team and help the team get bigger scores and take wickets when needed.’

Looking to defend their T20 title, Middlesex have bolstered their squad by signing England Academy, South Vipers and Berkshire quick Lauren Bell. Making her Southern Vipers debut in 2018 was a nervous occasion for Bell but she said, ‘Southern Vipers helped me learn how to really control my nerves, control the ball and focus on what I’m doing, rather than everyone around me.’

Perhaps surprisingly Bell is not nervous when the London Cup at Lord’s is mentioned; instead she is relishing the opportunity to play at the most iconic cricket ground, ‘…I’m more excited about that and to get everyone to come and watch. It’s such an amazing thing and I’m more excited to play and for the day to come and play at the Home of Cricket.’

The aspiring England player is also looking forward to taking the field alongside Middlesex stalwart and former England player Beth Morgan, ‘… it’s going to be great to play with someone that talented and I’m sure she’s got a lot of experience to share with me.’

Rae will be part of both Middlesex’s 50 over and T20 campaigns and explains what she’s looking forward to and what she can bring to the squad, ‘[Being part of] a new team, the potential of playing Division One cricket and I’m really passionate about the game. I really do see myself as using my experiences to mentor people. I’m a really big team player, to keep morale up.

Rae’s personal aims for the season are those of a good team-player as are her remarks on the London Cup, ‘I’m fairly open-minded as to where I bat. Whatever the situation is, if we need someone to stabilise the innings or rotate the strike. Whenever I get the bat in hand I want to do the job in front of me. Obviously I’d love to be part of that team [at Lord’s] but even to watch my teammates on the pitch, though I’d absolutely love to walk onto the turf at the Home of Cricket.’

Middlesex begin their season on Sunday 21st April against Essex away at Chelmsford Cricket Ground. The County Championship fixture starts at 11am.

Middlesex 2019 Squad

Emma Albery

Lauren Bell (T20 only)

Amara Carr (T20 only)

Naomi Dattani

Sophia Dunkley

Bhavika Gajipra

Gayatri Gole

Cordelia Griffith

Iqraa Hussain

Natasha Miles

Beth Morgan

Sonali Patel

Olivia Rae

Emily Thorpe

Rebecca Tyson

Katie Wolfe

Originally published on Middlesex CCC’s site

South India win the inaugural Street Child CWC but every child is a winner

On Tuesday 7thMay Lord’s hosted the first of two World Cup Finals for 2019 – the Street Child Cricket World Cup. The day began with all teams; Bangladesh, England, India North, India South, Mauritius, Nepal, Tanzania and West Indies playing matches in front of a supportive crowd who cheered every run and wicket. Then there were semi-finals between Bangladesh and South India and England and Tanzania.

Between games some Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) volunteers took their team on a mini tour of the Ground, Craig Williams took Nepal to the Museum and said, ‘they were fascinated, it was fantastic!’

Hosts England and South India reached the final and made the famous journeys from the Home and Away Dressing Rooms respectively, through the Long Room to warm applause, down the steps of the Concourse and through the gate onto the pitch for their national anthems. It was clear watching the children belt out their anthems this day meant far more to them than just competing in their favourite sport. This day gave every child the opportunity to become somebody – the tournament and final is only part of their journey. They now have birth certificates which will help them get further in life and is a document the vast majority of us take for granted and do not realise how powerful it is.

South India claimed the Title and were elated but it is the hashtag ‘we are all somebody’ and the meaning behind it which will enable every child involved to progress.

MCC volunteers Fraser Stewart and Lourdes Merello chaperoned South India and attended a powerful and emotional General Assembly in the TLS after the tournament where a spokesperson from each person shared their message, asked for change and support.

Stewart, ‘It’s been an amazing day, I feel very lucky to have been involved and lucky to have been allocated the winning team. Lourdes and I were put with India South as our team rather by luck than judgement. We did absolutely nothing to help them win but it’s just been a wonderful and very humbling day and something fantastic. As an MCC Member, as well as a member of staff, I feel really proud that MCC has been involved in this.’

Merello, ‘I feel very proud and I think I’m very lucky to be involved in an event like this. I cried of happiness when our team won and now I cry with sadness. To hear what people still have to go through, it’s been very emotional.’

Stewart, ‘When you think about your own children and the relatively privileged lives they lead and the comforts and everything, and you set that against what these guys have been through. It kinds of brings any little niggles or problems you’ve got at home into a very firm perspective so it’s been a really humbling day.’

Each team’s message can be read here: https://www.streetchildunited.org/2019/05/08/the-street-child-cricket-world-cup-finals-day-at-lords/

Middlesex’s opening weekend preview

Middlesex begin their County Championship campaign with home matches against Lancashire (at Mill Hill School – their new base) and Yorkshire (at Teddington Cricket Club) on Sunday and Monday respectively. Following a nail-biting win over MCC at Lord’s the hosts will look to maintain their winning ways.

Middlesex’s squad will be boosted by the return of England Women’s Academy (EWA) allrounder Sophia Dunkley and middle-order bat Catherine Dalton. 19-year-old Dunkley enjoyed a successful tour to South Africa with the Academy, claiming best figures of 3-35 and a top score of 81* (44) in a T20 against a strong Australian U19 side.

Two other batters in good form are opener Natasha Miles (38 v MCC) and middle-order bat Maia Bouchier (39* v MCC). Middlesex’s line-up also boasts former England player and Middlesex stalwart Beth Morgan and current England  batter Fran Wilson. Both can find the boundary with ease and rotate the strike well, which is important as Middlesex look to play out their overs and not lose wickets in clusters as has been the case in previous seasons.

With ball in hand the hosts will look to their new pairing of Hayleigh Brennan and Gayatri Gole to set the tone. They executed their plans well in their first spells against MCC with just 18 runs coming off the first four overs. In the spin department the attack will be led by leggies Dunkley and Emily Thorpe with support from part-time off-spinner Morgan.

2018 champions Lancashire have a strong squad and their XI will likely include former Middlesex left-arm orthodox bowler and England player Alex Hartley, fellow left-armer Sophie Ecclestone and right-arm quick Kate Cross. EWA players Emma Lamb, a top order batter, and wicketkeeper Ellie Threlkeld are also likely to feature. The Red Rose will be led by Evelyn Jones this season who enters the match off the back of a century in club cricket.

On Monday, Bushy Park will be the picturesque setting for the fixture against Yorkshire. The White Rose will look to skipper Lauren Winfield to lead from the front with the bat while their bowling attack will likely be led by Katherine Brunt (if available) or fellow England seamer Beth Langston. Yorkshire will also call on England off-spinner Dani Hazell for tight overs as well as leg-spinning duo Katie Levick and EWA player Hollie Armitage.

Both matches start at 11am and are free entry.

Squad

Naomi Dattani

Emma Albery (Yorkshire only)

Maia Bouchier

Hayleigh Brennan

Catherine Dalton

Sophia Dunkley

Gayatri Gole (Lancashire only)

Iqraa Hussain

Natasha Miles

Beth Morgan

Emily Thorpe

Fran Wilson

Katie Wolfe

MCC v Middlesex T20 preview

Tomorrow will mark a historic occasion at Lord’s with four women’s teams taking part in the inaugural MCC Women’s Day. Two MCC Women’s sides: Lord’s Ladies and Marylebone Maidens will take the field at 10am, followed by MCC Women and Middlesex Women which starts at 1:30. This will be the first time Middlesex have played on the main square at Lord’s. Entry is £5 for adults, £2.50 for over 65s and free for children under 16.

Middlesex will be captained by opening batter Natasha Miles who will look to build a good foundation with vice-captain and left-hand bat Naomi Dattani. The pair are orthodox batters who strike the ball well and can prove a challenge for the bowlers who are forced to adjust their line.

England’s Fran Wilson is expected to come in at number three and will look to make an impact at a ground which holds amazing memories from last summer when she was part of the World Cup winning side. Wilson’s favoured strokes include sweep and ramp shots which she plays extremely well even in high-pressured situations. Wilson also brings a lot to the team with her athletic fielding and will likely be found at point to take sharp catches and cut off singles.

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Fran Wilson at the crease in a match against Sussex 

After making her senior Middlesex XI debut in 2002 Beth Morgan will finally get to play at the county’s home ground of Lord’s – where she has represented England, and was a member of the World T20 winning side over New Zealand in 2009. The lynch-pin of the Middlesex squad, Morgan has steadied the ship on numerous occasions and will be able to provide experience both with bat in hand and on the field. Last year Morgan hit 364 runs at 26 with a top T20 score of 53.

Maia Bouchier spent the winter in New Zealand playing for Auckland in the national competition alongside a number of White Ferns including Holly Huddleston and Sara McGlashan. Bouchier enjoyed a fruitful season and finished as the fourth-leading run-scorer in Auckland’s Premier T20 competition, representing local club Cornwall with 188 runs at 42.

Victorian and Melbourne Stars opening quick Hayleigh Brennan will make her debut for Middlesex in the match. Brennan is in fine form following a successful Australian season, finishing as the joint leading wicket-taker in Victorian top-flight cricket with 26 at an average of just 9.31. If Middlesex opt for pace from both ends, Gayatri Gole is a likely choice. Last season Gole claimed nine wickets in her first year in the senior squad. The fourth seamer named in the 12 is England Academy player Katie Wolfe who will be looking to continue her success in the First XI, having taken seven wickets in as many matches last summer, after the first half of the season was written off due to injury.

Middlesex have named two frontline spinners in the squad in leggie Emily Thorpe and off-spinner Bhavika Gajipra who is in her first season with the senior side. Thorpe claimed eight wickets at 18.50 in 2017 in her debut season for the First XI, bowling all four of her allotted overs in the T20s, and will hope to carry that form through to this summer.

Iqraa Hussain looks set to take the gloves for the home county and will aim to add late-order runs if required. Middle-order bat Emma Albery is another player who will be hoping to make her debut at the Home of Cricket.

MCC have named a strong side including former England captain Charlotte Edwards, who will skipper the team, and 2017 World Cup winners wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor and allrounder Georgia Elwiss. This will be Taylor’s first match since the Ashes, while Elwiss has played a lot of cricket over the winter and recently returned from a tour of India with England. These will be three key wickets for Middlesex to pick up though other MCC players are in good form. Allrounder Alex Rogers spent the winter playing Premier club cricket in Australia, accumulating an impressive 610 runs at 50.83 and claiming 11 wickets with her right-arm seam deliveries. Another experienced player is former England international Sarah Clarke who will hope to get some purchase off the wicket for her legspin. Somerset allrounder Nicole Richards is another leg-spinner MCC have in their armoury; she had a good season with bat and ball last year and will look to continue that at Lord’s.

The match looks set to be tightly contested and the result could well be determined by how each player handles their nerves. For many, it will be their first time playing in a live-streamed match and for most it will be their Lord’s debut.

 

Middlesex Squad

Natasha Miles (captain)

Emma Albery

Maia Bouchier

Hayleigh Brennan

Naomi Dattani

Bhavika Gajipra

Gayatri Gole

Iqraa Hussain

Beth Morgan

Emily Thorpe

Fran Wilson

Katie Wolfe

 

Surrey Stars’ allrounder and Middlesex one-day captain, Naomi Dattani, on the Kia Super League and the Stars’ squad

Middlesex’s one-day skipper Naomi Dattani has been named in the Surrey Stars squad for the second edition of the Kia Super League (KSL). I chatted with Naomi at Lord’s to find out more about the Surrey Stars, her cricketing aims and the KSL.

Last year you were an injury replacement for the Surrey Stars – how did this come about?

I think it was on the Tuesday, I really wanted to be involved in the Super League. I was asking around if I could be a net bowler or something like that. Then the Surrey girls played a game on that Tuesday, Kirstie White injured herself, and I got a call on the Thursday saying come to training. So I went and they confirmed Kirstie would miss the tournament and then I signed on the dotted line on Saturday. It was an interesting week that turned around really quickly and I was really excited to be a part of it and have that opportunity.

This year it’s been different, you’ve been named in the original squad – how did it feel being in it from the beginning? How beneficial do you think that will be for you in the competition?

It’s exciting to know that whatever they saw last year I made a good enough impact and to be named from the start is great. I get to be a part of it and don’t miss anything. I’m really looking forward to being involved from day one and gelling with the team and seeing how the things I missed last year all go.

The Stars have two international quicks in Marizanne Kapp and Rene Farrell; how much did you learn from them last year?

I had a few conversations with Rene Farrell and it was her knowledge and insights into the way she goes about her bowling – it was just incredible. She knows when she wants to bowl her slower ball, when to change the field. It’s little things like that – she’s on it before the batsman can even guess what she’s going to bowl. Just talking to her about all those things- when and how to do it. Kappy was quite quiet but she’s so much quicker and just runs in – smiles off the field it but a demon when she bowls. So she was really good to watch as well.

Last year you were one of four Middlesex players with Sophia Dunkley, Alex Hartley and Beth Morgan – how much did that help joining the Stars?

It probably made it a really easy transition. Just having them there; familiar faces although you tend to know most of the girls from county cricket. But they know what I do and know what they do, it just made the transition really easy. Then I was able to gel with the team that much quicker and bounce off the girls and have a bit of a laugh with them in between training sessions.

Who are you most looking forward to playing with?

They all individually have their different roles but in terms of the whole team I really enjoyed working with Rene Farrell. Off the pitch she is really funny and she’s the one who brings the whole team together and made our team song and things like that. She’s great fun to be around.

What are your aims for this year’s KSL both personally and as a team?

Last year I was fortunate to play a few games. I just want to make an impact and hopefully if I get the opportunity again to play and wherever I bat I’d just like to make an impact – score those crucial runs. It doesn’t matter how many, if I come in at the end just making sure I score as many as I can quickly. If I get the chance to bowl then I’d like to take wickets or at least restrict runs. Wherever I can make a change.

You’ve been in Australia for first two editions of Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL); how do you think the KSL compares?

I actually think the KSL is a bit more competitive. It’s a tough one because I got to experience the KSL first hand, and I was only a viewer of the WBBL. I think the KSL brings more competition in terms of more internationals in one team so the games seem bigger and better and there were higher scores.

You’re nearing the end of your two-year plan to be part of the England academies, if you have a successful KSL do you think you’ll continue your pursuit of higher honours?

Yeah I think so. As this season’s gone on I’ve tried to ease off thinking about that plan because things change. The way you play changes and I think at the moment all I want to do is have fun with it. If it happens, it happens and obviously I’ll take the opportunity straight away. At the moment I’m trying to have fun and if the Super League goes well, which is crucial, then anything can happen but at the moment I’m just going to enjoy playing in the KSL and see how things go.

 

Surrey Stars begin their season at The Oval on Sunday 13th August against Yorkshire Diamonds.

Natasha Miles, Middlesex T20 captain and Lancashire Thunder player, on the Kia Super League

Middlesex’s T20 captain, Natasha Miles, has signed for her second season with Lancashire Thunder in the Kia Super League. I chatted with Miles to discuss the inaugural KSL and preview this season.

How did playing for Lancashire Thunder in the inaugural KSL come about?

I think they looked at the postcode that was North West London and put me in North West England. Joking aside, they send out some feelers to players they wanted to be involved in and I obviously took the opportunity with both hands. From there, they split up the county players into the different set-ups and the North West joke makes more sense now. I said yes and I was really excited about playing up there because I knew a few of the girls.

What was it like playing alongside internationals Amy Satterthwaite, Deandra Dottin and Hayley Matthews?

Absolutely incredible. What they brought to the team is something you don’t get often. Satterthwaite’s knowledge is just incredible. I would just sit and ask her everything I possibly could about anything. It’s refreshing to hear someone from a different country’s point of view on how they go about things. If you just play with people from England you tend to find you have similar approaches. Dottin and Hayley were just really fun to have around. They have that West Indian free spirit and were really chill and they hit the ball so incredibly hard – it’s insane. I was stood behind the net because I didn’t want to get hit.

Thunder have again signed Satterthwaite who will be joined by White Ferns’ teammate Lea Tahuhu and Australian spinner Jess Jonassen. What are you looking forward to learning from them this year?

It’s just fun to see how they go about their cricket. It’s always fun to learn and watch players of their talent play such a short format of the game where they have to compress all their knowledge into a short space of time.

What are your aims both personally and as a team this season?

Personally I’d like to make an impact and play a few games – even if I’m just fielding for 20 overs. Stop runs, take catches and be a positive influence. As a team, we know we’re capable of doing a lot better than we did last year – we came bottom. With the players we have we’re more than capable of coming in the top three for finals day.

Who are you most looking forward to playing with?

I can’t pick one – they all bring their own personalities to the game which are fun in a different way.

Lancashire Thunder has lots of England Academy players, who do you think are some of the most exciting prospects for England?

Sophie Ecclestone has already proven herself on the international stage, Lamby [Emma Lamb] and Jones [Evelyn Jones] at the top of the order have done well at county [for Lancashire]. They’re all very talented and young so they’re going to come in and challenge the England girls in due course.

You were on the MCC Young Cricketers’ programme alongside Sarah Taylor, and were housemates for a few seasons. What will it be like playing alongside her again?

It’s always fun to take the field with her – it’s been a while. I’m excited she’s had such a good World Cup. It’s just fantastic for her to bounce back the way she has done – she’s an incredible personality and it’s good to see her with a smile back on her face, on the field and scoring runs where she’s comfortable.

What was the biggest challenge of joining the Lancashire Thunder – a squad predominately consisting of Lancashire county players?

The only challenge was the travel – they were incredibly welcoming and I felt like I’d always played with the squad. It was good because I already knew a few of the girls like Crossy [Kate Cross] and Danni Wyatt [playing for Southern Vipers this season].

Do you still have aims to play international cricket with Hong Kong or England?

It always sits in the back of your mind but it’s not something that’s pressing to me. I’ve been and gone through that process and done as well as I could have done at the time. If it comes up and I do well enough it’s a passion and I’d say yes in a heartbeat, but if it doesn’t I have many passions outside of cricket I’m enjoying pursuing.

Lancashire Thunder’s first match is against Yorkshire Diamonds at Headingly on Friday 11th August.