Brief form-guide to Staffordshire’s EWA representatives and Middlesex’s players

Today Staffordshire host Middlesex at Milford Hall Cricket Club in one of the final county matches of the season – a Royal London One-Day County Championship game which will see both sides fight relegation. The match starts at 11am and it is free entry, so head down to see some top class cricket featuring several international players.

Middlesex have named a strong squad for the match; Tash Miles, Naomi Dattani, Fran Wilson, Sophia Dunkley, Beth Morgan, Anna Nicholls, Millie Pope, Holly Huddleston, India Whitty, Alex Hartley and Ria Raval (possible batting order).

Both Staffordshire and Middlesex won one of their two games over the Bank Holiday weekend – Staffs beat Surrey by seven wickets following an abandoned match against Sussex on the Sunday. While Middlesex bounced back with a five wicket win over Warwickshire after a rain-affected loss to Yorkshire.

The in-form batsman for Staffordshire is captain and England Women’s Academy (EWA) player Eve Jones. In their win over Surrey she made 110 off 107 – her top county score of the season, an innings which included an impressive 16 fours and three sixes. In a mid-week fixture representing Marylebone Cricket Club against Cheshire, she scored another century and is certainly the batsman Middlesex will look to dismiss cheaply.

EWA and Staffs’ off-spinning allrounder, Steph Butler, will be looking to end the season on a high as the county battles the fight against relegation. Butler is averaging 18.17 with the bat this year for the Midlands side, top-scoring with 35 in a Second Division T20 loss to Surrey.

Staffordshire’s third EWA representative is Alex MacDonald who was part of Yorkshire’s County Championship title winning squad last season. MacDonald is predominately a medium-fast bowler but like many in the England set-up takes on an allrounder role at county level. She is averaging 20.86 with bat in hand and claimed four wickets for Staffs this year.

Middlesex also have a number of players in the England set-up, including Wilson (England-contracted) and Hartley who have represented the country this summer, in good form ahead of this fixture. 

Left-arm orthodox Hartley, delivered a masterclass on spin to players and spectators alike on Monday. Warwickshire were tied down at the start of their innings and had started to build a partnership, albeit more in the form of dot balls than runs, when Wilson brought her into the attack. The spinner did just what was asked – bowled a wicket maiden. Most players would be pleased to even produce one in a game but Hartley went on to show why she made her England-debut this summer as her next over was also a wicket maiden. The young spinner then bowled another four overs in that spell and just one went for runs – only two. Hartley went on to finish with her best figures of the season: ten overs, five maidens 3-17. This three wicket-haul has brought her tally for the season to 11 at an average of just 9.91 with a low economy rate of 2.92.

Despite only playing for Middlesex on five occasions this season due to injury and England commitments, Fran Wilson is topping the batting averages with 42.25 and a high score of 63 not out. In Izzy Westbury’s absence (due to injury) she is also likely to skipper the side as she did in their last match. With Wilson playing, Middlesex can expect not only runs and calmness at the crease – something the county is known to lack on occasion –  but some superb fielding and tactical nous.

The other and most notable player from Middlesex to have represented England is Beth Morgan who continues to churn out runs at county and club level. She has accumulated 213 runs at 30.43 in county cricket this season. Despite having a high score of 43 not out for Middlesex this season, it has been two crucial innings of 36 not out which have shown Morgan’s character as a quality batsman. The first was in a nail-biter against Somerset. Having bowled the visitors out for 145, Middlesex looked sure of a win at 120-4 with Morgan and new batsman Nicholls at the crease but nerves got to the young batsmen as they struggled to 144-9 with Morgan remaining at the crease on 32. It was a much tighter finish than anticipated and there was great relief from the Middlesex contingent as Morgan hit a four to secure a win. Her second 36 not out was last Monday against Warwickshire as Middlesex looked to chase down the low total of 97 but lost early wickets and were stuttering at 34-4. But it was a strong 48-run partnership between the experienced Morgan and young Dunkley which got them to 82-5, and Nicholls joined Morgan to finish the job.

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A relieved Beth Morgan after hitting the winning runs to finish on 36

With Middlesex having a very strong spin attack; Dunkley, Hartley and Westbury it was no surprise when they signed New Zealand quick Holly Huddleston. The Kiwi has done just what is asked of an overseas; inspire the next generation and perform to the best of your ability. Huddleston has taken many batsmen by surprise due to her sheer pace and claimed  15 wickets at just 14.80. Partly off the back of her impressive season she has been awarded a contract with the White Ferns – New Zealand’s national side.

It should be a good game, made even more interesting by the prospect of relegation for either side in which bonus points could be crucial.

 

N.B. All Middlesex stats exclude the Pemberton and Greenish Cup

Berkshire Beavers host Middlesex Meatballs

On Sunday June 12 Middlesex will make the short journey to North Maidenhead Cricket Club where they will be hosted by Berkshire who sit one place above them in the Royal London One Day County Championship table. The match starts at 11am and it is free entry.

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Middlesex have named a strong squad; Westbury (c), Bouchier, Dattani, Hartley, Huddleston, Miles, Morgan, Nicholls, Pope, Raval, Whitty and Wilson. 

Alex Hartley and Fran Wilson return from injuries which kept them out of the past two and three fixtures respectively. It looks increasingly likely that Wilson will become a regular feature of England’s squad. Although being out for a few weeks she played in an England Women’s Academy/Development Programme team against a strong Ireland A side on Tuesday, and top-scored with 88.

Despite losing their last match which was against Sussex – a side that included Danni Wyatt and Georgia Elwiss – Middlesex showed there is far more depth to their squad than they have been given credit for.

In just their second match as the opening pair, Naomi Dattani and skipper Izzy Westbury shared a good stand of 51. Having played for Prahran in Melbourne, the pair know each other and their games very well, which has undoubtedly contributed to their understanding. Having batted alongside the former Southern Star, Jess Cameron to whom they frequently played second fiddle, both Dattani and Westbury have the ability to play out the opening bowlers with the knowledge the runs will come if they just stay in. Against Somerset on Sunday May 29, Westbury struck her high score for Middlesex – a well-made 43 after opening the innings with Dattani. Next day Dattani made 71, her top score for Middlesex First XI.

 

Dattani continued her form the next weekend scoring 143 in a convincing 260-run win for Finchley Gunns over Horsham where she captained and opened the batting. In the same game Beth Morgan played well with 74, while medium-pacer Millie Pope claimed her second four-wicket haul in eight days to finish with 4-9 from 5.5 overs. Pope also opened the batting and made 37, which should give her confidence if required to bat on Sunday, as no amount of net practice can equate to the feeling of bat on ball rewarded by runs.

 

With Sophia Dunkley not available for this fixture, it will be interesting to see if Tash Miles comes in and bats at five where the young England Women’s Academy (EWA) player has been batting recently, or if she edges out the skipper to open with Dattani.

It is Middlesex’s middle order which has been inconsistent. Against Somerset and Sussex, there were strong opening stands of 46 and 51 respectively, and good contributions from a young number three in Maia Bouchier of 17 and 30 before Beth Morgan made the last score of note. In the Somerset match she batted with the tail as Middlesex edged over the line to win by one wicket, courtesy of a Morgan four; she finished 36 not out.

Middlesex’s bowling line-up will be strengthened with Hartley’s return, as her control has been missed by the London side. Hartley – a left-arm orthodox spinner – has extra incentive to perform as she is also in the EWA squad, and many people believe she has a strong chance of an England call-up this summer for the Pakistan series.

New Zealand quick Holly Huddleston leads the seam attack. She has has beaten the bat on numerous occasions this season, and is pushing for a recall to the White Ferns squad with  a particular hope of representing them in the 2017 World Cup  over here. Huddleston has claimed 11 wickets at 12.82 with best figures of 3-9 in their win over Surrey, including the prized wicket of Nat Sciver. She will certainly open, and if Westbury doesn’t opt for Hartley other end, then right-arm fast Ria Raval will be her opening partner.

Berkshire’s squad is; Knight, Smith, Potgieter, Rudd, Macleod, Rogers, Morris, Gerke, Bell, Brown, Hardy, Bell and Gardner.

In her first game as both Berkshire and England captain, Heather Knight will hope to contribute heavily and return the county to their winnings ways before she departs for national duties. This season Knight has scored 258 runs at the impressive average of 51.60 with a top score of 92,  made in a losing cause against top of the table Warwickshire. Knight will also be continuing to hone her skippering skills as she will lead the Western Storm in the inaugural Kia Super League (KSL) this summer, whose squad includes her opposite Middlesex number – Westbury – and Wilson.

Four other Berkshire players; Daisy Gardner, Alice MacLeod, Fi Morris and Carla Rudd are also taking part in the KSL but will be representing the Southern Vipers and will be captained by Charlotte Edwards.

With Gardner looking set to make a return after injury it will probably be she and fellow fast bowler Lauren Bell who the Middlesex openers need to play out carefully in order to build a platform.

Aside from Knight few batsmen have made notable contributions to Berkshire’s batting this season. With Middlesex’s squad on paper looking almost the strongest it has all year it will be important for Berkshire’s batsmen to stand up.

Rudd has scored two thirties this year but it is likely she will need to capitalise on any start she makes considering the form several of the Middlesex batsmen are in.

It should be an exciting game and will be a great chance to see a number of international and KSL players in action. Though if the current weather forecast is to be believed, rain will play a part in the day and we could see a reduced-overs match. Let us hope it is not a repeat of last year’s original fixture which was abandoned early-season but fortunately the teams were able to reschedule for a Saturday in July and the match went ahead with the result in Berkshire’s favour – a 38-run win.

Middlesex host Somerset in the County Championship

On Sunday May 29 Middlesex will host Somerset in the Royal London One Day Championship at Teddington Cricket Club. It is free entry and starts at 11am and there will be a BBQ, bar and a raffle.

The last time Middlesex played at that ground was in 2005 when they were in Division Three and lost by 38 runs to Staffordshire, a side which included current England players Danni Wyatt and Georgia Elwiss.

Of the Middlesex side who played in that fixture it is only Beth Morgan who will turn out tomorrow, Danni Warren having retired at the end of last season.

Morgan was in fine touch against Surrey in the Pemberton Greenish Cup on Tuesday, scoring an impressive 31 off just 17 balls, and will be looking to continue this form in the County Championship. With injuries to three of Middlesex’s regular top-order batsmen – Tash Miles, Cath Dalton and Fran Wilson – Morgan’s runs and experience will be even more valuable than usual.

After the Cup win victorious skipper – Izzy Westbury – on Tuesday she said Middlesex were hopeful that Wilson would be fit for the weekend, but she was confident in the squad’s depth. She named Maia Bouchier as somebody who can definitely hit the ball, as she proved in the P&G Cup when scoring 15 in a challenging situation.

Westbury herself is in good form and was timing the ball well at The Oval, probably the best since her penultimate innings in Australia where she made 31 in a 69-run partnership with Southern Stars’ international Jess Cameron for Prahran against Essendon Maribyrnong Park. If tomorrow’s pitch proves to be as slow as The Oval’s, it is likely to suit the skipper who enjoys playing spin.

Middlesex will also be pleased with the way India Whitty batted against Surrey as she made her high score for the First XI with an unbeaten 14, which included three fours.

In the bowling department, Middlesex will be without their number one bowler, Alex Hartley, due to a late injury. However, Middlesex do have other spinners in Dunkley and Westbury who are reliable and are not afraid to float the ball above the batsmen’s eye-line in the hunt for a wicket.

Pace bowler Holly Huddleston has been a good addition to the London club, frequently taking wickets in her opening spell. Middlesex will look to Huddleston for an early breakthrough to put Somerset on the back foot.

Ria Raval and Hannah Wakeman will hope to play in their first fixtures of the season for the county, while Gaya Gole will be looking to make her First XI debut after being 12th man for their Tuesday win. Gole was not named in the Middlesex squad at the beginning of the season, but with injuries accounting for the absence of four regulars, she has been called in. She is an opening medium-pace bowler who like a number of the Middlesex side is in her final year at school.

The key batsman for Somerset will be England Women’s Academy (EWA) representative Sophie Luff. Though having a poor start to the season, she averaged 54.14 last summer and will be hoping to get runs under her belt before EWA’s fixtures, which could result in a full international call-up later this year.

Batting at four for Somerset, their skipper and England fast bowler Anya Shrubsole will also be an important wicket to take. She has the power to score frequent boundaries and will be looking to lead her county to their first win of the season. Shrub sole of course is the bowler the Middlesex batsmen will need to handle carefully, perhaps being content with playing out maidens and attacking the bowler at the opposite end.

Having claimed 2-22 in Somerset’s last outing, was against Sussex, leg-spinning allrounder Nicole Richards will be looking to bring that form into this fixture.

Though Middlesex will be fielding a young side, the match should be a good contest with a number of players on show who are set to play in the inaugural Kia Super League this summer. It will be interesting to see how Westbury’s knowledge of many of her Bath CC teammates helps her tactics as well as her own performance.

 

Middlesex squad

Izzy Westbury (c)

Maia Bouchier

Naomia Dattani

Sophia Dunkley

Gaya Gole

Holly Huddleston

Beth Morgan

Anna Nicholls

Millie Pope

Ria Raval

Hannah Wakeman

India Whitty

 

Success again for Middlesex in the P&G Cup

On Tuesday May 24 Surrey hosted Middlesex for the second annual Pemberton and Greenish Cup at The Oval.

Middlesex won the toss and opted to bat, sending the regular openers in Sophia Dunkley and Tash Miles to the middle.

The England allrounder, Nat Sciver, opened the attack and claimed a wicket with her sixth delivery as she had Miles trapped lbw for 0 with the score on nine which saw Maia Bouchier, fresh from an exam in the morning, join Dunkley.

Left-arm medium pacer Amy Jenkins shared the new ball and early success with Sciver. With her third delivery she had Dunkley stumped for five with the score still on nine which brought the experienced Beth Morgan to the crease. 

Morgan once again steadied the ship and ensured Middlesex were scoring at a good rate before she was caught by Hannah Jones off Bryony for a 17-ball 31, an innings that included no fewer than six fours.

It was Anna Nicholls who joined Bouchier at the crease but she was bowled by Surrey’s skipper, Cecily Scutt, the following over for two with the score on 59-4, bringing Westbury to the middle.

Bryony Smith then picked up her second wicket of the game with the final delivery of the ninth over as she had Bouchier caught by Sciver for a well-made 15 with Middlesex on 70-5.

The Prahran pair shared a 17-run stand, with Westbury timing the ball particularly well, before Dattani was dismissed by Smith.

Middlesex then lost a further three wickets for 18 runs including Westbury who fell for 22 – her high score of the season. This left Millie Pope and India Whitty with three overs to build on the 105 runs scored and set a defendable total.

They managed exactly that as Middlesex posted 123-9 with Whitty making 14 off 12 including three fours.

Surrey sent out Kirstie White and Smith as they looked to win the London Cup for the first time. Middlesex’s New Zealand overseas, Holly Huddleston, opened the attack and like Sciver in the first innings claimed a wicket with the final ball of her first over. Smith was caught by Dattani for four with Surrey on six.

Westbury went with left-arm orthodox spinner Alex Hartley from the other end which also proved successful as she had White stumped Whitty with her penultimate delivery, leaving Surrey 7-2 after two overs.

Despite tight bowling from the Middlesex attack, Sciver and Alex Travers were building a solid partnership and with the England star dropped twice, many expected her to let loose and punish the visitors.

However, the breakthrough came in the eighth over as Dattani had Sciver caught Westbury for five with Surrey on 34.

With the required run rate climbing, Surrey were forced to take on the bowlers which saw Travers stumped for 18 off Dunkley in the ninth over. In her third over Dunkley took a second wicket as she had Libby Walters stumped for 11 which saw Surrey in trouble at 53-5 in the 13th, chasing 124 to win.

With two wickets falling in the next over; Hannah Jones caught Huddleston off Westbury for 10 and Sophie Pout run out by a direct hit from Miles at point, it was going to be a very tough ask for Surrey to turn around the game from this point.

Hartley, Pope and Huddleston each picked up a wicket in the final four overs as Surrey were dismissed for 88, giving Middlesex a 35-run victory as they retained the Pemberton and Greenish Cup.

Morgan was named player of the match for her fast-paced 31, an innings which was highly praised by Westbury. ‘I thought Beth played really, really well. She worked it around, she was clever. It was about knowing where the gaps were and using them.’

Westbury also emphasised the importance of their attack, ‘I think for us our bowlers are the linchpin of the team. I couldn’t fault them in any of the matches we’ve played. We’ve got great seamers and we know with the spinners that we can get four good overs out of them each.’

 

 

Middlesex look to retain Pemberton and Greenish Cup at The Oval

This evening (Tuesday May 24) Surrey play host to title-holders, Middlesex, for the second annual Pemberton Greenish Cup at The Oval.

The match will follow a girls’ and women’s day at The Oval which appears to have been a great success, with several England players there to inspire the next generation.

The Middlesex squad is Izzy Westbury (c), Maia Bouchier, Naomi Dattani, Sophia Dunkley, Alex Hartley, Holly Huddleston, Beth Morgan, Tash Miles, Anna Nicholls, Millie Pope, Ria Raval and India Whitty.

Middlesex will be looking to get back to their winning ways after suffering a six-wicket defeat to a strong Kent side in their last Championship match. On that occasion the London county posted a well-below par score of 92 all out and despite four wickets falling when the recently internationally retired Charlotte Edwards came to the crease through a guard of honour, Kent rather had the victory in their hands. Edwards finished 30 not out and showed she still has a lot to offer the game.

Though without Fran Wilson today who picked up an injury in the warm-up before their match against Kent, Middlesex will be confident heading into the match, boosted by the success their squad has had in the past and especially against their London rivals.

Dunkley and Morgan dominated with the bat for Finchley Gunns on Sunday scoring an unbeaten 152 (109) and 142 (88) respectively. Having both had disappointing starts to the season, this could well be what they needed to find their form at county level and it will be exciting to see if they can transfer this to The Oval which should be a good batting track. 

 On the bowling front Middlesex will be looking to Huddleston to open and make some early inroads as she did in their County Championship fixture against Surrey at the beginning of the month. She finished with figures of six overs 3-9. 

If defending, Westbury might once again opt to open with Hartley, a left-arm orthodox spinner, who the skipper considers the leader of the attack. Hartley is a member of the England Women’s Academy (EWA) who looks close to a call-up to the full squad.

Surrey’s squad: Cecily Scutt (c), Sophie Pout, Nat Sciver, Kirstie White (wk), Alex Travers, Eva Gray, Libby Walters, Bryony Smith, Amy Jenkins, Hannah Jones, Holly Knight, Laura Sandy, Rhianna Southby and Amy Gordon.

Following their successful trip to Harrogate in the last round of the Royal London One-Day Championship which resulted in a 58-run win over reigning champions, Yorkshire, Surrey will be hoping they can translate that form to T20.

Sciver, Smith and White are three in-form batsmen with Sciver, the England allrounder, scoring 56, Smith an unbeaten 50 off 24 and White 76 in their win over Yorkshire.

Sciver especially will be looking to make an impact, as she hopes to stake a claim in the squad for the series against Pakistan next month.

With the ball in hand it is Surrey’s skipper – Scutt- who has been dominant throughout the season. Despite their loss to Middlesex in the County Champs fixture, Scutt starred with the ball, claiming best figures of 5-30 from her 10 overs and will look to repeat that feat today.

With more media attention on this match, and as it is the first T20 the teams have played this year, players picked in the inaugural Kia Super League (KSL) squads will be looking to make make an impact as they hope to make their debuts in late July and August for their respective teams. For the visitors there will likely be six KSL players on duty – Westbury (Western Storm), Miles (Lancashire Thunder), Nicholls (Yorkshire Diamonds), Dunkley, Hartley and Morgan all Surrey Stars. Surrey have four KSL representatives who will, perhaps unsurprisingly, play for Surrey Stars; Nat Sciver (captain), Bryony Smith, Raveena Laktaria and Kirstie White.