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.

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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.

Women’s World Cup Final impact on my sister

With plenty of detailed match reports and features published on the World Cup and success of it, I thought I’d have a look at the impact of the final on my sister.

I’ve been coming to Lord’s since I was eight, attending a variety of international and county games each year. These outings were, and still are, a highlight of my summers, now enjoying a day in the Pavilion surrounded by history while enjoying the cricket in the middle.

As is often the way when you’re not an only child/grandchild if your sibling(s) is/are not particularly interest in the event or sport you’re going to take part in or watch, they are included.

In my case this meant my sister, almost exactly three years my junior would join my dad, grandfather and I once a year at Lord’s, normally in the Tavern Stand for a taste of international cricket.

For my sister, her visits to Lord’s were more a day out, she couldn’t name the players, perhaps just the captain on a good day, and on the occasions we watched T20 cricket it was always more about the music.

The Women’s World Cup Final on Sunday 23rd July has changed her opinion.

I had a good conversation with her on Monday evening asking her if she now had a favourite player. Unsurprisingly Anya Shrubsole was the response, not a bad hero to have. I thought I’d enquire about a batsman too, and this showed how much of an impact the final had actually had on her, ‘Fran Wilson’ was her favourite batsman. 

After a disappointingly short stay at the crease – trapped lbw first delivery – I was rather surprised Wilson was the beneficiary of my sister’s judgement, so much so I had to check she knew which player she was speaking about (sorry Fran!). Insistent though, I was informed Fran’s cool, but not as cool as Ellyse Perry.

My sister, as far from a badger as one could be, had come home from Sunday’s Final – the only match of the tournament she watched or followed – and decided she wanted to learn more about each member of the squad. I was most surprised when she expressed her disappointment that she hadn’t found anywhere to watch full replays of the matches, just highlights. This explained Wilson’s inclusion as she played an important role in England’s campaign, whether in the field or with the bat, notably in the tense semi-final against South Africa scoring 30.

Now she is looking forward to the Kia Super League (KSL) and trying to decide which team she supports. Does she pick the local side, Surrey Stars, Western Storm with her newfound favourite Shrubsole or Loughborough Lightning, the team with the ‘coolest cricketer’ Perry who earned the title for ‘playing football and cricket for Australia’. 

It is not just the KSL she is counting down to but the Australian season, helpfully informing me that would mean a shorter wait than for England’s 2018 season.

My sister is even looking to take up cricket when she returns to university in September and has asked for my old whites. I’ve decided I’ll trade them for the bat and ball she was given on Sunday. Fair deal I think…

Middlesex endure tough Bank Holiday weekend losing to Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire

It was a tough weekend for Middlesex. They lost both matches, first by 45 runs against Nottinghamshire, and then by 204 against Warwickshire who remain unbeaten at the top of the ladder.

On Sunday at Mill Hill School, Nottinghamshire won the toss and asked Middlesex to field. Gayatri Gole and Catherine Dalton opened the bowling to Sonia Odedra and Georgie Boyce. After scoring just one off Gole’s first over the pair proceeded to add a further 22 runs in the next four overs. Both Odedra, the Notts skipper, and Boyce, an England Academy player, found the boundary with ease. The pair brought up their half-centuries in the over before drinks with Odedra’s coming off 54 deliveries and Boyce’s 50, putting Notts in a strong position at 113-0 after 17.

The break soon brought success for Middlesex as Beth Morgan had Boyce caught by Natasha Miles for 55 – 40 of which were fours as the impressive opening stand of 121 came to an end. The next over saw Isabelle Westbury bowl Megan Burton for a single as Nottinghamshire were reduced to 127-2 after 20 overs. Despite wickets falling at the other end, Odedra continued to find the boundary before departing for 86 – caught by Fran Wilson off seamer Hannah Wakeman with the score on 194-6.

Some strong lower-order batting from Nottinghamshire helped them to post a competitive 252-9. Again the home side struggled with their line, giving away 39 wides in a disappointing tally of 45 extras.

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Naomi Dattani and Natasha Miles opening the batting chasing 253 to win

With rain forecast, there was always a strong chance the match could be decided by run rate. Odedra opened to her opposite number Naomi Dattani alongside debutant Sophie Munro. Economical overs were rewarded with a wicket for Munro who had Miles trapped lbw for seven with Middlesex on 22. England’s Wilson joined her captain at the crease and the pair worked the ball around, putting on 38 before Dattani was caught by Lucy Higham off Gordon for 19. The wicket brought Maia Bouchier to the crease, playing in her first match at this level for the season. Wilson departed after the pair had added just four runs as she attempted a reverse hit and was well caught at point by Odedra for 25.

Bouchier and Morgan batted sensibly, rotating the strike, before rain put a halt to the game. The pair returned with a revised target of 197 which meant Middlesex required 111 off 18 overs. Morgan was dismissed soon after the resumption, caught by Higham for 16 off Gordon.

Catherine Dalton joined Bouchier, and the pair had clearly not given up hope of chasing the total. They added 33 runs before Dalton was bowled by young Munro with the score on 132. Bouchier soon followed in the same fashion for a fluent 33 as Middlesex began to collapse.

The Nottinghamshire bowlers quickly finished the match before rain could bring the players off for a second time, as Middlesex were dismissed for 151. The pick of the bowlers was Munro who claimed 5-24 from 7.2 overs as Nottinghamshire won by 45 runs.

 

Monday saw Middlesex host a powerful Warwickshire side at Bushy Park. Captain Dattani won the toss and elected to field first, naming the same eleven as Sunday.

International duo Amy Jones (England) and Kathryn Bryce (Scotland) opened the batting for the Bears, facing Gole and Dattani. Again the openers got off to a good start, scoring 55 runs from the first ten overs. It was a good run rate which accelerated even when Bryce and Jones departed. Milly Pope bowled Bryce for 22 with just her third delivery of the day, and Isabelle Westbury had the dangerous Jones caught by Wilson for 41 which left Warwickshire on 73-2 in the 15th over.

New Zealand international Sophie Devine was joined at the crease by England Academy player Georgia Hennessy and the pair found the boundary with ease. Devine is well known for her ability to clear the ropes and did not disappoint. She scored four sixes, three against off-spin and one against medium-pace as she gave the crowd a taste of what they can expect from the White Ferns in the World Cup. Devine’s fifty came off 36 balls and her century off just 65. It took some good bowling from Pope to end the masterclass as Devine faced two dot balls and was caught by Dattani next ball for a boundary-filled 122 – an impressive 15 fours and four sixes. By this stage Warwickshire were already on 278-6 which gave the lower-order a licence to play their shots.

Warwickshire finished on a formidable 329-7 – the highest Division One score of the season. The pick of the bowlers was Pope who claimed 2-61, including the prize scalp of Devine which she claimed in a wicket maiden.

In reply Middlesex opened with Dattani and Miles who had the challenge of facing the international bowling of Devine and Bryce. Few loose deliveries were given and with the required run rate climbing it was little surprise wickets soon fell. Dattani was caught by Rebecca Grundy off Bryce for four, soon followed by Wilson who was bowled for nought. This left Middlesex struggling at 7-2 after five overs. The in-form Bouchier joined vice-captain Miles at the crease and played some lovely shots finding the boundary on four occasions before being caught by captain Marie Kelly off left-arm orthodox Grundy for 19. Miles soon followed, caught by Jenny Gunn off Grundy for 14.

Dalton was bowled by spinner Georgia Davis and Middlesex were in danger of being bowled out for under one hundred as they were reduced to 42-5. Former England player and Middlesex stalwart Morgan was the only player to offer real resistance, scoring a fluent 40 before she was caught by Kelly off Davis with the score on 96-9. Wicketkeeper India Whitty and Gole were the last pair. Batting with nothing to lose, they shared a 29-run partnership – the second highest of the innings. Whitty finished unbeaten on 16 and Gole made 15. Middlesex were all out for 125 which gave Warwickshire an emphatic 204-run victory.

It was a strong all-round performance from a quality Warwickshire side. The pick of the Bears’ bowlers was Grundy who claimed 4-26.

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Warwickshire remain unbeaten after a comprehensive 204-run victory over Middlesex

Both venues were fantastic hosts and the players even enjoyed a guard of honour at Bushy Park.

Middlesex now switch to T20s and host Sussex and Yorkshire at Merchant Taylors’ School on Sunday 18th June.

Middlesex secured their first Championship win of the season with a dramatic one-run victory over Berkshire

At Mill Hill School, Naomi Dattani won the toss and elected to bat, with Middlesex posted 152-9 from their 50 overs – their highest total this season. The experienced New Zealand international Rachel Priest got Berkshire off to a flying start but her dismissal slowed the run rate, and Middlesex were able to capitalise by claiming key wickets which reduced Berkshire to 151-9. With two runs required for a Berkshire victory or one wicket for a Middlesex win, a full toss was skied and the catch taken.

 

Dattani opened with vice-captain Natasha Miles and though runs proved hard to come by, the pair took singles when they were on offer and successfully negotiated the first ten overs, with the score on 22.

Middlesex lost their first wicket with 31 on the board, as Dattani was trapped lbw by spinner Emma Walker for 19. Fran Wilson joined Miles in the middle and the pair added 15 before the vice-captain departed for 14 as Walker took a low caught and bowled opportunity. Two overs later Wilson was dismissed in the same manner for 11, leaving Middlesex on 54-3.

Catherine Dalton was joined by the ever-dependable Beth Morgan and the pair added 29 runs for the fourth wicket. Dalton scored a further 12 runs before she hit a Fritha Morris full toss to mid-wicket and was caught by Ashleigh Muttitt. Morgan continued to pick the gaps and ran well between the wickets, again playing the anchor role for before she was trapped lbw by Lauren Bell for 37 with the scoreboard reading 131-8. Other useful contributions came from Holly Huddleston (16) and India Whitty (11) as Middlesex made 152-9. Emma Walker was the standout bowler for Berkshire, finishing with career-best figures of 10-2-28-5.

Chasing a target of 153, Priest made an explosive start to the innings, scoring six fours and a six in a knock of 47 (37) – more boundaries than Middlesex mustered in their 50 overs. Priest was dismissed with the final delivery of the 10th over, having dispatched the first for six, as she was caught by Dalton off Dattani with the score on 58.

Dattani immediately introduced off-spinners Isabelle Westbury and Morgan into to the attack to dry up runs and apply pressure. They bowled well in tandem and Westbury soon claimed her first two wickets of the season – Sherisa Gumbs (9) brilliantly caught by Wilson on the deep-mid wicket boundary, and Annabelle Flack (9) caught and bowled. Varying her flight effectively, Westbury completed her allotted ten overs, claiming a further two wickets to finish with 10-2-35-4.

Huddleston replaced Westbury to deliver the 31st over, a maiden which saw Berkshire on 121-5, requiring just 32 for victory. The return of the New Zealand quick soon brought rewards as she proceeded to take a wicket in each of her final four overs, leaving the visitors in strife at 136-9. Huddleston finished with her best figures in Middlesex colours of 10-5-24-4.

The last pair – Muttitt and Guppy – looked set to be Berkshire’s unlikely heroes as they put on 17 hard-fought runs to come within two of victory.

Dattani had given herself the captain’s role – to bowl at the death. Her third legitimate delivery was skied to mid-off where three fielders circled under the ball until the experienced Westbury called for the catch, and took it safely, to the delight of her teammates. This gave Middlesex a one run victory in their first win of the 50 over competition this season.

Speaking about her first win as Middlesex captain, Naomi Dattani said, ‘It was a really, really good moment. Especially when Izzy [Westbury] got the last catch – everyone was jumping for joy. And it was a nice team feel, not just for me, but for the whole team to have a win.’

Middlesex are back in action on May 28th at Mill Hill School against Nottinghamshire and May 29th at Teddington Cricket Club when they host Warwickshire.

Middlesex retain the London Cup in a thrilling three-run victory over Surrey

The London Cup is a coveted trophy and one Middlesex were certainly not giving up without a fight, after losing the toss and being asked to bat they posted a competitive 150-6. If Surrey were concerned with the seemingly challenging task ahead, it did not show as the batsmen kept ahead of the required run rate and the game went into the final over.

Making her debut as captain, Natasha Miles, and Naomi Dattani headed to the middle to defend the Title. Dattani played out a maiden delivered by Priyanaz Chatterji and Miles got off the mark in the second over with a four. Middlesex lost their first wicket – Dattani – at the start of the third over as she was caught behind without scoring, bringing the experienced Beth Morgan to the crease. From here Middlesex piled on the runs with the two in-form batsmen regularly finding the boundary. After ten overs the home side were 77-1, Miles 26 and Morgan 31.

The introduction of Hannah Jones in the 12th over proved successful, as Morgan was caught by Sophie Pout off the sixth ball for a boundary-filled 40 off 34 with the scoreboard reading 94-2. Catherine Dalton joined her skipper and after one dot ball showed her positive intent, by hitting a boundary. Opening bowler Chatterji returned to bowl the 16th and had Dalton trapped lbw for an attacking 21 off 15 deliveries, which included four fours. Middlesex debutant Amara Carr briefly joined Miles, scoring fours runs before she was bowled by spinner Scutt.

Holly Huddleston came in at number six and took singles to keep the scoreboard moving and ran two when given the opportunity. Jones bowled the final over which proved the most successful for Surrey – Miles was stumped for 54 off the penultimate delivery and Milly Pope was stumped off the last ball of the innings. Middlesex posted 150-6, Miles top-scored with 54 and was well-supported by Morgan (40). The pick of the Surrey bowlers was Hannah Jones who claimed 3-30 from her four overs, while Chatterji produced an economical three overs, including a maiden, to finish with 2-8.

New Zealand quick Huddleston opened the Middlesex attack bowling to Sophie Pout and Pope opened from the other end to Bryony Smith. Dalton bowled the fifth over which proved expensive with four fours hit, but got the breakthrough Middlesex required with her last delivery as Smith was caught by Huddleston for 16. After five overs Surrey were 37-1, just three runs ahead of Middlesex’s total at the same stage.

Aylish Cranstone joined Pout in the middle and the pair batted well together, reaching 71 after ten overs. Though six runs behind Middlesex at the ten over-mark, it was always going to be successful partnerships that would be key to chasing a target of 151.

Middlesex claimed a much needed second wicket with the last delivery of the 11th over as Pout was caught on the boundary by Dattani off Morgan for 31. Surrey were 83-2 – equal in runs to Middlesex but had lost one more wicket.

The match looked to be swinging Surrey’s way as Pout and Jones worked the ball around for singles and put the poor deliveries away. The introduction of medium-pacer Hannah Wakeman proved a spirited bowling change as she took a good caught and bowled opportunity to dismiss Pout for 29. At the end of the 14th Surrey were 102-3, behind the required run rate but with wickets in hand.

The visitors continued to compile runs, with one hand remaining on the Cup, requiring 33 from the final four overs for victory. Ria Raval took a key wicket in the 17th as Pope held a great catch at short third man to dismiss Jones for 27 and Surrey were 125-4 at the end of the over. Huddleston produced Middlesex’s fifth wicket in the 18th, bowling Kira Chathli (6) as she attempted a ramp shot. Surrey then required 20 off two overs.

Huddleston was handed the ball for the final over with Surrey requiring 11 runs. The match went down to the final delivery with a dot, four, dot, single, a leg bye and a single accounting for the last over of the match as Surrey reached 147-5 as Middlesex won by three runs. Huddleston was the pick of Middlesex’s bowlers with economical figures of 1-14 from her four overs.

Natasha Miles was named man of the match for her captain’s knock of 54 and spoke about her first victory at the helm.

‘I think it’s just a fantastic feeling [to retain the Cup]. To come off Izzy’s [Isabelle Westbury – former captain] brilliant captaincy in this, it’s nice to follow in her footsteps and do the same thing. It’s the first time captaining the side and I love working with these girls they’re all really talented – it’s a lot of fun. It’s a little challenging, we’re quite young and inexperienced but I thought we held our nerve really well today.’

Commenting on her own form, Miles said, ’It was really nice to just get some runs under the belt. I’m feeling good, striking the ball well and it was good to bat with Beth [Morgan] and Cat [Dalton] who came out and smashed it. It was nice to build partnerships and find partnerships we can take into the 50 over game and keep gong with this positive form from everybody.’