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

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

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.

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.

IMG_0962
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.

IMG_0960
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.