Women’s Ashes – Test match preview

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Women’s Ashes Preview – ODIs

In the past two years, women’s cricket has experienced a transformation that shows little sign of abating. There have been more matches played in 2016 & 2017 than at any time in ODI history.

At the same time, the first professional domestic T20 leagues have been launched (the WBBL in 2015-16 and the KSL in 2016). Improved contracts are allowing more players than ever to play and train full-time. These factors, coupled with a World Cup played on good surfaces in England, have set the stage for a revolution in ODI batting.

The 2017 Women’s World Cup smashed batting records across the board (everything from tournament run rate, highest partnerships centuries & fifties scored to sixes hit) and the ODI run rate in 2017 (4.38 RPO) is currently the highest ever for a calendar year.

From the end of the 2013 World Cup, until the conclusion of the 2015 Ashes (referred to as the 2013-15 seasons for the rest of this post), the ODI run rate was 3.87 RPO. Since the 2015 Ashes, that has risen to 4.33 RPO. The percentage of runs scored in boundaries has risen from 38.43% in the 2013-2015 seasons to 44.38% since the 2015 Ashes.

For England, this period of rapid change also coincided with the appointment of head coach Mark Robinson, who took over in the wake of their 2015 Ashes loss. He had some difficult decisions to make early in his tenure, but by all accounts, the changes Robinson has made were key to England’s triumph over India at Lord’s on 23rd July.

WODI teams post 2013WC-2015 Ashes

WODI teams since 2015 Ashes

During the 2013-2015 seasons, Australia were the dominant batting unit in world cricket. Their run-rate (4.91 RPO) equated to scoring on average 19 more runs per 50 overs than the next best side. Excluding 2nd placed England (4.52 RPO), Australia’s RR outstripped all others sides by at least 49 runs per 50 over innings.

This advantage has been eliminated since the 2015 Ashes. Australia are still one of the strongest batting units (5.21 RPO to England’s 5.27 and New Zealand’s 5.31)  but no longer an outlier.

Australia scored five of the eleven 250+ totals posted in the 2013-15 seasons, with no other side managing more than two.

WODI innings per 250+ 2013-2015

Since the 2015 Ashes, Australia remain the most consistent side in terms of reaching 250+ (13 times) but they don’t dominate the other teams to the previous extent, and have so far been unable to match the top end scoring displayed by other nations.

WODI innings per 250+ since 2015 Ashes

Australia last scored 300 in an ODI in March 2012. Since then, there have been twelve 300+ totals scored in women’s ODIs, by five different nations.

While England’s run rate (5.27 RPO) and propensity for massive totals have caught the eye (England have scored the four highest ODI totals since the 2015 Ashes), they’ve also dramatically improved as a bowling unit.

Despite the overall increase in ODI run rate, England have actually improved their bowling economy rate since the 2015 Ashes (3.96 RPO) compared with the 2013-2015 seasons (4.23).

This has been down to the successful introduction of new players such as Alex Hartley, but also because of a return to form of several senior players. Brunt, Hazell, Marsh and Shrubsole have all dramatically improved since Robinson took over as coach.

WODI England senior bowlers pre post 2015 Ashes

Australia haven’t managed a similar bowling improvement, so have been drawn back into the pack despite improving their run rate as a batting side.

12 of England’s 2017-18 Ashes squad were members of the defeated squad whose display was so lacklustre in 2015, but their confidence and approach to the game couldn’t be more different.

As the tables below indicate, during the 2013-2015 seasons English players were glaringly short of the other top nations in terms of six hitting.

English batters cleared the rope just six times, at a rate of one every 884 balls faced. The only nations with a worse rate of sixes hit and also fewer different individual six-hitters than England, were Bangladesh, Pakistan and Ireland.

Since the 2015 Ashes, England have been at the forefront of a significant increase in the rate of ODI six-hitting.

WODI sixes pre post 2015 ashes

Australia, like most other nations have massively improved, though not to the same extent as England. English players have gone from collectively hitting sixes at over 530 balls behind the average ODI rate during the 2013-2015 seasons, to hitting them at over 84 balls ahead of the average rate since the 2015 Ashes.

Since the 2015 Ashes, ten different English players have hit an ODI six. There’s clear evidence this improvement is down to mindset and playing environment, in that all ten of those players had played ODIs for England before this period. Only four of them however, (Brunt, Gunn, Shrubsole and Knight) had previously hit a six.

Comparing the list of top six-hitters in the 2013-15 period with the list since the 2015 Ashes illustrates this well. In 2013-15 Katherine Brunt was the highest ranked English player, in 11th place with three sixes.

WODI six hitting 2013-2015 and 2015 to present

Englishwomen now occupy three of the top 10 spots. Those three players had batted 48 (Knight), 16 (Beaumont) and 14 (Sciver) times for England before, but had just one ODI six between them. They now rank 1st, 2nd and 4th on England’s all-time list for ODI career sixes.

England have also had five different ODI centurions since the 2015 Ashes, compared with just two (Edwards and Taylor) during the 2013-2015 seasons. Only their World Cup final opponents, India (with six) have seen more different players bring up three figures in ODIs during that time.

Four Australians have scored centuries since the last Ashes, but they will come into the series without the most prolific of them all, Meg Lanning.

Lanning’s absence from the Ashes will be most keenly felt in the ODI series, particularly in run chases. Australia’s strong record batting 2nd (13 wins and 3 losses since the 2015 Ashes) is built on Lanning’s extraordinary prowess in ODI chases.

With eight centuries in just 35 career chases, Lanning has twice as many as the next woman on the list and has made an absurd 22.86% of all the 2nd innings centuries ever scored (35) in the 44 year history of women’s ODIs.

Australia have therefore been comfortable choosing to field in recent times (they have fielded first 8 out of 17 times when wining the toss since the 2015 Ashes) but that may change without Lanning.

England have chosen to bat first 9 out of 12 times when winning the toss since the last Ashes. That’s not a surprise given their extremely strong record batting first – 12 wins and one loss, plus the highest 1st innings average total (280.85) during that period.

Lanning isn’t the be-all and end-all. Australia have always had an exceptional record chasing, especially at home. That said, England’s capacity for chasing is one of the few unproven areas of their game since Robinson took charge. With an 8/3 win/loss record and a highest score of 246 batting 2nd (their loss to India in the opening match of the World Cup), they have yet to convince in the same manner as when they bat first.

WODI win loss since 2015 Ashes bat 1st

WODI win loss since 2015 Ashes field 1st

As well as missing Lanning’s individual runs and her captaincy, Australia will have to make do without her ultra-reliable partnership with Ellyse Perry (1,534 runs at 5.24 RPO and an average of 109.57).

Australia’s next most prolific pairing is Alex Blackwell & Perry (1,415 runs; 5.10 RPO; average 61.52). It would seem to make sense for Perry and Blackwell, also domestic teammates for NSW, to follow each other in the batting order, but that hasn’t been the case recently for Australia.

Among ODI partnerships that have faced 50+ overs since the 2015 Ashes, England’s Beaumont & Sciver (371 runs; 7.15 RPO; ave 74.00) have the 7th highest average and the highest run rate.

Beaumont and Lauren Winfield (913 runs; 4.76 RPO; ave 50.72) need 87 more runs together to be the first England opening pair to bring up 1,000 ODI runs since Sarah Taylor and Caroline Atkins in 2009.

A slight question mark hangs over the England batting line-up’s record in Australia. A number of key players either haven’t played an ODI in Australia (Beaumont, Winfield, Wilson) or don’t have particularly impressive records batting there in the past.

Heather Knight, Sarah Taylor and Natalie Sciver are the only members of the Ashes squad with ODI fifties in Australia. No Englishwoman has ever made an ODI hundred against the Australians in Australia.

Only Lanning has scored more ODI centuries in Australia (4) than Australia vice-captain Alex Blackwell (3). During the 2013/14 Ashes series in Australia, Blackwell scored a half century in each ODI. In home ODIs against England over the course of her career, Blackwell averages 57.86 with one century and four fifties in ten innings.

Among women who have played 10+ ODI innings in Australia, Ellyse Perry has the 2nd highest batting average (58.10) behind only Lindsay Reeler (70.50). Reeler incidentally, was the fastest woman, in terms of innings batted (23) to bring up 1,000 ODI runs.

Even without Lanning (3rd highest average in Australia – 56.12), several members of Australia’s Ashes squad feature prominently: Nicole Bolton is ranked 7th (49.06); Blackwell 10th (44.57) and stand-in captain Rachael Haynes 11th (39.87).

Less happy reading for Australia are the home records of Beth Mooney (ave 17.00), Elyse Villani (13.44) and Alyssa Healy (11.86). The Ashes may be a final reckoning for Villani as an ODI player, with three half centuries in 25 innings, she has yet to show the form she does at domestic level.

WODI ODI runs scored in Australia

In truth, there’s not much to choose between the two batting units but the presence of Knight and Sciver in England’s top five is what gives their bowling attack much greater balance. England can take the field with a possible seven bowling options, mitigating against any one (or two) players having a bad day.

Australia have struggled to fill their 50 overs to such an extent that they’ve resorted to bowling Villani and even on one occasion, Nicole Bolton. This puts enormous pressure on their frontline quartet of Perry, Schutt, Jonassen and Beams.

Ashleigh Gardner has performed well with the ball since debuting earlier this year, but beyond her the options are either unproven or ineffective.

Among ODI bowlers who have bowled 25+ overs since the last Ashes, Villani has the 5th worst economy rate in world cricket (5.95 RPO). On the same scale, England’s Laura Marsh (3.41) and Katherine Brunt (3.45) have respectively been the 6th and 8th most economical bowlers. Hartley (3.90) has also been impressive.

While she didn’t feature in the 2013/14 Ashes, Marsh’s 25 ODI wickets in Australia (including 16 at the 2009 World Cup) make her the 2nd most successful overseas bowler on Australian soil, behind New Zealand’s Aimee Watkins.

WODI most wickets taken by overseas players in AUS

Among ODI bowlers with 20+ ODI wickets in Australia, Marsh has the 4th lowest bowling average (16.52) and is the only active player in the top 10.

WODI best bowling ave ODIs in AUS (20+ wkts taken)

Perry (21.77) is the first current Australian player on the list at 11th. Perry has taken more ODI wickets in Australia (74) than any other player. The next highest current internationals on the list are Jonassen (with 27) and Marsh (25).

WODI most wickets taken in AUS

With Australia the holders, the Ashes points system requires England to win at least one of the limited overs series if they are to regain the trophy. Australia have never lost a bilateral ODI series at home to England.

Two rained off warm-ups games have complicated England’s preparations but the World Champions deserve their favourites tag for the ODI series. Lanning’s injury, combined with other selection issues give the visitors the slight edge.


 

ODI runs since the 2015 Ashes:

Australia          England

ODI wickets since the 2015 Ashes: 

Australia          England

 

Women’s Ashes – Players to watch

Ellyse Perry – While Meg Lanning is out injured, Ellyse Perry takes up the mantle of “best batsman in the world”. Though both have outstanding ODI averages, they achieve them in very different ways. Lanning naturally scores at a rate that outstrips virtually all other top order players, while Perry is more measured but exceptionally difficult to dismiss.

WODI BpD since start 2014

Since cementing her place in the Australian top 5 at the start of 2014, Perry has faced more balls per dismissal (104.95) than any other player and averages an incredible 83.23. In home ODIs during that period, she has made 12 half-centuries in 14 innings, amassing 902 runs at an even more eye-popping 112.75. Perry’s career average of 95.00 in successful ODI chases also points to her cool head under pressure. Her strong technique and exceptional temperament make Perry the favourite to bring up a century in the Ashes Test.

In Lanning’s absence, Perry may be required to score at a higher rate than she ordinarily does for Australia. While better known for clockwork consistency rather than lightning scoring, she has the ability to dramatically go up the gears when needed. In the Kia Super League for example, Perry has the highest strike rate (228.57) of any batsman during the death overs, hitting boundaries at a rate of one every 2.55 balls faced.

Apart from her batting, Perry has taken more ODI wickets in Australia (74) than any other bowler. 2nd place Lisa Sthalekar has 64, no current international has more than 27. Three more will give Perry the T20I record as well.

WODI most wickets taken in AUS

In Test cricket, Perry has the 7th best bowling average (16.11) of all time (min. 1000 balls bowled), making her the highest ranked current player on the list.


Tammy Beaumont – The epitome of Mark Robinson’s revitalised England set-up, Tammy Beaumont has gone from a fringe player to arguably the most important member of the England batting line up.

Her 342 runs against Pakistan in 2016 were the most ever scored in a three match ODI series. 410 runs at the 2017 World Cup deservedly earned her Player of the Tournament, and equalled the late Jan Brittin’s England record for runs at a single tournament. Brittin scored 410 when England last hosted the World Cup in 1993.

During the World Cup, Beaumont also brought up her 1,000th ODI run. 32 innings batted made her the 4th fastest Englishwoman to reach the mark, but her career turnaround is best exemplified by the fact that she had scored just 207 runs in 16 innings when Robinson became coach.

Beaumont has the most centuries (3) of any ODI opener since the 2015 Ashes. In T20I cricket, Beaumont and Jenny Gunn are both just one shot behind Charlotte Edwards’ England record of 10 T20I career sixes. Edwards played 93 T20I innings, compared with Gunn’s 62 and Beaumont’s 30. Beaumont had just one six from 19 T20I innings (not to mention a batting average of 8.31) at the start of 2016.


Alex Blackwell – Only Meg Lanning has scored more ODI centuries in Australia (4) than Blackwell (3). Blackwell made half-centuries in all three ODIs during the 2013/14 Ashes and averages 57.87 in home ODIs against England.

Blackwell, who debuted in 2003, has shown a remarkable ability to adapt to and exceed the increasing ODI run rate of recent years. For the first half of her career (61 innings from 2003-2009), her SR was a modest 56.48. During this period, the average ODI run rate was 3.61 RPO, equivalent to a SR of 60.17 (annoyingly, Cricinfo’s statsguru doesn’t have full ODI balls faced data for this era so getting an accurate average batting SR isn’t possible).

2010 was the first time Blackwell completed a calendar year with a SR over 70, and she’s become ever more expansive since then, particularly after the launch of the WBBL in 2015.

Since the 2015 Ashes, the ODI run rate has been 4.33 RPO and the average batting SR is 67.62. Blackwell’s ODI SR for this period is 91.43. Blackwell’s first significant score for Australia was 53 (95) back in 2005. Her most recent innings, almost the reverse – 90* (56) at the 2017 World Cup.

Her 907 combined runs in the WBBL and KSL make Blackwell the 7th highest scoring player in those professional domestic T20 leagues. At the other end of the scale, Blackwell (4) and Jess Jonassen (2) are the only players in either Ashes squad to have made more than one 50+ Test score.

Blackwell is also set to achieve numerous career landmarks during the Ashes series:

(deep breath) By playing in this series, Blackwell will equal Charlotte Edwards’ record of appearing in nine Ashes series. The first ODI will be Blackwell’s 142nd for Australia, which will break Karen Rolton’s Australian ODI appearance record. Blackwell will then equal Rolton’s Australian record of 11 Ashes Test caps, when she plays in the day/night Test at North Sydney Oval.

That match is set to be Blackwell’s 4th of the series, which would take her past Charlotte Edwards’ record for most Ashes match appearances (31). Finally, the first T20I will be Blackwell’s 96th T20I cap. She and England’s Jenny Gunn both currently share the T20I career appearance record of 95, with Charlotte Edwards (who else?).


Natalie Sciver – When she’s not rewriting the coaching manual, Natalie Sciver is a scorer of breathtaking innings that take the match out of the opposition’s reach.

Her 80 (33) vs Pakistan at Worcester in 2016 holds the record for the highest SR (242.42) for an ODI innings of 25+ balls. That innings contained six sixes, the most ever hit in an ODI innings by an Englishwoman. Unsurprisingly, Sciver also holds the England record for ODI career sixes (15).

Big hitting, combined with excellent running between the wickets, means Sciver maintains an exceptional strike rate, and so can achieve previously unheard of batting feats for a middle order ODI batsman. Her 129 vs New Zealand during the World Cup is the highest score ever by an ODI #5. She and India’s Harmanpreet Kaur are the only players to have made more than one ODI century batting at #4 or lower.

England have played so little T20I cricket (just 3 matches) since their disappointing 2016 World T20 campaign, and Sciver has been so extraordinary in ODIs in the intervening period (864 runs at 50.82 with a SR of 110.20), that her ODI career strike rate (103.78) is now higher than her T20I strike rate (96.31).

Sciver’s presence in the lineup also provides England with enormous balance as a bowling side. With two international standard bowlers batting in the top 5 (Sciver and captain Heather Knight), England take the field in ODIs with seven bowling options. A stark contrast to Australia, who have so struggled to fill their fifty overs they’ve resorted to using Elyse Villani and even Nicole Bolton as bowlers in recent times.

During the 2017 World Cup, Sciver became the first woman to bring up 1,000 ODI runs from fewer than 1,000 deliveries. Her 943 balls faced broke Lanning’s record of 1,011.


Ashleigh Gardner – 20 year old Ashleigh Gardner is perhaps the only current player who has the potential to challenge Sciver’s 1,000 run record. Her current international stats may not suggest it, but Gardner is one of the most exciting batters in world cricket. A clean-hitting all-rounder with devastating power, she was the 5th highest runscorer in WBBL02 (414 runs) and hit the joint most sixes (13) that season.

Gardner will probably bat in the middle order in the T20Is but has yet to be given much responsibility with the bat in ODIs. Since the 2015 Ashes, Australia have only lost 6 or more wickets in 14 of their 26 ODI innings. Gardner, who debuted earlier this year, has never batted higher than #8 in ODIs so has had few opportunities. She has so far batted just five times in her ten ODI appearances.

A place or two higher in the order would make better use of Gardner’s talents and might get Australia close to 300, a total they haven’t reached in ODIs since 2012.

While she hasn’t had much of a look-in with the bat, Gardner has bowled 94 overs of tidy offspin in ODIs. Among Australians to have bowled in more than one ODI this year, she has the best economy rate (4.27 RPO).


Katherine Brunt – Ten wickets during this Ashes series, to add to the 44 she has already, would make Katherine Brunt the highest wicket taker in Ashes history.

Most women;s Ashes career wickets

Brunt’s 38 Test career wickets put her 5th on England’s all-time list and she is one of just four members of England’s Ashes squad with a Test fifty to her name.

In a tournament that smashed batting records, Brunt was among the most economical bowlers at the 2017 World Cup (3.77 RPO), and is the 3rd most economical ODI bowler (3.45 RPO) since the 2015 Ashes (100+ overs bowled).

Since the inauguration of professional T20 leagues in 2015, Brunt has also become an increasingly effective middle-lower order batter.

At the 2017 World Cup she made her ODI career high score (45* against Australia) as she and Jenny Gunn combined for the highest 7th wicket partnership at a World Cup (85 runs). In the final against India, Brunt’s vital 34 run contribution was the 2nd highest score of her career.

While England haven’t played enough T20Is recently to prove it, in the shortest format Brunt must now be considered a genuine all-rounder.

Over the course of two Kia Super League seasons, Brunt is the 9th highest run scorer, has the 2nd highest batting SR (140.40, the tournament average is 102.15) and has bowled the 2nd highest percentage of dot balls (60.2%). The only players with more KSL runs than Brunt are top order international batsmen, several of whom will feature in the Ashes.

Most KSL career runs

With 205 runs at a SR of 132.51 and 10 wickets, Brunt was also a key member of the Perth Scorchers squad that reached the final of WBBL02.

Women’s Test Cricket at North Sydney Oval

Four matches in 48 years may not seem like much, but it will make North Sydney Oval the joint most commonly used women’s Test venue in Australia. Adelaide Oval is the only other Australian ground to have hosted four women’s Tests.

The historic day/night Ashes Test beginning on 9th November will in fact be the fifth scheduled women’s Test at the ground. In 1958 North Sydney Oval was set to host the 1st Test of the Ashes, but heavy rain meant the game was abandoned without a ball being bowled.

1969 would be the year when Test cricket graced the pitch for the first time, as it played host to the 3rd & final Test of the Ashes.

Lorraine Kutcher’s 5/49 for Australia are still the best Test bowling figures at the ground. Similarly, in the two subsequent Tests at North Sydney, no away batsmen have bettered Rachel Heyhoe-Flint and June Moorhouse’s respective scores of 59 & 59* for England in 1969. Heyhoe-Flint’s half-century was her fourth of the series, an Ashes record that stands to this day (Denise Emerson equalled the feat in 1984-5, as did Jan Brittin in 1998).

The match ended as a draw (the third of the series) and ensured England would retain the trophy (figuratively, there was no physical trophy until 1998). The 1968/69 series began a run of seven drawn Ashes Tests in a row that didn’t end until the unbelievable 2nd Test at Adelaide in December 1984.

It would be 22 years until Test cricket returned to North Sydney. The visitors on that occasion were India, playing the 1st Test of a three-match series. India’s 1990/91 tour was the last time a team other than England would play more than a single Test when visiting Australia.

The match saw the Test debut of Australian all-time-great Belinda Clark, who made 104 in her first innings as Australia posted 301/4 declared (Australia would only lose 17 wickets all series). That innings gave Australia control of the game but India came away with a draw, largely thanks to Sandhya Agarwal.

Agarwal’s 452-minute 51 is the longest Test innings played in Australia and the 13th longest recorded in Test history. Her 398 balls faced are 11th most recorded in a Test match innings and the most faced for a score of less than 100 (Agarwal also holds the outright record for her 523-ball 190 at Worcester in 1986). The 1991 North Sydney Test remains the only time India have avoided defeat in a Test in Australia.

A year later, the ground saw the only Test of the 1991/92 Ashes, the first time the contest would be decided by a “series” of fewer than three matches (the Ashes returned to being a multi-Test series in 1998, but has contained no more than one Test match since 2008).

Isabelle Tsakiris in her only Test, and Charmaine Mason also on debut, restricted England to 146 all out in the 1st innings, before Denise Annetts outscored England on her own with 148* in the 2nd.

That score remains the highest Test score made in Australia. Annetts and Lyn Larsen’s 222 run stand for the 4th wicket is still the highest Test partnership ever made in Australia and the 7th highest in all Tests. Australia posted 346/4 declared, the 2nd highest Test total on Australian soil and the last time any side has made over 300 in a Test in Australia.

England reached 51 without loss, but once Australia got the breakthrough they crumbled in slow motion to 115 all out in the course of 102.2 overs. Australia’s crushing margin of victory, an innings and 85 runs, is the 2nd widest for an Ashes Test.

Tsakiris (50.0-30-45-7) and Mason (46.1-17-79-7) finished the match with seven wickets apiece, respectively the 3rd and 4th best debut figures in an Ashes Test. Only Anne Palmer (7-27) and Myrtle Maclagan (7-41), both playing in the very first women’s Test at Brisbane in 1934, have recorded better debut match figure in an Ashes Test.

A quarter of a century on, it remains to be seen what sort of match the conditions at North Sydney will allow. For a variety of reasons (everything from the visibility of the game to the long-term the viability of the format), the day/night Test is unquestionably the most important of the four women’s Test matches to be staged at the ground. The least the game deserves is a playing surface fit for the occasion.

Raj & Kaur at Three & Four

After a dream start of four wins in four games, a heavy defeat to South Africa leaves India needing a win against Australia or New Zealand to keep their World Cup hopes alive.

India began WWC17 by setting their highest total in an ODI against England. That total (281) was built on strong partnerships for the first three wickets (144 at 5.36 RPO, 78 at 4.97 & 59 at 7.86 respectively). India’s senior batsmen, Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur batted at #3 and #4 in the batting order.

In India’s subsequent games, Raj has batted at #4 and Kaur has batted at #5 or #6 with allrounder Deepti Sharma inserted at #3. India’s highest total in their subsequent games has been 232 vs Sri Lanka and their average run rate has been 3.95.

The reasons for this change of batting order are hard to fathom, especially after analysing Raj and Kaur’s career statistics.

Statistics compiled using ESPNcricinfo’s Statsguru.

Raj’s career innings are fairly evenly split between batting in the top three (86 innings) and batting at four or lower (77 innings).

Raj ODI batting pos

None of Raj’s career centuries have come at below #3 in the batting order and she makes 50+ scores at a rate of one every 2.53 innings in the top 3 compared with once every 4.05 at #4 or lower.

Raj’s record needs filtering to provide a strike rate because she started her career before balls faced were routinely recorded for women’s ODIs by Cricinfo. It’s more useful to filter in any case, as run rates have changed so drastically since the start of her career. Since the 2013 World Cup, Raj has exclusively batted between #3-5 but there remains a marked difference in her record when batting at #3 compared with lower in the order.

Raj in ODI battng pos psot 2013 WC

The difference between Raj’s average at #3 and that at #4-5 is narrower in these results but she’s still scoring far more (39.67%) runs per innings at #3 (50) than she is at #4-5 (35.8). The extra time at the crease afforded by batting at #3 (an average of 67.75 balls per innings at #3, as opposed to 52.67 at #4-5) also seems to aid her strike rate by allowing her to ‘catch up’ on slow starts.


Harmanpreet Kaur is the only woman in ODI history to have scored more than one century batting at #4 or lower. Both of those centuries were made from #4 in the batting order.

Kaur in ODI battng pos

The disparity between Kaur’s record at #4 and that at #5 or lower has become greater since the 2013 World Cup.

Kaur in ODI battng pos psot 2013 WC

As individuals, there’s no doubt which batting positions are better for Raj and Kaur’s statistics. Their individual success is also reflected in India’s results.

Raj Kaur India win loss


Raj’s exceptional record in ODI chases – her average of 65.07 is only beaten by Lanning (20+ innings) – is built on her performances when batting in the top 3.

Conventional wisdom suggests batting lower in the order would result in a greater proportion of not outs. This isn’t the true of Raj in run chases. In the top 3, Raj averages 87.15 and has finished unbeaten in 17 of 36 chases (47.2%). At #4 or lower she averages 46.82, finishing unbeaten in 15 of 38 innings (39.5%).

Again, India’s win/loss record when Raj bats in the top 3 during a run chase is better than when she comes in at #4 or lower.

Raj in ODI chases


Opener Smriti Mandhana also seems to benefit when Raj comes in at first drop. India’s record chase vs New Zealand (221), at Benagaluru in 2015 was built on a strong 2nd wicket partnership between Raj & Mandhana (124). Raj & Kaur then finished the chase with a 3rd wicket stand of 48* from 40 deliveries.

During India’s 2016 tour of Australia, when Mandhana so impressed her hosts, she and Raj shared a 150 partnership (the highest for India’s 2nd wicket) on the way to India’s record ODI total vs Australia. That match ended in defeat but in the 3rd match of the series Mandhana & Raj combined for a 2nd wicket partnership of 58 before Raj & Kaur shared a 3rd wicket stand of 71 from 77 deliveries. The result was India’s highest successful chase against Australia (232) and their first win against them since 2009.

India’s five highest 2nd wicket partnerships have all involved Raj coming in at #3. The Mandhana/Raj pairing accounts for two of those. An impressive return, given they’ve shared a total of seven 2nd wicket partnerships. Since the 2013 World Cup, India have had eleven 50+ stands for the 3rd wicket. Six of those have been shared by Raj & Kaur.

Since the 2013 World Cup, India’s highest average partnership (5+ innings) against WWC17 sides has been Raj and opener Punam Raut (54.80 at 4.96 RPO). Next is Mandhana/Raj (54.33 at 4.34), followed by Raj/Kaur (46.00 at 4.15). It doesn’t make sense to split these players in the batting order, especially as Deepti Sharma’s average partnership with India’s two openers is lower in both average and run rate. Raut/Sharma average 33.57 at 3.56 RPO and Mandhana/Sharma average 29.00 at 3.80.

There is no guarantee of success. India have a losing record against both Australia and New Zealand but their chances of success will be enhanced if Raj and Kaur are given greater responsibility to shape the innings.

 

Women’s World Cup 2017 Preview

Historical and current trends both point towards the 2017 Women’s World Cup (WWC17) being among the highest scoring tournaments in history.

The progression in women’s ODI run rates over the decades, especially from the 1990s onward, has resulted in an average RR in the 2010s (4.04 RPO) over 47% higher than that seen in the 1970s (2.74).

Progression of women’s ODI run rates by decade:

Decade RR
1970s 2.74
1980s 2.81
1990s 3.18
2000s 3.66
2010s 4.04

The average RR since the 2013 World Cup is 4.07 RPO and the teams contesting WWC17 have scored at a combined 4.19 RPO during that period.

Tournament run rates for Women’s World Cups:

World Cup RR
1973 2.63
1978 2.66
1982 2.59
1988 2.73
1993 2.57
1997 3.62
2000 3.45
2005 3.35
2009 3.58
2013 4.27

2016 saw the highest ever RR for a calendar year (4.33) and the current rate for 2017 (4.17) makes it the 3rd highest scoring year on record. Half the WWC17 sides (England, India, South Africa and Pakistan) have set their record highest ODI totals since the 2013 World Cup.



The ICC Women’s Championship
 (ICCWC) qualifying format for WWC17 has been something of a revolution for women’s cricket. Mandatory fixtures between qualifying sides has provided unprecedented levels of match experience to the ‘lesser’ sides.

ODIs played since previous World Cup:

2005 2009 2013 2017
45 NZ 52 IND 39 ENG 58 SA
44 IND 49 ENG 38 WI 43 NZ
37 ENG 44 AUS 31 AUS 41 PAK
35 AUS 41 NZ 29 NZ 41 SL
23 WI 25 SL 26 IND 39 WI
19 IRE 23 PAK 24 SA 36 ENG
17 SL 16 SA 21 PAK 36 IND
14 SA 13 WI 20 SL 35 AUS

South Africa’s 58 ODIs played since the 2013 World Cup are the most ever played by a women’s ODI side between World Cups. For the first time in their history, Australia start a WWC as the side that has played the fewest ODIs since the previous tournament.

ODI win/loss record since 2013 World Cup:

Team Win/Loss Ratio Bat Ave. RR Bowl Ave. ER
AUS 27 / 7 3.86 37.54 5.01 25.10 4.43
IND 27 / 9 3.00 33.16 4.26 18.94 3.53
ENG 25 / 10 2.50 30.64 4.73 22.40 3.96
SA 32 / 23 1.39 26.77 4.22 22.62 3.88
NZ 25 / 18 1.39 29.55 4.65 23.94 3.99
WI 18 / 20 0.90 22.36 3.88 23.38 3.93
PAK 15 / 26 0.58 21.49 3.65 26.56 4.13
SL 6 / 33 0.18 17.21 3.35 34.19 4.48

ODI win/loss record vs top 8 sides since 2013 World Cup:

Team Win/Loss W/L Ratio Bat Ave. RR Bowl Ave. ER
AUS 27 / 7 3.86 37.54 5.01 25.10 4.43
ENG 25 / 10 2.50 30.64 4.73 22.40 3.96
IND 20 / 9 2.22 29.66 4.11 20.04 3.66
NZ 25 / 18 1.39 29.55 4.65 23.94 3.99
WI 18 / 20 0.90 22.36 3.88 23.38 3.93
SA 17 / 21 0.81 23.65 3.94 25.12 4.12
PAK 6 / 24 0.25 20.60 3.51 34.57 4.55
SL 4 / 33 0.12 16.80 3.3 35.86 4.54

All stats are accurate as of 19th June 2017 and are for the period since the 2013 World Cup unless otherwise stated. Statistics compiled with the aid of ESPNcricinfo’s Statsguru.

Defending champions and worthy favourites, Australia come into WWC17 on the back of nine consecutive series wins. Their most recent, vs New Zealand was the highest scoring 3-match series in women’s ODI history and saw captain Meg Lanning break Charlotte Edwards’ record for the most ODI career centuries.

5.01 RPO, comfortably the highest run rate since the 2013 WC is thanks to the strongest top order in women’s cricket.  The decision to move Ellyse Perry up the batting order in January 2014 was rewarded with the most successful run of scores in ODI history. Perry and Lanning are 1st & 3rd in the batting averages since the 2013 WC, with Alex Blackwell 7th.

The average Lanning/Perry partnership (96.50 runs at 5.20 RPO) is the highest since the 2013 World Cup (10+ innings). Blackwell/Perry (76.50 at 5.10) are 2nd on the list and Lanning’s partnership with opener Nicole Bolton (58.28 at 5.34) is 7th.

After just 14 innings together Lanning & Perry already rank 3rd on the list for most century partnerships. They are the only ODI pairing to have shared two double-century stands.

While Australia’s batting dominance is expected, their economy rate (4.43) may raise a few eyebrows. Australia haven’t even selected their most economical bowler since the 2013 WC. Grace Harris had an ER of 3.44 (not to mention an average of 20 and 35.34 SR) but poor batting dashed her hopes of making the WWC17 squad.

Responsibility for wicket taking rests largely on Perry and the left-arm spin of Jess Jonassen. Jonassen was the highest wicket taker (with 31) in the ICCWC, and her 50 wickets since the 2013 WC are the most by any bowler against the top 8 sides. While Perry sits 12th on that list, she hasn’t bowled her full allocation in any of her last 8 ODIs and has a career average of 49.82 in England.


Emerging from a period of transition, hosts England have won 12 of their last 15 matches since the start of 2016. Opener Tammy Beaumont is on course to be among the fastest Englishwomen to 1,000 ODI runs. So too is Natalie Sciver, women’s cricket’s first consistent run-a-ball ODI batsman.

Beaumont has the highest average (55.54) of any opener since the 2013 WC (10+ innings batted), and the 2nd highest SR (86.05). Her 342 runs against Pakistan in 2016 were the most runs ever in a 3-match ODI series.

Captain Heather Knight is one of just two women in history (along with South Africa’s Suné Luus) to take a 5-fer and score a half century in the same ODI, and was the 2nd highest wicket taker (with 29) in the ICCWC. Veteran bowlers Katherine Brunt and Jenny Gunn have taken a combined 125 career wickets at 20.41 in English conditions. England will also be buoyed by the return of Sarah Taylor.

Three of Australia’s seven defeats since the 2013 WC have been on their visits to England, though the most recent of those was in 2015. There are concerns that coach Mark Robinson’s revamped side are somewhat untested against top-level opposition. England’s pre-tournament fixture list may also come under scrutiny if they slip up at WWC17 – they haven’t played any official ODIs in 2017.


For the first time since 2000, New Zealand enter a World Cup with a winning record. In the lead up to WC 2013 they won just 5 of their 29 ODIs since the previous tournament. 12 losses in 20 matches after the 2013 WC suggested the former World Champions would continue to underwhelm but they followed that with a run of 17 wins in 21 matches from November 2015-January 2017.

Only Lanning has scored more runs since the 2013 WC than NZ captain Suzie Bates, and in 2016 Amy Satterthwaite scored the 3rd most runs ever in a calendar year (853). Satterthwaite continued her form into 2017 to make a record-breaking 4 centuries in a row.

New Zealand’s powerful batting line-up won’t be daunted by any total – their victory against Australia in February was the 2nd highest successful ODI chase in history.

Fast bowlers Lea Tahuhu and Holly Huddleston should thrive in English conditions and teenage legspinner Amelia Kerr will cause problems. Huddleston has the 2nd lowest SR (27.6) since the 2013 WC and Kerr has taken two 4-wicket hauls in her first seven ODIs.

NZ haven’t toured England since 2010 but several key players have participated in county cricket this season to acclimatise. The White Ferns should be confident of qualifying from the group stage but may come unstuck in pressure matches against the top teams – they’ve taken the lead in the last two Rose Bowl series vs Australia, before ceding both series 2-1.


After limping to a 7th place finish as hosts in 2013, a rejuvenated India look in their best shape to challenge for the title since they reached the final in 2005. A first win over Australia since 2009 was a landmark that set them on a 16-match winning streak between February 2016 and May 2017 – the 2nd longest winning streak in ODI history.

Evergreen Mithali Raj (who averages 60.83 at World Cups) is within touching distance of Chalotte Edwards’ ODI career runs record and begins WWC17 on a record-equaling six consecutive half centuries. Harmanpreet Kaur is the 2nd fastest Indian (after Raj) to score 1,000 ODI runs, and is the only woman to have scored more than one career century batting at #4 or lower.

Veteran quick Jhulan Goswami recently claimed the ODI career wickets record and is one of five Indians among the top eight most frugal bowlers since the 2013 WC (100+ overs bowled).  Since the start of the decade, India have collectively been the most economical visitors to England.

Five Indians also feature among the top seven in the bowling averages (20+ wickets taken). Left-arm spinner Ekta Bisht’s last 25 ODI wickets have come at an average of 12.88 and an ER of 2.73 RPO. Lively swing bowler Mansi Joshi, who debuted in February, may be India’s most effective bowler in support of Goswami in English conditions.

19 year old Deepti Sharma leads an increasingly assured contingent of younger players. Sharma has both the highest score (188) and best bowling figures (6-20) in ODIs since the 2013 World Cup. Sharma is one of five members of the Indian squad to have scored a century since the last World Cup.


South Africa  have never been better prepared to take a tilt at the title. They recorded their first ever victories against New Zealand, and first wins in 12 years over both England and India. A tie with Australia last November was the closest they’ve ever come to defeating the six-time champions.

Fast bowler Shabnim Ismail is the 2nd fastest woman to take 100 ODI wickets (her 68 innings are beaten only by Australia legend Cathryn Fitzpatrick’s 64). Ismail has the best average (17.98) and 2nd lowest ER (3.33) among pace bowlers since the 2013 WC (20+ wickets taken). Legspinning all-rounder Suné Luus has the most ODI wickets since the 2013 WC and the lowest bowling SR (26.6) during that period (20+ wickets).

Young opener Laura Wolvaardt has impressed, especially in partnership with Trisha Chetty. Wicketkeeper Chetty needs just six more victims to break the ODI career dismissals record currently held by Rebecca Rolls of NZ.

With 38 and 27 career sixes, Lizelle Lee and Chloe Tryon are respectively the 2nd and 4th most prolific six-hitters in history. Tryon’s three half-centuries make her the only woman to have made more than one half-century batting at #7 or lower since the 2013 WC.

Expectations should be tempered by the fact that South Africa have won just seven and lost 18 against other top 6 ranked opponents since the 2013 WC. Only two of those seven wins have been away from home. A loss to Bangladesh in January was a reminder that they’re still vulnerable to an embarrassing collapse.


West Indies broke the Australia/England/NZ hegemony at ICC events by winning the 2016 World T20 but the 2013 WC runners-up may struggle to repeat that success in WWC17. Appearances in the last two ICC finals and a positive record in the ICCWC matches point to an ability to perform when it counts but there’s not much to cheer in their recent record.

West Indies have only played 8 ODIs since their World T20 win in February 2016. A 3-2 series loss at home to England was followed by a 3-0 whitewash in India. Playing the majority of their cricket (29 of 39 ODIs) on the low, slow surfaces of the Caribbean, or in Asia is less than ideal preparation for a World Cup in England. West Indies haven’t toured England in any format since 2012. They’ve won just two matches away from home against other top 6 ranked opponents since the 2013 WC.

Stafanie Taylor and Deandra Dottin continue to do much of the heavy lifting, as West Indies struggle for consistent contributions elsewhere in the batting order. In ODI cricket at least, Hayley Matthews hasn’t managed to build on her impressive 2014 tour of Australia (her 241 runs were the 3rd most series runs ever by a visiting batsman against Australia).

Taylor and Dottin are the only West Indians to average over 25 with the bat. Offspinner Anisa Mohammed and Taylor take the bulk of the wickets, followed by Dottin and Matthews.


Pakistan have twice toured England since 2013, though the chastening 2016 series in particular is probably an experience they want to forget. Wins over South Africa and West Indies mean they shouldn’t be taken lightly, and it’s clear the extra matches provided by the ICCWC have been of benefit.

Javeria Khan and Bismah Maroof are the 7th and 11th highest ODI run scorers since the 2013 World Cup and the only women from outside the top 6 teams to average over 30 batting against those sides during that period. Khan’s 133* vs Sri Lanka in 2015 is the 2nd highest score ever in a women’s ODI run chase.

Captain Sana Mir recently became the first Pakistani woman to take 100 ODI wickets. Left-arm spinner Anam Amin doesn’t make the squad despite topping the bowling averages since the 2013 WC (20+ wickets taken). EDIT: Anam Amin misses out due to injury.


Sri Lanka were the fairy-tale story of the 2013 World Cup. Their win over England was the highest successful chase in World Cup history but it’s hard to see them repeating their 5th place finish in WWC17. A win over West Indies in May 2015 was followed by 19 consecutive defeats.

Chances of success rest largely on the shoulders of Chamari Atapattu. Her century and six fifties since the 2013 WC compare glaringly with a combined ten half-centuries from all of her teammates.

Sri Lanka’s opening match vs New Zealand will be their first ODI in England and none of their 6 ODI wins since 2013 have been away from home. On a brighter note, former captain Shashikala Siriwardene (one of just seven women to complete the 100 wicket/1,000 run ODI double) returns after a 15 month hiatus.



Top run-scorers since 2013 World Cup

Leading wicket-takers since 2013 World Cup

Averages since 2013 World Cup

Australia : Batting / Bowling

England: BattingBowling

India: Batting / Bowling

New Zealand: Batting / Bowling

Pakistan: Batting / Bowling

South Africa: Batting / Bowling

Sri Lanka: Batting / Bowling

West Indies: Batting / Bowling

Women’s World Cup records:

Most career runs

Most runs in a single tournament

Most career centuries

Most career 50+ scores

Mot 50+ scores in a single tournament

Highest innings SR for a score of 50+ runs

Highest individual score

Most career wickets

Most wickets in a single tournament

Best bowling in an innings

Most matches played

Highest team totals

Lowest team totals

Highest successful run chases