Women’s cricket in 2017 – A year in review

A rundown of notable statistical moments in women’s cricket in 2017.

Stats compiled with the aid of ESPNcricinfo statsguru, cricketarchive.com and the invaluable stats section at womenscricket.net

JANUARY

India’s Mithali Raj kicked off the year with the first T20 hundred of her career, 100* for Railways vs Hyderabad on 10th January.  Raj’s innings was the first of nine T20 hundreds scored by women in 2017, a record for a calendar year.

At Cox’s Bazar on 16th January, South Africa were faced with a target of 137 having bowled out Bangladesh for 136 in the 3rd ODI of a 5 match series.  After a steady start, the South Africans collapsed from 55/2 to 67/7 in the space of 5.3 overs.

Captain Dane van Niekerk fought a lone hand as wickets continued to fall, and Bangladesh’s nerves must have been jangling as the 10th wicket partnership eked out 30 runs. The hosts did eventually came out the victors by 10 runs, with Van Niekerk stranded on 42*.  Khadija Tul Kubra‘s 4/33 were the second best ODI figures for Bangladesh and her final series total, a national record 11 wickets.

Bangladesh’s only previous ODI win over South Africa had been in their first international meeting, on 6th September 2012.  They have never beaten another top six side.

Bangladesh’s victory demonstrated the value of match experience for developing sides.  South Africa are the only nation to have played an ODI series of three or more matches against Bangladesh on more than once occasion.  It’s something of a shame therefore, that Bangladesh (and Ireland) won’t be involved in the qualifying tournament for the next World Cup, denying them an opportunity to try and produce more results like this.

On 28th January, Sydney Sixers claimed their first WBBL title, in a low scoring thriller at the WACASarah Aley‘s 4/23 in the final were the joint best bowling figures for Sixers that season and 124/5 was the lowest total Sixers had ever successfully defended in a full 20 over match.  Aley finished the season with a record 28 wickets.  For the second season in succession, Meg Lanning was the lead run-scorer in the tournament, and also became the first player to bring up 1,000 WBBL career runs, despite Melbourne Stars again failing to make the knock-out stages.

FEBRUARY

India, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Pakistan secured their World Cup places at the qualifying tournament in Sri Lanka.  During the tournament, Pakistan captain Sana Mir (with two wickets vs Bangladesh on 8th February) and her South African counterpart, Dane van Niekerk (with a wicket vs India on 15th February) became the sixth and seventh women respectively to score 1,000 runs and take 100 wickets in their ODI careers.  Van Niekerk’s 75 matches played made her the second fastest to reach that mark.

On 17th February, Molly Strano‘s 5/10 in the 2nd T20I vs New Zealand at Geelong was the first T20I five-fer taken in Australia, and helped restrict the visitors to a total of 101/9.  Australia however, crumbled to 61/9 in their run chase.  New Zealand’s Anna Peterson took the the first T20I hat-trick on Australian soil, and the first ever for the White Ferns, as NZ claimed an unlikely eight run DLS victory.  Strano ended up with the dubious honour of being the first woman to take a five-wicket T20I haul and end up on the losing side.

With figures of 3/15, 2/22 and 4/16, Australia’s Amanda Wellington, in her debut T20I series, equalled the record for most wickets taken in a three match T20I series.

In the 1st match of the Rose Bowl ODI series, at Eden Park 2 on 26th February, New Zealand’s Amy Satterthwaite scored 102* vs Australia, completing a record run of four consecutive ODI hundreds begun vs Pakistan in 2016.  Satterthwaite’s innings also took New Zealand to their record ODI chase, and the 2nd highest target ever successfully chased in an ODI (276).

MARCH

Australia went on to win the Rose Bowl series vs New Zealand 2-1.  In the decider at Mount Maunganui on 5th March, Meg Lanning scored 104* as Australia chased down 271.  Lanning’s innings was her tenth career hundred, giving her the outright ODI record.  England’s Charlotte Edwards’ made nine ODI hundreds in 180 innings, Lanning brought up her tenth in her 57th ODI innings.  Lanning’s century was also her third at Mount Maunganui, the most scored by a player at a single ODI venue.

With a century and two fifties in the series, Beth Mooney became the 11th woman to make 50+ in each match of an ODI series of three or more matches, and the first to do so against New Zealand since Belinda Clark in 2000.

Very much a marker for the year to come, the Rose Bowl featured three centuries and nine fifties, the 2nd, 3rd and (at the time) 10th highest successful ODI chases of all time, and the highest ever runs aggregate (1,603) for a three-match ODI series.  The series run rate (5.44 rpo) was the 2nd highest for an ODI series.

APRIL

The County Championship started on 30th April, with Hampshire’s Suzie Bates and Somerset’s Sophie Luff making centuries on the opening day.

MAY

On 9th May during the ODI Quadrangular in South Africa, India’s Jhulan Goswami dismissed South Africa’s Nadine de Klerk lbw for 7 at Potchefstroom, taking the 181st ODI wicket of her career and breaking Cathryn Fitzpatrick’s longstanding ODI record in the process.

During the same quad series, South Africa made their first 300+ ODI total, 337/5 vs Ireland on 11th May. Four days later, India would do the same, Deepti Sharma and Punam Raut amassing a monumental 320 runs for India’s 1st wicket, with an inexperienced Ireland side the opponent once more.  Not only was 358/2 India’s highest ODI total, Sharma & Raut’s partnership was the highest in ODI history and Sharma’s 188, the 2nd highest individual ODI score.

At Potchefstroom on 17th May, South Africa’s Shabnim Ismail took the wickets of Goswami, Ekta Bisht and Sushma Verma to become the second fastest woman to 100 ODI wickets.  Ismail’s 68 innings bowled are only beaten by Fitzpatrick’s 64.

JUNE & JULY – 2017 Women’s World Cup (WWC17)

With 106* for New Zealand in a comfortable 9 wicket win over Sri Lanka at Bristol on 24th June,  Suzie Bates brought up the first century of the tournament on the opening day of competition.  Bates had also made centuries at the 2009 & 2013 World Cups, becoming the second woman (after England’s Claire Taylor between 2000-2009) to score centuries at three consecutive tournaments.

On the same day, Mithali Raj‘s 71 in India’s dramatic win against England at Derby, was a record seventh consecutive 50+ ODI score.  Raj would go on to make two more fifties and a century during the tournament, which also gave her the record for most 50+ ODI scores in a calendar year.  Raj’s ten 50+ scores in 2017 beat Ellyse Perry’s mark of nine, set in 2016.

Perry herself made five consecutive fifties at WWC17, a record for consecutive 50+ scores at a World Cup, and the joint most fifties scored in a single tournament.

The most notable record for Raj at WWC17 though was during her innings of 69 vs Australia at Bristol on 12 July.  First, Raj broke Charlotte Edwards’ ODI career runs record, and then went on to become the first woman to score 6,000 ODI runs, bringing up that milestone with a six.

Australia faced a number of record-breaking batting performances during the World Cup.  Sri Lanka’s Chamari Atapattu, blasted 178* off 143 balls against them at Bristol on 29th June.  The third highest ODI score and the highest ever made against Australia, Atapattu’s innings also broke the record for the highest proportion of runs scored by an individual (69.21%) in a completed ODI innings.

Unfortunately for Sri Lanka, Atapattu’s heroics weren’t enough for the win.  Australia cruised to their target of 258, the highest successful World Cup run chase, with Meg Lanning making the highest individual score in an ODI chase (152*) in the process.

During the epic semi-final between Australia and India at Derby on 20th July, Harmanpreet Kaur scored an even more destructive 171* from 115 balls, breaking the record for highest score in a World Cup knock-out match (Karen Rolton’s 107* vs India in the 2005 final).

Kaur’s innings propelled India to 281/4, the highest World Cup total made against Australia (despite the match being reduced to 42 overs), beating a record that had stood since the first (60 over) World Cup in 1973.

Atapattu and Kaur’s innings contributed to five of the ten highest ever World Cup scores being made during the 2017 tournament.  Kaur’s seven sixes during her innings vs Australia would have equalled the ODI record before the World Cup, but only ended up joint 2nd for the tournament.

New Zealand’s Sophie Devine hit nine sixes during her 41-ball 93 vs Pakistan at Taunton on 8th July, just hours after South Africa’s Lizelle Lee had equalled the previous record of seven sixes during her 65-ball 92 vs India at Leicester.  Lee’s total of 28 ODI sixes hit in 2017, was a record for a calendar year, beating Deandra Dottin’s 21 in 2013.

The astonishing transformation of the game over that month in England is well illustrated by the fact that Atapattu’s 178* was the highest ever score by an ODI #3, Kaur’s 171* the highest by an ODI #4, Natalie Sciver‘s 129 for England vs NZ at Derby, the highest by an ODI #5 and Alex Blackwell‘s valiant 90 in Australia’s semi-final loss, the highest by an ODI #6.

Sciver was one of two #5 bats to make a century at the World Cup (Deandra Dottin made 104* vs Pakistan at Leicester, a day earlier).  There had only been two previous centuries made from #5 in the history of women’s ODIs.

During England’s nail-biting group match vs Australia at Bristol on 9th July, Sciver also became the first woman to bring up 1,000 ODI runs from fewer than 1,000 deliveries.  Sciver’s 943 balls faced beat Lanning’s record of 1,011.

Sarah Taylor‘s welcome return to international cricket in 2017, resulted in the most runs ever scored by a wicketkeeper at a World Cup (396, beating the previous record by 169 runs).

On 5th July at Bristol, Taylor and Tammy Beaumont shared a 275 run 2nd wicket stand vs South Africa, the highest World Cup partnership, and the 2nd highest partnership in all ODIs (behind Raut and Sharma’s 320 stand vs Ireland earlier in the year).  The 2017 tournament saw new record, or equal record World Cup partnerships for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th and 10th wickets.

Beaumont and Taylor’s centuries at Bristol made the 2017 tournament the first World Cup to feature two centuries in an innings on more than one occasion.  England’s Heather Knight and Natalie Sciver also both made centuries as England posted the 2nd highest World Cup total ever, 377/7 vs Pakistan at Leicester on 27th June.  England and India both finished the tournament with centuries from four different players, another World Cup record.

England’s final total against South Africa at Bristol was 373/5, the fifth highest at a World Cup.  In response South Africa scored 305/9, the only time a side has scored over 300 batting 2nd in a women’s ODI.  The 678-run match aggregate at Bristol beat the previous ODI record by an incredible 101 runs.

Beaumont finished the tournament as top-scorer with 410 runs, the joint most by an Englishwoman at a World Cup.  The late Jan Brittin had also scored 410 runs when England won as hosts in 1993.

Mithali Raj’s 409 runs were a World Cup record for India, in fact Punam Raut (381) and Harmanpreet Kaur (359) also beat India’s previous World cup record of 267.  Laura Wolvaardt set South Africa’s tournament record with 324 runs.  Wolvaardt also made the most half-centuries by a teenager at a World Cup (4).  Only Charlotte Edwards (with 365 in 1997) has scored more runs at a World Cup as a teenager than Wolvaardt’s 324.

Sri Lanka’s Chamari Atapattu (311 runs) and Pakistan’s Nahida Khan (174) also broke their respective national records for runs at a single World Cup.

On top of multiple batting records, the tournament coincided with several players making their 100th ODI appearance.  Among them were England’s Katherine Brunt, New Zealand’s Amy Satterthwaite and the West Indian trio of Merissa Aguilleira, Stafanaie Taylor and Deandra Dottin.

Most notably though, South Africa’s Mignon du Preez, Pakistan’s Sana Mir and Sri Lanka’s Shashikala Siriwardene became the first women from their respective nations to earn 100 ODI caps.  Sana Mir made her maiden World Cup fifty in her 100th ODI, Pakistan’s loss to NZ at Taunton on 8th July.

There were a record fourteen centuries made at the 2017 Women’s World Cup (beating the previous record of eleven), among a record seventy 50+ scores in all (previous record: 44), 111 sixes (previous record: 67), fifteen 250+ totals (previous record: 8) and the tournament run rate was 4.69 runs per over (previous record: 4.27).

Against this relentless batting onslaught, there were still some exceptional bowling displays at WWC17.

Dane van Niekerk’s remarkable bowling figures of 4/0 for South Africa at Leicester on 2nd July helped her side skittle the West Indies for just 48 runs. The lowest World Cup total in twenty years and the 6th lowest overall.  Van Niekerk was the first bowler in the history of international cricket to take four wickets in an innings without conceding a run.  At the time (this was a year when multiple records were broken multiple times), those were the best World Cup bowling figures for South Africa and Marizanne Kapp‘s 4/13, in the same innings, the 2nd best.

Van Niekerk went on to take two more four-fers at the tournament, a World Cup record and finish as the lead wicket-taker in the tournament.  The second wicket of Van Niekerk’s record 3rd four-wicket haul (vs Sri Lanka at Taunton on 12th July) was caught by wicket keeper Trisha Chetty.  That was the 134th dismissal of Chetty’s career, beating the ODI record set by Rebecca Rolls of New Zealand.

As well as Van Niekerk’s efforts, there were also a record number of 5+ wicket hauls taken at WWC17.  Five in all, one each for Holly Huddleston, Ekta Bisht, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Sune Luus (South Africa’s first World Cup 5-fer) and most impressive of all, Anya Shrubsole

Shrubsole’s terrific 6/46 vs India in the final on 23rd July pulled England back from a seemingly inevitable defeat.  In front of a packed house at Lord’s (perhaps the most important statistic of the year), Shrubsole became the first bowler, male or female, to take six wickets in a World Cup final, and the first bowler to take six wickets in any Women’s World Cup match since 1982. On top of that, Shrubsole’s performance at Lord’s was the only six wicket haul taken in the whole of women’s international cricket in 2017.

Shrubsole’s match-turning spell of 5-11 in 19 balls was the first time a bowler has been recorded taking five wickets at the death in a women’s ODI.

In a tournament that shredded batting records, it was a once in a generation bowling display that sealed victory.

AUGUST

The Kia Super League opened at the Ageas Bowl on 10th August, with a re-match of the 2016 final that proved to be unexpectedly one-sided.  Reigning champions, Southern Vipers bundled out Western Storm for 70 before chasing down their target in just 9 overs.  Vipers’ Suzie Bates took 29 runs off a painful 10-ball over from international teammate Holly Huddleston.  At Derby on 15th August, Bates made the first Kia Super League century and the highest T20 score made in England (119*), launching Vipers to the competition record total (180/2 vs Loughborough Lightning) in the process.

Five days later, Western Storm’s Rachel Priest made the first century in a KSL chase, 106* vs Yorkshire Diamonds at York.  Priest also went on to score the fastest fifty of the competition (22 balls) against Lancashire Thunder at Bristol on 26th August.

Surrey Stars’ Rene Farrell took just the second KSL five-fer with 5/26 vs Lancashire Thunder at Old Trafford on 16th August, but it was Storm’s Stafanie Taylor who had produced the bowling display of the tournament.  Taylor’s figures of 4-1-5-4 vs Loughborough Lightning at Taunton on 12th August included 20 dot balls.

Meanwhile, with slightly less fanfare, Lancashire dramatically won the County Championship title by a single point.  Having never won a top-level domestic trophy before 2017, Lancashire now had the double, after winning the County T20 at the end of July.  On 28th August, Sophie Ecclestone took 6/12 vs Warwickshire in Lancashire’s final match, the best bowling figures of the season, to clinch the title and also finish as top wicket taker, with 27 wickets at an average of 6.96.  Hampshire’s Suzie Bates scored the most runs (494) and made the highest score (139* vs Worcs).  Bates was the second overseas player to finish as the competitions top run scorer.  The first was former New Zealand captain Emily Drumm, for Kent in 2007.

SEPTEMBER

On 1st September, Rachel Priest brought up a 25-ball fifty in the Kia Super League final, eventually being dismissed for 71 (the highest score in a KSL knock-out match, to cap a dominant season) as Western Storm cruised to victory over Southern Vipers.  The final was also the last professional match of Vipers captain Charlotte Edwards‘ storied career.

OCTOBER

West Indies hosted Sri Lanka for the first international series to be played at Brian Lara Stadium, Trinidad.  During the 2nd match of the series, Ama Kanchana, off the bowling of Afy Fletcher, became the sixth woman ever to be out hit-wicket in an ODI.  West Indies comfortably won the series 3-0, becoming the first side to get points on the board in the second edition of the ICC Women’s Championship.

During the T20I series that followed, Deandra Dottin became the first woman to make two T20I career hundreds when she scored 112 off 67 balls vs Sri Lanka at Coolidge on 22nd October.

October also saw the start of a record breaking Ashes series.  Megan Schutt became the first Australian to take 10 wickets in a 3 match ODI series and Alyssa Healy scored the most series (145) and innings (71) runs by an Australian ODI keeper.  England’s Sarah Taylor finished 2017 with 525 ODI runs, the third highest total by a keeper in a calendar year. Taylor is the only wicketkeeper to have scored 500+ runs in a year more than once.

The 1,505 runs scored in the ODI section of the Ashes series were the 2nd most ever scored in three match ODI series, beaten only by the Rose Bowl series earlier in the year.

NOVEMBER

At Sharjah on 5th November, Pakistan bowled out New Zealand and chased down a target of 156 for their first ever ODI win over the White Ferns.

Between 9-12th November, North Sydney Oval was the venue for an Ashes Test dominated by a marathon innings of exceptional skill and fortitude from Ellyse Perry.  Perry’s maiden international hundred, a chanceless 213* off 374 balls was the 3rd highest score in Test history, the highest by an Australian, the highest scored in Australia and the highest scored in an Ashes Test.

During a 102 run stand with Perry, Alyssa Healy became the first woman to record two sixes in a Test innings.

Heather Knight became the first Englishwoman to make fifties in both innings of a Test since Claire Taylor at Bowral in 2008.

Ultimately, the match finished as a draw.  With a combined 934 runs scored at the cost of just 21 wickets, the match featured the 2nd highest runs total for a Test in Australia and, barring an 8 over near-washout, the fewest wickets taken in a Test in Australia. Perhaps something to ponder when preparing future Test surfaces.

In the 1st Ashes T20I at North Sydney on 17th November, Jenny Gunn picked up her 96th cap to break Charlotte Edwards’ T20I career appearance record.  Australia went on to win the game, retaining the trophy in the process.  In the 2nd T20I at Manuka Oval on 19th November, Gunn bowled England to victory with 4/13, the first non-Australian to take a T20I four-fer in Australia.

That meant England could still draw the series with a win in the final match, on 21st November.  A fitting end to a series that broke broadcast and modern-day attendance records, the game at Manuka proved to be a landmark in women’s T20I history.

The hosts made 178/2, the highest T20I total made in Australia (albeit briefly) thanks to Beth Mooney‘s 117*.  Mooney’s innings was the highest individual score made in Australia and 2nd highest in any T20I, behind Meg Lanning’s 126 vs Ireland at the 2014 World T20.

In an echo of Molly Strano’s defeated T20I five-fer in February, Mooney became the first woman to lose a T20I after scoring a century.  Danni Wyatt‘s match-winning 100 allowed England to reach 181/6, the highest 2nd innings total in T20I history, and made the game the first women’s T20 match to feature two centuries.

Wyatt’s century, her first at international level, was the first ever scored in a T20I chase.  The previous record score in a T20I chase had stood since the 2nd T20I match ever played – Karen Rolton’s 96* in that chase at Taunton in 2005 had also been the highest T20I score vs England until Mooney’s 117*.  Wyatt’s 100 also took her to a record four T20 career centuries in all.

In less than a month, Dottin, Mooney and Wyatt had scored as many T20I hundreds as had been made in the previous decade.

Batters in the 3rd T20I found or cleared the boundary rope on a record 49 occasions and the aggreagate runs total at Manuka (359) was the highest for a T20I match. The series aggregate of 889 runs also broke the record for a 3 match T20I series, and the overall run rate (7.87 rpo) was the highest for a T20I series of two or more matches.

Mooney’s 220 runs were the most ever scored in a bilateral T20I series and Ellyse Perry‘s 351 runs across all-formats were a record for a multi-format Ashes series, as were Megan Schutt‘s 18 wickets.

With 88* in the 3rd ODI, 62 & 79* in the Test and 51 in the 3rd T20, England’s Heather Knight became the first player to make a half-century in each format of the same multi-format Ashes series.  Knight also equalled the record for 50+ scores in any women’s Ashes series.  Three players had previously made four 50+ scores in Test only series.

DECEMBER

The third season of the Women’s Big Bash started with a spectacular round of matches at North Sydney Oval.  With 200/6 in the very first innings of WBBL03, Sydney Thunder became the first side to score 200 in a WBBL innings but their record lasted just a matter of hours, until Sydney Sixers rocketed to 242/4 in the second game of the day.  That total was the highest ever in a men’s or women’s BBL match.

Ash Gardner‘s 114 for Sixers was also the highest individual score in competition history.  Gardner’s 10 sixes were the most hit in a WBBL innings and and at 47 balls-faced, her 100 was also the fastest in a WBBL game and 4th fastest recorded in any women’s T20.  Gardner’s fifty came off 22 balls, also a WBBL record, that was then equalled by Lizelle Lee in Melbourne Stars’ failed attempt to chase down Sixers’ total.

Ellyse Perry’s 91* in Sixers’ record total was her highest T20 score, hot on the heels of the highest four-day and one-day scores of her career (respectively, 213* for Australia in the North Sydney Test on 10-11th Nov and 127* for New South Wales on 26th Nov).

At Adelaide a day later, Suzie Bates made 102, to make this the first WBBL season to feature two individual hundreds.  In Sixers’ second match of the season, Sarah Aley became the first bowler to take 50 WBBL career wickets, when she dismissed Sydney Thunder’s Stafanie Taylor.

On 29th December, Beth Mooney scored 86* for Brisbane Heat out of a total of 114/1 vs Adealide Strikers.  Mooney’s 75.44% of the innings total was the highest percentage of runs scored by an individual player in a professional T20 innings.

Just over a third of the way through, WBBL03 has already seen 6 of the 8 sides set new highest totals, and currently has a run rate (7.19 rpo) well above previous seasons (6.29 rpo in WBBL01 and 6.43 rpo in WBBL02).


2017 has unquestionably been the most significant year in the history of women’s cricket.  More ODIs were played than ever before and run rates have been at record levels, making for some of the most eye-catching cricket ever played.

It seems unlikely that the breaking of so many long-standing and significant international records (for runs, centuries, wickets, dismissals, appearances etc) will coincide in the same year any time soon.  Not only have players, especially batters, taken the game to a new level, their exploits have never been easier to follow on TV and online.  The World Cup, Ashes and Big Bash have been a pointer to the way forward for the game, not just in terms of the cricket played but the way the game is presented to spectators and viewers alike.

2018 is an important next step.  Several players will have the benefit of another year of professional experience in the WBBL and an expanded KSL, as well as more international fixtures under their belts, by the time the World T20 starts in the Caribbean in November.

That tournament has the potential to outdo anything seen before on the pitch, but a lot depends on decisions made off-field.  Will the ICC, WICB and the media demonstrate that successful women’s cricket tournaments aren’t just those that are staged in England and Australia?


International cricket in 2017

 

Only Test
Australia vs England at North Sydney Oval, 9-12th November

 

ODI stats

Match results

Highest totals

Largest victories  |  Narrowest victories

Most runs  |  Highest score

Most wickets  |  Best bowling figures

Most w/k dismissals  |  Most catches

Highest partnership by wicket  |  Highest partnership by runs

 

T20I stats

Match results

Highest totals

Largest victories  |  Narrowest victories

Most runs  |  Highest score

Most wickets  |  Best bowling figures

Most w/k dismissals  |  Most catches

Highest partnership by wicket |  Highest partnership by runs

 

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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 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.