Welcome to the latest installment in my ‘all time XI‘ cricket series. Today is Monday,, which means that it is tipme to look at an international set up, and today’s subject is the England Women’s set up.
ENGLAND WOMEN IN MY LIFETIME
- Charlotte Edwards – right handed opening batter. She was an England regular for two decades, and her departure from the international scene caused some controversy when it final;y happened. However, it was undoubtedly the right decision, and within a short time the England Women had reaped rich rewards for making it. I first saw her in action as a teenager, when her more experienced team mates were by and large unable to offer any kind of resistance to Australia, and she chiselled out 74.
- Tammy Beaumont – right handed opening batter. She was moved up to the top of the order after Edwards’ departure and almost immediately began making big scores there. Regular readers of this blog will know that back in 2018, with Cook obviously due to retire soon and Jennings due for the chop (having replaced the proven international failure Mark Stoneman) I advocated that she be given an opportunity to play alongside the men. As it happened Rory Burns who had made an unanswerable case for selection came in, Jennings stayed on for the winter, and Joe Denly got given his test chance. After a disastrous experiment with Jason Roy as red ball opener and a summer of top order strife England subsequently turned to Dominic Sibley who had made a clear case for inclusion and also elevated Zak Crawley on rather less firm ground. I expect that when test cricket resumes post covid-19 the England men’s top three will read Sibley, Burns, Crawley, as it should, and that top three would be the most solid looking England have boasted since Strauss, Cook and Trott were in their prime.
- Claire Taylor – right handed batter. She averaged over 40 in both test cricket and ODIs, and no 3 was her regular position.
- *Heather Knight – right handed batter, occasional off spinner, captain. She has proven an outstanding captain since being given the job in succession to Edwards, and he record with the bat is excellent as well, while she has taken important wickets with her off spin.
- Natalie Sciver – right handed batter, right arm medium pacer. The Tokyo born all rounder has been one of the first names on the team sheet ever since first being picked for the side.
- +Sarah Taylor – right handed batter, wicket keeper. One of the two finest keepers I have ever personally seen in action (the other being Ben Foakes) and a magnificent batter as well. Her presence, plus the batting abilities of the next two in the order enables to the selection of five top line bowlers.
- Katherine Brunt – right arm medium fast bowler, useful lower middle order batter. She was a pure bowler when she came into the side, but has developed her batting, not quite in the manner of Ellyse Perry and Kiwi Sophie Devine to the point where it is arguably more important to the side than her bowling, but certainly to a sufficient extent to justify selection at no7.
- Laura Marsh – off spinner, right arm fast medium bowler, useful lower order batter. A multi-purpose bowler, and perfectly capable of batting for long periods in support of a more established batter, as she demonstrated famously in partnership with Heather Knight.
- Anya Shrubsole – right arm medium fast bowler. Brunt’s regular new ball partner. She was the hero of the 2017 Women’s World Cup final, taking six wickets to enable England to defend a fairly modest total against India, an achievement that saw her become the first female to appear on the front cover of Wisden.
- Sophie Ecclestone – left arm orthodox spinner. The best of the collection of young spinners currently doing well for England Women, which also features the likes of Kirstie Gordon, Linsey Smith, Sarah Glenn and Sophia Dunkley, with others such as Helen Fenby on the fringes.
- Isa Guha – right arm medium pacer. She made her international debut at the age of 17, bagging three cheap wickets to begin a journey that would see her at one time rated the best female bowler on the planet. She is probably better known today as an entertaining commentator who is a regular and welcome part of TMS. She did most of her international bowling into the wind, with Brunt often bowling with the wind at the other end.
This team has a formidable top six, including an incredible wicket keeper, and a collection of five bowlers who between them tick every box save leg spin.
ADDITIONS TO THE ALL TIME XI
- Janette Brittin – right handed opening batter. Her record demands inclusion, although Beaumont still has time in which to change that.
- *Rachael Heyhoe-Flint – right handed batter. Amagnificent captain, and a batter who averaged 45.54 in test cricket and just over 58 in ODIs.
- Carole Hodges – right handed batter, off spinner. A magnificent all-rounder, whose feats included an ODI performance in which she scored 96 with the bat and her bowling figures included a hat trick.
- Enid Bakewell – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. An extraordinary all round record, averaging almost 60 with the bat and under 17 with the ball, including being the firsst player of either sex to score a century and claim a 10-wicket haul in the same test match.
Rejigging the team to include these legends gives us a batting line of Edwards, Brittin, C Taylor, *Heyhoe-Flint, Hodges, Bakewell, +S Taylor, Brunt, Shrubsole, Ecclestone, Guha. This makes the batting formidably strong, and gives us three front line seamers in Brunt, Shrubsole and Guha backed by three topline spinners, Ecclestone, Bakewell and Hodges. The similarity in bowling style between Bakewell and Ecclestone can be coped with.
I have already mentioned the phalanx of young spinners currently available to England Women, and I add to that list Alex Hartley, who was part of the 2017 World Cup winning squad, and up-and-coming off spinner Mady Villiers. Isabelle Wong, still in her teens, is quicker by some way (and actually styles herself as a fast bowler, as does her Aussie contemporary Tayla Vlaemink) than any of the seamers I have picked, and I fully expect her to force her way into consideration sooner rather than later. There has been one previous player of Chinese ancetsry to play international cricket, Ellis Achong after whome the ‘chinaman’ was named, and there was also a Sheffield Shield player many years ago by the name of Hunter Poon, while in my brief umpiring career I saw a boy who I believe to have been of Korean descent, named Kim (but no relation AFAIK to the ruling family of North Korea!) take 6-6 in a spell. Three fine all rounders who I could not find space for were Jo Chamberlain, player of the match in a world cup final back in the day, Melissa Reynard, an unglamorous but mighty effective middle order accumlator and bowler of medium pace, and Jenny Gunn, possessor of the slowest ‘slower ball’ yet seen in international cricket. Danielle Wyatt would be a shoe-in for a T20 side, but her record in other formats is not good enough for her be given serious consideration in this exercise.
WOMEN PLAYING ALONGSIDE THE MEN
I reckon that a female playing alongside the men at the highest level is something that will be seen before too many more years has elapsed. Arran Brindle nee Thompson scored a century in men’s league fixture a few years ago. While it is unlikely that a female could ever bowl as fast the quickest men, batting does not depend solely or even principally on power – timing and placement are key, and there is also no reason why a female spinner should not prove deadly, and I have named a female wicket keeper as one of the best I have ever seen in that department. Of course women who can hold their own alongside the top men,if we do see such, will always be rarities, but I refuse to accept that the possibility should be ruled out entirely.
One of my twitter followers, Iain Davidson McKane, suggested that I might offer to produce these to fill third party requests. So, keeping things sensible (perhaps study previous posts in this series to see what I have already done), I now ask readers who have an ‘all time XI’ idea for me to suggest it in the comments. If you have a blog of your own and mention that as well then if your idea works and I can produce a post about it I will link to your blog.
And it is time for my usual sign off…