Source: Bruce Perkins

England A Squad Players on view at Beckenham

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Lisa Keightley, England’s head coach, offered wise words: ‘The players need as much cricket as possible.’

The addition of A-squad fixtures against South Africa is one of the best ways to ensure this happens. The latest selection shows a numbers of changes since the game at Arundel. Two wise old heads, Danni Wyatt and Lauren Winfield-Hill, have moved in opposite directions, Wyatt back to the full England squad, LW-H out of view the other way.

The new-look A-team:

Bryony Smith (South East Stars, captain), Maia Bouchier (Southern Vipers), Alice Capsey (South East Stars), Kira Chathli (South East Stars), Freya Davies (South East Stars), Dani Gibson (Western Storm), Bess Heath (Northern Diamonds), Marie Kelly (Lightning), Freya Kemp (Southern Vipers), Linsey Smith (Northern Diamonds), Mady Villiers (Sunrisers). Travelling reserve: Grace Potts (Central Sparks)

Of them, five were on view at Beckenham in a Round-One match of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy between South East Stars and Sunrisers, Smith, Capsey, Davies, Chathli and Villiers. And there were others who might have harboured hopes of being included.

Smith produced a fine all-round performance, starting the game with her usual belligerent approach to batting (66 of 68 balls), then 10-1-37-3 with her off-spin.

Alice Capsey at last recaptured the form that so impressed everyone last year (64 not out off 69 balls). Her follow-up of 4-0-26-2 with her off-spin won’t have harmed her chances either.

Freya Davies had the most to prove, having been the one quick bowler to be omitted from the test XI. She bowled tidily, but without that grain of luck any cricketer needs when it matters most. (6-0-30-0)

Kira Chathli has been rewarded for the keeping skills she has shown over the last year or two, and she took the opportunity to make a sizeable score (61 off 65 at No 3), so vital for any keeper with pretensions to top honours these days.

It would be facinating to know how the England selectors measure the competing talents of the keepers; the standards are so high. But no-one can doubt Chathli’s credentials. She is constantly alert behind the stumps, and her batting only added to her cause.

Mady Villiers’ fortunes have turned since she looked like a permanent partner to Sophie Ecclestone in the England spin-department. Like Sarah Glenn, she has been discarded, in her case to Charlie Dean’s advantage, yet another Southern Viper product. Villiers’ bowling figures, 10-1-54-1, don’t look impressive despite some testing deliveries. She had her chance to shine batting at No 4, but ran down to pitch to smite Smith into the far yonder, to give Chathli a simple stumping chance (10/21).

Good as Smith’s all-round figures were, they were outshone by Grace Scrivens, who doesn’t appear in the A-list. Kelly Castle, Sunrisers’ skipper, didn’t bring her on till 150 runs were on the board, but she proceeded to take 4-42 in her 10 overs.

Her prime role is opening the batting, and there she dominated the scene, hitting 74 off 74 in a vain attempt to help her side to the daunting target of 282.

Sunrisers have been the weakest of the eight regions since the new structures were launched, and Scrivens only joined them after she was overlooked by her own region – she comes from Kent, so was familiar with the bowling of Alexa Stonehouse, Phoebe Franklin and Grace Gibbs (a replacement for Kalea Moore who failed a late fitness test).

Sunrisers’ most obvious lack is opening bowlers to worry batters with the new ball. But once Scrivens was dismissed (137 still needed), a successful chase looked less than unlikely. The rest of the batting line-up just didn’t stir confidence. And so it proved, they finished 80 short. 201 is a decent enough total, but not these days on a pretty true Beckenham track.


South East Stars 281-8 Sunrisers 201

Coming fixture:
England Women A versus South Africa

Sophia Gardens, Cardiff
Monday, 4 July