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England Cricket at full stretch

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The composition of the eight regional franchises on 2 July 2023 was particularly interesting.

The England squad had just completed an exhausting and unsuccessful test match at Trent Bridge. On that same 2 July the England A squad (of 12) was battling equally unsuccessfully against the Aussies in an ODI.

Who was left over to appear in the RHF Trophy?

My unofficial analysis spots:

1. Just twelve ineligible to play for England, including one or two top-drawer stars like Deandra Dottin and Dane van Niekerk.

2. Nine members of the England Under 19 squad that competed in the World Cup in Potchefstroom, viz Davina Perrin, Charis Pavely, Seren Smale, Liberty Heap, Alexa Stonehouse, Emma Marlow, Lizzie Scott, Niamh Holland and Sophia Smale. Their captain, Grace Scrivens, was busy captaining that England A team; Ryana Macdonald Gay was with her. An encouraging proof of pathway success.

3. There was a handful of current or recent England caps on show. Lauren Winfield-Hill skippered Northern Diamonds in what she (and the ECB) saw as their hour of need. They were evidently short of players, unlike the other teams with England representatives who didn’t put in for compassionate leave.

4. It’s good to see a decent number of Welsh players aboard. We can all too easy forget that the ECB’s official name includes a W, for Wales. That in turn leaves a doubt about the future of Scottish cricket. The Bryce sisters were on show performing for The Blaze, while Kirstie Gordon was at Guildford with the A team. Surely, the long-term aim must be to establish a full- strength Scottish team independent of England. But that will demand many virtues, including time and money.

That leaves a large number of players to complete the cast. Many were regulars with years of experience; others were getting their break-through chance, which is the direct result of Clare Connor’s overall strategy.

It’s pleasing to see so many youngsters representing the franchise closest to their roots. That’s a feature that will become less and less prominent, the more professional the English game becomes. Sooner or later players will be lured away to join a side far from their home county. I won’t provide an explanation of what a county is, but it’s a feature now absent from the England team’s listings (‘TT Beaumont, The Blaze’).