Friday 13 March 2009

Sconned by Brunt

Late last summer, via a couple of fortunate coincidences, I had a net at Loughborough. It was at the indoor school (perhaps it was even the very same net where Michael Vaughan and Ian Bell often find themselves hitting it really well).

There's enough room there for most bowlers to come in off a full run, and for a wicket-keeper to stand back behind the stumps. With all of the individual lanes opened up, it's almost like batting in the middle. A box of new white balls arrived from somewhere, and a couple of young quicks came in for two or three sharp overs. The mat was a fast one, with plenty of bounce. From back of a length they got the ball up at throat height with ease. They had a good time doing it, too, especially when one of them whipped a short, sharp ball onto the grill of my helmet via an ill-advised, gloved hook.

Oh yeah, and both of the bowlers were women, in fact the same two who opened the bowling for England against Pakistan in Sydney yesterday, Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole. 

Like most men who've watched women's cricket on TV, I'd wondered exactly how good they were, sometimes disparagingly. Well that day, I found out. They're good. In terms of pace, they were bowling in the mid to high 70mphs, which is pretty much what you'd face in a decent first XI club match: the real difference was in their groove. Professionals just get it right much more often. In the nets they bowled nothing loose at all, they were at you every ball and it all came with the ease and severity of natural talent.

Earlier I'd watched Claire Taylor bat in the outdoor nets, and she was in an altogether different league, as you'd expect from someone who'd knocked King Viv off the top of the honours board at Lord's (highest individual ODI innings). Utterly unhurried, the ball rang from her bat. I can't imagine she'd have a problem taking any high-grade club attack apart, and probably better than that, too (She's got a first in maths from Oxford as well. Some people...)

NB: Jrod's excellent piece at TWC makes the point.


David Barry said...

they were bowling in the mid to high 70mphs
I'm sceptical of this. Jhulan Goswami is generally considered the fastest female bowler in the world, and the figure usually associated with her is 75mph or 120km/h.

I haven't been watching any of the Women's World Cup, but I recall from the highlights on the news that they had a radar gun. What's the fastest anyone's seen?

When Karen Rolton was the best women's cricketer (in Australia, possibly the world), she played in men's third grade.

The Old Batsman said...

Hi David, Yes, I saw a speedgun on there the other day and it was around 73mph something like that. I'd say they're around that figure, judging against what it's like to have a bowling machine up around that speed. Obviously, they were probably talking themselves up, like most fast bowlers!

Would be interesting to see how high they could get in club cricket, although I think they're right to resist trying. They do play a different kind of game.

Damith S. said...

Great piece that OB, I have been meaning to check out a game or two in the WC, specially now that I found out tickets 10 dollars for super6 matches and 15 for the Final!

If I do get there, Ill see if I can see any speed guns for ya!