Four Teams, Four Days, Tight Race
Joining the host nation, France, at Dreux will be teams from Austria, Jersey, and new to T20 International cricket, Spain. These teams are likely to be very evenly matched. Let’s have a speak peak to see what we can uncover.
The venue is the Dreux Sport Cricket Club Ground in the township of Dreux in northern France, just west of Paris. This will be the first time the venue has hosted international cricket. There will be eight matches played over four days, two per day, starting on Thursday 5th May. The weather looks quite reasonable although there are showers forecast for the Friday.
The home team goes into this series as ICC ranked 38th and is the second highest ranked team after Jersey (35) and just ahead of Austria (41) and the unranked Spain. The rankings are not much help to us here.
A rejuvenated team with new coach and captain, this squad is markedly different to the team that played a five match series in Germany in July 2021 and also the ICC European World T20 Qualifiers in August.
Marie Violleau replaces former skipper, Emmanuelle Brelivet, who is not in the squad. Marie is a good choice for she displays good intelligence with her off-breaks and is steadily moving up the batting order. From Saint-Sébastien-sur-Loire, at only 24 years of age she could well be the captain for the long term. It will be interesting to see what she brings to the role.
Also missing from the squad is France’s leading batter, Jennifer King. That provides opportunities for Alix Brodin, Tara Britton and Poppy McGeown, all of whom tend to occupy the top order. Strike rate was something of an issue in 2021 so it’s hoped that the French batters are more adept at looking for singles, rotating the strike.
Violleau will be a key with this batting unit, as she will with the ball. Leading the pace attack will be the right-arm medium pace of Cindy Breteche but beyond her and McGeown it’s a little murky. There are bound to be good bowling options among the uncapped players.
Behind the stumps once more is the veteran of the team and champion of the women’s game in France for many years, Maelle Cargouet.
Much will depend on how the new players fit in with the established players, but France should perform well in this series and go in with the advantage of playing at home.
Squad: Marie Violleau (c), Lara Armas, Lena Armas, Sabine Baron, Cindy Breteche, Tara Britton, Alix Brodin, Maelle Cargouet (wk), Krystel Lemoine, Louise Lestavel, Magali Marchello, Poppy McGeown, Beatrice Pierre, Pooja Ganesh, Lydie Wykes-Templeman, Blandine Verdon
The gaping hole in this squad is the absence of star player, Andrea-Mae Zepeda presently playing in the Fairbreak tournament in Dubai. The winner of the 2021 ICC Associate Player of the Year, Andrea is the only Austrian player to have scored 200 runs and has all five of the top five highest scores for the team.
Fortunately other players have begun to stand up with the bat and none more so than captain and wicket keeper, Gandhali Bapat. She has the potential to be the leading run scorer in this tournament. Busra Uca is another who showed good form towards the back of 2021 with runs against Belgium as did Jo-An Stiglitz.
It’s a happier tale with the ball with Valentina Avdylaj showing excellent form in 2021, culminating in the best figures for an Austrian in T20Is of 4-12 against Italy. Older sister Rezarta Avdylaj will also figure with her medium pace. The left-arm slow bowling of Bangalore Chamundaiah will also be a feature.
The team’s low ranking of 41 isn’t a clear indicator of how the team will perform. Along with France they could well lead the tournament.
Squad: Gandhali Bapat (c), Rezarta Avdylaj, Valentina Avdylaj, Harjivan Bhullar, Bangalore Chamundaiah, Smriti Kohli, Anisha Nookala, Mahadewa Pathirannehelage, Priya Sabu, Ashmaan Saifee, Hannah Simpson-Parker, Jo-An Stiglitz, Raphaela Trobinger, Busra Uca
The team are a bit of an unknown quantity but there is much to look forward to. This is the team’s first outing since 2019. (They were due to host Guernsey last year but the series was cancelled).
The team’s leading batters are two teenagers who both turned seventeen this year meaning they played their debuts for Jersey when they were just fifteen and yet are not the youngest players. Lily Greig and Georgia Mallett have played all seven of Jersey’s T20 Internationals as has the fifteen year old Georgia Mallett. All three are at the top of the run scorers for the team and it will be wonderful to see them in action here.
Georgia is also the team’s leading wicket keeper although she may share that job with Mia Maguire for this series. Mia is interesting. A left-hand batter and keeper, also just turned fifteen, has played in seven matches and yet has not batted once, bowled a ball or taken a catch. Hopefully that will change for this series.
Chloe Greechan is the leading wicket taker for the team with her left-arm medium pace and will captain the team.
How will this team fare? They have won and lost against Austria and France and yet to meet Spain. It will be fascinating to see this youthful team in action. They could well spring a surprise.
Squad: Chloe Greechan (c), Tea Brocklesby, Florrie Copley, Erin Duffy, Charlie Miles, Maria da Rocha, Erin Gouge, Lily Greig, Mia Maguire, Georgia Mallett, Olive Smith, Trinity Smith, Grace Weatherall
The new kids on the block, Spain are the fourth team to make their T20 International debut in 2022 after Ghana, The Gambia and Bahrain, so history is to be made in Dreux on Thursday when they take on Austria in their debut.
Most of the players are based in Barcelona, while the captain Elspeth Fowler plays her cricket in La Manga and teenager Amy Brown-Carrera plays for Wrenthorpe Ladies in Yorkshire.
Coach Neil Brook, “One thing I’ve learnt about this group of girls is how much it means to them as individuals and as a team, the girls are ready to take this fantastic opportunity and the huge challenge ahead of them.”
We wish Elspeth and the team the very best of luck in their first campaign.
Squad: Elspeth Fowler (c), Samaia Basharat, Amy Brown-Carrera, Hifsa Butt, Rabia Iqbal, Zenab Iqbal, Jaspreet Kaur, Simranjit Kaur, Wania Malik, Tashiba Mirza, Memoona Muhammad, Rabia Mushtaq, Muskan Naseeb, Aliza Saleem, Uswa Syed