The Need for Speed

The World June. Surely the first name on your team list has to be a decent pace bowler? Make the most of those English conditions! And by pace I mean someone who can get the ball through in excess of 70mph (112kph), not a medium-paced dobber. Someone who can get the batsmen hopping around a bit, and fishing around outside their offstump, or avoiding having their toes crushed by an inswinging yorker.

Perhaps for obvious reasons there are not too many in women's cricket, but this World Cup could be all about the few that we have got at the moment.

Katherine Brunt © Don Miles
Undoubted leader of the pack is England's Katherine Brunt. She seems to have been running in and bowling quickly and angrily at people for as long as I can remember. In fact she debuted for England back in 2004, and has the small matter of 161 games for England under her belt over the last 13 years.

She is the archetypal pace bowler. Should you dare to cream her for four through the covers you can almost guarantee that the next ball she bowls will not be pitched in your half of the pitch; and woe betide any fielder that drops a catch off her bowling.

On the pitch she is a tough cookie. Off the pitch she is a quietly spoken Yorkshire lass, who calls a spade a shovel, but usually with a cheeky grin on her face.

Shabnim Ismail © Don Miles
On 120 victims she needs just four wickets to go past Jenny Gunn as England's leading ODI wicket-taker, and who would bet against her doing that at this tournament. At 31 this is almost certainly her last World Cup. She will want to go out with a bang, not a whimper. Rest of the world be prepared!

Equally firey, both on and off the pitch, is Saffer, Shabnim Ismail. She really is a pocket-rocket at just 165cm tall, but she glides up to the crease before uncoiling her lightning fast, lithe arm and sending the ball down at speed. She will tell you its over 125kph. Ask Shabnim who is the fastest bowler in the world and without a moment's hesitation she will say it is her. She may well be right. Ismail herself is just six wickets shy of her own ODI century of victims. Not shy of the odd send-off she will be fun to watch.

Lea Tahuhu © Don Miles
The next fire merchant to watch out for is White Fern Lea Tahuhu. Not always a regular in the Kiwi team she earned herself a central contract in 2015, which was renewed last year. Her role is to be the early aggressor, and she is not afraid to slip in the odd short ball to keep the batsman on their toes. She is not unfamiliar with English conditions having played for the Surrey Stars in last year's T20 KSL tournament. Admittedly she did not have the greatest of tournaments, but she will have learnt a lot. She is due back this year, but will be in the red of Lancashire Thunder this time round. Her back of a length bowling could prove a handful for some of the smaller (in stature) teams - Sri Lanka, Pakistan and even India, but can she trouble the big guns?

Jhulan Goswami © Don Miles
She may not be as quick as she once was, but Jhulan Goswami clearly rates a mention here, particularly as she is now the record holder for wickets taken in ODIs. At the ripe old age of 34 she has the small matter of 153 ODIs under her belt, not to mention the 181 wickets that she has taken, surpassing the Aussie legend Cathryn Fitzpatrick. If she has a stellar tournament then could 200 wickets be on the cards? That would be some record!

Deandra Dottin © Don Miles
And the final speedsters to watch out for are both West Indian, of course. New girl on the block is Barbadian Shamilia Connell. She is very tall and pretty quick, but she can be erratic. She is a work in progress, but if she is given a chance she might just surprise a few batsmen. The other Caribbean flame thrower is her fellow Barbadian, Deandra Dottin.

They could not look more different. Connell is tall and lithe, Dottin is short and compact. She meanders into the crease like a reluctant teenager, but she is capable of hurling the ball down at 120kph, when the mood takes her. She also has a mean in-swinging yorker. When she gets it right she can be lethal, but when she gets it wrong it can go very wrong.

There are a few other seam-up artists to watch out for of course, albeit that they are perhaps not true speedsters. For the Aussies there is Ellyse Perry and Megan Schutt; for India Shikha Pandey; for South Africa Marizanne Kapp; for New Zealand Holly Huddleston and for England Anya Shrubsole. I t should be a heck of a tournament.

Martin Davies


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