BY MARCUS HOOK
Richard Bedbrook, head coach of the Surrey Stars, has tipped his ladies to shine in this season’s Kia Super League, which gets underway on Sunday.
Each of the six teams finalised their 15-strong squads last week. Bedbrook admitted that selecting the Stars’ line-up involved some soul-searching.
“Picking the squad was really tough,” said Bedbrook. “But I feel we have a really well-balanced group now with a good mix of experience and youngsters who want to make their mark and show they can perform on the big stage.
“With the increase in games and shorter periods between matches this year it is going to be a lot more intense, so we will be rotating the squad a lot more.”
England’s wicketkeeper-batsman Sarah Taylor has joined from Lancashire Thunder, to replace Vipers-bound Tammy Beaumont, while South Africa’s captain Dane van Niekerk joins compatriots Marizanne Kapp and Lizelle Lee, who both played for the Stars last summer.
Van Niekerk brings massive experience to the dressing room, the 24-year-old having played 150 times for her country.
“She’s a world-class player and we’re delighted to have her,” said Bedbrook. “All three of our overseas players have got a massive pedigree in the international game and as well as bringing so much individually they will give so much to the youngsters in the squad as well.”
Bedbrook has also promoted Rhianna Southby and Eva Gray from the Surrey academy and recruited Mady Villiers from Essex. Cordelia Griffith, Kirstie White and Naomi Dattani, who played for Stars in the first two editions of the tournament, will therefore miss out.
Surrey Stars will warm up for this season’s Kia Super League with a game against one of their likely rivals for the title, the Southern Vipers at New Malden on Thursday,
Richard Bedbrook said: “I know [Vipers] coach Nick Denning really well and we both think it will be a good game for both us. As well as a T20 we’re probably going to have a 10 overs game as well and play some other scenarios as well. I’m sure both teams will benefit.”
Meanwhile, Jonathan Batty has been unveiled as the Surrey Stars assistant coach. The former Surrey captain and wicketkeeper, who retired from first-class cricket in 2012, will work closely with wicketkeepers Sarah Taylor and Rhianna Southby.
“I am really excited to be returning to coaching in women’s cricket and especially in the Kia Super League,” said Batty. “It’s been a brilliant competition in the last couple of years and includes a lot of the best players in the world.
“I am also delighted to be working at Surrey again. Every time I come to the Oval it feels like a homecoming so I can’t wait to be around the place on a regular basis.”
Bedbrook added: “It’s great to have Jonathan on board. I know he’s highly recommended as a coach and he’s exactly the right sort of person to come in. People warm to him very quickly and that is very important in a compact competition like this.
“He’s also an ex-player and captain of the club and for us as a coaching group, the insight of someone with such a strong first-class playing record adds to our knowledge base.”
In the Second Eleven Championship, last week’s draw with Hampshire means Surrey remain on course for a winner-takes-all clash next month against Essex to determine who will represent the hopes of the south in the final.
Surrey, who, with two wins and three draws, are yet to be beaten, were taken for 450-8 declared by Hampshire before Jamie Smith (105 not out) and Arun Harinath (104 not out) countered for the hosts, who were then set 332 to win on the final day.
Nick Welch (69), Arun Harinath (55) and Ryan Patel (47) all enjoyed starts, but Surrey shut up shop to finish 90 runs shy of the objective.
Next up are Glamorgan on July 24-26, at New Malden.
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