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Ecclestone's miserly spin makes life easy for the Warriorz

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Last updated on 01 Mar 2024 | 05:37 PM
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Ecclestone's miserly spin makes life easy for the Warriorz

The left-arm spinner picked up 3/20 in her four overs, subverting Gujarat's pack of overseas batters one by one

19 overs of spin

Anjali Sarvani, the left-arm medium pacer, bowled the second over, sharing the new ball with the WPL debutant Chamari Athapaththu. Sarvani was hit for three consecutive fours, conceding 13 runs. 

That was it. That was the last over of seam bowling UP Warriorz offered to the Gujarat Giants. The Warriorz went on a full-blooded spin attack against the Giants. And what helped them is that they possess the best spinner women’s cricket has seen in its modern era. 

Sophie Ecclestone is the number one ranked T20I bowler in women’s cricket. She has 777 rating points. The second on the list - India’s Deepti Sharma and Ecclestone’s teammate at the UP Warriorz - is more than 50 points behind with 718 rating points. It shows the daylight between Ecclestone and the others. 

On Friday night (March 1), Ecclestone led UP’s charge with spin, pouching figures of 3/20 in her four overs. The left-arm spinner subverted Gujarat‘s overseas batting personnel with the wickets of Beth Mooney, Laura Wolvaardt and Ashleigh Gardner

All these wickets arrived when these experienced batters were trying to attack her. Mooney, Wolvaardt and Gardner were all set and looking to up the ante. Mooney, the Gujarat skipper, was trying to charge down the track throughout her 16-ball stay at the crease. Ecclestone bowled it a bit wide to induce an error. Wolvaardt stepped down as well, only to miscue her shot to mid-off. And Gardner, who was dropped off Ecclestone’s bowling in her previous over, scooped one to the short fine-leg. 

Ecclestone is one of the hardest spinners to hit. In WPL 2023, she was the joint-highest wicket-taker among spinners with 16 wickets. Alongside her wicket tally, Ecclestone had the highest percentage of ball targeting the stumps - 43.1%. Consequently, she had the lowest percentage of attacking shots played against a spinner in the season - 59.6%. 

In that regard, Alyssa Healy, her captain at UP, used Ecclestone quite well. Healy summoned Ecclestone after an economical over by another spinner from the other end. When Ecclestone bowled her first over - the 6th of the innings and the toughest given it is the last over of the powerplay - Grace Harris had conceded only 3 from the other end. 

Ecclestone’s next over - the 10th of the innings - was preceded by only a 5-run over from Harris again. Before her third over - 15th of the innings - Deepti had allowed only 4 runs. 

The pattern ensured the batters didn’t just play out Ecclestone but tried to attack her. High risk and high stakes. That is how Healy plays her cricket as well. Instilling the same in her captaincy brought three vital scalps for her premier bowler, eventually restricting Gujarat to only 142. 

“Every time she (Ecclestone) has walked out to the cricket field for me, she has done incredibly well,” said Jon Lewis, UP’s coach

It has been a bit indifferent season for Ecclestone thus far, with figures of 1/25, 1/31, 1/26 in the three matches before today. The last time she went at an economy of over 6 in three consecutive games was in July last year. She has also been unlucky with three catches dropped off her bowling, including one of Gardner today before she gobbled her up later. 

However, Ecclestone is slowly coming back into her element. Much like UP that had a slow start but are picking up now, Ecclestone also seems set for bigger things in this season of the Women’s Premier League. 

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