How the Kia Super League has made England's home-grown stars shine brighter than ever before
After the sun went down on the final season of the Kia Super League there was plenty to reflect on around the performances of the home-grown talent.
While England captain Heather Knight signed off with an unbeaten 78, confirming both her own and Western Storm’s undoubted credentials, the season saw English players thrive more than ever in the competition's four-year history.
In 2016 and 2017, a number of international players came to grounds around the country and dominated. But this year, the likes of Fran Wilson and Freya Davies showed their quality amidst world class players like Smriti Mandhana and Dane van Niekerk.
English players seem to have learned from the best
The KSL came close on the heels of a disappointing Ashes series for England’s women and it would have been understandable for these players to be feeling below par as the tournament began.
However, as can be seen by the statistics, this series of the 20-over tournament saw more English players in the top 10 of the batting and bowling charts than ever before.
Often international players like India's Mandhana speak out about how they feel playing in conditions across the world help their game. But an under-rated aspect is how much the home-grown players benefit from learning from the best in the game.
Clare Connor, the ECB’s managing director of women’s cricket, said: “I think what the KSL did was show that you can create a pathway from the domestic game to international cricket and players such as Sophia Dunkley, Freya Davies and Kirstie Gordon have managed to do that.”
Playing with world-class talent would have accelerated that process and the ECB will hope The Hundred next year will allow even more young players to improve on their game.
Better English talent made for better standards of cricket
The improvement from English cricketers has been steady year on year in the Kia Super League and has impacted on the overall standard of cricket in the competition.
When looking at match aggregate totals for this season and last, the number of games which saw more than 300 runs scored rose astronomically from the first two editions.
In fact, this season’s fixture between Yorkshire Diamonds and Southern Vipers saw 369 runs scored across the two innings for the loss of just 10 wickets. This was the highest in the Kia Super League’s history.
The last two seasons have seen 17 games where 300 or more runs have been scored across both innings. In 2016 and 2017, the 300 mark was only crossed on six occasions. While it should be noted the first two seasons had fewer games, the numbers suggest a definite upsurge in batting quality and depth.
It is not just limited to run scoring though, because the ability of bowlers has also improved.
Davies took the most amount of wickets this season with 19 and had an average of 13.21. West Indies’ Stafanie Taylor was the leading wicket-taker in 2016, but she took her 11 wickets at an average of 16.09.
While economy rates have taken a beating since batting has improved, the two main reasons why people go to watch T20 cricket, runs and wickets, were more relevant than ever.
It is not yet known how The Hundred will impact women’s cricket’s rise in the past few years, but if it follows the opportunities the Kia Super League has given young players, there could be even happier days ahead for English cricket.