Published: 11th July, 2019
Hannah Jones and Kirstie White both feel they have a lot more to give after their first season leading the Surrey Women side.
Jones replaced Cecily Scutt as captain midway through the 2018 campaign and opening batsman White was instilled as her vice-captain before the 2019 season.
In their first complete year as the leaders of the squad, they took Surrey to a seventh place finish in Division One of the 50 over County Championship and fifth in the T20 equivalent.
Having first played for Surrey Women in 2012, it’s easy to forget that Jones is still just 19 – a exceptionally young age to lead your county side.
On her first year as skipper, she said: “It’s been a mixed experience for us all, having played to our potential in some matches and fallen short in others. I’ve loved leading this team though and working with the coaches and Kirstie to come up with plans on a match-by-match basis.
As a young skipper, Jones has called on the vast experience of White throughout the season – something the 31-year-old has been eager to assist with.
“Last season I acted in a bit more of leadership role and this year I’ve been communicating well with Hannah to make sure we were really clear on what our game plan was,” she said.
“The more seasons you play, the more you learn and you never stop learning about the game. I’ve served under a few different captains so I think it’s nice to be able to use that to help Hannah, who has been a fantastic captain.”
After a promising start with victory over Yorkshire, only one more win came in the following six 50 over matches. That was against Sussex but both Jones and White feel that their final record wasn’t true to how they performed across the Division One matches.
White said: “I don’t think where we finished in the table was a reflection of how well we performed as a team. We had games where we nailed everything and we know that you get punished at this level when you don’t. I don’t think we’ll be disappointed with how we did as a team although there are areas we know we can improve across the team.
“We were there with 95% of our performances but any little mistakes are crucial in these matches,” Jones added.
A shining light for Surrey and across the county game in 2019 was Bryony Smith. The all-rounder signed her first professional England contract over the winter and backed that up by ending with more runs than anyone else across both competitions.
558 runs came from the opener’s bat at an average of 55.80 and her performances were a joy to watch for both skippers.
Jones reflected: “We spoke a few weeks ago that last year she was a little off pushing for England but this year has come along and she’s been in the in-form batsman. It’s been great to watch and all the work she has put in over the winter has really been on show.”
Fellow opener White added: “It’s been nice to watch Bryony from the other end. Last year she showed glimpses but turning professional over the winter has completely transformed her. She’s got a real clarity and it’s nice to see players fulfilling their potential.”
Hot on the tails of the 50 over competition was the T20 matches, which are played in a format similar to the men’s Finals Day, with each team playing two of the three matches at a given venue every Sunday.
Although fifth of eight was Surrey’s official position, the league was that tight that just one more win would have seen them lift the title. That wasn’t the main focus for either captain however.
“We didn’t realise until the end of the last game that we were just one win away from the title,” said White.
“There were games rained off and that could have changed it for anyone. We went about our game with positivity and as long as you were showing intent, there was a freedom there.”
Jones echoed that sentiment, praising her teammates for playing cricket in an encouraging way.
She said: “What was really important for us, rather than our final position, was how we played in the competition. We put in really good individual performances and had clear goals when batting. We often scored 140 and had attacking plans with the ball which is all I asked of the girls every time we went out there.”
So, to 2020. With little currently understood about how the women’s domestic game will take shape next summer, it’s a waiting game for the players.
Either way, Hannah Jones has loved captaining her county.
She said: “It’s all up in the air at the moment as to what we’ll be doing next season and whether I’ll be a captain or whether we’ll be playing. Hopefully we’ll have some news once the Kia Super League is done and we can start to plan for 2020 but either way, I’ve loved the chance to captain this team.”
White, who first played back in 2002, always expects to donning the pads again come next summer.
“I feel like I’ve still got lots more I can give and I’m not done learning about the game so I definitely want to continue playing next season,” she said.
Several of the Surrey Women squad will now prepare to represent the Surrey Stars in the Kia Super League, starting in August.