Licolnshire’s Beth Smith at Moulton Harrox CC
Puddles on the outfield. Pouring with rain. A team text was inevitable, “We’re going to try to get a game in.”
Due to the standard early cricket season British weather, the start of the game was delayed until 1pm with overs reduced to 34. Having won the toss and with the hope that the pitch will dry up throughout the day, newly appointed captain Hayley Butts put Hunts & Cambs into bat.
Debutant Sarah McDowell was given the new ball and showed why she had been approached over the winter; bowling her allotted 7 overs straight through ending with figures 1/9. Hayley Jones took 3 opening overs from the other end bowling with pace which the batsmen utilised to get runs on the board. To restrict the run flow experienced player Beth Smith came on at Jones’ end bowling straight through her overs going for 10 runs.
U17 Lucy Barnes took over from McDowell and took the second wicket of the game with the help of a safe pair of hands from U15 Amelia Gardner. This wicket brought standout batsmen, Karla Durham, to the crease; bringing the run-rate up for Hunts & Cambs she had a third wicket stand of 66 with their number 3, Sainsbury. The partnership was broken by the off-spin of senior Rachael Dyer; by which time the visitors had passed the century mark.
Wickets began to fall steadily after that; in her first senior appearance Gardner replaced Smith and took 2 wickets in her 6 overs- a solid sign of things to come for juniors and potentially seniors. Dyer snatched 2 more wickets including an athletic caught and bowled. U17 captain Becki Brooker was handed the ball for the last over of the innings and gained a wicket with the first ball and a further wicket before the close. Hunts & Cambs ended with 136/9, giving the Imps a target of 137 to win.
A shower at the interval meant that the restart was slightly delayed, but McDowell and Smith went out to the middle looking to put the Imps on the front foot. Hunts & Cambs had the better start with Presland cleaning up Smith without her troubling the scorers.
U17 India Freeman then came to the middle and this new partnership flourished. Quick runs and boundaries seemed to come at ease, yet at drinks the Imps were still slightly behind the run-rate. The pair pushed on until Wala Bowled McDowell ending the 89 run partnership; McDowell ending with 38 – not a bad debut performance!
Captain Butts went to the crease and aided Freeman to her half century. Butts got a quick fire 16 before stepping in front of her stumps and being given LBW. Freemans U17 partner Brooker entered the field of play with the Imps only needing 9 for victory off 4 overs. The pair put on 6 before Presland struck, bowling Freeman with 3 required from 7 balls. A nervous Jones faced her first ball. A wide – 2 off 7. A dot ball to end meant Lincs needed 2 off the final over.
Sainsbury had the ball for the final over, a dot followed by Brooker being caught out left the Imps needing 2 off 4 as Dyer joined Jones at the crease. Dyer got a single, scores were tied. A dot ball followed, the Imps were on the edge of their seats watching as the next ball hit Jones’ leg and Dyer called her through for the winning leg bye.
First game of the season and a first victory in the county champs. The team was elated. This game has fuelled the ladies for the rest of the season. There are still areas to work on, tightness in the field and wilier bowling would have reduced the Hunts & Cambs score by 30; but coach Alan Ward believes this victory is great signs of things to come for the Imps.
Their first impact puts the Imps at the top of Div 4, hopefully this is where they will stay. Their next game is Northumberland away on the 24th May.