Beth Smith reports from Ellesmere College
On Sunday in the latest round of county T20s, the Imps travelled across to Shropshire with their youngest side of the season so far – 5 U15 players making their Ladies’ debut. The first game for Lincolnshire was against Northumberland who they had previously lost to in the 50-over format. Captain Hayley Butts won the toss and put Northumberland in to bat.
With Sarah McDowell playing behind the stumps for the day and the regular opening bowlers not playing, Beth Smith was handed the ball for the first over. Lincs were alert in the field from the start, gaining a run-out with the first ball of the day! The second over went to one of the debutants, Sammy-Jo Boothright (1-21), who combined with another debutant, Charlotte Moore, to pick up her first senior wicket, leaving Northumberland 5-2.
The scoreboard ticked over slowly and there were some chances put down in the field by Lincs, but this altered with a catch at gully by the captain, giving Smith her first wicket of the day. A small partnership formed before quick hands by McDowell removed Sergeant off Smith’s bowling. Two more quick wickets by Smith (4-22) left the batting side 46-6 inside 10 overs.
Rachael Dyer came on and bowled very economically for no wickets (0-6), followed by U15 debutant Olivia Clark (0-5). At the other end opening U15 bowler Megan Quinlan (1-11), also making her debut, took the only other wicket to fall in Northumberland’s innings, combining with U17 Alexia Page-Graves. Northumberland ended at 93-7 so Lincs required 94 for victory.
There was a sense of de-ja-vu as Smith was caught out to only the second ball of the Imps reply. This brought Page-Graves to the middle to join U17 captain Becki Brooker. The duo had built a platform for a partnership before a ball popped, clipping the shoulder of Page-Graves’ (14) bat, giving a simple catch for the fielder at slip. McDowell (4) came to the middle and managed a boundary before being caught in front of the bat bringing Butts to the middle.
Brooker (15) looked to be in good form until she went to play across a ball that kept very low off the pitch, bringing Dyer to join Butts at the crease. The two batted well together getting ever closer to the target, but Butts was then bowled, leaving Dyer to take on the senior role, as four of the U15’s joined her one after the other in the middle. In the end it was Dyer (20*) and Boothright (7*) who saw the Imps over the line, in a game that the Imps felt was much closer than it should have been.
The parallel first game saw the hosts post 99-8 off their 20 overs. Cumbria were 46-8 after 14 overs before the heavens opened, and the rain-affected game meant Shropshire won on run rate. Lunch was taken as the rain continued to fall; this resulted in a 3hr delay before the second games could get started, and saw each match reduced to 10 overs.
In Lincolnshire’s second game, against Shropshire, Butts won the toss and elected to bat. Lincs struggled to set a target of 47-5 from their 10 overs on a pitch that could do anything at any moment, as Brooker found out when bowled first ball. Page-Graves came to join Smith at the crease with the aim to score quickly, with the game only being 10 overs. However, she swung and skied her second ball straight to a fielder leaving Lincs 3-2.
Butts (4), Smith (11) and McDowell (5) were the last three wickets to fall, leaving Dyer and debutant Hermione Baxter-Chinery to push the score as high as they could – Baxter-Chinery showing her pace to get 3 off the last ball.
Shropshire were strong in reply. The Imps managed to take 1 wicket when two of the young guns combined with Baxter-Chinery taking a high catch off Quinlan’s bowling, but Shropshire reached the target within 5 overs.
The game between Northumberland and Cumbria ended with Cumbria reaching their target of 52 in 9.1 overs for the loss of 3 wickets.
Although there was only one result going the Imps way, it is a very good sign of the talent coming through the Lincs set-up, and it will not be the last time these girls get a call-up for the Ladies. It was a very proud moment for this reporter to play alongside 5 of the girls from the junior team she manages, and she could not have been happier with the performances they each put in.
Scorecards for the above matches can be found here.