Martin Saxon reports from the Cheshire Women’s League Finals Day.
T20 Divisional Competition Final:
Appleton Tigers 94-6 (20; Emma Barlow 25ret, Lorna Starkey 2-13)
Chester Boughton Hall Deemons 96-5 (19.3; Starkey 25ret, Sammi Short 25ret, Kathryn Jackson 2-23)
The Cheshire Women’s League has been holding double-header Finals Days ever since 2008, but today went one better and staged three finals on the same pitch on the same day. The best was certainly saved for last as Western Division T20 champions Chester Boughton Hall sneaked past the target set by Eastern Division winners Appleton with just three balls to spare.
It was 13 year old Hannah Snape who finished the job by lofting experienced Appleton captain Nathalie Long to the midwicket boundary with both the second and third balls of the final over.
Appleton certainly posted a more than decent total batting first, with Emma Barlow getting them off to a good start, and Laura Jackson and Kathryn Jackson adding vital impetus later on.
Lorna Starkey got Chester off to a good start, and when she reached the retirement score of 25, she had scored almost all of the 30 runs that came in the first seven overs. But when two dangerous batsmen in Kate Coppack and Lauren O’Reilly fell cheaply, Appleton looked to be favourites.
Sammi Short, who had played second fiddle to the big hitters earlier on, then took charge and herself reached 25 before being forced to retire – by that stage she had reduced the runs required to single figures. Given that Short had earlier bowled three overs for just three runs, this was another young talent who played a significant part in the Deemons’ victory.
However, two wickets fell to run outs as the pressure mounted, Laura Jackson came back to bowl more miserly overs, and with the lower order at the crease and seven required from five balls, would Chester get over the line? Thanks to Snape’s final flourish the answer was a decisive Yes.
Chester and Appleton have of course met in finals on a number of previous occasions, and given the recent results in those matches, it was no surprise this went right to the wire. Only the first two resulted in decisive wins, and all the others have been genuine nailbiters:
2007 – Knockout Final – Chester won by 97 runs
2008 – Knockout Final – Chester won by 9 wickets
2010 – Knockout Final – Appleton won by 1 run
2010 – T20 Divisional Final – Appleton won by 5 wickets with 1 ball to spare
2012 – T20 Divisional Final – Chester won on faster run rate, after being 1 run ahead of where they needed to be when rain halted play
Senior Knockout Cup Final:
Oakmere Kats 34 (15.2; Lauren Smith 2-8, Hannah Jones 2-10)
Didsbury Swordettes 35-1 (8.5; Smith 17*)
Didsbury have made some formidable totals in T20 cricket this season while batting first, but here the job was all but done in the first eight overs of their bowling innings, as Oakmere imploded.
By the time Hannah Jones and Lauren Smith had taken their caps, having bowled unchanged for four overs each as the opening pair, Oakmere were 19-8. The two young Lancashire spinners had undoubtedly bowled well, with figures of 2-10 and 2-8 respectively, but Oakmere certainly contributed to their own downfall with four run outs.
Australia A all-rounder Smith then hit some fine shots to ensure the Swordettes’ brief run chase was successful.
Development Knockout Cup Final:
Leigh Lionesses 96-5 (20; Georgia Taylor 25ret, Emily Mason 3-9)
Bredbury Saints 73-6 (20; Alex Wilson 26ret, Sarah Perry 3-14)
Division three leaders Leigh retained the Development Cup – the knockout competition exclusively for teams from that division.
The only two experienced players in a very young Leigh side – Nicky Deane and Sarah Perry – fell cheaply, but from 24-3, Georgia Taylor and Rachel Downs batted superbly, rotating the strike well and running well between the wickets, to ensure Bredbury would need almost 100 to win. Emily Mason contributed excellent figures of 3-9 and Alex Wilson conceded just 11 in her four overs.
Abi Barlow and Wilson took the Saints to 28-0 after five overs, but once the first wicket had fallen, things turned Leigh’s way. Perry’s bowling spell then snuffed out any remaining threat from the Stockport side.
The League extends its thanks to Finals Day hosts Timperley CC and umpires Keith Wells, Steve Jackson and Graham Pugh, the last two of which were on the ground from 9.30am, an hour before the first match, until the close of the last match after 7pm.
Very few women’s club leagues offer this type of cup final experience. However the heart-stopping finale to Chester’s T20 Divisional triumph illustrated just how entertaining a Finals Day can be.