Berkshire’s Carla Rudd starred with the bat as the Beavers beat Sussex by 34 runs at North Maidenhead to ensure their survival in Division 1.
Having elected to bowl first – a decision which looked sensible to the visiting eye, but apparently left the locals raising their eyebrows – Sussex were set a total of 277 to chase, and made a strong start, as Georgias Adams (75) and Elwiss (37) and Izzy Collis (34) played positive cricket at the top of the innings, using the powerplay as a launchpad to set the visitors on course at 133-1 off the first 20 overs.
Berkshire needed some luck, and they arguably got it when Collis was inexplicably given out stumped off Linsey Smith, despite being apparently clearly back in her ground.
Smith then went on to take the wickets of Adams (caught by Fi Morris) and Danni Wyatt (caught by Heather Knight for 12) in a crucial spell which tipped the game back in Berkshire’s favour. An unbeaten 43 from Abi Freeborn proved in vain as Berkshire’s attack shared-around the 9 wickets they needed for maximum bonus points, leaving Sussex 34 short at the close, on 243-9.
But it was earlier in the day that the game had really been won, as Berkshire posted 277-6 from their 50 overs. Rachel Priest (52), Sherissa Gumbs (43) and Heather Knight (50) all contributed, but it was a marvellous 79 off 71 balls from Carla Rudd, coming in at 4 to make her highest score in senior cricket, which was the difference between the teams.
Rudd, who had shown promise as a junior but never quite “made it” as a batsman in senior cricket until today, grew in confidence as her innings progressed, finding the boundary with everything from powerful pulls through midwicket, to dinky scoops over the head of the keeper, before eventually falling to the arm of Danni Wyatt, who ran her out with a direct hit from the edge of the circle at cover.
Afterwards we spoke to Rudd, who told us how important the victory was for Berkshire:
“It was a needed win, to make sure we stay up in the 50-Over County Championship, and it was nice to get it today, so we don’t have to rely on the Kent game next week.”
Rudd partly credits her new-found form to working with former England Test batsman Jason Gallian, who is a fellow coach at Felstead School:
“I’ve spent a lot of time with Jason this winter, doing one-to-one stuff, and I feel like I’ve got a different batting mindset and a few more shots that I can use out on the wicket, so it was nice for me to finally spend a bit of time out there and get some runs on the board.”
“There was a lot of turn out there, especially later on, but once you got in the ball was coming on to the bat quite nicely, and if it was short it was sitting up and ‘holding’ so it was nice, especially playing square of the wicket.”