Jake Perry reports
Stormers 243 (L Jack 66, H Rainey 3 for 34) beat Eagles 148 (S Bryce 73, R Scholes 4 for 14) by 95 runs
The summer of women’s cricket got underway with an emphatic victory for the Stormers in the opening match of the Cricket Scotland Regional Series at Raeburn Place. Despite a defiant 73 from Eagles opener Sarah Bryce, Stormers captain Lorna Jack’s decisive hand in partnerships of 60 and 97 proved to be the difference as the side from the West, North and Borders secured a 95 run win in the only fifty over match of the competition.
Batting first after winning the toss, the Stormers opening pair of Jack and Rachel Scholes made a brisk start, with Scholes’ wristy flick through mid-off bringing the first boundary of the innings. Jack was soon into her stride, too, as the pair made the most of an excellent batting surface to take the total to 60 in untroubled style.
It was going to take something special to make the breakthrough, and it duly arrived in the form of Kitty Levinson’s pick-up and throw from the boundary to run Scholes out for 26. Emily Cavender (12) quickly followed, stumped by Sarah Bryce to give thirteen-year-old spinner Katherine Fraser a wicket with her first delivery, and when Becky Glen (3) was also run out by the powerful arm of Levinson the Stormers suddenly found themselves on the back foot at 97-3.
Jack and Priyanaz Chatterji settled any nerves, however, with what turned out to be the highest partnership of the match. The Stormers captain reached a 57-ball half century with her fifth four as the Scotland duo kept up the run-rate with some powerful hitting, and as the total approached 200 the game was slipping away from the bowling side for a second time in the day.
At the crucial time the Eagles found the breakthrough, though, as Jack (66) was trapped in front by Caitlin Ormiston, and when Chatterji (47) presented the Gala bowler with a second wicket in her next over, mistiming a pull to Ruth Foulds at midwicket, the bowling side had given themselves a chance once more. Led by Hannah Rainey (3-34) and Katherine Fraser (3-53) the final five Stormers wickets fell for just 42 as their total was limited to 243.
Despite the frustration of a high number of extras, the Eagles bowlers had stuck to their task well on a pitch that offered little assistance to them. Fraser bowled with particular maturity, varying her length and flight beautifully to add the wickets of Ellen Watson and Abtaha Maqsood to that of Cavender. Demonstrating very good control, a nice range of variations and evident confidence in delivering them, the young off-spinner looks to be an outstanding prospect for the future.
Although the runs required were fewer than had looked likely with Jack and Chatterji at the crease the Eagles were still faced with an imposing task, and the chase began with an immediate statement of intent from Sarah Bryce as she cracked the first ball through the covers for four. Fresh from her winter in Australia the Scotland wicketkeeper looked in terrific form, but as the innings unfolded the lack of a lasting partnership meant that the Stormers total was never seriously threatened.
The loss of Riti Patel (4), Kitty Levinson (8) and Katie McGill (1) reduced the batting side to 61-3, and although Bryce brought up her fifty with a single in the 24th over the dismissal of Ruth Foulds (7) next ball put the Eagles into further trouble at 93-4.
Tight bowling from the spinners kept the pressure up, and after Bryce (73) was finally out in the 38th the last two wickets followed quickly, Rachel Scholes taking 4 for 14 as the victory was confirmed.
The Regional Series continues with six Twenty20 matches over the summer, beginning with a double-header at Rossie Priory on June 3. At the start of a big year for Scotland’s Women, particularly in T20, it is another opportunity for players to put themselves into contention for national selection.
“We’re hoping that the competition will provide a platform for the strongest players in the country to exhibit their skills and we can hopefully build a bit of an identity as well,” said National Head Coach Steve Knox.
“We’ve only got the two teams this year but we’re hoping that that will expand over the next two years into a three-team competition which will provide the foundation for everything that happens over and above that.
“It’s a great opportunity for our best players to pit their skills against each other. This is another big season for us and I’m very excited about what is to come.”
Report from Cricket Scotland
Jake Perry is a cricket writer based in Scotland.