Jake Perry reports
Wildcats ‘A’ missed the opportunity to all but secure top spot in Division 3 North after defeat to rivals Durham at Gala CC.
Durham 223-5 (R Hopkins 44, L Wilkinson 2 for 33) beat Wildcats ‘A’ 131 (S Bryce 28, H Falla 3 for 17) by 92 runs
Wildcats ‘A’ Head Coach Steve Knox was left to reflect on a below-par performance from his side as Durham claimed a 92-run win in their ECB Division 3 North encounter at Gala CC. The host’s inconsistency proved costly as the visitors exacted revenge for their eight-wicket defeat earlier in the campaign by ending the Wildcats’ unbeaten league run in emphatic style.
Speaking immediately after the game, the Head Coach gave his assessment of what had been a disappointing afternoon.
“We were very definitely second best today,” he said. “From the off I thought we were scrappy and a bit sloppy. We didn’t bowl the ball in the right place anywhere near enough and they were good enough to cash in on that and get a decent total.
“Individually we had some good performances but at no stage did we have good partnerships with the ball or bat to let us impose ourselves on the game. To be fair that’s exactly what the girls have just said. They felt they were below par today and that was exactly right.”
The Wildcats’ victory in the opening match of the season had turned this into a must-win game for the visitors, and the Durham openers made their intentions plain from the outset as Laura Hockaday took two boundaries off Caitlin Ormiston’s first over. Lois Wilkinson and Katie McGill maintained a good line for the Scots, though, and with McGill beating the bat twice in the early exchanges the total was limited to 44-0 after ten nip-and-tuck overs.
The bowling side’s efforts were rewarded with a breakthrough in the 16th when Hockaday’s missed sweep saw her stumped for 26 off the bowling of Wilkinson. Rachel Scholes watched Laura Hopkins’ leading edge drop just short of wicketkeeper Sarah Bryce as pressure on the batsmen continued to build, and when Wilkinson claimed her second as Layla Tipton (36) edged behind, momentum was with the Wildcats.
From a precarious 72-2 Hopkins and Ami Campbell began to rebuild the innings, however. Their patient partnership took Durham beyond the hundred mark, and by the time Campbell (39) holed out to McGill in the 36th the visitors were well set at 143-3.
McGill’s well-taken catch had given Caitlin Ormiston a wicket on her home ground as she came back well from her difficult start, and the young Gala bowler added a second in the 42nd when visiting captain Becky Glen (22) was trapped in front. Hopkins and new partner Laura Ellison took Durham past 200, however, and although Hopkins (44) chopped on to give McGill deserved reward after another good display, Ellison (24*) remained unbeaten to steer the visitors to a good final total.
Wildcats openers Lorna Jack and Sarah Bryce began the chase watchfully, working the ball for ones and twos whilst waiting for the loose delivery, and when Jenny McDowell dropped short Bryce duly latched on with a pull shot to the rope. McDowell nearly had her revenge two balls later, however, as she found Bryce’s edge only to see the low chance put down at first slip.
With Bryce looking ominous once again it was a miss which could have proved costly, but as the opening pair threatened to break loose three quick wickets swung the momentum decisively in favour of the English County. Bailey Wanless found Jack’s leading edge to send the Wildcats’ captain on her way for 11 before Bryce (28) was stumped off Rachael Petherick, and with Rachel Scholes (5) chipping the slow left-armer to mid-off soon after, 33-0 had become 46-3. It was a position from which the chasing side would not recover.
Lois Wilkinson (20) played some good-looking shots as she looked to mount a fightback, but her departure amid another flurry of wickets was an ominous sign for the Wildcats’ chances. Despite Katie McGill’s battling 27, the lack of experience in the home batting line-up was exposed as the Wildcats innings petered out to 131, Hayley Falla taking 3 for 17 as the tail was quickly mopped up.
Division 3 concludes next weekend with a double-header in Dumfries as Wildcats ‘A’ take on Northumberland on May 27th and Cumbria on May 28th.
“We are still very much in this,” said Steve Knox. “I’m not sure of the exact situation with bonus points and so on but ourselves and Durham are now very close together.
“We have to go out and get as close to maximum points as we can in our remaining games and then see where that takes us.”
“We were pretty disappointed in our performance today so we’ll be looking to bounce back,” added captain Lorna Jack. “There are two tough games of cricket coming up next weekend but we are all up for it.
“We’re very much looking forward to the challenge. Although today wasn’t to be, hopefully next time out we can show the West Coasters what we can do.”
Jake Perry is a cricket writer based in Scotland.