MATCH REPORT: Durham End Wildcats Unbeaten Run to take ECB Division 3 To The Wire

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.

Twitter: @jperry_cricket / Facebook: Jake Perry Cricket

MATCH REPORT: Worcestershire Beat Shropshire

Richard Clark in Kidderminster

This is an intriguing season for Worcestershire, who last season achieved the notable distinction of suffering relegation to Division 3 in 50 over cricket, whilst simultaneously earning T20 promotion to Division 1.

Thus far the county has made good strides towards the aim of regaining their second tier Championship place, and that continued with a third win from four games in glorious Kidderminster sunshine against Shropshire on Sunday.

In the end it was a comfortable – but not flawless – victory by 114 runs, built on a textbook batting performance. Electing to bat after winning the toss, the Pears got off to a solid start. But the loss in quick succession of Chloe Hill and captain Lauren Rowles left them 62 for 3 in the 19th over and needing a partnership.

It came from Clare Boycott (53) and Issy Wong (49), who bedded themselves in before beginning the acceleration as the third 50 came in just seven overs. Rachel Howells continued the good work alongside first Wong and then Ellie Fleck, whilst Emily Arlott contributed 14 off ten balls at the end.

Seven fours off the final 14 balls of the innings helped Worcestershire to an imposing 249-6 (their fifth highest Championship score), with the impressive Howells finishing 64 not out from 54 balls. It had been a perfectly-paced innings, showing the value of wickets in hand allowing batsmen to “catch up” after a patient start. Worcestershire had been 81-3 at halfway.

It felt like enough, and perhaps Worcestershire thought that too as they helped Shropshire along in the early overs with some wayward bowling, allowing the visitors to keep ahead of the required rate largely through the wides column.

Ashleigh Heath played a decent hand with 32 but partners came and went at the other end and although it wasn’t until the 29th over that Shropshire’s “worm” dipped below that of their opponents, and by that stage they were seven wickets down and fighting a lost cause.

Off-spinner Izzy Watson was chief tormentor, rattling through the middle order as she had done against Leicestershire a week earlier, adding 5-29 to her 6-21 from that match, whilst Wong showed good pace in conceding just 12 runs in her seven overs.

For the visitors, Zoe Griffiths and Jordi Matthews deserved credit as they dug in for the ninth wicket, Griffiths ending as second-highest scorer with 18, but Shropshire were never able to lift the rate to any extent once Worcestershire tightened up their bowling, and were eventually bowled out for 135 in the 37th over.

Worcestershire will be happy with the win, which moves them to the top of Group E, but will know that such profligacy with the ball could cost them against the tougher challenges of Staffordshire and Leicestershire next weekend.

Follow Richard Clark on Twitter @glassboy68

DEBRIEF: Women’s County Championship Div 2 – Essex Upset Sussex Bandwagon

Team Played Won Lost Cancelled Points
Essex 4 3 0 1 16.33
Sussex 4 3 1 0 15
Surrey 4 3 1 0 14
Berkshire 4 2 1 1 12
Wales 4 2 2 0 11.75
Devon 4 2 2 0 11.75
Derbyshire 4 0 4 0 4.75
Northamptonshire 4 0 4 0 4.75

The problem with having lots of England players is that when they are away on international duty you are suddenly a very different team, as Sussex discovered against Essex this weekend in Div 2 of the Women’s County Championship. Without Sarah Taylor, Georgia Elwiss or Danni Wyatt, Sussex were bowled out for 114 after Essex had posted 159-9.

Lauren Bell (36) dug Berkshire out of a horrible hole (again!) against Surrey – from 56-5 they recovered to post 149-9; but Surrey cruised to victory thanks to half-centuries from Kirstie White (58) and Aylish Cranstone (52).

For Wales, Rachel Priest smacked fifteen 4s and one 6, for 88 off 82 balls, as they put Derbyshire to the sword at Panteg CC.

Finally, down in Exeter, Devon had a bit of a scare after being bowled out for 129 against Northants; but were rescued by Felicity Leydon-Davis, who took 5-8 in just 4 overs as Northants were bowled out for 88.

Sussex’s defeat has blown the promotion race wide open. Essex play Derbyshire and Wales next weekend, and two wins would put them in a very strong position, with everyone else having already lost at least one game; whilst Berkshire will be looking try to post maximum bonus points against the bottom two sides, as they look to get things back on track before hosting Sussex in their final match the week after, which could end up in effect being a play-off.

DEBRIEF: Women’s County Championship Div 1 – Hampshire Roll On

Team Played Won Lost Tied Points
Hampshire 4 4 0 0 17.25
Yorkshire 4 3 1 0 13.75
Kent 4 2 2 0 11.5
Lancashire 4 2 2 0 11
Middlesex 4 2 2 0 10.5
Nottinghamshire 4 1 2 1 9.75
Warwickshire 4 0 2 2 8.5
Somerset 4 0 3 1 6

Hampshire consolidated their position at the top of the Women’s County Championship – beating Kent by 3 wickets, with just 4 balls to spare, thanks to a hard-run half-century from opener Charlie Dean (70) and a critical late cameo from Charlotte Edwards (25*).

Yorkshire move up to 2nd, after beating Lancashire in the Battle of the Roses at Bamford Fieldhouse in Rochdale. Jess Watson and New Zealand’s Leigh Kasperek both made half centuries as Yorkshire posted 226-7. In reply, Emma Lamb hit 78 off 72 balls for Lancs, but no one else could quite keep up the pace, and Lancashire ultimately found themselves 12 runs short at the close.

Warwickshire were involved in a rare tie for the second(!) time this season, this time against Notts. Kirstie Gordon took a senior-level career-best 5-18 to bowl Warwickshire out for 160, but despite a solid-enough start (61 for the 1st wicket) Notts never got out of 2nd gear, batting through the 50 overs to finish on 160-7.

At the foot of the table, Somerset’s winless season continued against Middlesex. Maia Bouchier, coming in at 6, hit 76 off 82 balls to take Middlesex to maximum batting-points with 212; before spinner Emma Albery took 4-19 to bowl out Somerset for 149.

Next weekend’s Bank Holiday double-header could see the Championship pretty-much decided, with Hampshire visiting 2nd-placed Yorkshire on the Sunday and reigning champions Lancashire on the Monday. Meanwhile Warwickshire, who desperately need a win to lift them out of the relegation zone, host Kent and Middlesex at Edgbaston.

MATCH REPORT: Hampshire Roll On As Kent Get Lost In Forest Of Dean

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Dean produced a masterclass of patience and composure, batting through 49 overs for 73 runs – all but 4 of them “run” – as Hampshire beat Kent at Andover.

With Hampshire chasing 148, Dean opened the batting and soon found herself speed-dating partners out in the middle, as Grace Gibbs removed Ariana Dowse and Ella Chandler cheaply, albeit the latter to an LBW decision that looked about as plumb as an orange.

Emily Windsor (15) kept Dean company for a while, and was the only other top-order batsman to make it to double figures as Hampshire wobbled to 92-6.

It is in situations like this when you might find yourself wishing that your No. 8 was one of the greatest batsmen ever to have played the game… so it was particularly fortunate for Hampshire that their No. 8 was one of the greatest batsmen ever to have played the game!

Charlotte Edwards’ knees might be suffering through every run, but she still knows how to hit a cricket ball, and she and Dean slowly edged their way towards the target, before Dean got a bit too excited on the final ball of the penultimate over, driving Alice Davidson-Richards to Grace Gibbs at cover, with just 4 more required.

The batsmen having crossed, this left Danielle Ransley facing the first ball of the final over – she prodded it straight to mid off, but ran anyway. A direct hit would have run her out, but the throw missed and Edwards swept the next delivery to the boundary to bring up Hampshire’s 4th straight win of 2018.

Earlier, Kent had got off to a good start, with Phoebe Franklin and Chelsey Rowson putting on fifty for the first wicket, with a helping hand from the extras column as a few leg side deliveries from the Hampshire quicks disappeared down the hill to the boundary.

But Kent never quite capitalised on the start they had made and were ultimately bowled out in the 48th over for 148, with Providence Cowdrill taking 3-13 for Hampshire; and Katie George also getting 2-in-2 in her second spell.

The result keeps Hampshire top of Div 1, but the real test comes next weekend when they visit Lancashire and Yorkshire, where the title may well be decided.

INTERVIEW: Mark Robinson On The Summer Ahead And The Count-Down To The World Twenty20

Ahead of this summer’s busy international programme, England are amidst a weekend of warm-up matches against boys teams: yesterday, a T20 against Bedes School 1st XI, and today, a 50-over fixture against the Sussex Academy.

For coach Mark Robinson, who spoke to CRICKETher after yesterday’s match at Bedes, this is vital match practice in the build-up to the international summer.

“We’re desperate to play some Twenty20 games ahead of the World Cup,” he says, “and with the 50-over series coming up against South Africa we’re trying to combine the two.”

The advantage of playing against these boys teams is that: “You get a bit of pace on the ball.” More importantly, he says it is crucial for England to play together against a different and unknown opposition:

“We play against each other and use the England Academy girls, which isn’t quite the same because you know each other.

“So to come and play an opposition where you don’t know who they are, what they’re going to do, how to problem solve, especially in a T20 game where you have to problem solve very very quickly, work out the wicket – that’s the learning that you want.”

He acknowledges that the clash with today’s round of County Championship fixtures is “not ideal” but stresses that a number of the squad have been released to play county today, including the star of yesterday’s match Amy Jones (for Warwickshire).

Robinson speaks positively about Jones’ start to the season – including a score of 68 for Warwickshire in the Women’s County Championship – and says that since the team returned from India she has “hit the ground running and played outstandingly well.”

He selected her to open the batting yesterday in the absence of Danni Wyatt, who is in India for the one-off IPL-style Women’s T20 Challenge. He hopes that for Wyatt, the opportunity to perform on the big stage will allow her to recover from a slow start to the county season: “It’s good for her ego!” he says with a smile. “She likes the big occasions – playing in front of a crowd on a good wicket.”

Jones, meanwhile, repaid the faith shown in her by Robinson handsomely. She was the key contributor to England’s clinical 51-run victory yesterday against the school side, hitting 76 of their 179-run total and keeping wicket in her usual tidy fashion, including a catch and a stumping.

It will be interesting to see whether Robinson finds a place for her in the forthcoming international fixtures – all of which will be challenging.

“On paper New Zealand are the bigger threat, but South Africa have got players who can win games by themselves,” acknowledges Robinson. “It’s a really good summer because anything can happen. None of the games you can take for granted.”

Ahead of the World Twenty20 in November, he is also hoping that the ECB can arrange some further warm-up T20s out in the UAE, against a different international side. “We’re trying to fill the gap,” he says. “Plan C is being in a tent at Loughborough!”

DEBRIEF: Women’s County Championship Div 2 – Sussex Ex Machina

Team Played Won Lost Cancelled Points
Sussex 3 3 0 0 18
Berkshire 2 2 0 1 17
Essex 2 2 0 1 16
Surrey 3 2 1 0 12.7
Devon 3 1 2 0 10.3
Wales 3 1 2 0 9.7
Derbyshire 3 0 3 0 4.7
Northamptonshire 3 0 3 0 4

At the top of Div 2, Sussex kept up their perfect record, taking maximum bonus points as they thrashed Surrey at Reeds.

With Berskhire v Essex cancelled due to a waterlogged pitch at Billericay, Berskhire go 2nd and Essex 3rd, thanks to the average points system which means cancelled matches don’t count! In theory this game can be rescheduled; but in practice the risk of dropping points which are now effectively “in the bag” means it probably won’t be!

Devon and Wales both picked up their first wins of the season. Felicity Leydon-Davis made 91* and also took 2-9 as Devon beat Derbyshire by 82 runs; whilst for Wales, Gabby Basketter top scored with 45 and picked up a couple of wickets as they scored a 53-run win over Northants.

It looks increasingly clear that the big battle in Div 2 will be the fight for the second promotion spot behind Sussex, which could be effectively decided next weekend when Berkshire play Surrey at North Maidenhead, whilst Sussex host Essex in Brighton.