By Raf Nicholson and Syd Egan
On a sunny day at Mill Hill School, Middlesex fought back from their relegation to Division 2 of the Women’s County Championship last weekend by proving their mettle as a T20 side, with convincing wins against both Sussex and Yorkshire.
The day’s real star was Sophia Dunkley who – with today’s scores of 34* and 57* topping off an incredible run of form this season – looks to be challenging for a spot in the England squad.
Middlesex v Sussex
Sussex started steadily, seeing off the initial overs by Hayley Brennan and Katie Wolfe, and reaching 29 in the first 5 overs; but their attempt to force the pace with quick singles ultimately backfired as Middlesex enacted 2 successive run-outs, including that of captain Georgia Adams (19).
The middle order then fell apart, leaving Sussex 50-5, but the away side were saved from embarrassment by no.7 Freya Davies, who with an unbeaten 27 finished as top-scorer. Aided by some wayward Middlesex bowling – including 17 wides – Sussex managed to reach 107-8.
In reply Middlesex were slow to get going and Sussex kept themselves in the game by removing openers Naomi Dattani (5) with a stonking catch by Paige Scholfield at midwicket, and Tash Miles stumped (21) thanks to a neat piece of glove work from Abi Freeborn.
But that brought Fran Wilson to the crease and she hit a quickfire 42 from 33 balls before Sophia Dunkley (34*) finished the job in the 18th over with three successive boundaries, including a six hit back over the top of Davies’ head.
Sussex v Yorkshire
Sussex fought back in the second game of the day, winning by 5 wickets thanks to a 79-run partnership between Abi Freeborn and Izzy Collis.
Opening bowlers Freya Davies and Linsey Smith put the pressure on early for Sussex, but the Yorkshire openers Jess Watson and Adrianna Darlow didn’t do anything silly and plundered 13 runs, including 3 boundaries, off the 5th over bowled by Paige Scholfield to take them to 24-0.
Watson was out well caught by Georgia Adams running back at mid on off Tara Norris for 17, and Darlow followed soon afterwards for 9, caught at point after getting a thick edge trying to pull Scholfield through midwicket.
After 10 overs Maddie Walsh and Rebecca Newark had taken Yorkshire to 54-2 and they continued to run hard between the wickets to take it to 80-2 after 15.
Walsh was eventually caught on the midwicket boundary by Scholfield for 38 off 34 balls, while Newark was stumped off Davies for 13, as Yorkshire progressed to 103-6 off the 20.
Sussex made a calamitous start to their innings, with left-armer Katie Thompson bowling Georgia Adams for a 2nd ball duck and Paige Scholfield LWB to Abi Glen for 1, leaving them 2-2 after 2!
Collis smashed Georgia Draper’s first ball for 6 over midwicket as things started to get moving for Sussex – Collis and Freeborn taking them to 56-2 after 10 overs.
Thompson returned to the attack in the 14th over to bowl Freeborn for 37 off 34 balls, leaving Sussex needing 23 off 36 balls, which Collis and Chiara Green began to proceed towards, before Collis was caught for 45 playing one leg-side heave-ho too many. Linsey Smith was then dismissed for a golden duck by Glen, who bowled out a wicket maiden to the incoming batsman Freya Davies, giving Yorkshire a glimmer of hope.
With 2 needed off the last over, Glen bowled a wide first ball and Green then stole a single to short extra cover off the second ball for the win with 4 balls to spare.
Middlesex v Yorkshire
In the final game of the day Middlesex made it 2 from 2 in a convincing 6-wicket win against Yorkshire.
Having lost the toss and been put in to bat, Yorkshire raced away to have 41 on the board at the end of the powerplay, helped by some poor fielding by Middlesex who put down a couple of chances in the infield.
Adrianna Darlow was one of those put down and went on to take full advantage, finishing as Yorkshire’s top-scorer with 26 (33 balls)
But the introduction of Bhavika Gajipra to the attack in the 11th over shifted the momentum back in Middlesex’s favour as she had Darlow caught at long on and then also accounted for Anna Nicholls and Hannah Buck, finishing with figures of 3-15.
Ultimately a couple of run outs ensured that Yorkshire only just scraped 100 from their 20 overs.
Naomi Dattani didn’t want to hang around, hitting Katie Thompson’s second ball for six over midwicket. Middlesex did have a couple of wobbles with both Fran Wilson and Beth Morgan dismissed without scoring but Sophia Dunkley was once again imperious, finishing things off in the 16th over with a straight drive to the boundary.
Afterwards Dunkley told CRICKETher that Middlesex were delighted with their start to the T20 Cup: “Especially after [relegation] last week, it was about coming out with a fresh mind and going and having fun.”
“I’ve been working hard on my T20 at the moment and it was nice to go out and bat with some freedom.”
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Dunkley must be making a case for the iT20 series at least! She could be a very useful addition I think.