Martin Saxon reports
The Cheshire Women’s Cricket League and Lancashire Thunder jointly staged a ten-and-a-half hour cricket marathon at Chester Boughton Hall on Sunday, with Thunder’s match with Western Storm sandwiching the League’s four cup finals.
· Trinity outgun Appleton while Hawarden’s batting fires to see off Didsbury seconds
CWCL T20 Divisonal Competition Final:
Stockport Trinity Fire 56-5 (15; Kate Harvey 18, Olivia Horsfield 3-9) BEAT Appleton Tigers 55 (15.5; Georgia Heath 18, Emma Royle 4-7, Hannah Wicks 3-8)
Eastern Division champions Trinity impressively outperformed Western Division champions Appleton to avenge last year’s defeat to the same opposition. This is the first time since 2011 that this trophy has been won by the Stockport club.
Emma Royle flattened the off stump with only the second delivery of the match and by the time she had bowled her four overs straight through, the Tigers were reeling at 20-5 with Royle having taken four wickets for seven runs.
Georgia Heath and Abbey Gore would be the only players to reach double figures, as Hannah Wicks took three late wickets. The bowlers were backed up by some excellent ground fielding and catching and this was perhaps one of the best fielding displays I have seen from a team at this level.
Appleton naturally needed to bowl Trinity out to defend their small total and the opening overs of the reply saw the unfamiliar sight in women’s club cricket of three slips and a gully. However, the Trinity openers took few risks in the opening overs and once Carys White came in at number three, the scoring rate increased dramatically. Having been on 20 after eight overs, White’s cameo of 17 from 14 balls took the score to 46 after 11.
From 48-1 Trinity lost four wickets when in sight of victory, with Olivia Horsfield taking three of these wickets but this only served to make the match look closer than it really had been.
CWCL Development Knockout Final:
Hawarden Park 143-3 (20; Nicky Deane 25ret, Thea Murray-Williams 25ret, Rachel Warrenger 25ret, Laura Wilson 25ret, Rachel Saunders 2-34) BEAT Didsbury 2nd XI 84-5 (20; Shamaila Zaman 21)
In contrast a high scoring match was taking place at the same time on the second ground in the final of the competition for division three and four teams. Hawarden have a number of batsmen who would certainly not look out of place at a higher level and here four of those all rapidly reached the retirement score. The first wicket fell with the score on 102 in the 15th over.
Warrenger then took a wicket in the first over of the reply to make Didsbury’s task even more daunting. Although there was some cultured batting from the likes of Shamaila Zaman, Zoe Conway, Marianne Lea and Zoe Rigley, their side never threatened to chase down the large target.
· Thunder come agonisingly close to ending Storm’s unbeaten run
As the Thunder and Storm players were completing their match preparations a softball event took place on the second ground. The participants from the host club and Heaton Mersey CC and Stockport Georgians CC.
In the meantime, some spectators were amused to note that the groundstaff were bringing the boundary rope in – the international players and other professionals would have a much smaller playing area than for the match that had just taken place between two local club teams.
Kia Super League:
Western Storm 160-5 (19.5; Smriti Mandanha 72, Sophie Ecclestone 2-32) BEAT Lancashire Thunder 159-8 (20; Harmanpreet Kaur 50, Tahlia McGrath 44, Anya Shrubsole 3-36, Heather Knight 2-27)
Still without a win, can Lancashire Thunder take comfort from the fact their last two results are a tie and this narrowest of defeats to the unbeaten leaders? It’s possibly all they can do after another match that exposed their weak batting line up and one-dimensional bowling attack.
Thunder’s openers scored nine off the first three deliveries of the match from Anya Shrubsole but unfortunately the fourth and fifth deliveries both resulted in wickets.
Harmanpreet Kaur shoulders a massive burden in this team and she delivered a 36- ball innings of 50 which included six fours and two sixes. After her departure Tahlia McGrath assumed the role of senior partner, and having batted rather correctly earlier, she was just starting to unleash her range of improvised shots when she fell for 44. The highest score achieved by any of the home-grown players was just 18.
Thunder dismissed Rachel Priest relatively early, but the other half of Storm’s superb opening partnership, Smriti Mandhana, was again in imperious form, scoring 72 from 43 deliveries with nine fours and two sixes. With the captain Kate Cross being Lancashire’s only experienced seam option, she obviously felt she had no option but to bowl spinners in the powerplay. It may be fine for a spinner to take the first over when the batsmen are yet to play themselves in but asking any spinner to bowl the final powerplay over at a rampant Mandanha is a daunting task, even for a world-class one like Sophie Ecclestone. Mandanha duly scored 18 off this Ecclestone over and took her side to 57-1 off six overs and this prompted not only a perceptible loss of interest from the crowd, but it also caused Thunder’s body language to change dramatically. Western Storm duly moved on to 106-1 without alarm.
Then suddenly everything changed. Ecclestone, returning to the club where she took her first steps in senior women’s cricket back in 2012, was able to have the protection of boundary fielders and Heather Knight duly found the safe hands of Sune Luus. Two overs later, Mandanha was dismissed by Emma Lamb, and Fran Wilson and Sophie Luff soon followed.
It all came down to seven from the last over, bowled by Cross, and even though she restricted the batsmen to singles from the first three and then bowled a dot ball, Deepti Sharma hit the winning boundary off the penultimate ball. A visibly distraught Cross could barely drag herself off the field at the end.
What started as a laudable attempt to ensure the North West’s best players turned out for their local KSL team has unfortunately meant that this Thunder team will be forever worried about their brittle batting – this year’s squad appears on paper to be even weaker than in previous years. Only 104 people attended a previous Thunder match this year – surely this must be, at least in part, due to the team not being successful?
· Trinity make it a T20 double after a last over thriller, while Upton scoop further silverware in the Plate
CWCL Senior Knockout Cup Final:
Stockport Trinity Fire 100-7 (19.3; Kate Harvey 26ret, Rosie Wilson 3-15) BEAT Didsbury Swordettes 99-5 (20; Roshini Prince-Navaratnam 25ret, Laura Griffiths 25ret, Hattie Roberts 2-11)
With four finals to be played, the chances were that at least one would produce a tense finish and it proved to be this one as Stockport Trinity got home in the final over to make it a T20 double.
Three of Didsbury’s best batsmen were dismissed cheaply, two of them by Hattie Roberts, but Didsbury still had two dangerous T20 specialists in Roshini Prince-Navaratnam and Laura Griffiths, who duly got the innings back on track after coming together at 27-3.
Didsbury then lost momentum after the pair had reached 25 and been forced to retire, and the final total of 99 was not a daunting target, especially considering that the Chester ground has a great batting pitch and the boundaries remained at the shorter length used in the earlier KSL match.
Just as in their earlier successful run chase, Sarah McCann and Kate Harvey laid a good foundation with their opening stand, and when Carys White came in after the first wicket she played several fine strokes and got her team above the required rate.
However, every time it appeared someone might finish the job for Trinity, they would get out. White, Gaby McKeever and Emily Thomas all looked good for a short time but couldn’t stick it out and when Rosie Wilson delivered a double-wicket maiden in the 17th over it looked like the pendulum had swung Didsbury’s way. Trinity finally got home with three balls to spare with numbers nine and ten at the crease.
Didsbury’s first team, who are surely the only women’s club team in the country to have entered five different competitions this year, are still a good bet for silverware in the remainder of the season. They are unbeaten in Division 1 of the league’s 40 over competition and it is likely only one win from the remaining three matches will be required to clinch their first Championship title.
CWCL Senior Knockout Plate:
Upton 120-6 (20; Charlie Scudder 28ret) BEAT Stockport Georgians 82-7 (20; Maddy White 19ret, Phillipa Dagger 2-8, Hannah McGowan 2-10)
Upton’s imposing total proved too much for their fellow Division 2 side. Maddy White did her best in reply for as long as she could, thrashing three fours in the first over, but shortly after she admitted defeat with her injury, and then none of her team-mates could match her score of 19. Instead it was some excellent bowling from the likes of Phillipa Dagger, Hannah McGowan and Madi Arthur that brought the trophy home for Upton.
In the two seasons since the team was formed, the North Wirral club have now scooped three trophies, after winning Division 3 and the Development Knockout last year. This year they are still in contention for the second division title in a very tight five-horse race.
We had the good fortune to be here on Sunday, albeit only for the “main course”. I’d like to have seen the whole day but the two-hour drive each way meant her ladyship was never going to be up for it…
I think Martin is a little harsh in his assessment of Thunder, if I may say so (sorry, Martin!). The League table suggests it should have been a mis-match, and it was really anything but. Ultimately Storm deserved to win, but there wasn’t a lot between the teams at all.
Harmanpreet briefly looked as though she may do something very special, and it took a ridiculous catch by Alex Griffiths to get rid of her, initially misjudging a steepler at mid-off, back-pedalling furiously and taking it one-handed, somehow being able to prevent the ball dislodging as she hit the ground falling backwards. They say you should always watch the ball right into the hands, but I suspect the ball had to have gone beyond her vision at the moment it went into her hand.
Thunder’s home-grown batsmen may not have scored big but in mitigation the first of them (Boyce) didn’t come in until midway through the 13th over. Lamb’s 18 came off 10 balls, and Ecclestone and Cross (ok, internationals, but definitely home-grown, and neither renowned batsmen) clattered 28 off the final 16 balls. Ecclestone managed to hit Shrubsole back over not only her head but also the sightscreen for a huge six. 159 is no bad score, and meant Storm had to hit the fifth-highest successful chase in KSL records. Those three and, briefly, Threlkeld all scored at better than a run a ball.
I was surprised that McGrath didn’t bowl earlier than she did – her only over went for 15 but she might have been a better option than one of the spinners in the PP. However, when Priest and Mandhana are hitting cleanly I think it’s only fair to give them credit. It looked for a time like being a cake-walk but Thunder did well to rein things in once Knight and Mandhana were out, restricting Wilson and Luff well. It was only Sharma’s cameo that really pulled the game round for Storm in the end. There are not many better top sixes than Storm’s and if just one of them comes off they are difficult to stop – only Mandhana scored over 20 until Sharma’s winning boundary took her to 23.
Freya Davies impressed me yet again (as she did v Stars at the Oval last summer) conceding only 22 off her 4 overs, whilst the rest of the quicker bowlers went at over 10 an over between them.
With Shrubsole seemingly out of form and Brunt apparently being ‘handled with care’, England need to be eyeing up the quick cupboard. Katie Gordon has her own injury worries, Lauren Bell and the much-talked-about Issy Wong are surely not ready yet, so Davies really should have been given more opportunities. She must be in contention for the WT20 in Australia, but if she goes will only have had competitive international experience against Sri Lanka and (hopefully) Pakistan. I’m afraid that’s short-sighted on England’s part.
Finally, credit to CBH CC for a great occasion. Well organised and a good atmosphere. KSL should have featured more venues like this over the last four seasons. I know that would have hampered TV coverage at times, but the character of the women’s game is so much better suited to these grounds than Headingley, the Oval or Southampton. Or is that “small time thinking”?
LikeLiked by 1 person
Correction – it was the sixth highest successful KSL chase, not the fifth.
And to illustrate my point their batting, FIVE of those top six successful chases have been accomplished by Storm!
Great report Martin. Thanks.