As England discovered in 2014, going pro doesn’t make you better overnight – all it does it place the spotlight firmly on your performances, and my goodness, do you feel it. It’s fair to say that Naomi Dattani’s first outing as a professional cricketer didn’t quite go to plan – caught behind for a four-ball duck as Rhianna Southby dived in one direction while Dattani’s bat went flying in another. Fellow pro Amara Carr also departed cheaply, while even Cordelia Griffith spent a couple of overs poking around before she finally found her mojo to top score for Middlesex. An inauspicious beginning for the new “domestic pro era”, perhaps, but there’ll be more – and better – to come.
The theme of the day was, unsurprisingly given that most of these players have barely touched a cricket ball in anger in 10 months, rustiness. That largely manifested itself in some poorly-judged running between the wickets – including not seizing the day when runs were there for the taking. There was also a frankly bizarre turn of events whereby Middlesex’s Ollie Rae started to walk off the pitch, thinking she’d been caught out of her ground by Southby, but had to be summoned back after the umpire informed her that the bails had actually been dislodged by a rogue glove instead of the ball. Ah, cricket, how we’ve missed you.
Lower Order’s Time to Shine
Asked in the Zoom press conference about the most satisfying moment of today’s match, Surrey captain Hannah Jones pointed to the dismissal of Griffith in the ninth over. “It’s been a long time [in lockdown] to think about setting fields, and to think about hypothetical situations,” she said. “So when it went down Amy Gordon’s throat at deep midwicket it was very nice for a plan to finally come together, not just be drawn on a whiteboard.”
If Surrey thought they’d done the hard yards by dismissing Griffith, though, they were in for a shock: it was number 6 Gayatri Gole who stole the show, finishing with a quick-fire 28* (24 balls) and taking the 15th and 19th overs for 13 and 11 runs respectively – you can see the impact in the innings “worm”.
Similarly, it was Surrey’s number 7 Kira Chathli (28* off 23) who rescued Surrey’s own worm, after the home side were left 60-5 in the 13th needing 8.5 runs an over for victory. To ramp Dattani over your head for four not once but twice in blasé fashion is one way of showing the big guns at the top of the order how it’s done. “Those are my shots. I’m pretty confident playing them. They didn’t change the field so it’s going straight in the same place!” Chathli told us after the match.
In our match preview video we speculated that Surrey would sorely miss their “big name” players – Nat Sciver, Bryony Smith and Sophia Dunkley – who are all elsewhere training in the “England bubble”. Apparently not!
We’re Back, Baby
Two years ago, on a sunny May evening at Guildford, Syd and I were pretty much the only non-parent spectators present at that year’s London Cup fixture. This time around the match may have been played “behind closed doors” but, incredibly, the Facebook and Surrey CCC live streams attracted over 1000 viewers. Kudos to Surrey, who not only made this match happen but also invested in a multi-camera streaming set-up which will have made a huge difference to the quality of the experience for those watching at home.
Women’s cricket is back, and we couldn’t be happier!