In September 2019, The Oval hosted the finals of the Kia Summer Smash – a national women’s club competition sponsored by Kia and The Cricketer magazine.
It was a fun day out for four amateur clubs from the four corners of the land. Everyone enjoyed themselves tremendously, and England captain Heather Knight popped across the river from her home in north London to present the trophy to the winning captain of Hursley Park from Hampshire – Emily Windsor, who had led the way to victory with unbeaten innings of 43* in the semi-final and 42* in the final.
One year later, all-but to the day, Emily Windsor returned to The Oval, but this time as a paid professional, representing the Southern Vipers in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy against the South East Stars. The Vipers appeared to be cruising to victory at 139-3, but two quick wickets brought Windsor and keeper Carla Rudd together on 141-5, with 87 still required from 19 overs.
For Vipers fans watching around the world on the live-stream… not to mention one Vipers fan in the ground*… these were nervous moments; but they needn’t have been – an hour or so later, Windsor walked off the pitch with 47* to her name, having hit the winning runs off Tash Farrant with 9 balls to spare. With another 40-something not out in the book, it seems The Oval really is Windsor’s Forty-fied Castle!
“When we arrived today, [fellow Hursley Park player] Charlotte Taylor and me sent a little video to the Hursley girls saying: It’s good to be back!” Windsor told us after the game. “Now I’ve got a few messages saying that I need to move to The Oval permanently because I’m still not out here!”
In the year between the Summer Smash and the RHF Trophy, Windsor has had time to work on her game and her outlook.
“I spent the winter at The Ageas working hard with Charlotte Edwards and some of the other coaches. I really simplified my game down – we talked about the tactical side and not overthinking it, because I’m quite an overthinker.”
“I also had a bit of an injury, and I think sometimes that actually helps because you have a little bit of a break away from the game.”
“I think quite a lot for me has been mindset – I know I can do it! And the games at The Oval last year really did spur me on to know that I can play at a higher level.”
Although Windsor was around the Vipers setup during the KSL, the RHF has been her first season as a regular member of a professional team.
“It was a bit daunting at first – I didn’t know these girls, or I only knew them from playing against them. But now we’re all teammates, and I just try and learn as much as I can from some great players – if I keep doing that then I’ll just keep getting better and better.”
With the Vipers top order in such fine nick, it has been hard though for the middle-order to get a look-in sometimes.
“I’ve been thinking throughout the competition that I haven’t had much opportunity, because our top order’s been absolutely fantastic, so I really wanted to take the opportunity today to prove to myself and my teammates that I deserve a place in this team; so I just went out there and played simply – watched the ball, and it came off.”
With her match-winning performance having presumably cemented that place for the final of the RHF, Windsor can now relax and relish the opportunity of getting her hands on another trophy at Edgbaston next weekend.
“I’m really really excited! We’ve gone 6 from 6 in the group stages and we’re feeling really good – hopefully we can go 7 from 7!”
* Ok… yes… it was me!