Jake Perry looks ahead to the first round of matches in the Women’s Premier League this weekend.
As Scotland take to the field for the first of their T20Is against Ireland today, the opening round of the Women’s Premier League will be getting underway back in Edinburgh. Ongoing Level 3 restrictions in Glasgow have forced the postponement of McCrea West of Scotland’s match with Dumfries and Galloway, but the two remaining fixtures are sure to provide an exciting start to the season nonetheless.
At Craiglockhart, Emily Tucker will be looking to continue the prolific form she has shown for the Eastern Knights Under-18s when George Watson’s College take on Royal High Corstorphine. After an innings of 34 against the Western Warriors a fortnight ago, the GWC opener scored a 67-ball 61 in the Knights’ victory over the Caledonian Highlanders last weekend, and her contribution will again be central as both teams look to end the season a place higher than the runners-up spot they shared with Carlton and WoS last time out.
Another player to enjoy a successful Sunday was Hannah Rainey, who continued her comeback from a patella injury with a hat-trick in Carlton’s pre-season win over Edinburgh University. It’s been a difficult few months for the Scotland seamer, but after a long winter of rehabilitation she is delighted to be finally moving in the right direction.
“I’ve been on and off injured for two years, which has been really frustrating, but I started on a new programme of tendon rehab with Sport Scotland about three months ago, and as I’ve been going through that I’ve been increasing what I’ve been doing and it’s been going all right,” she said. “About eight weeks ago I started running again, and over the last four or five weeks I’ve started to bowl, beginning with walk-throughs, then jump-throughs and then eventually on to jog-throughs. I’m now bowling at about seventy percent, I would say.”
“The hat-trick came in my first game back bowling,” she smiled. “I hadn’t bowled in a match for so long and I felt like I didn’t yet have enough overs under my belt, but it came out well and it was nice to be back in rhythm. It was a confidence boost that showed me I’m maybe not as far behind as I thought.”
Hannah’s Carlton team-mates travel to Myreside to face a newly-combined Watsonians/Grange eleven which will be keen to make an early statement against one of the more established names in the women’s game. But the Scottish Cup holders have ambitions of their own to fulfil, as skipper Annette Aitken-Drummond makes clear.
“We want to win the league this season,” she said. “We haven’t won it since [the year of its inception as a four-team competition in 2017], so that is our aim, definitely. We’ve been training pretty hard for it, and we can see the improvement in the squad already. [Scotland Assistant Coach] Peter Ross has joined us as Head Coach this year, and having his experience and that level of coaching has really helped us.”
Central to Carlton’s plans is a core of cricketers which blends both youth and experience.
“You could say that we’ve got three sets of players,” said Annette. “There are some really good youngsters like Maisie Maceira and Zaara Dancu, who are in the regional set-up as well. We also have some Wildcats, who we are hoping can play the majority of games this season – Abbi [Aitken-Drummond], Sammy [Haggo], Hannah and Charis [Scott] – which brings some really good experience to the squad.“
“Some of the other players have mentioned how much having them around helps them, to see the level they’re at and the things they do that they’d maybe not thought about before.“
“And watch out for a couple of the ‘old bats’, as they affectionately call themselves – Sarah Beith and Leanne Farmer, and also Amelia Beattie, who’s been a stalwart of the Carlton side for many years. So we’ve got the young, the old and the Wildcats!” she laughed. “It’s a good mix, and it’s been really good fun at training.”
“We’ve played a few friendly and intra-club matches and then we have another game against Edinburgh Uni this Friday, so we’ll have had a few games to get to know the new players and see what they can do.”
“We’re just excited to finally be able to play our first game of the season.”
Women’s Premier League – 25 May 2021:
West of Scotland v Dumfries and Galloway (at Hamilton Crescent) – Match Postponed
Watsonians/Grange v Carlton (at Myreside)
George Watson’s College v Royal High Corstorphine (at Craiglockhart)
Jake Perry is the author of The Secret Game
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