Ahead of the final round of matches this weekend, Jake Perry looks back over what has been a fascinating Cricket Scotland Women’s Premier League.
The Cricket Scotland Women’s Premier League draws to a close this Sunday with the final round of matches in what has been an exhilarating season. After Carlton took a massive step towards the title last weekend, the remaining teams in the competition will all be looking for a strong finish before attention turns to the Beyond Boundaries Scottish Cup next month.
Royal High Corstorphine entertain a Stewart’s Melville side that stayed in contention to the very last. Defeat at Hamilton Crescent finally ended their hopes of three-in-a-row, but Catherine Holland’s team can still be proud of the challenge they mounted and the quality of the individual contributions within it. The young skipper, with four wickets to go with her 138 runs, has provided an excellent foil to opening partner Emma Walsingham, whose feats with the bat have left her with an opportunity to finish the campaign at the top of the averages. The consecutive ducks that followed her blistering century against George Watson’s College notwithstanding – the cricketing gods can be relied upon to keep the best of batters grounded – her 189 runs at an average of just under 38, often scored against international bowlers at the top of the innings, is a return to be proud of either way. Along with Katherine Fraser and the all-round powerhouse that is Katie McGill, Molly Paton has also shone with the ball, taking eight wickets at 5.25, while Jenny Ballantyne, Iona Lowry and Chloe Kiely are amongst those that have caught the eye too in what has been another balanced and well-coached Stew-Mel side.
For RHC, as well, it has been a case of so near, and yet so far. Table-toppers after Round Two, Megan Taylor’s team never quite got going again after losing to Dumfries & Galloway in Week Three, an agonisingly close loss to West of Scotland in Week Four compounding their dismay. They bowled themselves into a good position against Carlton last weekend, too, reducing them to 34 for 4, but wickets at crucial moments in the chase saw them fall 24 runs short at the end. With 55 in that game, opener Riti Patel joined Kitty Levenson and Ikra Farooq as one of the team’s three half-centurions, and with wickets shared amongst a good number of their bowlers – Taylor herself not least amongst them – RHC will be looking for a morale-boosting win to set up what is sure to be a determined cup campaign.
The most frustrating story of the last few weeks has been that of West of Scotland, forced to postpone their first two games by ongoing COVID restrictions in Glasgow. With the Super Series beginning next week, whether those missed matches can now be made up is unclear, but the Hamilton Crescent side has played some brilliant cricket nonetheless, not least in the win over RHC at New Williamfield. Nayma Shaikh starred in that particular encounter, while in Sophie Trickett, Neha Mahatma, Faatima Gardee and Anne Sturgess, the team has more exceptional young talent on which to draw. Scotland stars Ellen Watson and Abtaha Maqsood have shown their influence both on and off the field, while skipper Charlotte Dalton-Howells has led by example, exuding a calm authority. Whichever way the league season ends up, West is a first-rate outfit, and they will certainly be ones to watch in August.
Their opponents at Myreside are Watsonians/Grange, who recovered from their opening-day mauling from Carlton to post wins against Stew-Mel and George Watson’s College. While the part played by Becky Glen, Megan McColl and Priyanaz Chatterji has been significant, Niamh Robertson-Jack and Catherine Edwards have both underlined their burgeoning talent, and the delight with which the whole team greeted its maiden win at Inverleith was a pleasure to see. It has been a good first season for this new collaboration – the hope for both clubs will be that they can field separate sides in the not-too-distant future.
The final game of the round sees George Watson’s College take on Dumfries & Galloway, with the home side still looking for their first win of what has been a challenging campaign. The only team without any international players in its ranks, GWC has nevertheless produced some very good individual performances, underlining the production line of talent for which the school is rightly famous. It’s been a tough season for the division’s youngest side, but with Emily Tucker, Nina Whitaker, Cara Scott and others, they have plenty of cause for optimism for the future.
Their final-day opponents will be looking for a top-half finish after a campaign which has brought them two wins and two losses so far. In Orla Montgomery and Niamh Muir, Dumfries & Galloway boast two of Scotland’s brightest young prospects, while Lorna Jack, Rosy Ryan and Sue Strachan have all stepped up when needed, too. There have been other highlights as well, Fiona Ramsay’s RHC-taming 4 for 10 and the down-to-the-wire nail-biter that went just the other way at Inverleith chief amongst them. But in the pace of the fit-again Montgomery, D&G has a definite ‘x’ factor – there won’t be many looking forward to facing her when club cricket resumes again.
All told, it’s been a fascinating few weeks which have underlined both the talent and the spirit within the Scottish game. We’re now just a few weekends away from the start of the Beyond Boundaries Scottish Cup: if what we have seen in the Women’s Premier League is anything to go by, there will be plenty of teams that will fancy their chances.
Women’s Premier League – 4 July 2021
George Watson’s College v Dumfries and Galloway (at Craiglockhart)
Watsonians/Grange v West of Scotland (at Myreside)
Royal High Corstorphine v Stewart’s Melville (at Barnton)
Jake Perry is the author of The Secret Game
The Cricket Scotland Podcast will include a round-up of the men’s and women’s league action from across the country every Tuesday, with player interviews from our featured games. Follow @ScotlandPod on Twitter for all the latest information.