By Jake Perry
The summer may be young, but the Women’s Premier League table is already telling a story. Three teams sit with hundred per cent records after round two of the competition, including Northern Lights, who followed up their WPL-record total of 334/3 at Raeburn Place by going four better against Watsonians at Mannofield. Centuries from Ailsa Lister – off 47 balls – and Megan McColl – her second in two games – powered the Lights to a 258-run win, while Carlton’s opening pair of Abbi Aitken-Drummond and Charis Scott did the same as the champions, too, made a statement after their opening-day loss to West of Scotland.
This weekend sees West travel again to the capital, to meet also-unbeaten Stewart’s Melville at Inverleith. The Edinburgh side has had a quieter but no less emphatic start to the campaign, and after seven- and eight-wicket wins over Watsonians and RH Corstorphine – the latter despite a debut innings of 99 from Bronwyn Sumption – captain Catherine Holland is confident that it can be extended.
“We’ve had a good start,” she said. “It’s great to have [Tasmanian batter] Hannah Short back to help us develop more, individually and as a team, and I’m very pleased with where things are.”
“I’m particularly happy with our batting so far,” she went on. “In the game against RHC our top order contributed a decent amount [153/3 in 20.1 overs, chasing the home side’s 151/8], and with our bowling, some of our younger and developing Scotland players like Molly Paton have really shown that they are capable of doing well.”
After back-to-back league titles before the pandemic, a lack of consistency at crucial moments – coupled with a relentless Carlton – saw Stew-Mel finish as joint runners-up in 2021. The team’s blend of youth and experience, however, using internationals Katie McGill and Katherine Fraser in the top to middle order to support what has been a prolific opening partnership between Catherine and Emma Walsingham, brings both depth and balance to the side.
“It lets me and Emma play in the way we’ve learnt to bat together, and also be comfortable because we know that the likes of Katie, Katherine, Hannah and even some of the younger players like Molly and Jenny [Ballantyne] are ready to come in and back us up,” she said.
“Molly, who I’ve mentioned a few times, is an important player for us, and Jenny can do well with the bat as well. Bowling-wise, Chloe Kiely [also plays a key role in the team].”
Catherine’s own game continues to develop apace. On the day of our conversation, she had appeared at Grange Loan for Scottish Universities against a touring MCC side containing Kari Carswell, taking the wicket of Georgina Macey in the first over of the game. After finishing the 2021 league season with 138 runs and four wickets, Catherine is keen to see where this campaign can take her.
“I’m just looking to be as consistent as I can be across the season,” she said. “Being involved in the Super Series last year [with the Ross XI] was really good for me: it was great seeing how some of the more experienced players play, and getting to work with them and bat and bowl alongside them was an excellent experience. I’d like to be doing that again.”
Before then, though, there is the league to settle, and Sunday’s match is a crucial one for both sides.
“I think it’ll be a good game and I’m looking forward to it,” said Catherine. “Both teams have looked strong this season.”
“But we’ll just go with our usual plan, play to our strengths and hopefully get the win.”
Women’s Premier League – 5 June 2022
Watsonians v Grange (at Myreside)
Dumfries CC/Galloway CC v Carlton (at Gatehouse)
Northern Lights v RH Corstorphine (at Mannofield)
Stewart’s Melville v McCrea FS West of Scotland (at Inverleith)
Follow Jake Perry on Twitter