INTERVIEW: Scotland’s Kathryn and Sarah Bryce Head to WBBL

Jake Perry Reports

Two of the brightest stars in the Scottish game will be rubbing shoulders with the best in the world as participants in the 2017/18 Rebel Women’s Big Bash League Rookie Placement Programme. Sisters Kathryn and Sarah Bryce will head to Australia to take up two-week placements with WBBL franchises Adelaide Strikers and Hobart Hurricanes in the third edition of the innovative joint venture between Cricket Australia and the ICC.

Each of the eight nominees is given the opportunity to experience women’s cricket at its very highest level, and with the added possibility of being called into the tournament itself in the event of an injury to a contracted player, too, the initiative opens up a unique window onto the elite world.

Both Kathryn and Sarah are looking forward to the experience.

“It was so exciting to get everything confirmed,” said Sarah. “It was unexpected for me at least and the family are very proud to have us both involved.”

“I’m really looking forward to visiting Tasmania,” she continued. “Being around such high-quality players and getting to see how they go about their training and everything else is really exciting.”

Whilst Sarah has been selected for the first time it will be a second trip in two years for Scotland vice-captain Kathryn, and the twenty year-old all-rounder is relishing the opportunity to be part of the programme once again.

“Having as much exposure as possible to that professional set-up helps my game a lot,” she said. “It is experience that I take back into my training and tournament play with Scotland.”

“[Last year] gave me an insight into the preparation and hard work that goes into cricket at this level. It’s not just what happens in games and in training, it’s the whole thought process that goes into it as well.”

Kathryn was placed with Melbourne Stars during the last campaign.

“I was given a bit of time to settle in then I fitted into all the training and gym schedules,” she said. “Last year I went along to watch some of the other WBBL games in Melbourne, too. The Renegades were playing as well as the Stars so I went and watched them and got to know a few of the girls, went out to dinner with them and so on.”

“I was living in the same hotel as other international players so I got to spend a lot of time with them as well. Just being in that environment and the routine of training, gym and everything else taught me a lot.”

“I had a couple of training sessions out on the MCG, too, which was fantastic. That outfield and the indoor nets are something else.”

“In Adelaide there is the main Adelaide Oval but I’m not entirely sure what facilities we’ll be using,” continued Kathryn. “But wherever it is it’ll just be good to be playing some outdoor cricket at this time of year!”

“I don’t know a huge amount about what it’s going to be like but I know the facilities and the coaches are going to be of a great standard,” added Sarah. “It will be interesting to see what resources they have and how they use them.”

The news crowns a memorable year for both players. As well as winning her fiftieth Scotland cap Kathryn scored 241 runs at 30.13 for Warwickshire in her first season in the Women’s County Championship, adding a 49-ball 73* in the T20 Championship for good measure.

Seventeen year-old Sarah also made great strides after taking over from Lorna Jack behind the stumps as both players helped Scotland to the ICC Women’s World T20 Global Qualifier.

“It’s been a really good season,” said Sarah. “Going to Sri Lanka at the beginning of the year for the [ICC Women’s World Cup] Qualifier and playing against teams like South Africa was incredible. Putting yourself up against those sorts of players was a challenge we all relished.”

“I think that having both Kathryn and me at the WBBL shows that the women’s game in Scotland is really on the up. In the past a couple of players were relied upon a lot whereas that’s definitely changing now. These days the whole team is contributing which says a lot about how we have progressed.”

“Speaking personally taking over the gloves has been great for me,” Sarah continued. “I’m just trying to keep improving all aspects of my game. Having Kathryn doing so well [has been an inspiration] and it’s nice to be able to follow in her footsteps to the WBBL this year.”

The end of the placement will not be the last Sarah sees of Australia this winter, either.

“I’ll be spending three months at the Perth Cricket Academy after the Big Bash so that will get me into a good routine of how to go about training and fitness and so on too.”

“The whole winter is going to be a great experience and both of us will be looking to bring back as much knowledge to Scotland as we can.”

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Jake Perry writes on Scottish cricket for Cricket Scotland and Cricket 365 and has contributed to ESPNcricinfo and All Out Cricket.
Twitter: @jperry_cricket
Facebook: Jake Perry Cricket

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THE GREAT DEBATE: Women’s Tests – The Case Against

By Richard Clark

With the Kia Super League done and dusted, all eyes are now turning to this winter’s Women’s Ashes in Australia, and the prospects of Mark Robinson’s squad regaining the trophy Australia took on these shores in 2015 to sit nicely on the mantelpiece alongside the World Cup.

As with the last three Ashes battles, the series will be decided over a multi-format campaign, involving three One-Day Internationals, followed by a four-day Test Match, and ending with three T20 games.

It’s a format that may be considered “tried and tested” to a point, albeit with some tweaks along the way – the Test Match has been moved from the beginning to the middle of the programme since it was first introduced in 2013, and has also been “downgraded” from six points to four to decrease the emphasis on one match.

The question that occurs to me, however, is “Why?”

Why is there a Test Match?

England’s women cricketers play nothing other than “short form cricket” – be it for their clubs, counties or internationally – other than during the Ashes (barring the one-off Test against India in 2014). Likewise the Australians, as far as I am aware. Whilst Tests are still considered (rightly) to be the pinnacle of the men’s game, they are virtually alien to the women’s version.

For any player making her debut in this winter’s Test – and there will be a few on both sides – this will almost certainly be their first experience of coming back the next day (and the next, and the next) to continue a match. It will be the first time they field all day, or attempt to play a “long” innings. And that’s before we throw in the floodlit aspect, too!

That won’t necessarily make for a poor match, of course. The 2013/14 Test – played in Perth – was a captivating tussle. Lowish scoring, perhaps, but fiercely contested, and in doubt until the final morning. It ebbed and flowed as Test Match cricket should, and there were key performances from Kate Cross and Nat Sciver that “announced” their arrivals.

The Test at Canterbury in 2015, however, was (and I’m a fan of women’s cricket, remember) fairly awful to watch, and to describe it as a poor advertisement for the game would be a kindness. It seemed clear that England in particular looked rudderless in their approach the game. Whilst some of the blame for that could be laid at the coach’s door, that only tells part of the story. Sheer inexperience paid a huge part.

So why play Tests? I can think of only two reasons. Firstly, because it’s what we’ve always done – the Women’s Ashes were exclusively Test-based until 2011, and a Test has been part of the three series since. Secondly, the multi-format series is the “USP” – it’s what marks the Women’s Ashes out from ANY other cricket contest, men’s or women’s (yes, I know the men have used it but it was largely ignored as a concept by all and sundry).

Are either of those arguments enough? I can’t think of another sport that uses such an alien format in one of its highest profile contests – apart, perhaps, from the foursomes segment of Golf’s Ryder Cup. Nobody would expect footballers to turn up every four years and play five-a-side for the World Cup!

It would undoubtedly be a huge shame not to see a Test Match on the calendar, but if we really want the players to produce a contest befitting the Trophy then surely they should be playing what they know best, and that is limited overs cricket.

(Tomorrow Raf Nicholson will present The Case In Favour).

INTERVIEW: Western Storm and Wales’ Claire Nicholas Reflects On KSL Victory

Ffion Wynne talks to Claire Nicholas.

Claire Nicholas was quite a remarkable and unique find of the second edition of the KSL – at 30 years old, a professional contract at such a late stage of her career came completely out of the blue, but the opportunity was one that she simply could not turn down. Nicholas, who has played all of her county cricket for Wales, comments upon the instrumental role of Western Storm’s Head Coach Trevor Griffin in her experience, due to his understanding of her different lifestyle to the other members of the squad. ‘I found fitting in training, conditioning and gym work all very challenging,’ she explains, ‘mainly due to the fact that I was holding down a full time job and bringing up a young family.’ This challenge did not restrict Nicholas, however, as she was trusted with the new ball by captain Heather Knight and finished with 5 wickets at an impressive economy of 5.92.

This responsibility of opening the bowling was described by Nicholas as her biggest challenge during the competition, due to the calibre of the players to whom she bowled (Suzie Bates, Sophie Devine and Hayley Matthews, to name a few!) and the fact that it was a very new role for her to fulfil. Nicholas names Devine (Yorkshire Diamonds) as the most difficult batsman she came up against during the competition, as she was dispatched for two consecutive sixes during her early spell, but the leadership of Knight allowed her to demonstrate resilience, change her plans and control the situation much more effectively.

The influence of the international stars, combined with the support of the coaching staff, also had a vital impact upon Nicholas’ performances, demonstrating the significance of the KSL in developing county players and providing them with an incredible opportunity to play with and against the world’s leading cricketers. ‘They brought so much experience, professionalism and character to the squad,’ Nicholas describes, ‘and I had to pinch myself during my first training session when I bowled at the likes of Heather Knight, Stafanie Taylor and Rachel Priest. They really inspired us non-international players to raise our own games to compete with them, and I have learnt so much that I hope to pass on to players in Wales.’

The inclusion of two Welsh players in the Storm squad (batsman Lauren Parfitt was also involved in their winning campaign) gives Nicholas great hope for the future of the county as she aims to inspire the younger generation to follow in their footsteps. ‘Cricket Wales is fantastic in its setup and the level of coaching that we receive as players is second to none. Now that Lauren and I have made that vital step into KSL cricket, it paves the way for others to do the same and I have no doubt we will see plenty more Welsh players involved in the future.’

The whole experience was surreal from start to finish for Nicholas, having been initially astonished to be given the opportunity to play professional cricket to finishing eventual winners, and playing a vital part in that success nonetheless. After their initial thrashing at the hands of 2016 winners Southern Vipers (having been bowled out for just 70), very few would have predicted that Storm would eventually win the competition, claiming revenge against Vipers in the process. Nicholas commends Knight’s strong leadership for the turnaround, highlighting her decision-making and the faith that she showed in all her players in difficult situations as the deciding factor in their victory, alongside monumental performances from Rachel Priest and Stafanie Taylor,

Storm’s county players also played a significant role in the team’s victory. ‘We all had to raise our game to contribute to the team’s success. From Sophie Luff’s countless dives on the boundary to save valuable runs, to Georgia Hennessy’s crowd-pleasing sixes, we all chipped in at some point to get us over the line,’ Nicholas states. ‘Away from cricket, we all got on so well as a team, which I also think was instrumental in our success. We grew as a team, and this allowed Trevor and the coaching staff to get the best out of us as a unit.’

After such a successful first taste of professional cricket, Nicholas is already looking forward to the challenges that next season will bring. Let’s hope that the next edition of the KSL will draw attention to plenty more county players aiming to make their mark in the competition.

NEWS: Lauren Winfield Special Guest at Cheshire Women’s End of Season Awards

Martin Saxon reports.

The Cheshire Women’s Cricket League was delighted to welcome Lauren Winfield as the special guest at its annual end-of-season presentation dinner, held this year at Hazel Grove Golf Club.

Before presenting the prizes, she told the audience how a ‘journey’ towards the 2017 World Cup win began after the England team’s disappointing exit from the World T20 in 2016. From that point, everything was geared towards the following year’s World Cup, and the England opening bat spoke at length about how the team put themselves in a position to challenge for honours once again, but also explained how they bounced back from setbacks such as losing an ODI in the West Indies via a horrendous collapse, and even losing the opening match of the 2017 World Cup campaign.

For the fifth time in the nine years since the League adopted the current awards format, Appleton’s Emma Barlow won the Division One batting award. She also shared the Division’s fielding award with Didsbury’s Hannah Jones, who also won the T20 bowling prize.

Barlow and Jones weren’t the only ones to receive more than one award either. Not only did Alison Smith captain Wistaston Village to the Division Two title this year, but she also had an outstanding personal season, finishing top of the batting and bowling rankings in Division Two, and coming second in the fielding category.

Kate Coppack scooped a bowling award in the league and a batting award for T20, as well as being chosen as the Coach’s Player of the Year for the Cheshire senior county team.

Another recipient of two awards was Chester Boughton Hall wicketkeeper Nic Capes.

Dawn Prestidge was second or third in as many as four of the CWCL performance award categories, but did not manage to bag a first place. However, Cheshire captain Prestidge did pick up the award for the county side’s Players’ Player of the Year, in a year when Cheshire hopefully started a revival in their fortunes by winning Division 3B of the county T20 tournament.

Players from nine different clubs received individual performance awards, but there were none for league champions Oakmere, whose successes this year really have been a team effort, with many different players contributing. For the first time in recent years, the Division One lead changed hands on a dramatic final day, and after Chester Boughton Hall’s four-run defeat by Didsbury, Oakmere were able to clinch the Championship by completing a seven-wicket win over Appleton.

There was one prestigious award for a member of the Oakmere club however when John Bone won the President’s Award for an Outstanding Contribution to Women’s Cricket in Cheshire. John has umpired many League matches over a long period, and has served on the League Committee as Umpires & Scorers Representative, as well as acting as a selector for the county side.

Many thanks also go once again to Di Totty and Alan Thomas for organising yet another superb event, and at the end of the formal part of the evening Di and Alan were presented with gifts to acknowledge their contribution to League Dinners over the years. This year’s event marked ten years since the first presentation dinner, held at The Tytherington Club in 2007. The CWCL likes to think of itself as a trailblazer in women’s club cricket, and believes it may be the only women’s club league that hosts a formal presentation dinner, not to mention the only one that runs three T20 competitions alongside the main league, and the only one that has a league representative eleven.

INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE AWARDS

BATTING – MOST RUNS BOWLING – MOST WICKETS FIELDING – MOST CATCHES & RUN OUTS WICKETKEEPING – MOST CATCHES & STUMPINGS
DIVISION 1 Emma Barlow (Appleton) Sammi Short & Kate Coppack (both Chester BH) Emma Barlow (Appleton) & Hannah Jones (Didsbury) Nic Capes (Chester BH) & Gaby McKeever (Stockport Trinity)
DIVISION 2 Alison Smith (Wistaston Village) Alison Smith (Wistaston Village) Megan Cureton (Oxton) Katie Bennett (Wistaston Village)
DIVISION 3 Rachel Warrenger (Hawarden Park) Alex Wilson (Woodley) Nicole Baker-Tunney (Stockport Georgians) Maz Linford (Didsbury 2nd XI)
T20 COMPETITIONS Kate Coppack & Ali Cutler (both Chester BH) Hannah Jones (Didsbury) Emma Royle (Stockport Trinity) Nic Capes (Chester BH)

TEAM HONOURS

Competition Winners Runners-up
League Championship Oakmere Chester Boughton Hall
League Division 2 Wistaston Vilage Leigh
League Division 3 Stockport Georgians Didsbury 2nd XI
T20 Divisional Competition Chester Boughton Hall Deemons Stockport Trinity Fire
Knockout Cup Chester Boughton Hall Deemons Didsbury Swordettes
Development Knockout Cup Didsbury 2nd XI Stockport Georgians
Indoor League Appleton Oakmere

OTHER AWARDS

Cheshire WCCC Coach’s Player of the Year: Kate Coppack

Cheshire WCCC Players’ Player of the Year: Dawn Prestidge

President’s Award (Outstanding Contribution to Women’s Cricket in Cheshire): John Bone

Tea Cup (Club with best matchday catering): Leigh

INTERVIEW: Scotland and Warwickshire’s Kathryn Bryce Reflects On An Impressive Year

Jake Perry chats to Kathryn Bryce

It has been a year to remember for Kathryn Bryce. With cricket in Australia, Sri Lanka and the Women’s County Championship, a fiftieth Scotland appearance and an international tournament win under her belt, all whilst completing her first year at Loughborough University, the classy all-rounder has reinforced her position as one of the brightest stars in the Scottish game. And with the third of a hat-trick of Women’s Scottish Cup winner’s medals to add to her collection, too, Scotland’s nineteen year-old vice-captain is able to look back over the past few months with particular satisfaction.

Prior to Scotland’s appearance at the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier in Sri Lanka Kathryn had the opportunity to work alongside some of the best players in the world as part of the ICC Associate Rookie Programme during the Women’s Big Bash, and with top-level cricket continuing back on home soil, too, 2017 has provided a priceless experience.

“The fortnight I spent with the Melbourne Stars was fantastic,” she said. “To be around that level of play and to see how they go about doing everything that they do within a competition was really great.

“And then I have been really lucky to be part of Warwickshire this year,” she continued. “It has been terrific to be around a few of the England girls and learn from them. Opening the batting with Amy Jones and being around high quality players more regularly has really helped my game.”

Bryce scored a Division One half-century against Nottinghamshire on her way to 241 runs at 30.13 as Warwickshire finished third in the table. With a 49-ball 73* for Birmingham Bears Women against Surrey in the T20 Championship, too, it represented an impressive first season.

“You get more good balls at this level,” said Kathryn. “There aren’t so many bad ones to put away so you have to find ways to score off those better deliveries. So the challenge is learning how to hit those good balls and be more precise, too, because the fielding is up a level as well.

“I am really enjoying being in this environment,” she continued. “Two Januarys ago I spent three months at the Darren Lehmann Academy in Adelaide which was probably my first experience of being in a setting that was totally professional.

“Doing fitness work four times a week and then training three or four times a week and playing matches on top of that was great for me going into Loughborough where there is a similar set-up. The facilities at both are outstanding.”

Scotland’s principle assignment of the summer was the ICC Women’s World T20 Europe/Americas Qualifier in Stirling where, despite persistent rain and a narrow loss in their final match, Steve Knox’s side booked their passage to the Global Qualifier as tournament winners.

With 81 runs at an average of 27 Bryce’s opening partnership with Lorna Jack proved decisive as Scotland’s victories over the Netherlands and USA secured what became an unassailable net run-rate. For Bryce, however, it was the way in which the team reacted to the stop-start nature of the week that proved most satisfying.

“It was so difficult for the girls with the weather,” she said. “Sitting around not knowing when you are going to get on is always tough.

“When we did, though, we came together and put on a good performance pretty quickly. That was really pleasing and to get the win against Holland first up was a great way to start.

“They didn’t have a great game to be honest but that was something else that we did well, we didn’t have that poor game to put ourselves under pressure.

“The Dutch were much better in the second game, particularly in their bowling which was much more difficult to get away. The pitch hadn’t been covered for most of the week [after the original pitch had had to be abandoned due to standing water] so if the ball was in a good area it was hard to score from.

“But it was interesting to see the USA for the first time because we had no idea what they were going to be like.

“They showed a lot of character and put up a real fight and I think they could be a good team. They showed some great fielding at times and had some strong batters, too, so things are looking good for their future.”

For now, though, Kathryn is relishing the opportunity to recharge the batteries before her return to Loughborough at the end of September.

“We have a little bit of time off just now which is nice because we’ve not really had much since we were in Thailand a couple of years ago,” she said. “So we’ll look to recover and then get ready to go again.

“We’re looking forward to the next stage already, though. I think everyone will be ready to put in a massive effort and really push teams like Ireland and Bangladesh to try and get that spot in the World T20.

“That would be incredible.”

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Jake Perry writes on Scottish cricket for Cricket Scotland and CricketEurope and is a regular contributor to HoldingWilley.

Twitter: @jperry_cricket / Facebook: Jake Perry Cricket

George Watson’s College Win Women’s Scottish Cup

Jake Perry reports

George Watson’s College 107-2 (K Bryce 46*, L Steindl 1 for 8) beat Carlton 42 (G Henderson 3 for 5) by 65 runs

George Watson’s College claimed the 2017 Beyond Boundaries Women’s T20 Scottish Cup with victory in a surprisingly one-sided encounter with Edinburgh rivals Carlton at New Williamfield. An unbeaten 46 from Kathryn Bryce together with an outstanding performance in the field saw Sarah Bryce’s side triumph after the league champions were dismissed for just 42.

After their 90-run partnership had laid the foundation for the semi-final victory over Stirling County earlier in the day, GWC openers Kathryn and Sarah Bryce started well in the face of probing Carlton bowling. With a sluggish outfield putting boundaries at a premium – the legacy of a sharp shower shortly before play began – the Scotland duo put down a marker for their side with some aggressive running between the wickets as 36 came from the Powerplay.

The ninth over brought Carlton an important breakthrough, however, as Sarah Bryce (23) was bowled by Lily Steindl, and with Georgia Henderson (0) following nine balls later as she skied a Samantha Haggo delivery to Ruth Willis at midwicket, the momentum that was beginning to build was abruptly checked.

Progress was painstaking in the middle overs as the Carlton bowlers tightened the screws still further but with wickets still intact Kathryn Bryce and Nina Whitaker (19*) battled back superbly. Both found the boundary before Bryce cleared the ropes in some style as the innings moved through its closing stages.

The final total of 107-2 represented an excellent recovery from the GWC pair. As the chase began, however, it was the duo’s performance with the ball which was to prove crucial in setting their side on the road to victory.

Opening the bowling, Whitaker and Bryce blew away the top order as they quickly reduced Carlton to 3-3. Katie McGill (0) fell in the first over, followed in the second by Ruth Willis (2) and Charis Scott (1), and with Georgia Henderson adding the wickets of Samantha Haggo (9), Lily Steindl (3) and Christina Evans (4) soon after, crisis rapidly turned into calamity for the Grange Loan side.

No Carlton batsman reached double figures as their challenge subsided, GWC’s emphatic victory securing them the trophy for the third year in succession.

“It’s wonderful to get the hat-trick of wins,” said Sarah Bryce. “There were some great individual performances but we came together really well as a team and everyone contributed which was great.”

“Carlton are a really good team and they bowled really well so we had to be patient, work our way through the innings and take our time. Nina Whitaker came in at the end and had a great partnership with Kathryn.”

“I’m really proud of our bowlers. To get Katie McGill in the first over and then keep taking regular wickets was what won us the game in the end. I’m delighted.”    

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Jake Perry writes on Scottish cricket for Cricket Scotland and CricketEurope and is a regular contributor to HoldingWilley.

Twitter: @jperry_cricket / Facebook: Jake Perry Cricket

CLUB OF THE MONTH: Spencer Women’s CC

Here at CRICKETher, we’re passionate about women’s cricket at all levels, including club cricket. It’s our mission to offer coverage of women’s (and girls’) club cricket wherever we can! Our ‘Club of the Month’ feature will focus on one women’s or girls’ club every month, giving you the lowdown on their highs, lows, and everything in between.

If you’d like to see your club featured here, get in touch – we’d love to hear from you!

By Tory Clarkson

Our 1st XI play on Fieldview, the main pitch at Spencer Cricket Club in South West London, and our 2nd XI play on the Openview ground, next door. The club has fantastic facilities, with a cheap bar and lovely terrace looking out over the main pitch. 2017 is the first year that the 1st XI have played all our home fixtures on the main club pitch – a recognition of the growing quality, size and stature of the Women’s section within the club.

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Photo credit: Marie-Hélène Briens

Our current captain is Tamara Reeves, who joined the club in 2016. She has 4 ODI caps for South Africa & her quality and top-level experience has shown over the past two seasons. She’s tactically very astute and is a good role model for all members of the club. She has a terrible sense of humour, but we don’t hold that against her.

As well as Tam, quite a few of our team have high-level experience. Deepa Patel (Spencer’s leading runscorer) played professionally in India, for West Zone. Tor Cruickshank, the 2016 captain, played for Sussex and England Development for a time. Angela Bonora joined the club in 2016 and is an Italian international. Gemma Ware is an Italian international, Marie-Hélène Briens is a Hungary international, Natalie Wells used to play for Surrey, and I used to play for Gloucestershire Women before moving to London. Lots and lots of our juniors play age-group county cricket. Maddie Blinkhorn-Jones, an U14 girl playing in our 1st XI, plays for Surrey U17 Women and is one to watch. She scored her first century for the Women’s 1st XI this season.

One thing that really stands out for us is the varied background of our team. Based within easy reach of Central London, we have quite an international squad, as some of those names show. These names are playing alongside young women who grew up just around the corner from the club – it’s great to see. Equally, while quite a few of our team have played representative cricket, some of our 1st XI started playing only a couple of years ago! That sums up the accessibility of women’s cricket as a whole – the ability for newcomers to pick up the game quickly and have the opportunity to play with stars. If we get promoted, we’d get the opportunity to play against Charlotte Edwards, Ellen Burt and a few other international stars. That’s motivated everyone hugely!

We aim to be inclusive, social, and competitive and really take pride in bringing through juniors. We’re developing a pathway to guide our talented juniors (280+ girls) through to the senior sides. It’s important to us that we grow the club sustainably – making sure everyone can get something out of the club, whether they’re looking for good, competitive cricket, or social sport.

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Photo credit: Marie-Hélène Briens

Our current oldest member is in her late 30s and our youngest player in the senior section is 13. We welcome members of all ages, however!

Our lead coach is Mark Costin, a L3 coach. He is supported throughout the year by a number of other coaches, including Alain and Kiyo Jason, as well as volunteers from the ladies section. We have our own training sessions on Wednesdays during the spring and summer, but train and play with the men on Thursdays and Saturdays too. There has been a real drive this year, led by Mark and Jon Speller, the Director of Cricket at Spencer, to get women playing more frequently in men’s matches as well as the ladies’ league. This is a reflection of the rising standards in our section, and the rising ambition for the club.

We don’t have a club mascot at the moment, but Tor Cruickshank’s whites, barely washed from season to season, are a sort of emotional crutch for the team.

Our 1st XI play in the Women’s Cricket Southern League Championship, and are chasing Horsham for the title and promotion. Our 2nd XI play in the Surrey Trust League. The girls section play in various Surrey Boys leagues, where they frequently claim a few big scalps, as well as in girls leagues.

In terms of highlights, one of this year’s performances stands out: a 275-run opening partnership by Maddie Blinkhorn-Jones (who’s only 14!) and leading runscorer Deepa Patel, against Guildford CC. Maddie has come through the ranks of Spencer Juniors and has really made her mark on the team. It’s up there with the 2011 unbeaten season as one of our proudest moments as a club.

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Photo credit: Marie-Hélène Briens

What we’ve found this year is that as we move up through the divisions, we need more and more volunteers to help the club function on match days. Long gone are the days when our Number 11 could score for us or umpire from square leg! We are really grateful to our supporters, families and friends who help the club run on match days. This year, in particular, our supporters have provided in-play PlayCricket updates and ball-by-ball commentary on whatsapp on match days! That takes some dedication! It is also a reflection of how much people love this club that they will read 300+ whatsapp messages on a Sunday to keep up from afar with the score!

There are many, many people who’ve helped get Spencer Women where we are now – too many to name them all! So instead, we’d like to focus on this year’s helpers – Step Parikian, Mark Costin, Kiyo Jason, Alain Jason, Jon Speller, Marie-Helene Briens, Gregg Birrell, Patrick Wells, Martin Blinkhorn, Lis Jones, Brian Hurn, to name a few.

It has been really noticeable how the club has changed over the past five years or so. The juniors section is now massive – we think we might have the biggest girls’ section in the country – and the women’s section has expanded too. It used to be hard to find 11 to play & we would beg friends and parents to help us out, now we have genuine selection decisions each week between a highly talented squad.

To give an example, about five years ago, we were so short of players that one of our former members, then 6 months pregnant, insisted on playing! She fielded very energetically despite her big bump! Thankfully, mother and son were fine!

As often happens with sports clubs, as years pass & generations pass through the club, the history of how it all started has been lost. Anyone with more information about Spencer Women’s Cricket’s origins are invited to come forward!!

What everyone notices, whether they joined one week ago or 5 years ago (like me!), is that the club has a great spirit and culture. We’re good friends and we enjoy laughing and joking together, particularly in the end-of-match wrap.

The club has been really inclusive, but we still joke about a discussion with the men’s section from a few years ago about what to do for end-of-season event. One gentleman said, ‘We could do a dinner at the Oval, but the women do love a party!’ We’re still not quite sure what he meant!

Anyone wishing to join the club should get in touch with Tor Cruickshank on spencerwomenscricket@googlemail.com

Come find us on social media for more info on what we’re up to:

REPORT: Cheshire Women’s League Finals Day

Martin Saxon reports

Chester Boughton Hall hosted the triple-header Finals Day this year, and also took home the trophies in both finals that they were contesting. Many of the Chester players produced fine performances, but the star of the show was surely acting captain Kate Coppack, who reached the retirement score in both matches, and took a combined 5-15 in the eight overs she bowled during the day.

Match 1 – Development Knockout Cup Final

Stockport Georgians 77-9 (20; Liv Bell 22, Zara Matthews 2-6, Ellen Gallimore 2-13, Tasneem Akram 2-17)

Didsbury 2nd XI 80-3 (15.1; Laura Griffiths 27*)

  • Georgians may have won division three this year, but Didsbury’s seconds gained some revenge by triumphing in the knockout competition that is exclusively for teams in that division. Tasneem Akram struck twice early on, and Georgians were struggling on 11-3. Liv Bell led a recovery of sorts, but with Zara Matthews and others bowling well, the final total set the Manchester side less than four per over. Beth Garnett produced an excellent spell in the second innings, but Laura Griffiths led the way as the target was reached with almost five overs to spare.

Scorecard

Match 2 – Senior Knockout Cup Final

Chester Boughton Hall Deemons 101-8 (20; Kate Coppack 25ret, Nadia Wheeler 21, Leesa Mellon 2-7, Millie Frost 2-8)

Didsbury Swordettes 68-9 (20; Hannah Jones 34*, Kate Coppack 4-7, Dawn Prestidge 3-15, Ali Cutler 2-7)

  • Didsbury’s first team could not make it a double celebration for the club as an impressive display comfortably saw the Deemons to their seventh Knockout win in the 11 years the competition has been played. While Kate Coppack was the only one to reach the retirement score, all of their top six scored rapidly, and the scoring rate only dropped in the final overs when Leesa Mellon and Millie Frost got amongst the wickets. Dawn Prestidge took three very early wickets in the reply, and there was the curious sight of Hannah Jones retiring on 25 when her team had managed only 31 runs in total. Coppack then took four wickets for just seven runs, upstaging what were some fine figures by all of her team-mates.

Scorecard

Match 3 – T20 Divisional Competition Final

Chester Boughton Hall Deemons 107-7 (20; Dawn Prestidge 26ret, Kate Coppack 26ret, Ali Cutler 26*, Kate Harvey 3-13, Emma Royle 2-12)

Stockport Trinity Fire 91-9 (20; Jennie Kitzinger 26*, Nadia Wheeler 4-18, Dawn Prestidge 2-19)

  • Chester then went on to record their fifth T20 Divisional title in the last match of the day. Dawn Prestidge and Ali Cutler kept the run rate around six per over in the initial stages of the first innings. When the pair retired, wickets did fall regularly, with Kate Harvey and Emma Royle returning excellent figures. However, Kate Coppack blasted 26 in just 14 balls to keep the board moving. Trinity ensured it was a competitive contest, especially when they scored 38 between the 7th and 11th overs of their reply. However, the Chester attack proved just too strong – while Nadia Wheeler was the main wicket taker on this occasion, Coppack again did a superb job, conceding just eight runs in her four overs.

Scorecard

WWT20 Qualifiers: Netherlands Win but Scotland Claim the Spoils

Jake Perry reports

Netherlands 129-6 (SL Kalis 48, K McGill 2 for 26) beat Scotland 111-7 (KE Bryce 23, HDJ Siegers 3 for 29) by 18 runs

The Netherlands claimed victory over Scotland in the final match of the ICC Women’s World T20 Europe/Americas Qualifier in Stirling thanks to a fine all-round performance from Heather Siegers. The Dutch captain’s 21 ball 32, together with 3 for 29 with the ball, proved to be decisive as her side ended a difficult week on a high. Overall victory was to be Scotland’s, however, as Abbi Aitken’s side topped the table on net run-rate.

Fresh from their earlier victory over USA the Netherlands were put into bat for a second time and opener Sterre Kalis duly got the innings underway with a second ball boundary. The first over was to end with the run out of Babette de Leede (1), however, and with Samantha Haggo making another breakthrough in the seventh, too, as Cher van Slobbe (6) was caught by a back-pedalling Lorna Jack, the Netherlands were reduced to 32-2.

Kalis has showed that she was in fine form during her 88 against the USA and the young all-rounder looked to cut loose again, taking back-to-back boundaries off a Priyanaz Chatterji over which cost twelve. With Heather Siegers finding her range, too, Scotland suddenly found themselves under pressure as the pair took their score to over a run-a-ball.

Two quick wickets were to change the complexion of the innings, however, as Siegers’ slow turn ended in her being run out before Chatterji knocked back the stumps of Kalis (48) two balls later. The bowlers applied the shackles once more with Katie McGill picking up two wickets in the 19th over, Miranda Veringmeier (13) being bowled before Kathryn Bryce took a fine catch at long on to dismiss Helmien Rambaldo (12), and in restricting the Netherlands to 129-6 Scotland’s bowlers had fought back well.

The opening pair of Jack and Bryce began watchfully against an improved display from the Dutch seamers, but on a pitch that had seen both sunshine and showers over the course of the day regular wickets thwarted the attempts of the batting side to build momentum. The fall of Jack (12), Kathryn Bryce (23) and Sarah Bryce (9) reduced Scotland to 60-3, and with Lois Wilkinson (3), Rebecca Glen (10) and Elizabeth Priddle (2) following, too, with Scotland over fifty runs short and less than four overs remaining net run-rate became the most likely way of finding the winners of the tournament.

In an exciting finish the seventh wicket pair of Katie McGill and Priyanaz Chatterji both found the boundary as a late flurry of runs took Scotland beyond 100, and despite McGill (13) falling in the final over Scotland had done enough to confirm their position at the top of the table.

“I’m excited, delighted, but relieved,” said Abbi Aitken. “It’s been a very frustrating week watching the rain fall and wondering if the tournament was going to go ahead. It’s been really difficult for the girls and I’m sure it has been for the other two teams as well.”

“All credit to the Netherlands today. It wasn’t the best performance from us but it’s great to be able to finish the tournament as winners.”

“Conditions were tricky for us all today. It was wet and slippy, very difficult to move around in the field, and the pitch we were on was a bit more sticky than the one we played on earlier in the week.”

“But so much credit has to go to the ground staff for managing to get something prepared so we could get some cricket in. They have done a fantastic job throughout the week.”

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Jake Perry writes on Scottish cricket for Cricket Scotland and CricketEurope and is a regular contributor to HoldingWilley.

Twitter: @jperry_cricket / Facebook: Jake Perry Cricket

WWT20 Qualifiers: Netherlands Qualify With Comfortable Win Over USA

Jake Perry reports

Netherlands 184-4 (SL Kalis 88, S Ramautar 1 for 26) beat USA 148-5 (OT Wallerson 40*, L Klokgieters 2 for 32) by 36 runs

To the accompanying strain of bagpipes as the annual Stirling Highland Games got underway nearby the much-anticipated encounter between USA and the Netherlands at the ICC Women’s World T20 Europe/Americas Qualifier finally played out. It was a game which had taken on added significance as defeat to Scotland then the weather had ensured that the quest for the one remaining place at the Global Qualifier for the 2018 showpiece would become a winner-takes-all affair.

A superb 88 from Netherlands all-rounder Sterre Kalis was to propel her side to a 36-run victory as despite a late flourish from Onika Wallerson the rawness of the USA was to show in an inconsistent display in the field. Kalis chipped in with a wicket, too, as a much-improved performance from Sean Trouw’s team put their loss to the Scots earlier in the week behind them.

After two days without play the second reserve day had offered one last opportunity to complete the four matches required to constitute a tournament, and after the original pitch had been deemed unplayable a decision was taken late on Thursday to switch the remaining games to the second pitch at New Williamfield. Thanks to the Stirling County ground staff play began only half an hour behind schedule but with rain beginning to fall once more conditions on the field remained highly challenging.

Having been put into bat the Netherlands openers Kalis and Babette de Leede made a skittish start against the USA seamers as de Leede was dropped at point before a run-out opportunity was missed as Candacy Atkins slipped on the greasy surface. The two were soon into their stride, however, with Kalis helping herself to back-to-back boundaries off Neha Anand and de Leede finding the rope off Triholder Marshall.

Although Marshall was to have the final word as de Leede’s swing-and-miss saw her bowled for 17 the Netherlands were looking ominous, however, and Kalis hit the first maximum of the tournament by hoisting Wallerson over square. The opener added another as she raced past fifty, and with Cher van Slobbe (14) and then Heather Siegers providing support aggressive running and regular boundaries saw the Netherlands pass 150 at the beginning of the 18th over.

Kalis had played a terrific knock, fully deserving of a hundred, but immediately after striking her fourth six of the innings a mix-up with Siegers ended with her run out. Kalis’s 55 ball 88 had given her side the platform they had so badly lacked against Scotland,though, and with the young Dutch captain (51*) reaching her half century too, the Netherlands total of 184-4 always looked like too many.

It had been a difficult morning for the USA. Dropped catches and misfields had proved costly and with spinner Claudine Beckford overstepping three times in a final over which cost 21, too, Sindhu Sriharsa’s side left the field knowing that they had not helped their own cause.

The Netherlands bowling attack had hardly aided theirs against Scotland, though, and USA opener Shebani Bhaskar immediately signaled her attacking intentions with a six off the second ball. Early American hopes were dashed as the Netherlands quickly struck back with a double breakthrough, however, as first Bhaskar (8) was brilliantly caught by Helmien Rambaldo before a diving Sriharsa (1) was narrowly run out as the Dutch remained firmly in control.

At 18-2 Nadia Gruny and Erica Rendler picked up the chase well, taking their side beyond fifty at the end of the Powerplay – and ahead of their opponents at the same stage – but when they also fell in quick succession, Rendler (40) run out before Gruny (30) skied to the wicketkeeper, any lingering hopes of an American comeback had been dashed.

“I am really proud of the team and that we did it today,” said Player of the Match Sterre Kalis.

“It was the most important game for us and that we won it was perfect.”

“In the beginning the pitch was very soft and a bit wet but the ground staff did really well. After a whole week of rain it was amazing that we could play the game and we’re hoping to end the tournament with another good performance against Scotland later.”

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Jake Perry writes on Scottish cricket for Cricket Scotland and CricketEurope and is a regular contributor to HoldingWilley.

Twitter: @jperry_cricket / Facebook: Jake Perry Cricket