PREVIEW: RHC looking to build on an impressive first win in Scotland’s Women’s Premier League

By Jake Perry

Northern Lights are out on their own at the top of the Women’s Premier League after the fourth round of matches was completed last Sunday. Despite the abandonment of their game at Hamilton Crescent, Carlton’s victory over Stewart’s Melville leaves the league leaders as its only unbeaten side as they prepare for their meeting with the champions this coming weekend.

Elsewhere, though, there were celebrations at Barnton, where Royal High Corstorphine claimed their first win of the campaign with a 68-run triumph over Watsonians. It has been a difficult season for the Edinburgh side so far, but women’s rep Clara Sablitzky is encouraged by the positive signs it showed.

“I would obviously have liked to see us in a better position at this point in the season than we currently are, but there is so much potential within this squad,” she said. “We just need to find our rhythm, and I hope that this win over Watsonians will help us to do that.”

“I don’t think we expected to beat Northern Lights, but we didn’t expect to lose in the way we did against Dumfries & Galloway [by nine wickets] and then Stew-Mel [by seven]. We have worked on things since our defeat in Dumfries, but there is still a lot of room for us to improve.”

It is a time of transition for RHC. Ailsa Lister and Abbie Hogg were among those who turned out for the side last year, but with both now at Northern Lights and Ikra Farooq relocated down south, a lack of firepower with the bat left their innings average in double figures going into last Sunday’s game. A club record partnership of 233 between Bronwyn Sumption and Louise Nichols changed all that, however, with Pretoria-born Sumption hitting a 93-ball 142 and Nichols a run-a-ball 79: the form of the big-hitting South African is going to be particularly important in RHC’s bid to climb further up the table.

“It’s been great to have Bronwyn join us this year,” said Clara. “Since losing a couple of good batters we’ve had to reconfigure the top order and it’s been so good to have someone who has fitted into that so well.”

“In our first couple of games she struggled a little bit with the Scottish deck: I think she was expecting South African pace and she got Scottish green-tops, but as she’s got used to the conditions she has really come in to her own and is now playing how she feels she is supposed to be playing. I know she was disappointed after her first game down in Dumfries, but as we saw from last weekend at Barnton, she can really hit the ball.”

“Amongst our other players, one to keep an eye on is Emily Rose,” Clara continued. “She’ll be away down south for the rest of our season, but she played in our first few games. Emily had only ever played garden cricket with her family before she started to take the game more seriously during lockdown, and she’s come in and, wow, she can hit a ball. It’s been so impressive to see somebody who is basically self-taught make it on the indoor squad for the Uni, then the first eleven outdoor women’s team and then open the bowling for RHC with Phoebe [Beal].”

“She’s a seriously competitive player and has only just turned nineteen: she’s certainly one to watch and I hope we keep her through her time at Uni and hopefully beyond that as well.”

As far as the remainder of this season goes, though, RHC have their sights set on finding the consistency that has so far eluded them.

“I’m not going to put too much pressure on the girls, but as long as everyone plays to their potential we can be confident. Our strength is in our bowling, I would say, even though it hasn’t necessarily come across in some of our games so far because we’ve bowled against some pretty strong batters, but as long as we can find our stride again, recapture the confidence we showed last weekend, things are going to continue to move in the right direction.”

Women’s Premier League – 19 June 2022

Grange v RH Corstorphine (at Royal High School)
Dumfries CC/Galloway CC v Stewart’s Melville (at Nunholm)
Watsonians v McCrea FS West of Scotland (at Myreside)
Northern Lights v Carlton (at Mannofield)

Follow Jake Perry on Twitter

MATCH REPORT: CE Cup Finals Day – McCaughan & Dean Carry Vipers Home

Katya Witney at Northampton

The Southern Vipers were crowned the winners of the Charlotte Edwards Cup in Northampton on Saturday as they swept aside qualifiers the Central Sparks on their way to the trophy.

An exciting finals day got underway with the County Ground bathed in sunshine and the Sparks taking on the South East Stars in a thrilling low-scoring contest for a place in the final.

It was carnage from the first over as Issy Wong dismissed Bryony Smith with her third delivery. This started an almighty top-order collapse which saw Wong and Potts combine to leave the Stars reeling at 25 for 5 after the powerplay. There was some brilliant fast bowling from the pair, combined with some poor shot selection from the Stars’ top order.

Kalea Moore and Alice Davidson-Richards were tasked with rebuilding for the Stars in the middle overs and they managed to lift their side to 83 for 5 going into the final five.

Just as they may have been starting to think about a half-decent score, Sarah Glenn broke the partnership, dismissing Davidson-Richards in her final over for a well-batted 29.

The Stars managed to cobble their way to a total of 104 for 8 by the end of their innings, Wong finishing with impressive figures of 2 for 8 off her four overs. Despite the recovery, it looked to be a straightforward chase for the Sparks.

Indeed, Wong and Eve Jones made an explosive start, smashing boundaries to take their side to 34 for 0 off three overs. Sparks looked to be cruising towards their target when they suffered a rapid collapse. After losing Wong they lost three wickets for just one run to leave them 60 for 4 in the ninth over.

Tensions rapidly heightened as wickets continued to fall, Smith bowling beautifully taking 4 wickets for 14.

After Sarah Glenn was dismissed trying to smash a four square of the wicket, there looked to be another twist in the tale with the Sparks still needing seven and Grace Potts now at the crease.

It took the calm head of Emily Arlott to guide the Sparks to their target, farming the strike beautifully to knock the runs off. As Arlott smashed the first ball of the final over for four and leapt triumphantly in the air, the Sparks’ place in the final was secured. The Stars had put in an admirable defence of a small total, but their chance of back-to-back titles was always going to be tough after their first-innings collapse.

All eyes now turned to see whether the so-far unbeaten Southern Vipers could claim the trophy or whether the Sparks could spring a surprise on the favourites.

Fresh from their nervy early afternoon chase, the Sparks elected to bat again with an unchanged side.

After a tidy first over from Lauren Bell, Charlie Dean struck immediately, bowling Eve Jones as she looked to relieve the pressure with a big shot. Kemp replaced Dean from the Wantage Road End and produced another breakthrough as Wong mistimed a powerful drive and was brilliantly caught by Maia Bouchier at mid-on. Sparks were 15 for 2 in the fourth over.

Amy Jones looked in dangerous form and was finding the boundary with ease, an aerial shot from the right-hander flew straight through the hands of Georgia Adams at mid-off and down to the boundary. The drop didn’t prove too costly, however, as two overs later Jones mistimed another shot down the ground and Bouchier took a second excellent catch.

The Vipers bowled excellently and built the pressure well in the middle overs. It paid off as Abi Freeborn danced down the pitch to Elwiss, Rudd completing an easy stumping. With Campbell run out in the following over, Sparks were faltering at 62 for 5.

Glenn came in and looked to advance the scoring in the final five, picking up boundaries behind square to Dean. She was dismissed by Adams in her final over, the right-armer taking a smart catch off her own bowling. Adams took a second wicket in the same over, fielding off her own bowling again to run out Arlott at the non-striker’s end.

As the Sparks’ innings meandered to a close it was reminiscent of their earlier innings, a promising start stifled by the fall of quick wickets. Perrin was run-out in the last over pushing for a second and they finished on 109 for 8. Tight bowling from the Vipers had produced the rewards, forcing the errors from the Spark’s batters and derailing their innings.

The Sparks needed early wickets if they were to produce a repeat of this morning’s thriller. Wong delivered in the first over, taking the wicket of Adams for a duck, brilliantly caught by Eve Jones low to the ground.

A big opportunity was missed by Glenn to dismiss Danni Wyatt for just five in the second over, a simple catch put down at mid-on. Wyatt looked in the mood to capitalise as she raced to 20 off 10 but another opportunity to dismiss her at mid-on was taken in the fourth over, Potts safely snaffling the catch.

The damage looked done however and as the powerplay ended with Vipers 50 for 2, Elwiss and Bouchier looked content to knock around the singles and pick the boundaries off bad balls. Elwiss was given out LBW to Glenn in the seventh over but Bouchier was hitting her stride at 26 off 16 in the 7th over.

It was looking very easy for the Vipers and the Sparks were struggling to build any pressure before a full and straight delivery from Arlott shattered Bouchier’s middle stump. As Dean came to the crease it was very much the last throw of the dice for the Sparks.

However, they couldn’t stop Vipers marching on towards their target. McCaughan and Dean built a solid partnership to see their side home with 25 balls remaining.

As McCaughan heaved the winning runs through the leg side for a boundary, the Vipers had completed a dominant T20 campaign. McCaughan and Dean were swamped by their teammates running onto the field in celebration. Their near clinical performance had proved too much for the Sparks who couldn’t build on their victory earlier in the afternoon.

Speaking after her team had lifted the trophy, Southern Vipers head coach Charlotte Edwards said:

“I couldn’t be prouder this week to go unbeaten in seven and to win in that fashion and to improve every game like we have done at the moment.”

“They’ll enjoy tonight. They deserve it. It’s been a great, great few weeks. It’s been tiring, but topped off well here at Northampton today.”

“I said to the team before they went out there that they’ve played brilliantly, but six out of six won’t mean as much if we don’t get the seventh. But the message wasn’t to do anything different than what we’ve been doing and this is what’s so great about this group. They’re used to finals and they’re used to having pressure.”

“Going into this T20 competition, we didn’t play as well as we should have last year and that disappointed us. Our goal is to win the double. We’ve done one bit of that – now we’ve got a massive part of the season to come in the 50 over comp.”

“We want to win, and I think that’s the kind of culture we’ve created down at the Vipers and we don’t want to be second place. I couldn’t be more pleased today really and to do it here again with the Rachael Heyhoe Flint win here last year as well is brilliant.”

“We’ve got Rachael and Charlotte now, that’s what the girls keep saying. They’ve been so desperate to bring Charlotte back to the Ageas and to do that today, under the pressure they’ve been under coming in as favourites, I’m really chuffed.”

“I think what we’ve created here (at the Vipers) is competition for places. I’ve had some really tough selections over the last few weeks and I think that means so much for us today. We just keep producing players that will go on and play for the Vipers and for England, which is again another part of our job. We seem to be doing both at the moment and I’m really, really proud.”

Central Sparks captain Eve Jones said:

“Obviously disappointed today. We thought we’d learn things once scores were on the board in the final. Things didn’t quite go to plan in the first game but we managed to scrape through. Obviously we didn’t quite reach our potential today.”

“Amy (Jones) has been unbelievable for us this season, both with the bat and the gloves so it’s great to have her around. Hopefully we might have her around a bit longer with the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy next up to give us a bit of confidence for that.”

“I think we’ve had a really good winter of training, and I think from that as time goes on, it’ll be good to see how we go in the longer format. Hopefully it gets us to the final and we can go one better.”

Follow @KatyaWitney on Twitter

MATCH REPORT: Thunder v Lightning – Ecclestone 5fer Outclasses Lightning

Katya Witney at Old Trafford

Sophie Ecclestone took career-best figures of 5-15 as the Thunder outclassed Lightning at Old Trafford on Friday.

Tammy Beaumont was still absent from the Lightning line-up but after winning the toss and electing to bat, the Lightning batters’ intent was clear from the off.

Marie Kelly smashed three fours in the first over before she was bowled by Alex Hartley looking to hit the left-arm spinner for a second six over square-leg. Ecclestone then took two wickets in her first over, Ella Claridge and Beth Harmer both playing attacking shots.

Despite the early flurry of wickets, Lightning continued to go after the Thunder’s spinners. Sarah Bryce was dismissed by Ecclestone after hitting her for a huge six in her second over and whilst their intent made for exciting watching, the shot execution was lacking from the batters.

Bethan Ellis top-edged a shorter delivery from Emma Lamb which fell comfortably into the hands of the fielder at backward square leg to leave Lightning 54 for 5 going into the 10th over.

Phoebe Graham combined with Ellie Threlkeld to secure two well-executed runouts, first dismissing Katherine Bryce in the 12th over and Lucy Higham in the 16th. The innings looked to be descending into chaos at 86 for 7 going into the final four.

The visitors were still in with a chance of setting a competitive total if they managed to stem the continual haemorrhaging of wickets but any hopes they may have had were put to bed by Ecclestone in her final over.

She took the wickets of Sophie Munro and Jade Ballinger off the first and fifth balls of her over and was one wicket away from a fifer with just one ball of her spell remaining and the number 11 on strike. Ecclestone did not disappoint on her home turf, snaring Josie Groves stumped around her legs to complete her career-best T20 figures of 5-15 before being mobbed by her teammates.

Whilst entertaining, Lighting were reckless and fell well short of the total they were capable of, having been bowled out two overs short of the 20. They now faced the difficult task of defending just 103.

Thunder lost Boyce early in their chase, LBW to Kelly but the home side clearly intended to continue the attacking theme of the day. Cross drove Ballinger beautifully for four before chipping the ball into the hands of Munro at mid-off two balls later.

After coming in at number four Ecclestone was next to go, missing a sweep-shot to Katherine Bryce and given LBW. Lightning were dragging themselves back into the contest with Thunder 26 for 3 at the end of the fifth.

Where the Lightning’s innings came undone through was continuing to attack despite losing quick wickets, while the Thunder found success by consolidating after their early losses. Lamb and Collins built a 50-run partnership in the middle overs, taking advantage of some loose deliveries from the Lightning spinners. Kelly was taken out of the attack after bowling two high no-balls.

Emma Lamb was the main source of runs, wracking up an impressive 42 off 35 deliveries before falling LBW to Ellis off the last ball of the 10th over.

Despite the loss of Collins, the victory was sealed by the Thunder in the 14th over, Threlkeld and Mullan seeing the home. Both sides put on an entertaining display with the bat but it was the execution of the Thunder batsmen and the superior quality of their spinners which was the difference between the sides.

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PREVIEW: Stew-Mel looking to stay at the front of the pack in Scotland’s Women’s Premier League

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

MATCH REPORT: Thunder v Vipers – Dean Bowls Vipers Directly To Charlotte Edwards Cup Final

Katya Witney at Old Trafford

The Southern Vipers charged into the final of the Charlotte Edwards Cup after thrashing the Thunder by six wickets at Old Trafford on Friday night.

With a few drops of rain in the air, Ellie Threlkeld won yet another toss and elected to bat. Despite the Vipers being the favourites having won four from four in the tournament, the return of Kate Cross and Sophie Ecclestone to the side bolstered the home side’s chances.

But the Thunder’s innings failed to ever really get going thanks to some tight bowling from the Viper’s bowling attack. Emma Lamb was dismissed by Freya Kemp in her second over, caught by Georgia Adams at mid-on. The wicket brought Cross to the crease for a short cameo where she hit a four off her third delivery and went on to score 18 before she was dismissed by Charlie Dean.

Ecclestone replaced her England teammate at the crease and crashed a six off her second ball before Georgie Boyce was bowled at the other end by Kemp for just 9 off 23 deliveries. The Thunder were left struggling at 44 for 3 at the halfway stage.

Danielle Collins’ stay at the crease was also short, she was LBW to Dean in the 13th over.

Ecclestone and Threlkeld built a small partnership in the following overs, knocking the singles to take the home side to 82 for 5 in the 17th before Threlkeld was dismissed by Dean, the right-arm off-spinner taking a smart catch off her own bowling.

Laura Marshall then lasted two deliveries before she got a big top edge on a ball from Tara Norris which popped up in the air nicely for Maia Bouchier to take a simple catch.

At the end of their innings, the Thunder had only managed 94 for 6, Ecclestone top-scoring with 28 off 32 balls. Dean starred with the ball, taking 3 for 16 off her four overs. It looked like a near-impossible task for the Thunder to defend their total and the real question was whether the Vipers could chase the total in under 16.4 overs to gain a bonus point victory and automatic qualification for the final.

Wyatt and Adams made a solid start for the Vipers, Wyatt hitting a six off Ecclestone in the third over, slog-sweeping the ball over deep mid-wicket to take her side to 22 for no-wicket.

She was dismissed by Alex Hartley in the fifth over, advancing down the wicket looking to swing into the leg side, but missed the ball completely and was stumped by Threlkeld.

Adams followed two balls later, Laura Jackson taking a smart catch inside the ring to give Cross a wicket, leaving the Vipers at 34 for 2 in the sixth over.

With both openers back in the dugout, Bouchier and Elwiss set about consolidating for the Vipers, working the singles to take their side to 52 for 2 at the halfway stage.

Bouchier was dismissed in the following over by Ecclestone, taking a good catch above her head to complete the caught and bowled. Kemp followed at the end of the 13th over, bowled by Jackson, but at this point, the Vipers were in cruise mode needing just 20 to win.

The victory, bonus point and qualification were wrapped up in the 16th over off the bat of Elwiss who finished with an unbeaten 38.

The Vipers once again didn’t put a foot wrong and deservedly qualify as the best group stage team. They will be back in action on Saturday against the Diamonds, whilst the Thunder will be back at Old Trafford on Friday to face the Lightning.

Follow @KatyaWitney on Twitter

MATCH REPORT: Diamonds v Thunder – Diamonds Heist at Headingley

Katya Witney at Headingley

The Northern Diamonds fought back to pull off an important victory against the Thunder at Headingley on Sunday and keep their finals day hopes alive.

Both sides went into the match on level points, well behind the Southern Vipers in group one and looking to bounce back after suffering defeats in the previous round of fixtures.

After electing to bat, Beth Heath and Sterre Kalis made a steady start for the Diamonds before Heath was dismissed for 13 by Emma Lamb in the fourth over.

Kalis looked and kept advancing down the pitch to advance the scoring rate but was unable to get the big shot away. At the halfway stage the Diamonds were 58-1.

Alex Hartley found the breakthrough in the 11th over, dismissing Kalis for 28 and Holly Armitage was clean bowled by Lamb after missing a sweep shot in the following over.

Phoebe Turner took centre stage in the 15th over to dismiss Leah Dobson and Leigh Kasperek in consecutive deliveries. The hattrick ball went straight through Abi Glen, missing the stumps and the keeper to run away to the boundary leaving the Diamonds 85-5 going into the final five.

Hannah Jones executed a smart throw from the boundary to run out Glen in the next over and after hitting three consecutive fours Lindsay Smith was dismissed by Hartley in the 17th.

The last over completed the collapse for the Diamonds, Jones taking the wickets of Turner, Marlow and Levick – all bowled – off the final four balls of the innings. From 78-3 in the 15th over, the Diamonds had collapsed to 124 all out, the Thunder spinners taking seven wickets between them and Lamb as ever bowling with control and picking up a couple of wickets.

Lamb and Boyce began the chase for the Thunder, and both looked in good touch as ever. By the fourth over they had reached 31-0 before, completely against the run of play, Boyce chipped a ball to Smith at cover and had to depart for 16.

Disaster struck for the Thunder in the seventh over as Lamb was run out for 15 thanks to a great throw from Dobson at deep midwicket and after looking untroubled in their respective innings both of the Thunder’s openers were back in the hutch.

Threlkeld was bowled by Katie Levick in the ninth over and was quickly followed by Shachi Pai, also dismissed by Levick for a two-ball duck prompting jubilant celebrations from the Diamond fielders. The home-side looked boosted by the breakthroughs and determined to capitalise.

Kasperek gave her team more reason to believe in the following over, dismissing Laura Jackson for a duck and reducing the Thunder to 52-5 still needing 73 to win at the halfway stage of the innings.

Collins and Marshall looked to rebuild during the middle overs, steadily consolidating a partnership of 25 by the end of the 14th over to give Thunder some hope.

Kasperek dismissed Collins in a bizarre manner in the following over. An edge popped straight up gently off the bat and keeper Heath dove forwards to catch the ball right at Collins’ feat, leaving her standing at the crease questioning whether the ball had been caught while her opponents celebrated around her.

Marshall was run out shortly after for 11 and Graham was bowled by Marlow in the following over. The wheels were well and truly off for the Thunder at 82-8.

Graham was bowled for 20 by Levick in the 19th over and Jones was run out the following ball to round-up proceedings and with the Thunder 99 all-out.

Speaking after the match Lee Kasperek said:

“Whatever runs you get you have to think that it’s good enough. Dani gave us a good pep talk at the interval, as well as Holly and just kind of, you know, tried to fire us up a little bit.”

“Usually coming in bowling in England’s not necessarily that much fun, so today was an absolute treat on a slightly slower pitch.”

“It’s awesome to have experience in the camp and we love playing at Headingley, there are pretty amazing facilities and stuff so it’s been awesome, and we got to train here yesterday.”

“We’ve got the day off tomorrow and then we’ll head up to Durham for the Lightning match and it’s a do or die situation, we’ve got to bring our best performance. I think we’ve just got to take it one game at a time and just look to Durham. We don’t want to look too far ahead and yeah, just give it our all.”

Follow @KatyaWitney on Twitter

PREVIEW: Northern Lights Ready To Shine As Scotland’s Women’s Premier League Begins

By Jake Perry

There is a new force to reckon with in the Women’s Premier League this year, with the Aberdeen-based Northern Lights making their debut in what promises to be the most hotly contested competition to date. With Watsonians and Grange now playing as separate entities and plenty of input from national and regional players, the eight-team division marks another important point in the upward trajectory of the domestic women’s game in Scotland.

Northern Lights skipper Megan McColl is in no doubt as to the significance of the moment.

“We’re really excited about having a team representing the clubs from the north,” she said. “It’s a big step forward and we’re going to enjoy playing our first game on Sunday.”

“Having the teams from Edinburgh and Glasgow come up to play cricket here is really important for the women and girls’ game in Scotland. Hopefully the Northern Lights will be the first of many more sides in the future.”

Last year saw virtually all of Scotland’s national players aligned with a WPL club – the only exceptions being Lightning’s Bryce sisters – but the addition of the Lights will make life considerably easier for those based north of the central belt.

“It was good to get involved in women’s cricket first and foremost, having only played men’s club cricket for Arbroath before,” said Megan, who scored 115 runs and took seven wickets in her three games for Watsonians/Grange. “It was great to play and see the different standards of the teams, but to have something in the north now is really good.”

“Along with myself we have Becky Glen, Abbie Hogg and Ailsa Lister [from the national set-up], as well as my sister Kirsty McColl and [Falkland’s] Emma Halliwell who are both part of the Scotland Under-19s. There’s also Zoe Baillie from Forfarshire, who is part of the emerging [group]. So we’ve got a good few Scotland players and up and coming Scotland players which will hopefully be good for our chances.”

While Carlton is again likely to be the team to beat – the depth and bedded-in structure of last season’s double-winners has enabled them to put out a women’s second XI this year – 2018 and ’19 champions Stewart’s Melville will also be amongst the favourites for both league and cup. West of Scotland, Dumfries & Galloway and RH Corstorphine also produced some excellent cricket over the course of the last campaign, as did Watsonians/Grange, who finished third in the final table. Watsonians will be the first to visit Mannofield next Sunday: before then, however, the league’s newest side is looking forward to a trip to a similarly iconic venue.

“It’ll be great to start our season at The Grange this weekend,” said Megan. “It’ll be the first time I’ve actually played there.”

“Hopefully we can make a good start, and come away with a win.”

Women’s Premier League – 22 May 2022

Grange v Northern Lights (at Portgower Place)

Carlton v McCrea FS West of Scotland (at Grange Loan)

Stewart’s Melville v Watsonians (at Inverleith)

Dumfries CC/Galloway CC v RH Corstorphine (at Nunholm)

Follow Jake Perry on Twitter

MATCH REPORT: Diamonds v Lightning – Winfield-Hill Wins It For Diamonds

Katya Witney at Loughborough

Haslegrave felt more like the Caribbean on Saturday as the North Group of the Charlotte Edwards Cup kicked off in stunning style with the star-studded Lightning and Northern Diamonds teams going head to head.

After the Northern Diamonds won the toss and elected to bat, spectators were treated to a destructive display from Lauren Winfield-Hill first up. She got off the mark straight away with an elegant flick off her pads into the leg-side and followed up with a boundary in the next over. Abigail Glen ably abetted her partner and the fifty came up for the Diamonds before the end of the fifth over.

Glen then departed for 25, looping a catch to Teresa Graves at backward point, leaving Winfield-Hill to take centre stage. The England opener took Kirstie Gordon for consecutive fours before advancing down the wicket to smash the first six of the match. She brought up her fifty off 24 balls and took her side into three figures off the first ball of the 11th over.

As the run rate slowed slightly in the middle overs, Winfield-Hill stepped up a gear, whacking three consecutive maximums in the 14th over to take her into the nineties.

It wasn’t to be a comeback hundred for the opener, however, as she was caught off a top edge on 96 looking to bring up her century in style. She left the field to a standing ovation from the away crowd.

With five overs left in their innings, the Diamonds were 145 for 2 and a big total was on the cards. However a flurry of wickets followed. Lee Kasperek’s debut for the Diamonds with the bat was short-lived as she departed for seven, followed by Rachel Hopkins for a duck in the next over and Beth Langston four balls later.

Armitage batted well to anchor the innings and a four off the final ball brought the total to 177, a tough ask for Lightning but not as tough as it could’ve been when Winfield Hill was in full flow.

Emma Marlow opened the bowling for the Diamonds and immediately made it tough for both openers to score, Tammy Beaumont Beaumont and Marie Kelly only managing a single each off the first over. 

The power-play was sedate by the standards set in the first innings but the Lightning were soon able to settle into the pitch, Rachel Slater conceding three fours down the ground in the fifth over.

By the halfway point, things were looking fairly positive for the Lightning with the openers building a solid platform and the required run-rate hovering at around ten an over. Just as there may have been some slight concern building for the Diamonds, Langston made the breakthrough, bowling Kelly for 46.

Katherine Bryce came to the crease but struggled to get going, only managing four off six before she was clean bowled by Marlow.

Beaumont was the crucial wicket and as the required run rate began to climb, she teed off. She hit Langston for three fours in an over and followed up with a powerful shot over the extra-cover boundary off Kasperek to bring up her fifty.

However, Marlow took the crucial wicket for her side in the 17th over, bowling Beaumont for 59. In a superb display from the young off-spinner, she finished with figures of 2-12 off her four overs.

With Beaumont back in the dug-out, the result was pretty much decided. Munro was out in the next over and Linsey Smith took two wickets in the final over to leave Lightening well short on 138 for 7.

The day belonged to Winfield-Hill who looked a class above anyone else and will be pleased with her comeback after a difficult winter.

Both sides will be back in action on Wednesday in the next round of fixtures.

Follow @KatyaWitney on Twitter

2022 Charlotte Edwards Cup and Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy Preview

The structure of the domestic season is still in flux after a) a global pandemic and b) the move from county to regional teams, but this year may be the first time we see the beginnings of a formula which future seasons will follow.

The season will begin with the T20 Charlotte Edwards Cup, starting this Saturday 14 May and culminating in a three-team Finals Day at Northampton on Saturday 11 June.

There will be two groups – Vipers, Thunder, Lightning, and Diamonds in one group; and Sparks, Storm, Sunrisers, and Stars in the other.

For the first time, the CE Cup will include a number of double-headers with the men’s Vitality Blast, and we have been promised that one of these will be televised (although there doesn’t seem to be any confirmation about which one it is – let us know if we’ve missed something!)

Then, from 2 July, teams will embark on their Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy campaigns (with a break in the middle for The Hundred), culminating in a Grand Final at Lord’s on Sunday 25 September.

In a reversal of last season, it’s likely that England players will be available for much of the CE Cup, but will miss the RHF Trophy in its entirety, requiring younger players to step up in the 50-over competition.

Which team will come out on top? Who will shine? Read on for our thoughts…

(NB: A full list of regional fixtures can be found here.)

WHO’S GOING TO WIN IT?

Southern Vipers have dominated regionals since their inception in 2020, winning two RHF Trophies along the way, but they will this be the year that they become a victim of their own success? There’s a good chance they will lose four key players (Bell, Bouchier, Dean and Wyatt) to England for much of the season, and this could open the way for others to challenge them in both formats. Diamonds (or Yorkshire, as they were) have finished 50-over runners-up in for the past 5 seasons, and were also the beaten finalists in last season’s Charlotte Edwards Cup, so we’re tipping them to share the silverware with Vipers this season.

WHO WILL GET THE WOODEN SPOON?

Sunrisers took home that dubious honour last season, and have recently lost a big asset in coach Trevor Griffin. He stepped down suddenly last month, leaving Sunrisers to draft in a replacement at the last minute – Laura Marsh. It remains to be seen how well Marsh will perform in her first Head Coach role, but she’s certainly got her work cut out for her – we think it could be another tricky season for the London-based side, whose squad is not much changed from 2021.

BREAKTHROUGH KID?

Our pick last season – Grace Scrivens – ended up not quite getting the opportunities she deserved, and being ultimately overshadowed by Alice Capsey; but she’s come into this season looking like she means business, with a string of captain’s knocks for Kent, so we almost went for her again. However, it’s actually another Kent player – Alexa Stonehouse – who we’ve got our eye on for this summer. The 17-year-old left-handed allrounder doesn’t bowl with lightning pace (yet!) but she looks to have good control (a-la Freya Davies) and she’s also been smashing it with the bat at Academy level. She’ll be playing for South East Stars in regionals, but has also been snapped up by Trent Rockets for The Hundred.

GOLDEN OLDIE?

We hope Marie Kelly won’t be too offended to be labelled a “golden oldie”, but to be fair, she has been playing senior domestic cricket since 2011! The 26-year-old made a big call at the end of the 2021 season, choosing to leave Central Sparks for Lightning, presumably in the hope of more opportunities with the bat. So far at least it looks to have been a smart move – she’s already smashed 69 from 29 balls in a warm-up against Sunrisers, and is likely to be opening the batting for Lightning come Saturday. If she can carry her pre-season form into the Lottie Cup, it could be a fun few weeks!

OVERALL MVP?

Syd: It must be more than 10 years ago now that Don Miles (of womenscricket.net fame) first told me about a kid who’d been setting fire to the County Age Group record books down in Sussex – that kid was Paige Scholfield, now coming into her prime aged 26. After a quiet season in 2021, following a back operation that spring, Scholfield looks ready to take on 2022 fitter and stronger than ever – there’s extra zip to her bowling, and more power in her hitting. With so many Vipers players likely to be called up for England duty, this is Scholfield’s chance to shine, and she looks in form to grab the opportunity with both hands.

Raf: Assuming Emma Lamb gets to play a decent amount of cricket for Thunder this season, she is going to be vital to both their campaigns, sitting atop the order and bowling her usual reliable off-spin. She’s just recorded Lancashire’s best ever T20 bowling figures, taking 5 for 5 in the T20 Cup Group 1 Final against Yorkshire as her side lifted the trophy, after earlier hitting 62* from 34 balls in the semi v Notts. The only snag will be if she gets another England call-up (but she probably won’t mind that too much as and when it happens!)

FULL SQUADS:

(NB: Some squads had not been fully confirmed at the time of writing.)

Central Sparks: Eve Jones (captain), Emily Arlott, Hannah Baker, Clare Boycott, Thea Brookes, Steph Butler, Ami Campbell, Georgia Davis, Gwenan Davies, Poppy Davies, Ria Fackrell, Abbey Freeborn, Sarah Glenn, Milly Home, Amy Jones, Anisha Patel, Davina Perrin, Grace Potts, Liz Russell, Issy Wong

Lightning: Kathryn Bryce (captain), Grace Ballinger, Tammy Beaumont, Sarah Bryce, Ella Claridge, Piepa Cleary, Bethan Ellis, Kirstie Gordon, Josie Groves, Teresa Graves, Beth Harmer, Lucy Higham, Marie Kelly, Michaela Kirk, Sophie Munro, Katie Midwood, Alicia Presland, Lenny Sims

Northern Diamonds: Hollie Armitage (captain), Katherine Brunt, Leah Dobson, Yvonne Graves, Jenny Gunn, Bess Heath, Rachel Hopkins, Sterre Kalis, Leigh Kasperek, Beth Langston, Katie Levick, Emma Marlow, Nat Sciver, Rachel Slater, Linsey Smith, Phoebe Turner, Lauren Winfield-Hill

South East Stars: Bryony Smith (captain), Chloe Brewer, Alice Capsey, Kira Chathli, Claudie Cooper, Aylish Cranstone, Alice Davidson-Richards, Freya Davies, Sophia Dunkley, Tash Farrant, Phoebe Franklin, Grace Gibbs, Eva Gray, Dani Gregory, Emma Jones, Ryana Macdonald-Gay, Kalea Moore, Rhianna Southby, Alexa Stonehouse, Kirstie White

Southern Vipers: Georgia Adams (captain), Lauren Bell, Maia Bouchier, Charlie Dean, Georgia Elwiss, Nancy Harman, Chloe Hill, Freya Kemp, Ella McCaughan, Alice Monaghan, Tara Norris, Carla Rudd, Paige Scholfield, Anya Shrubsole, Charlotte Taylor, Emily Windsor, Danni Wyatt

Sunrisers: Kelly Castle (captain), Amara Carr, Kate Coppack, Naomi Dattani, Jo Gardner, Gaya Gole, Cordelia Griffith, Lissy Macleod, Abtaha Maqsood, Sonali Patel, Mia Rogers, Grace Scrivens, Katherine Speed, Mady Villiers

Thunder: Ellie Threlkeld (captain), Georgie Boyce, Nat Brown, Alice Clarke, Danielle Collins, Kate Cross, Rebecca Duckworth, Alice Dyson, Sophie Ecclestone, Phoebe Graham, Alex Hartley, Liberty Heap, Laura Jackson, Hannah Jones, Emma Lamb, Laura Marshall, Daisy Mullan, Shachi Pai, Seren Smale, Sophia Turner

Western Storm: Sophie Luff (captain), Emma Corney, Emily Edgcombe, Lauren Filer, Katie George, Danielle Gibson, Alex Griffiths, Georgia Hennessy, Niamh Holland, Steph Hutchins, Heather Knight, Fi Morris, Claire Nicholas, Lauren Parfitt, Nat Wraith

MATCH REPORT: Yorkshire v Lancashire – Jobs For The Boyce

Katya Witney at Weetwood 

Winning her second toss of the day, Langston again elected to bat in the much-anticipated roses match.

Elise Good showed her intent immediately opening the batting, hitting Nat Brown over her head to get the scoreboard ticking in the first over. Hannah Buck scored the first boundary of the innings, tickling Brown off her hip and down to the fine-leg boundary.

However, Phoebe Graham halted the opener’s advances, sending the ball crashing into Buck’s stumps as the right-hander looked for an expansive drive.

After being dismissed off the third ball she faced in the morning game, Armitage looked in the mood to score, driving her first ball aerially down to the boundary.

Good departed in Alex Hartley’s first over, chipping a catch to Sophia Turner at short mid-wicket who took it well jumping to her left. Yorkshire ended the powerplay at 20 for 2.

Armitage continued to advance the run rate, scoring a boundary down to long-on off Emma Lamb’s first delivery. Phoebe Turner matched her energy, lofting Hartley over her head in the 7th over for another boundary but was out caught attempting to cut the ball to the rope off the last delivery of the over.

Yorkshire reached the halfway stage of the innings on 48 for 3, with a fair platform to build on. However, they had a stroke of luck minutes later as Armitage was dropped on the long-on boundary off a difficult chance.

Langston and Armitage upped the ante in the middle overs, taking their side to 74 for 3 by the end of the 13th, but Armitage was bowled off Hartley’s last delivery, the ball clipping the top of the bails leaving the white roses 88 for 4 going into the final five.

Langston fell shortly afterwards, and Yorkshire were in danger of squandering the platform they had built. Rachel Slater went next, coming down the wicket to Lamb and getting herself in a tangle, Jess Woolston followed her back to the dug-out in the next over.

Yorkshire limped to 109 for 8 at the end of their innings and, considering Lancashire’s total of 174 for 3 on the same pitch that morning, they looked well short.

Indeed, with Georgie Boyce scoring consecutive boundaries off the second and third ball of the innings, fears that Yorkshire did not have enough on the board were well-founded.

A six from Lamb put Lancashire a third of the way to their target by the end of just the third over.

Yorkshire didn’t take their chances either as Boyce was badly dropped at mid-on off the last ball of the fourth over and dropped again shortly after. Boyce then went on to bring up Lancashire’s fifty in the sixth over with back-to-back fours off Rachel Slater.

The white roses dropped Boyce yet again in the seventh over, this time compounded by the fielder tipping the ball over the boundary for six. Boyce brought up her half-century with the following ball.

With her team needing just seven to win in the twelfth over, Lamb chipped the ball in the air, and finally Yorkshire took a catch, an easy chance falling to Woolston. However, the result was now a formality.

Boyce wrapped it up in the following over, sealing the deal somewhat anti-climatically with a leg-by.

It was a statement from Lancashire. Despite riding their luck slightly, they looked the far better side, taking advantage of their regional and international players. They will take some beating on finals day next weekend.

Follow @KatyaWitney on Twitter