Carlton bring their Cricket Scotland Women’s Premier League season to a close this weekend having cemented their position at the top of the table. Last Sunday’s victory over West of Scotland ensured that no team in the competition will finish it unbeaten, and with just one hurdle remaining, captain Annette Aitken-Drummond is delighted to still be out in front.
“We’re really pleased,” she said. “Our aim at the start was to win every single game, so to lose the second one [to Stewart’s Melville] was quite disappointing for us.
“But I think it has boosted our performances since then, and it’s been really good to see how the girls have upped their game over the last couple of weeks or so. We’d like to finish the season off well if we can, too.”
Carlton’s campaign has been built on some exceptional individual contributions. Sam Haggo, Charis Scott and Abbi Aitken-Drummond have all starred at various times with the bat, while Annette herself tops the averages with 191 runs at 95.5. But while the side’s Scotland contingent plays a central role, other members of the squad have also thrived in the opportunities they have been given.
“I think Maisie Maceira has been a real stand-out for us,” said Annette, “for her wickets but also her attitude as well. Being able to play alongside internationals like Hannah [Rainey] and Abbi and Sam and Charis [has really helped her game] – a lot of them are bowlers, so it’s been about getting her to think more about field placements, throwing in some variations, things that she might not have thought about had she not played alongside those players.
“But whenever I’ve tossed her the ball and said go for it, she’s shown real heart. She’s hooping it in sometimes which is great to see, and her ability to perform under pressure has been really good as well. We got a team hat-trick last weekend, but I think she’s been on a hat-trick herself four times this season, which is absolutely nuts. And a lot of them have been bowled – Abbi in particular will say, bowl at the stumps, and that is the simple thing that Maisie does really well.”
But Annette has also been excited by the standard of the division as a whole, including at West of Scotland, who put in another good performance after their heroics against Royal High Corstorphine in Round Four.
“They were really good,” she enthused. “I was really impressed with them and the way they were set up. They’ve got some Scotland players in Abtaha [Maqsood] and Ellen [Watson], but I was very impressed with their bowlers, who bowled a really consistent line and length which I was struggling to get away, to be honest.
“Sophie Trickett played really well, too – she had no fear, just came in and absolutely biffed it. I love to see younger players who just come in and play a natural game. That’s what I try and say to the Carlton players, to just hit the ball, and she definitely came out and did that.
“They got off to a really good start, and if I’m honest I was looking at the scoreboard and panicking a little bit, but we managed to rein them in, and then having Abbi open the batting and play in the way she did, it just took the pressure off the rest of the team.”
Chasing 147, Abbi’s 23-ball 49, which included two sixes and six fours, set Carlton on their way to an eight-wicket win, with Annette scoring her second fifty of the summer and Hannah Rainey chipping in with a quickfire 37. A strong Royal High Corstorphine eleven is still to be overcome, however, with Annette expecting another tough challenge at Barnton.
“RHC have put in some impressive performances,” said the former Scotland international. “Ikra [Farooq] has been scoring quite a few runs and they’ve got a few more big hitters in the team as well.
“They should be well rested, too, after not playing last weekend, so it’ll be a real test for us.
“But we won’t be thinking too much about what they are doing. We’ll focus on what we do well, and hopefully we can carry on the form we’ve shown and finish the season off with a win.”
Elsewhere, fifth-placed Dumfries & Galloway entertain the in-form Watsonians/Grange, while second-placed Stewart’s Melville travel to Hamilton Crescent on the back of a hard-fought victory over D&G last weekend. With West of Scotland still hoping to rearrange their COVID-delayed fixtures the game is a must-win for both sides, each of whom, like Carlton, have been beaten only once this season. After this weekend only one full round of fixtures remains – the title race, though, is still very much alive.
Women’s Premier League – 27 June 2021
Dumfries & Galloway v Watsonians/Grange (at Gatehouse)
Royal High Corstorphine v Carlton (at Barnton)
West of Scotland v Stewart’s Melville (at Hamilton Crescent)
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