While the ins and outs at the top of the Women’s Premier League are naturally attracting most attention – with two rounds to go, Carlton’s stunning win over Northern Lights has moved them into pole position in the race for its title – every club in the division has its own story to tell. Grange has had a tough introduction to life in the competition, but as skipper Catherine Edwards explains, the success of her young side should be measured in more than its results on the field alone.
“I think we’ve made a lot of progress, even though you can’t always see that in the scores,” she said. “We’ve journeyed from the start of the season where we weren’t particularly strong with the ball, to playing Watsonians and bowling them out, which is the first time we’ve ever done that as a team. We haven’t got a win yet but we’re making progress in our own goals, and that’s a really positive thing to see.
“Going forward, we’ll continue to work on our skills,” she continued. “The fact that we’ve got such a young side is really promising, because in a few years’ time these are the girls that will be leading the way. So this is about continuing to gain experience out on the field, trying to play as much as we can, and to keep on learning together.”
Alongside Niamh Robertson-Jack, who, like Catherine, has represented Scotland at age-group level, there is plenty more of that talent there to develop.
“We have girls like Katinka [Hutchinson] and Venetia [Hunt], who if we can get playing here more will be great, but there are lots of youngsters like Jasmin Mitchell, Isla Derry and Bea Lusty who just seem to love the game so much and are genuinely excited to play every weekend,” said Catherine. “If we can keep these girls engaged they’ll be the future of our side.”
It has been a long road back to fitness for Grange’s young captain. A broken foot put a sudden halt to Catherine’s progress through the national ranks in 2018: her return to action last season with the then Watsonians/Grange was as a more philosophical player.
“I had quite a long journey back because my injury ended up taking a long time to heal because it wasn’t picked up for a while,” she said, “and then it went into covid and everything so I basically stopped completely and thought that that was going to be it for me as far as cricket was concerned.
“I kept going through coaching – I do a lot of that – and I started playing socially again with the threes at Grange. But having the women’s side here now has been a really positive thing in keeping me in cricket because it’s given me the chance to take on a role rather than just following the flow, you could say. I’m really happy with how things are at the moment: I love the coaching that I’m doing and being able to have the role I have at Grange. I’ll be off to Uni but staying in Edinburgh in September so there’s quite a lot going on, but I’m very pleased to be where I am.”
It has been a difficult season for her side, with a trip to Inverleith next on its schedule. But that sense of positivity, so evident in the opening-day commemorations which marked the first appearance of a Grange women’s team at Portgower Place since the 1990s, gives plenty of cause for optimism.
“It’s always really hard with a young side, especially at this time of year with the million things that happen at the end of the school term, but we still have lots of girls who are really, really keen to get out on the pitch whenever they can,” said Catherine. “So hopefully we’ll be okay this week and be able to put in a strong performance and carry on improving as we have.”
With Carlton facing Watsonians after edging clear at the top of the table, Northern Lights’ game at Doo’cot Park against a resurgent Dumfries and Galloway is a must-win for the league’s hitherto dominant side. The other team in the mix, third-placed West of Scotland, entertain RH Corstorphine at Hamilton Crescent: with Carlton facing RHC, West Grange and the Lights Stew-Mel in next week’s final round, the team from Mannofield suddenly has it all to do to claim the maiden title for which it had looked set.
Women’s Premier League – 22 May 2022
Stewart’s Melville v Grange (at Inverleith)
McCrea FS West of Scotland v RH Corstorphine (at Hamilton Crescent)
Dumfries CC/Galloway CC v Northern Lights (at Doo’cot Park)
Watsonians v Carlton (at Craiglockhart)
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