Inaugural Moray Girls Indoor Tournament
Cricket for the Moray Cricket Association club juniors and also local schools has definitely not gone to sleep over the winter. Far from it in fact! Indeed, whilst junior winter programmes at Buckie, Elgin, Fochabers and Forres St Lawrence cricket clubs all got under way at the beginning of the New Year those juniors involved in Moray Area squads, namely U-15 girls, U-15s and U-13s, have all been training since November under the eagle eye of experienced coaches Neil Nichol (Girls & U-13s) and Gus Farr (U-15s).
As part of this programme a new indoor league schedule has been put together for Moray’s junior club and secondary school cricketers and incorporating the Caledonian (North) region’s Under-15s Inter Area Indoor Championship.
This inaugural Moray programme was launched on 8 February at the Forres House Community Centre with the very first Moray Girls Indoor League. 5 teams drawn from the Moray Girls Winter training squad and clubs from Elgin, Fochabers, Forres and Huntly took part in the first of two round robin events; the format is 6-a-side pairs with each player bowling and batting using a soft-cricket ball.
Most of the girls are already familiar with the pairs concept as they have experienced this playing 8-a-side during their Primary School festivals and inter-club games but, of course, playing cricket indoors offers various challenges (& targets!) in a modified form of pairs cricket. Conventional pairs runs scoring (i.e. 200 runs start and minus 5 runs for wickets lost) is adapted to include bonuses for striking walls either on the full or the bounce with batters encouraged to keep the ball down as there are also more ways of being caught out (off either of the three walls) or by hitting the roof. There are no extra balls for the errant bowling resulting in wides and no-ball but the batting team gains extra runs.
It is a fast and can be quite a furious-paced game as the girls get used to the pace of the ball coming off the walls and angles too! Nevertheless, it provides the players with the game-time opportunities that a whole amount of winter skills honing and training won’t give them. Despite the newness of the format the girls took to it with gusto and, Iain McDonald, Chair of Moray Cricket Association, observed that ‘there was a lot of good cricket played today and there wasn’t a single bad game at all!’
As befitting the venue Forres were first up against local rivals Elgin A (there were two teams from Elgin) to become pioneers of women’s cricket in Moray! Elgin A ran out winners in this first encounter with the ‘B’ team also winning against a fairly strong Fochabers team led by Scotland U-15 development player Morven Pride. The games against these teams were the most keenly contested with Elgin A dominating their local rivals having, seemingly, grasped the intricacies of the format and playing indoors quicker than most; Captain Iona Thomson is one to look out for!
The arrival of Huntly’s girls and their three Scotland U-15 development players (Lorna Grant, Laura and Isobel Couttie) into the tournament certainly upped the anti! Despite their young years these are already an experienced and promising group of cricketers. Undoubtedly favourites for the tournament they did not disappoint in this first round, with crushing victories against Fochabers and Forres they proved what they could do and, but for the game against Elgin A which went down to the ultimate ball of the game to win by just 4 runs, they may have swept all before them.