Wildcats open their ECB Championship account
The Wildcats headed south on Saturday (4th May) to play a double header against Leicestershire and Derbyshire in their opening fixtures of the ECB County Championships in Division 3.
The Wildcats were forced into a few changes in personnel following last week’s fixtures against Japan, as University commitments meant Abbi Aitken, Lorna Jack, Nadia Wheeler, Sam Haggo and Liz Priddle all stayed at home but this gave others the opportunity to step in and gain some valuable experience.
Baldon Hill Sports Club was the venue for the game against Leicestershire and the opposition opted to have first use of the pitch, electing to bat first.
Lynne Dickson captained the team as Rachel Scholes and Kathryn White took the new ball. Both bowled exceptionally well to restrict the hosts to 22/0 after 10 overs.
The slow scoring rate soon came to an end as opener Leach put anything loose to the boundary and was the mainstay of the Leicestershire innings scoring a rapid 86. The Wildcats bowlers at times struggled with length and soon found that anything too full or short would be comprehensively dispatched.
Rachel Scholes was the most economical bowler conceding 24 runs from her 9 overs as Leicestershire finished on 225/6 off their allotted 50 overs.
Fi Urquhart and Ollie Rae opened up for the Wildcats and with the score on 15, Rae was caught behind. Urquhart was playing with freedom and progressed quickly onto 31 until she hit a full toss to the fielder at midwicket to be dismissed with the score on 58/2 in the 14th over.
Charlotte Bascombe was next to join the impressive Rachel Scholes and their partnership of 78 kept the Wildcats in the game, but when Scholes was dismissed for 70 the middle and lower order struggled to keep up with the required run rate and the Wildcats went from 173/4 to 187 all out, with Bascombe not out for 44.
Next up for the Wildcats was a short trip to the picturesque Lullington Park Cricket Club to play Derbyshire. Stand in Captain Lynne Dickson lost the toss (again!) and the Wildcats were asked to field first under blue skies (a first for a while!). White and Scholes were trusted with the new ball again and the breakthrough came in the 9th over when the dangerous Horton was bowled by White for 22, leaving the hosts on 34/1.
In the very next over Scholes had Vernon out bowled for 5 and the Wildcats were looking for more quick wickets, but the Derbyshire batters had other ideas. A partnership of 54 between Grimbley and Hopkins pushed the score to 88 - Enter Briony Gillin! In her 4 over spell Briony bowled superbly well to take 3-14 off 4 overs leaving to leave Derbyshire 120/7 in the 32nd over.
Not to be out done young left arm spinner Kirstie Gordon picked up 2 wickets for 4 runs in as many overs and when Scholes returned to the attack to finish the job as Derbyshire were bowled out for 132 after 38.2 overs.
Urquhart and Rae again opened the batting but Urquhart couldn’t repeat her run scoring from the day before and was out second ball of the reply, caught at slip with the score on 1. It appeared that Rachel Scholes wasn’t going to hang around after crashing her second ball for 4. Scholes and Rae built an excellent partnership of 126. Rae was content to pick up singles and allow Scholes the strike. Scholes clearly liked the pitch and conditions scoring an impressive 94 not out from 86 balls, playing shots all-round the wicket. When Rae was dismissed for a patient 20, Bascombe made sure the job was completed without any drama. The Wildcats reached the total after 31.4 overs.
Wildcats coach Kari Carswell said, “It’s been a good weekend on the whole. Of course we would have liked to come away with two wins but that wasn’t to be. We’ve played some good cricket at times and we really showed a lot of character and belief to put in two very good performances.
It was disappointing against Leicestershire to lose so many wickets quickly and not quite bowl as we know we can, but the girls will learn from this and that is crucial to the development of this team and the squad as a whole.
Against Derbyshire we executed our game plans much better and that is really pleasing to see. The girls are starting to play with freedom which is what we’ve been asking them to do.
We have a determined squad who work incredibly hard for each other and as individuals on their own game. It’s a long season for us and we want to keep improving as we go. On behalf of the squad I would like to say a big thanks to Debbie Noble and Fiona Sheridan who came away with us, you’re part of the squad now!”