The third edition of the Women’s Regional Series gets underway at Strathmore CC this Sunday with the first of two T20 double-headers between the Eagles and Stormers. Covid restrictions mean that only the shortest format will be played this year, but as the Eagles look to retain their T20 title after a four-one triumph last time out, the rivalry between the two will be no less intense because of it.
Both sides have new head coaches at the helm, but despite the lack of training time with their new charges, both Colin Siller and Daniel Sutton are looking forward to the opportunity that lies ahead.
“First of all, it’s great to have some cricket on, and a lot of credit has to go to Cricket Scotland for getting things up and running again, so a massive thank you to them,” said Daniel, who has taken on the Stormers mantle from Iain Stewart. “This will be my first game with the Stormers so I’m looking forward to seeing what the team can offer.
“Obviously our preparations have been a bit hit and miss due to Covid. We had trials for the squad but we didn’t manage to get any actual training in, so it’s been pretty tricky!”
“We only had one practice which was literally the week before lockdown,” said Colin, who has succeeded Gordon Allan as Eagles coach, “and a lot of the players were away, either overseas or down south, so I’ve not actually seen half the squad play just yet! But I would hope that the players who are on the verge of the Wildcats can show that they’re good enough to be in there, and those who are already established can show exactly why that is.”
The pathway from the Regional sides to the national team is an increasingly busy one, with the example of Wildcats stars Katherine Fraser and Hannah Rainey showing the rewards for impressing on the domestic stage. For Colin, the place of the series as a testing ground for the future is a vitally important one.
“[The competition gives] the younger players who have made the breakthrough into the Wildcats the chance to cement their place, and those who are trying to make that next step up [the opportunity to do so]. And for somebody like Katherine, we have made her vice-captain because we see her as a potential Wildcats captain in the years to come. Because of availability we have two different captains for the two weekends coming up: Abbi Aitken-Drummond will captain this Sunday and then Katie McGill will take over on the 20th, so Katherine will have the two more experienced players in the side to mentor her in that vice-captain role.”
Alongside the Scotland stars on show, there are also a number of up-and-coming names to look out for.
“We have a few younger girls who have come into the squad,” said Daniel. “Orla Montgomery [who made her debut for Scotland ‘A’ against North East Warriors at the end of August] is one to watch, [Stenhousemuir’s] Niamh Robertson-Jack too. It’ll be good to see how they and the others perform and deal with the pressure of the competition.”
“One new name for us is Emma Walsingham, who plays for Edinburgh South,” said Colin. “She goes to school in Newcastle but plays her cricket up here. It was Katie McGill who first recommended her, and a few others in the squad had played against her and agreed, so we’re hoping that she is available. She’s a good young player with a bright future.
“Looking ahead to the weekend, one unfortunate bit of news is that Charis Scott was injured playing for Scotland ‘A’ against Yorkshire the other day, so she is definitely out for Sunday and may be out for the 20th as well. She’s hoping to be fit, but as it’s a finger injury you never really know what’s going to happen.
“But Ikra Farooq has also been doing well for Scotland ‘A’, and hopefully she’ll continue that run of form for us at Strathmore.”
The Stormers will also look to blend their young talent with the experience of their Scotland regulars.
“Naz [Priyanaz Chatterji] is going to captain us for the two games coming up, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how she leads the team,” said Daniel. “She’s obviously a really good bowler and batter as well. We’re missing a couple of players overall, but it’s a strong team.
“And we’re looking to win,” he concluded. “This is high performance cricket and winning is important. Hopefully the girls will put in four good performances and see us home.”