Match report: A team v Northumberland by assistant coach Peter Ross
Sunday 27th May saw the Wildcats A team make their way to south west Scotland and the picturesque Dumfries CC ground for their penultimate ECB 50 over fixture of the season against Northumberland. Following the loss to Durham the previous weekend, everything was to play for across the final two fixtures to determine which team would win the league, and the Wildcats were in need of two clinical victories to even stand a chance of being in the running, whilst hoping Durham would slip up at the final hurdle.
Northumberland won the toss and elected to bat first on a pitch with a good covering of grass, and the Wildcats A new ball pairing of Katie McGill and Abbi Aitken utilised the additional seam movement and pace to beat the bat numerous times in the first several overs. Aitken was the first to make a breakthrough thanks to a smart running catch by Charlotte Dalton, and this was quickly followed by another catch off Aitken by wicketkeeper Sarah Bryce, to leave Northumberland on 22 for 2.
The introduction of the Wildcats A spin duo of Lois Wilkinson and Rachel Scholes sparked a mini collapse from Northumberland, as both spinners claimed 2 quick wickets each to put the hosts in the ascendancy. Scholes in particular bowled a terrific spell of 6 overs, 2 wickets for 6 runs (including 4 maidens).
Northumberland looked to rebuild the innings, but a change of bowling to Jess Mills and Abtaha Maqsood quickly brought the innings to a close, with both bowlers chipping in with two wickets. Northumberland ended on 66 all out, meaning that the A team would need to chase down the total in less than 17 overs to achieve maximum points from the match.
With the sun still shining, captain Lorna Jack and Sarah Bryce opened the batting, and both players were positive from the start, with Bryce in particular punishing any loose bowling. Despite both opening batters edging behind in quick succession after a promising partnership, Scholes and Wilkinson carried on the onslaught, with Scholes hitting the winnings runs through midwicket in the 11th over to see the Wildcats A home for a comprehensive 8 wicket win.
A professional performance from the Wildcats A team meant that everything was to play for in their final 50 over match the next day against Cumbria. Dumfries CC were outstanding hosts providing not just an excellent venue and pitch for the game, but also a barbeque in the evening for the players.
Match report: A team v Cumbria by assistant coach Ramzan Mohammed
It was another convincing win for the Wildcats A team against Cumbria at sunny and warm Nunholm in Dumfries. The hosts won the toss and elected to bat on a firm track.
Opener Sarah Bryce showed her attacking intent from ball one, dispatching a full toss to the square leg boundary. Partnered by Rachel Scholes, the pair raced the score to 32 off 4 overs, forcing the Cumbrians into early bowling changes and the introduction of spin. The first wicket partnership of 80 was broken when Scholes (21) was trapped LBW off the spin of Brown, followed six runs later when Bryce (46) was out LBW trying to sweep S Smith.
Despite the loss of 2 relatively quick wickets, order was restored with Lois Wilkinson and Ellen Watson building a partnership worth 80 which included a fine straight drive from Wilkinson.
Wilkinson (46) fell to a catch in the covers off the bowling of the Cumbrian based Wildcat Liz Priddle in the 28th over. Allrounder Katie McGill entered the fray, to join Watson in a 4th wicket partnership of 26 before Watson (35) chipped a straightforward catch to cover to leave the score on 192 for 4 in the 35th over. McGill then saw the lower order come and go but managed a well-deserved unbeaten 52, with the Wildcats finishing their innings on 259 for 8.
The Scots opened the bowling attack with the seam of McGill and Abbi Aitken. The Cumbrians were found playing and missing regularly against the Wildcat openers.
The visitors lost their first wicket in the 4th over, McGill finding the edge of S Smith (2) with Scholes grabbing a fine catch low to her left in the slips. Brown (7) followed soon after, being clean bowled by McGill in the 8th over.
At 20 for 2 the Scots had the upper hand, although with Heaton and M Smith at the crease, the visitors tried to rebuild and put on a 48-run partnership to take the score to 68 at which point they lost their next 3 wickets for no runs.
M Smith (7), fell LBW to Wilkinson, followed by Priddle (0) again LBW to Wilkinson and then Scholes from the other end dismissed Heaton with Wilkinson taking the catch. Wilkinson finished with 5 for 33 off her 10 overs, Scholes claimed 2 for 21 off her 10 and McGill, coming back on in the 32nd over, claimed her 3rd wicket for 10 runs to dismiss Cumbria for 85 all out to give the A team a well deserved 174 run win and a maximum 18 points from the game and 36 points from a very succesful weekend.
Unfortunately this wasn’t enough as Durham swept aside the challenge of both Cumbria and Northumberland to also claim maximum points from the weekend and end up divisional winners by just two points.
The A team can take lots of positives out of a 50 over campaign that resulted in five wins out of six games but will also be aware how costly one bad day at the office can be when trying to win a league.