The Cricket Scotland Women’s Regional Series resumes at Strathmore Cricket Club this Sunday as the Eagles and Stormers play the first of the four Twenty20 double-headers which make up the second phase of the competition.
With the series nicely poised at 1-1 after April’s fifty-over matches, both teams will be anxious to claim an early advantage as well as highlight their individual claims for Scotland selection.
“I think the games so far have shown the ability that’s in Scottish women’s cricket,” said Stormers Head Coach Iain Stewart. “We’ve all had times that have gone well and those that have gone not so well, and at one-all after the one-dayers it’s really well set between two teams where there’s not very much in it to be honest. There is a depth we didn’t have before with a lot of strong players, and having two games in the one day with the T20s starting makes the next phase really exciting.”
“It’s been a pretty even contest,” agreed his Eagles counterpart Gordon Allan. “In the first game Kathryn Bryce made a huge difference for us with the bat. She got that hundred and kicked on and made the most of the opportunity that she was given, whereas they had a couple of batters who got in and then got out, which was the key difference in the match at Freuchie.
“But at Uddingston the Stormers fought back well. We thought that we were in a decent position at the halfway point, but they bowled and fielded extremely well to put us under pressure and we didn’t react well enough to that.”
After its relaunch last season, the 2019 series has seen the addition of a second fifty-over match to its schedule, but it is T20 cricket which remains the primary focus of the tournament.
“In the format of the competition we’re trying to follow what the national team are doing and equip the girls for that as much as possible,” said Gordon. “It seems that the ICC are putting a bit more of a focus on twenty-over cricket when it comes to females, and that’s why a fair chunk of this series is T20 rather than fifty-over matches.
“But in terms of the Regional Series itself, it’s clear that the identities of the two teams are becoming stronger. When you’re in and around the groups of players, whether it’s at games or with the ‘A’ team or whatever it may be, there’s a bit of banter going on between Eagles and Stormers, which shows that the players are becoming more attached to their teams. That’s something I can only see growing in the years to come.”
“The rebranding has been a really good decision,” said Iain, “particularly from our point of view. That ‘Rest of Scotland’ name we had before just didn’t fly, but as the Stormers we have a much better and more equal identity.
“In the long run I think we’re all hoping that we can get West and Caledonian women’s cricket to a stage where the Stormers could split into two districts in the same way as the men, but at the moment we’re all pulling in the one direction.”
With Scotland’s European Qualifier in La Manga just around the corner, both coaches are looking for a strong performance from their respective teams in Forfar.
“I think we’ll see two pretty tight matches,” said Gordon. “The teams are evenly matched and it’s a good wicket at Strathmore so they’ll be good games. We were 1-1 there last season and I’d expect it to be close again, but I’d like to think that we can put right what we didn’t quite manage to do in Uddingston and hopefully get ourselves a couple of wins.”
“We’re missing Rachel Scholes for this one as well as Ellen Watson,” said Iain, “who are both terrific cricketers. But Lois [Wilkinson] always steps up, she has had a wee run with the Scotland ‘A’ captaincy and is a real senior player who thinks about the game extremely articulately.
“Lorna Jack will captain in Scholesy’s absence with Laura Grant as her junior vice-captain, and we also have Zoe Rennie, who in addition to doing well for Scotland U-17s plays basketball and netball for Scotland, too. Expect to see her in the thick of things, and Abbie Hogg as well, she played well in Uddingston and is growing in confidence all the time.
“We just can’t wait to get cracking again. We just need some decent weather in Forfar, some bridies at tea, and we’re laughing!”
Entry to the T20 double-header at Strathmore CC on Sunday June 2nd is free. The matches will also be streamed live on the Cricket Scotland channel (available via YouTube).