After Carlton were confirmed as winners of the Women’s Premier League last weekend, the next phase of Scotland’s domestic programme begins on Sunday as the Cricket Scotland Super Series gets underway at Lochlands. The T20 competition, which replaces the Regional Series, sees teams coached by Peter Ross and Daniel Sutton go head-to-head over five of the next six weekends.
Removing the geographical basis by which the Eagles and Stormers were selected, the new tournament is designed to provide a more balanced spread of players. With international cricket looking unlikely for Scotland in the short term, that improved competitiveness will be all the more important as the European Qualifier for the Women’s T20 World Cup gets closer.
“The main thinking behind the change is that we want to provide the highest quality of cricket we can for our current and aspiring national team players, and in the discussions between the high-performance group and senior management it was felt that taking the best players in the country and splitting them into two teams would provide the best contest,” said Peter. “It also removes the situation that we saw last year when we had one team with three wicket-keepers and one team with none, for example.
“Ultimately, it’s about recognising the need for higher-quality cricket, creating more competition for places, and just trying to make sure that the players are challenged as much as possible to prepare them for international cricket.”
“I think it’s a great move by Cricket Scotland,” agreed Daniel. “It gives the players that are currently Wildcats the opportunity to prove that they’re at that level and it gives a great opportunity to those who aren’t there yet to knock on the door and give Mark Coles a bit of a headache when it comes to selection.”
Flexibility in the make-up of the squads will also ensure that the Series’ competitive edge is kept keen.
“We want the best cricketers playing against each other,” said Daniel, “and if that means swapping every now and then to make sure the games are even and competitive, we’re happy to do that.”
Each squad features a mixture of established and up-and-coming players, with rising stars such as Catherine Holland, Emma Walsingham, Niamh Robertson-Jack and Nayma Shaikh rubbing shoulders with experienced Scotland internationals.
“The way the teams are matched means it’s going to be a good contest,” said Peter. “On my side we have Abbi Aitken-Drummond, who is coming off the back of a really productive WPL campaign where she batted up top for Carlton and was quite destructive in a couple of games. Becky Glen, too, is someone who’s always done the job with the national team, and it’ll be good for her to lead the squad.
“Abtaha Maqsood is available this weekend before she goes off to The Hundred to play for Birmingham Phoenix, and as ever she’ll be a real handful on the pitch. Hannah Rainey is in a really good spell at the minute, she bowled with good pace for Carlton and played well for the Performance Academy on Monday [taking 3 for 29 against the Northern Diamonds Academy at Alnwick]. Katherine Fraser is always excellent, and Megan McColl had a really productive series with the national squad in Ireland as well.
“So in terms of our senior players there’s a lot to be excited about, and then you’ve also got people like Catherine Holland, who had a good WPL campaign for Stewart’s Melville, Molly Paton too, and then a couple of others who are also trying to push their way into the team.”
“Katie McGill is going to captain the first weekend for us,” said Daniel. “She obviously brings a lot of experience with her and did really well in Ireland, and we’re hoping to benefit from that. Priyanaz Chatterji is going to be vice-captain, and again she brings loads of experience with her – because we’ve got quite a few younger girls in our squad it’s going to be important to have those leadership figures there to help and support them.
“I’m really looking forward to watching Orla Montgomery bowl,” he went on. “She’s probably the quickest bowler in Scotland, and is definitely one for the future. We’ll be encouraging her to bowl as quickly as she can – if she goes for a few runs, so be it, there’s not many girls who can bowl with pace in the female game at the moment, so she’s a great asset for our team.
“Overall a win would be great, but a few girls putting their hands up to say that they’re ready to play at this level would be even better.
“We’re also looking forward to the professional side of it,” Daniel concluded, “with the live-streaming, match officials, physios and so on. It feels like we’re arriving at the next stage of the women’s game in Scotland, towards it becoming more professional in this country.”
The Cricket Scotland Super Series will be live-scored and streamed via CS Live.
Ross XI: Becky Glen, Abtaha Maqsood, Abbi Aitken-Drummond, Ailsa Lister, Megan McColl, Emily Cavender, Katherine Fraser, Hannah Rainey, Catherine Holland, Molly Paton, Anne Sturgess, Zoe Rennie.
Sutton XI: Katie McGill, Priyanaz Chatterji, Ellen Watson, Samantha Haggo, Ikra Farooq, Lorna Jack, Charis Scott, Emma Walsingham, Emily Tucker, Niamh Robertson-Jack, Orla Montgomery, Nayma Shaikh.
As part of our ongoing coverage of men’s and women’s domestic cricket, The Cricket Scotland Podcast will include a round-up of the Super Series every Tuesday, with analysis and player interviews along with those from our other featured games. Follow @ScotlandPod on Twitter for all the latest information.