Carlton have been crowned Cricket Scotland Women’s Premier League champions after the final game of the season was concluded at Myreside on Sunday. West of Scotland’s 116-run defeat to Watsonians/Grange ensured that the Grange Loan team could not be overtaken at the top of the table they have led for all but a single week of the competition.
“We’re really delighted,” Carlton captain Annette Aitken-Drummond told The Cricket Scotland Podcast. “That was our main aim, to win the league this season. To win all but one of our games has been really impressive, and everyone’s worked really hard to achieve it.”
The evidence of that effort is clear to see. Carlton’s dominance with the bat saw them rack up over a thousand runs over the course of the campaign, with Charis Scott, who scored 209 runs at 52.25, and Annette herself, with 198 at 66.00, occupying the first two places in the batting averages. With 13 wickets at 12.31, Charis finished at the head of the bowling table, too, narrowly ahead of young prospect Maisie Maceira, who took 12 at an average of exactly 10.00.
“In our first game Charis was definitely the stand-out,” said Annette, “and she [continued to contribute] with the bat and the ball all season. In the last game she stood up when we were struggling, and that’s when you need players who are going to go in and do the job for you.
“I’ve been really impressed with Maisie as well,” she continued. “She’s bowled really well and has taken a lot of wickets for us. And then Abbi [Aitken-Drummond] has hit quite a lot of runs, Sammy [Haggo] hit some runs [and] Hannah [Rainey] bowled really well without reaping the rewards, but having her open as a serious quick for us [has been] a great advantage. Young Ashley Robertson [with 5 wickets at 4.20] has impressed over the last couple of games with the ball, too.
“But what’s impressed me most is how deep our squad can bat,” said Annette, “and I think where some of the WPL teams are perhaps reliant on one or two batters, the last game showed that we can bat pretty well into our squad and that we’ve got a lot of players willing to step up when we need them to.”
There have been several moments over the course of the season when just that has happened.
“Charis’s knock of 97 in the first game set us up for a really good start, and although I didn’t play in the second game against Stew-Mel, I know Sammy batted really well and we were quite unfortunate to lose,” Annette continued. “We had some good catches in the field against George Watson’s – Sarah Beith took a great double-mid-air catch which was quite incredible to watch – and Amelia [Beattie] has taken a few good ones as well. Maisie took a five-fer against Dumfries & Galloway, which was definitely an outstanding moment, and against West of Scotland Abbi’s batting was pretty awesome, too.
“And then in the last game against Royal High Corstorphine we were definitely under the pump for a little bit at [34 for 4], so for Charis and Zaara [Dancu] to come in and steady the ship and then start scoring runs to give us something to defend, that was really good to watch.”
But perhaps most the pleasing aspect of Carlton’s victory is the ongoing story behind it. That the team has found a winning mix of internationals, up-and-coming young talent and truly dedicated club players is no accident: the structure of the club, and the focus it places upon the women’s game, has sown the seeds of its success.
“I remember when I first joined Carlton when I first moved to Edinburgh,” said Annette. “There were maybe five or six of us at the nets, I’d say. But the thing I remember is that after training somebody cooked, and we all sat and ate together, and that team and social atmosphere still continues to this day.
“We’ve got a women’s committee at Carlton, and we’ve tried quite hard to make it fun, but [alongside that] we’ve got a really talented coach in Peter Ross who the girls and women are all learning from.
“And the club have put the women’s section at the forefront of a lot of things. We’re the second team mentioned on social media, for example, and it’s tiny little things like that that make you feel important and a real part of the club.
“We’re in the best place now that we’ve ever been – we’ve got about 25 women training regularly on a Friday night, and it’s going onwards and upwards.
“It’s a brilliant club, but as a woman it’s a brilliant club to be a part of.”
This week’s edition of The Cricket Scotland Podcast will include the full interview with Annette, as well as a report of the Watsonians/Grange v West of Scotland game. The podcast will also be providing full coverage of the upcoming Super Series, as well as the Beyond Boundaries Scottish Cup, which begins next month. Follow @ScotlandPod on Twitter for all the latest information.