The final round of the Cricket Scotland Women’s Super Series begins at Titwood this weekend, with the Ross and Sutton XIs locked at four-all in the ten-T20 competition. Their last visit to Clydesdale’s ground produced the highest-scoring day of the contest so far, and after 179 played 154 in the sides’ most recent meeting at Goldenacre, both head coaches are hoping for a similarly memorable end to what has been an excellent tournament overall.
“I think it’s been great,” said Daniel Sutton. “There have been quite a few girls who have shown exactly why they’re Wildcats, and there have also been a few who have shown that they are on the verge of playing at that level, too, which has been excellent.”
“The overall quality has been fairly high, especially [compared to] previous years, when the batting quality we’ve seen this year hasn’t been there as much,” said Peter Ross. “Teams have chased 150, 160, and we’ve had teams scoring 170, which is testament to the ability of the players and also to the exceptional facilities we’ve been using.
“Every ground has provided really good quality, high-scoring cricket, and in the women’s game especially, being able to play on such good pitches has allowed us to showcase the skills that the players have worked so hard on developing over these past 24 months.
“It’s challenged the batters to score quickly, but also the bowlers,” he went on. “In years gone by they had been used to defending 100, 120, whereas now they are being put under pressure to restrict scoring rates, which is a really good thing for them to experience.”
While the batters have often dominated, there have been some exceptional performances from the bowlers, too, with spinners Abbie Hogg and Katherine Fraser leading the way in the averages with twelve wickets apiece.
“Abbie has been excellent for us with her slow left-arm,” said Daniel, “and then the likes of Priyanaz Chatterji, Katie McGill and Lorna Jack have shown why they have so many caps for Scotland, too. They have been consistently good throughout the competition.”
“Abbi Aitken-Drummond has been our best batter so far, which has been a really exciting role for her to fulfil,” said Peter. “She has always had batting potential, but this year she’s really shown that she can do a job at the top of the order as well as in the middle. Megan McColl has been good across the board, scoring runs and always taking wickets, and the same is true of Katherine Fraser, who has been going at six runs an over when everyone else has been going at eight.
“But it’s also been a good chance for the younger players to be pushed in that environment, too, and it’s shown them exactly where they need to develop to be able to put in the performances they need to at that next level.”
And what of the wider future? The balancing of the teams according to specialism rather than location has led to four evenly matched and hard-fought days of cricket. For both coaches, the way ahead is clear.
“I think this format is the best way going forward,” said Daniel. “There’s probably not enough strength in depth at the moment to facilitate cricket at this level across three regions, so two teams of the best 22 girls playing against each other week in, week out is a good way to do it.”
“Based on the quality of the cricket we’ve had, it would be hard to argue a move away from this,” agreed Peter. “Almost every game has been close, which is a reflection of the teams that have been picked and how balanced they have been.
“I know that Cricket Scotland want to move towards a three-region approach as they have in the men’s stuff and at some point that will happen, but I think until that point in time you just want to have the highest quality cricket you can – the best cricketers in the country playing against each other on the best facilities we can provide.”
The Cricket Scotland Super Series will be live-scored and streamed via CS Live.
Ross XI: Abbi Aitken-Drummond, Ailsa Lister, Becky Glen, Megan McColl, Emily Cavender, Katherine Fraser, Hannah Rainey, Caitlin Ormiston, Anne Sturgess, Zoe Rennie, Lois Wilkinson.
Sutton XI: Katie McGill, Priyanaz Chatterji, Ellen Watson, Samantha Haggo, Lorna Jack, Abbie Hogg, Charis Scott, Emma Walsingham, Emily McKenzie, Orla Montgomery, Nayma Shaikh, Niamh Muir.
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.