A familiar feature in these early season match reports, the British weather, was on top form on Sunday as our ladies team travelled to play our friends at Hurstpierpoint CC under cloudy skies and the imminent threat of rain. Charley won the toss and elected to bat first, we had a very young side out for the first game of the season and the thinking was to try and get runs on the board ahead of any weather that might come our way.

Charley and Izzy Deamer made their way to the middle, making a cautious start before Charley was bowled. Beth Coffey, promoted to number three settled well and together with Izzy started to rebuild the innings. Izzy was quickly into her stride, driving well and putting away the overpitched delivery, as well as pulling the ball away to the ropes when it was dropped short. Beth rotated the strike well, looking to give Izzy as much of the strike as possible before she started to grow in confidence. With the score on 48, Izzy was dismissed for a well made 26 and a nervous looking Charlotte Bates joined Beth. After a cagey start, Charlotte started to find her feet and began to find the boundary regularly, favouring the leg side but taking off side opportunities as they came along. Beth was slightly early on a leg side ball that flicked the edge on the way through to the keeper which brought Amy Butterfill in at number 5. Amy launched her first ball to the boundary for four and added another four shortly after, striking the ball very cleanly and looking set to build a big innings along with Charlotte who by now had accelerated past her previous career best score of 30. Amy was unfortunate to then skew a ball to point where it was well held before Kim Short came in to support Charlotte and take the score onto 80 before she was bowled by a full, straight ball. Katie Read came in and played a lovely drive for four and continued to mix patience with well judged running as the rain began to fall. Katie then received a good ball that saw her bowled before the unlucky Lucy McNiven followed suit , again bowled having hung around and blocked well. We then had a loan batter, Eva, come to the crease and she demonstrated stout resistance. With the rain still falling and a declaration in mind, we checked with the scorers to discover that Charlotte was on 42. Shortly afterwards, Charlotte celebrated her maiden fifty, having bludgeoned a short ball to the square leg boundary and then scampering a sharp single through midwicket. At the end of the 27th over, Charley called the girls in and we closed on 147 for 7, Charlotte remaining unbeaten on a brilliant 51 not out.

Following a damp tea break, the rain relented enough for us to restart with Beth and Amy taking the new ball. Conditions were tricky and before long the ball was wet and both bowlers worried about losing their footing. Amy made our first breakthrough will a full ball that swung in and rapped the opener on the pads in front of all three stumps. She followed this up shortly with another excellent inswinger which cannoned off the batters pads and onto the stumps. Beth was replaced at the top end by Katie Read and although her first delivery was despatched to the boundary she recovered well to pick up our third and fourth wickets in her 3rd over, a double wicket maiden, both bowled. Charley came on for a bowl from the bottom end and made an immediate impact with a ball that turned from outside leg and hit leg stump. Katie picked up her third wicket to register career best bowling figures before Charley made the telling breakthrough, dismissing the dangerous Hurst skipper for an excellent 37. Charley then rang the changes in the bowling attack, Lucy McNiven on debut produced two very quick overs to grab two wickets, the first bowled and the second courtesy of a juggled catch behind from the reliable Izzy. Lydia Preston, our U11 skipper who had fielded superbly came on for a bowl and was unlucky not to pick up a wicket, also producing a lifting delivery which smashed the batter on the gloves. Kim bowled a tidy over and it was left to Beth to finish off the innings with a full delivery which crashed into the timbers of the Hurst number 10.

As ever, a very enjoyable game against Hurst Ladies, we will look forward to a couple of league games during the summer months when the weather is hopefully better! A very pleasing display from our ladies, especially given the lack of experience in the ranks. With 5 players making their ladies outdoor debuts it was great to see them all involved, particularly our younger girls who threw themselves into the game. Charlotte’s fifty was a well-timed innings, coming off just 44 balls and it was good to see Izzy in form with the bat. Beth proved that she can develop into a very useful batter and Amy showed again that she will score runs. Bowling wise, all of our bowlers bowled well, Amy and Katie in particular looked very dangerous. Charley produced a good spell and will pick up plenty of wickets in 2017. Lucy bowled with genuine pace and surprised everyone, she looked a real handful and will only get better.

Thank you to Jez and Emma for scoring, and a huge thank you to everyone who came to watch, don’t put those blankets away yet! Also, thank you to Lydia for playing despite having never played a hardball game before.