On Sunday afternoon we welcomed Steyning to St John’s Park to play our U15 Girls. Unusually, the ground was bathed in sunshine as Adeline won the toss and decided to have first use of the artificial wicket. Adeline and Jodie made their way out to the middle and began in a confident manner, working the ball into the gaps and running well. Adeline was quickly into her stride, finding the off side boundary with increasing regularity and making the most of the fast outfield. Driving with her usual panache, she reached the retirement score of 25 off just 21 balls and along with Jodie was responsible for a second successive excellent opening partnership at this level. Jodie was also growing in confidence, unleashing some lovely cover drives and continuing to keep the run rate high with well judged runs, the perfect foil for her opening partner. Amy came in as Adeline retired and quickly got off the mark before unluckily falling victim to an excellent one-handed catch in the deep, most other days a ball hit as hard and as cleanly as that will clear not only the fielder but the ropes as well. Kim came to the crease and ticked things over with Jodie, who retired for a classy 25. Kim and Chloe then played watchfully against some good bowling. Chloe, having played a couple of nice shots to register two singles fell victim to a turning delivery to bring Katie to the crease. Katie was watchful at first but played with incredible maturity, picking up the singles wherever she could and doing her best to keep our momentum going with Kim. Kim then played across the line to a straight ball and was trapped in front of all three stumps, one of the more straightforward lbw decisions I’ll have this season! Amelie was unfortunate to be bowled off her knee before Hannah was equally unlucky to glove a ball down the leg side to the keeper who took an excellent catch. That brought Adeline back in and there was time enough for her to unleash another couple of fierce drives and together with Katie, who was now growing in confidence and playing some excellent shots, they took our score to 128-5 from our allotted 20 overs.
Steyning opened up following a short break and were on the attack straight away. We struggled to contain them early on and their two openers capitalised well, finding the boundary regularly. In a similar pattern to our innings, both openers retired and it was only the introduction of Katie into the attack that decreased the flow of runs. It was Katie who made the initial and much-needed breakthrough with a beautifully flighted delivery which snuck through the advancing batter and clattered into the stumps. Katie followed this up moments later with an almost identical ball and we were suddenly back in the game. Hannah had bowled well and economically and she was rewarded with a well deserved wicket as she picked up the Steyning skipper. Amelie returned to the attack and picked up a wicket and a run out from her own bowling. With Steyning 5 down, Amy also came back to bowl and produced some great deliveries at the death making it difficult for the Steyning batters to score but with 1 ball to spare they passed our total to snatch the win.
So a good performance against a very good team, to take the game as deep as we did was a great achievement. The batting was good, Jodie and Adeline make a great partnership at the top of the order and the other batters showed signs that they will all contribute during the season. Katie was the pick of the bowlers claiming 2 for 18, well backed up by Hannah who bowled 4 overs and took 1-19. While some of our other bowlers may have struggled at times, they still bowled good deliveries during their spells. Our fielding however, was ordinary at times, although Jodie was very, very good behind the stumps, showing increasing confidence in her ability. We were very quiet at times in the field with a tendency to sit too deep, but these are generally minor gripes that we can improve on in time. We’ve also got to stop beating ourselves up for making mistakes, nobody is perfect and it is without doubt the best way to learn. I don’t expect or demand perfection from any player and you can still enjoy your cricket even when it’s not going your way. Keep encouraging each other, keep supporting each other and keep believing in each other. It does make a difference.
Thanks to Jez for scoring, Jackie for tea organisation and as always, to everyone who came to watch and support.