Sandy Strang: T20 contests are the way ahead as ladies prepare to take centre stage
It’s the ladies’ turn now. Scotland’s women cricketers take centre stage for the next fortnight, as the Under-17s and the senior Wildcats squads take on a series of predominantly T20 challenges.
First up at picturesque Fettes College this week the Under-17 Wildcats are presently going head-to-head with their Irish counterparts in three T20 contests, rounded off with a 35-over tussle tomorrow.
Captained by full Wildcats captain Kathryn Bryce, the Scots girls are in positive mood following an excellent showing last time out when they beat a strong Leicestershire side by 28 runs, Bryce herself leading the way with a match-winning 77. Women’s Cricket Manager Kari Carswell has been eagerly anticipating this week’s Irish clashes: “These matches are crucial for our entire Under-17 squad, and will play a major part in developing their tactical awareness and cricket skills.”
Then next week our senior ladies squad travel to Derry and the T20 European Championships at Bready CC from 14 to 16 August. Captained by Aberdeenshire’s Abbi Aitken, and greatly strengthened by the availability of star Carlton all-rounder Leigh Kasperak, who has been out on loan to Essex for the ECB County Championship, the Scots will meet the Netherlands and hosts Ireland, whom they beat in a last-ball thriller in the 2011 competition.
Our ladies head for Ireland in good heart. A heroic run chase at Tring in Sunday’s ECB Championship Division 3 match against powerful Hertfordshire saw the Scots edged out by just one agonising run. This followed an outstanding morale-boosting win at Wellingborough against Northants, as our girls chased down the English County’s 130 for 9 for the loss of just three wickets with a full six of the allotted 40 overs still remaining.
“That’s the most disciplined we’ve been in all three areas of the game,” enthuses coach and senior batter Stirling County’s Kari Anderson, whose 110-run partnership with Aberdeenshire’s Fiona Urquhart was pivotal, both girls notching 50s. “We’ve a good balance of youth and experience,” stresses Kari as she finalises preparations for the Europeans. “We feel we’ve improved hugely as a squad over a short period of time, and we’re all really excited about what we have the potential to do.”
This current raft of T20 contests augur well for both our senior and junior teams in a week when Clare Connor MBE, legendary former England Ladies captain, veteran of more than 100 ODIs and Tests, now Chairwoman of the ICC Women’s Cricket Committee, has laid down a significant marker. “T20 is definitely the way forward for women’s cricket,” she said. “At a time when a women’s Test hasn’t been played since early 2011 the shorter format offers the best chance to increase visibility, and to expand the ladies game from both a participation and a commercial perspective – particularly if major T20 tournaments are played simultaneously with the men’s competitions.”
Scottish women’s cricket has a very long way to go in an international context, but these next two key weeks in the T20 arena could well prove to be a significant milestone in a potentially very exciting journey ahead for our rising lady stars. Go to it, girls!
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
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