Team: Erin Goodwin (captain); Alice Kottler; Evie Mayhew; Rosie Davis; Claudie Dexter; Bea Sheridan; Hope Jones.
With a squad of new recruits and only one training session under their belt, the U11s didn’t look likely to find 8 players to field a team on a rainy bank holiday in North London, but both the weather and crickets gods were with us and we went into the annual Lady Taverner’s tournament a player short but with a promising team sheet.
Erin made her debut as BPG team captain to lead a nervous group of girls who barely knew each other’s names into their first match of the round robin against North Middlesex. After “borrowing” a player from the opposition for this match, BPG went in to bat with the opening partnership of “veteran U11s” Erin and Alice leading by example with some great calling between the wickets to get some much-needed early runs on the board. All girls batted soundly, with Claudie and Rosie adding some nicely placed boundaries for BPG to finish the 8 overs with a respectable total. Although the fielding was tentative, some neat bowling from the more experienced players (including her first BPG wicket for Evie) and an eagle-eyed wicket keeper in the form of Alice meant that BPG managed to sneak a 1 run win off the last ball and get an early victory in the bag.
A quick break and a team chat before BPG faced a very young and inexperienced Finchley team. No borrowed players in this one. The opening partnership started as they did in the previous game with a nice collection of boundaries. Already, the girls’ confidence was building with some fantastic calling and running between the wickets. Umpire and BPG team manager Ted stepped in to offer some advice and coaching tips to help the opposition’s young bowlers, while the BPG girls were very accommodating as the middle order faced some frustrating deliveries. The final run total looked very promising and some excellent bowling and fielding (1 wicket for Evie, 2 for Alice and a brilliant run-out for Rosie) meant that BPG easily secured their second win with more breathing space this time around.
By the third game of the morning against North London, the girls looked a transformed side. Gone were the earlier nerves to be replaced by a group of girls playing well together, laughing, encouraging each other and performing with confidence. Erin’s continued accurate bowling, another wicket for Alice and a maiden over for Evie on top of a beautiful catch by Claudie put BPG in a strong position going in to bat. Tactical running between the wickets and strong team support from the sidelines meant BPG ended the game on 237/3 to beat North London’s 231/2. Not much in it again.
The girls went into the lunch break with their spirits raised and their heads held high as the sun finally broke through the clouds. With only half an hour before their final game, it was the queue for the burgers that proved insurmountable. With no time to eat, the girls (and Umpire Ted with his cone of chips) were back on the field, this time facing Ealing. The gloves were off along with the spectators’ jumpers. The opposition won the toss and put BPG in to bat. Some very tight bowling from Ealing meant runs were hard to find and the girls went in to bowl knowing they would need steady hands behind the wicket and some focused fielding to snatch a win. In the end, a wicket for Evie, a beautiful catch for Rosie, a maiden BPG wicket for Hope Jones and another two wickets for Claudie (including 1 caught and bowled) were just not enough for the win. The nail-biting final over came down to the last ball and BPG lost by 2 runs.
This meant we had to sit and wait anxiously as the final matches played out in front of us, with the tournament outcome out of our hands. Even going into the presentations, we couldn’t read it. Three of the five teams ended the tournament on 10 points with 3 wins and a loss each, including BPG, so that the final medals standing was determined by total runs scored. It was down to Pinky the Middlesex CC mascot to award BPG with their certificates for third place after finishing behind Ealing and overall tournament winners North Middlesex.
Although disappointed with the final result, the U11 girls can be very proud of their team and individual performances on their first fixture of the season. Only two players had played for BPG before and some had never played in a match, but you would never have known that by the end of the tournament. Special mention goes to novice cricketer Bea Sheridan for playing with increasing confidence and some fantastic calling between the wickets – one to watch as the season progresses.
We also need to take a moment to thank Evie’s dad, Jack, for stepping in as scorer, Ted for umpiring (and being labelled by the oppositions’ parents as the “nicest umpire ever”) and the parents and siblings for driving to North London at an ungodly hour on a grey bank holiday and enthusiastically supporting the girls.
We may not have come away with a medal, but it was a win in this manager’s book.