Another stunning summer’s evening in Bushy Park set the scene for BPG U13s to take on Richmond U13. With many of the BPG team new to hard ball cricket, the aim of the match was to give them all a taste of what it feels like to pad up. Richmond won the toss and elected to bat first, but with a number of our BPG newbies feeling unsure of bowling, a team that was one player short and captain Erin Goodwin (co-captaining with Imogen Higgins) still nursing a back injury, the formidable Richmond team quickly began to rack up the runs. Higgins opened the bowling with Sofia Stapleton-Parslow, followed by Matilda Le Frenais and Ananya Apte, both still new to hard ball cricket. The seasoned Richmond batsmen were unforgiving in their boundaries, with all four of their top batsmen reaching over 30 runs apiece before retiring. Grace Tasker, in her first appearance for BPG this season, and Ruby Oakley could also do little to stem the tide and Richmond looked to be barrelling towards an almighty target.
With only a few overs to go, co-captains Erin and Imogen changed up the bowling order to rotate between themselves and another over for Stapleton-Parslow in the hope that the bails would fly before the 20 overs were up. It wasn’t until the 17th over with the score on 158 runs that Goodwin finally got a breakthrough by clean-bowling Richmond’s fifth batsman. Higgins followed in the next over with a stunning ball caught by teammate Ruby, then Erin followed this in the 19th over by clean-bowling the next batsman. However, some relaxed fielding and a few too many extras meant that BPG were facing an insurmountable target after Richmond ended on 195/3.
Knowing that this would be a game of lessons learnt rather than pushing for victory, all of the girls were keen to pad up and have a go, even though for some this would be a first. Wicket keeper Beth Crabtree and Erin opened, but Erin fell early to a risky run-out, to be replaced by Higgins. Crabtree (8 runs) and Higgins (8 runs) looked to be settling into a steady partnership before Higgins was bowled in the 5th over and Beth was caught in the 6th over. Holly Ramsden stepped up to the wicket and managed to face the pacey bowling, settling into some nice singles and doubles to settle the wicket and remain there for the rest of the match. Ruby shared the wicket with her initially and managed 6 runs before being caught and bowled, then Sofia Stapleton-Parslow (4 runs) was caught just as she was settling in.
It was then the turn of Amy Banner in only her second match for the BPG U13s. Facing the strength and pace of some of Richmond’s finest bowlers, she seemed unfazed and relaxed at the crease and settled into a very neat partnership with Holly, who stood defiant at the other end. Amy was eventually caught on the last ball of the match, but not before she reached 11 runs. Holly ended the match not out on 12 – a fantastic debut!
Although BPG’s 93/5 was far short of a victory as such, there were many positives to be taken from the match and it was lovely to see our newest team players facing some formidable bowling with courage and good old BPG fighting spirit. The heads did not drop and the girls smiled throughout. There was even some dancing in the outfield and occasional shouts of joy (mostly from the spectators as England scored in their World Cup match against Colombia). The match also highlighted some key areas for the girls to work on in training going forward and, although it may not have been the ending we would’ve liked, the silver lining was that everyone was home in time to see England win their penalty shoot-out.
As always, a big thank you to the parents for sacrificing their football viewing to support the girls, to Chris for umpiring and a special shout-out to BPG U15’s Paige Goodwin for scoring.