Just when it seemed the British summer would never get started, the morning of the U14 BPG fixture vs Old Actonians dawned bright and promising with blue skies and not a drop of rain in sight. The girls were one player short as they headed onto the pitch, but spirits were high as always. Good to see, since some of the girls were playing in their first BPG fixture of the season.
Co-captains Imogen Higgins and Erin Goodwin won the toss and sent OAs in to bat. Keen to give all of the girls an opportunity to get some match experience under their belts, the captains teamed a seasoned bowler in Rosie Davis with Ottilie Day in her first ever competitive over. The girls started well, particularly Ottilie who bowled very competently and accurately, conceding no extras and only 6 runs off her over. And to top off a brilliant opening over, she came away with her first wicket for BPG (LBW) – an outstanding start!
OA’s other opener would prove difficult to shift once she bedded down at the wicket and a number of bowlers tried their hand at getting her out, with mixed results. That wicket finally fell at the hands of Rosie D, fresh in the side from a wrist fracture but showing no signs of that holding her back. Bea Sheridan also grabbed herself a tasty wicket as the batter walloped it into the calm and collected hands of Erin G, but the bowling kudos belonged to Erin for this match. After everyone else had bowled their overs, Erin handed the wicket-keeping gloves to co-captain Imogen and calmly took a hat trick of wickets that sent ruffles of displeasure through the OA spectators. Her first hat trick for BPG, but surely not her last… Kudos also to Imogen for not flinching once behind the stumps as the ball barrelled in.
With a target of 111 on the scoreboard (if there had actually been one), BPG felt quietly confident as they padded up. First to the crease was seasoned batter Evie Mayhew on strike, with Ottilie handed the honour of opening with her. What a day for Day – not only opening the bowling, but also opening the batting and taking her first wicket! There were no signs of giddiness or nerves though, considering they were facing arguably OA’s best bowlers. Evie fell cheaply, caught on 2 runs, to be replaced by Rosie D, but Ottilie went on to score 12, including 2 boundaries, off 15 balls. She was finally bowled as the score reached 27/2, to be replaced by Annie Stirling. Unfortunately, the same bowler who had scuppered Ottilie’s debut was on hand to catch Annie’s high-flying ball and she fell quicker than expected with the score at 43/3.
Then began a rush of falling wickets. First Rosie, but not before she had racked up a respectable 11 runs, then both Imogen H and another newcomer to the side in Hannah Farrell fell too, with the same bowlers and fielders ruffling everyone’s feathers. Every time your scorer looked away, it seemed a wicket tumbled, so I gave up on my bacon sandwich after one bite, with only a blob of brown sauce in my lap to remind me of how delicious it could’ve been.
Amid the chaos, one player in Matilda Le-Frenais steadfastly held up her end as her partners crumbled. Even so, before BPG could blink, the score was 50/6 and, although we had plenty of overs to spare, it was batters we were lacking. That one player short on the team list would prove crucial in the end.
Next to the crease came the original Pocket Rocket in Erin G. Not known for her patience at the crease, she began as she meant to go on with a boundary from her first ball. Between them, Matilda and Erin set up a fantastic partnership, calling well, running (relatively) sensibly and bringing the rush of wickets to a standstill. But with Erin quickly reaching 30 runs (off 24 balls), she was retired not out, with BPG on 106/7 and needing only 5 runs to win with three overs to spare. Ananya Apte took up her position opposite Matilda, but fell to a ball rattling the stumps. Matilda held on valiantly, only to fall at 108/8, but she can be more than proud of her final score of 15 runs from 23 balls. She was replaced by Bea S, who added another 2 runs to the score before she was caught out. Erin G was then called back to the crease to try and bring BPG over the finish line. But with OAs bringing on their best bowler and Erin only on strike once, an unlucky Bea caught an edge, the ball jettisoned into the air and was caught with the score on 110 all out.
The result? A tie.
We like close matches that make the girls up their game and this proved to be just such a fixture. The team can be more than proud of their efforts. A number of the girls made their debut and performed without showing any signs of nerves; there was some standout bowling performances (Rosie D = 4 overs/19 runs/1 wicket; Erin G = 2 overs/12 runs/3 wickets); and some determined batting (Ottilie D 12 runs from 15 balls; Matilda Le-F 15 runs from 23 balls; Erin G 31 not out from 25 balls), not to mention tight fielding and good backing up from the likes of Hannah F, Ananya A, Evie M (always reliable in the field and happy to carry on despite taking a blow to the leg) and Annie S. Imogen H set the field so as to restrict boundaries for the opposition and both her and Erin G led effectively from the front.
All in all, a good day out! Your scorer went home feeling positive, despite the brown sauce down my front, and looking forward to watching this group of girls play more such close encounters in the future. As always, a big thank you to both Ted and Billy for umpiring, Mark for managing the girls (the game was so good, he couldn’t bring himself to leave!!) and the parents for supporting from the sidelines.