Promotion Push Pays Off for Wales Women
On the final day of the women’s county season – consisting of both 50 over and T20 championships – Wales Women needed to win both their games against Hampshire and Northants to guarantee their promotion into Division 1. Wales were full of confidence having finished 3rd in the 50 over competition, but more importantly their run of 5 victories out of 6 in the T20s so far, including a crucial triumph over Somerset the previous week.
On a baking hot day at Basingstoke CC, Wales faced unbeaten Hampshire first, their biggest ask of the contest so far. Even without their stars, Katie George, Suzie Bates (both on international duty) and Charlotte Edwards, they remained a strong and imposing side, and it would require an inspired performance from the visitors to complete a much-needed win.
Captain Lauren Parfitt won the toss and elected to bat first on what seemed a flat wicket and a rapid outfield. Wales’ innings didn’t start ideally – Alice Monaghan dismissing Rachel Priest third ball, bringing Parfitt to the crease early. Gabby Basketter struck four boundaries in her 29, and Lydia Clements hit an impressive 40 to recover the innings, but Wales only managed 106-8. A flawless bowling and fielding performance was a non-negotiable, with the score seemingly 20 or 30 runs short of par.
The second innings could not have started better for Wales, with Claire Nicholas (2-9) taking 2 wickets in 2 balls in her first over, and Ffion Wynne (2-15) striking in her second. After the first 6 overs, Wales’ impressive new-ball partnership had restricted Hampshire to 28-3. Ella Chandler (26) and Providence Cowdrill (25) began to rebuild for the hosts, but tight bowling and further wickets from Ffion Cartwright and Danielle Gibson ensured that they failed to recover from their difficult start. Hampshire finished 78 all out, and Wales were one step closer to their goal.
It was straight back onto the field for the second game against Northants, and Wales were put into bat by the opposition captain. Priest and Basketter added 80 for the first wicket before the former was dismissed for 33 off 29 balls, and Lauren Parfitt added a run-a-ball 24 to ensure that Wales only lost the one wicket throughout the 20 overs. It was Basketter who shone, however, upping the run-rate dramatically following the dismissal. She reached 92 in the final over, with her team-mates growing more and more excited – or nervous – with each run that came! On 98 with one ball to come, Basketter hit a good delivery to long-on and Parfitt, running to the danger end, immediately pushed hard for the second and thanks to a wayward throw, they both survived and the celebrations began for a fantastic innings – 100* off just 64 balls.
Claire Nicholas gave the bowling innings another perfect start, dismissing Brown in the first over for 0, and further tight bowling from the opening pair restricted the opposition to 18-1 off the powerplay. Wickets for Cartwright, Charlotte Scarborough, Gibson and Lydia Clements – who claimed a remarkable 4-5 to mop up the tail – ensured Northants were dismissed for 79 and both Wales and Hampshire secured their places in Division 1 next year.
It was a result of countless hours of hard work and preparation from both players and coaching staff, as Head Coach Aimee Rees emphasised the contributions of the coaches, physio, S&C and psychology support throughout the season. “They all helped make this promotion possible, and it has been about 15 years or so in the making – the progress our girls have made this season is huge,” Rees explains, “Everyone has contributed at some stage to the positive brand of cricket we are trying to play. It’s such an exciting time to be involved.”
The squad are looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead in 2019, and will hope to build upon the exciting platform that has been set this year.