Wales’ Senior Women’s side completed their season with a rain-affected game against Lancashire at Newport CC last Sunday, with the overs being reduced to 35 overs a side.

Both sides arrived highly determined and hopeful for play in a winner-takes-all scenario: the victorious team of this game would face promotion to Division One. For Lancashire, this wasn’t an unusual situation as they have been yo-yoing between the two divisions for the past couple of years. Alternatively, Wales found themselves on new and unexpected territory of battling for promotion when the past few years have been fighting against relegation. In 2015, for instance, the girls had to beat Durham in the final game of the season to simply remain in Division 2, reinforcing the brilliant turn-around of the team’s confidence and mentality in the space of one year.          

Having waited patiently for three hours, the game finally began after lunch as Wales were put into bat on a very damp and uneven wicket. The innings never fully prospered as wickets fell steadily throughout the allocated overs, with Lauren Parfitt top scoring at the top of the order with 17. England’s Kate Cross bowled 4 overs without taking a wicket, but the figures of her young international team-mate Sophie Ecclestone (3-15) and Nalisha Patel (3-10) reflected that the slow wicket and its uneven bounce would assist spin. Wales finished with a miserly 79 all out, but with their experience of the wicket they knew it would not be a straightforward task to bat following an immediate turnaround.          

Lancashire began slowly but steadily, with their strong opening partnership of Emma Lamb and Ellie Threlkeld, both involved with the England Academy. However, when Ffion Wynne (3-16) had Lamb caught behind by Georgia Parfitt with a full swinging delivery, Wales’ bowlers found their rhythm and began to assert their dominance. Captain Claire Thomas, with identical figures to her opening bowler, removed Threlkeld and Cross to leave Lancashire at 23/6 in the 13th over. It proved, however, that Wales’ batting meant they had fallen just short of a good total, as Sophie Ecclestone contributed a fantastic innings of 42 not out to save her team in a partnership of 51 with Shachi Pai. The 17-year-old really demonstrated her talent and skill as she punished the bad ball frequently to the boundary and kept the majority of the strike from the partnership. When Pai was bowled by Wynne in the 25th over with the requiring only 6 for victory, the damage had already been inflicted as Ecclestone lead her side to a tricky 7 wicket win.          

Despite the disappointment of the day, it has been a very promising season for the side, as the appointment of Keri Chahal as Assistant Coach working alongside Head Coach Aimee Rees has made an immediate positive impact. The girls are enjoying their cricket thoroughly alongside improving their skills, but mostly they have formed a fantastic team spirit allowing them to succeed. With Claire Thomas standing down as captain next season and the emergence of talented youngsters such as Charlotte Scarborough and Alex Griffiths this year, it is already promising to be an interesting and exciting 2017! 


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