Thrilling Third-Place Finale for Wales Women
It was all to play for at Pontarddulais CC last weekend as Wales took on Devon in their final 50-over game of the second division of the County Championship. Wales needed to win in order to avoid the 6th place play-off, and if other results across the division also worked in their favour, they could have possibly been promoted. Despite losing their first two games, with another cancelled due to rain, Wales had won their next three games comfortably, and were rightly full of confidence.
Devon won the toss and elected to bat first on a flat wicket and boiling hot conditions. It was always going to be a tough ask for the bowlers in the heat, but Wales put up a valiant fight with some impressive ground fielding to give themselves the best possible chance. Devon made a good start as Wales took a bit of time to adjust to the conditions, but Ffion Wynne struck the first blow removing the opposition captain Amara Carr for 14. Claire Nicholas (10 overs, 1-26) removed the second opener which brought Georgia Hennessy, formerly of Warwickshire, to the crease and she settled into an effective partnership with Felicity Leydon-Davis (28). The latter spooned a catch to cover off Ffion Cartwright, where Lauren Parfitt took a good catch diving low to the ground. Hennessy continued punished the bad ball and remained composed, proving to be the backbone of Devon’s innings as she struck 58 before she was clean bowled by Gabby Basketter, who continued to take another 2 middle-order wickets to finish with figures of 3-13. Having been 155-3, Wales were expecting to chase over 200, but the side demonstrated their fitness and intensity in the final overs to maintain their discipline and continue to take wickets. Ffion Wynne (3-28) and Danielle Gibson (1-17) combined effectively for the last few overs to skittle the tail and ensure the full bowling points by taking 9 wickets, with Devon finishing 178-9.
Full of momentum from the final 10 overs of the first innings, Wales’ opening pair once again provided a rapid start for their team, accelerating to 41-0 off the first 5 overs! At 60-1, Basketter fell for 21 and Priest was run out for 40 with the score moving to 74. A flurry of middle-order wickets fell, as Lauren Parfitt (8), Alex Griffiths (7), Georgia Parfitt (6) and Gibson (0) were dismissed, leaving the hosts reeling at 94-6. However, Claire Nicholas and Lydia Clements remained calm and rebuilt steadily, ticking the scoreboard along nicely without unnecessary extravagance. When Nicholas fell for an excellent 34 and Rebecca Struthers was dismissed for 3 soon after, Wales were 167-8, still requiring 11 for victory. Clements was still there, but Devon’s bowlers were bowling tightly to their fields and the overs began to tick away. A couple of wides and quick singles meant that Wales needed 4 to win off the final over. Devon’s Emily Edgecombe began with a dot ball before Clements and Wynne sprinted through two risky singles, with the equation at 2 runs to win off 3 balls and Wales’ balcony unable to watch. Ffion Wynne struck the ball through midwicket and the pair dashed for the second run, ensuring victory, and the home side could breathe again!
Wales collected a total of 17 points from the game, meaning that they finished 3rd in the table as both Surrey and Sussex gained promotion to Division 1. Head Coach Aimee Rees praised the efforts of the entire squad, highlighting their ability to bounce back following a difficult start to the campaign: “Our start was far from ideal, having lost our first two games to Surrey and Berkshire. To finish third with such a young squad is really pleasing, with everyone contributing at some stage, and I am very proud of how they are progressing.”
The county season continues now with the Twenty20 league, with Wales kick-starting their campaign against Durham and Cheshire in an away fixture next weekend.