Following a weekend of mixed results over the last Bank Holiday, with victory against Somerset and a disappointing loss to Devon, Wales Women were desperate to return to their winning ways in their preceding fixture against Essex at Panteg CC.
The weather was much friendlier for cricket – not a cloud in the sky, no wind and much milder temperatures. However, due to the rain throughout the week, the pitch remained slow and low, similar to conditions at Devon the previous week. The Welsh batsmen knew they would have to adapt to the pitch, and play a game of patience by simply waiting for the bad ball and rotating the strike. This they did brilliantly – finishing on 211 from their allocated 50 overs.
Rachel Priest and Gabby Basketter continued their impressive opening partnership by adding 65 for the first wicket, capitalising on Essex’s wayward bowling before the latter was dismissed lbw for 21. A cluster of wickets fell again in the following overs, with Seren Hughes, Lauren Parfitt and Claire Nicholas falling cheaply. Priest dug in, however, resisting her natural attacking style but punishing the loose balls with ease. This allowed the middle order to play much more freely, with the score moving to 121-5 when Priest was bowled for an excellent 67.
Youngsters Alex Griffiths and Danielle Gibson demonstrated brilliant fitness and awareness as they sped between the wickets, with Griffiths adding a quick-fire 23 from number 6. Gibson began to accelerate in the last 15 overs, as she displayed an impressive array of shots before she was the ninth wicket to fall for 57.
Essex’s Mady Villiers was the most impressive of their bowlers, as she finished with figures of 3-22 off her ten overs. With the tricky nature of the wicket, Wales felt confident to defend 211 and began their bowling innings full of enthusiasm and belief.
Essex’s openers dug in throughout the opening overs, and whilst they added 47 for the first wicket, Wales’ bowlers never quite let them keep up with the required run rate, and therefore the pressure mounted upon their incoming batsmen. Gabby Basketter made the initial breakthrough with the help of Priest behind the stumps, before she continued to dominate with two further wickets to leave Essex stumbling at 50-3.
That became 51-4 as Alex Griffiths dismissed Villiers with an impressive caught and bowled for 25, and she finished with figures of 2-2 from 4 overs. From then, Wales continued to squeeze the pressure and the Essex batsmen were unable to score anywhere near the required rate.
The wickets were shared between Basketter (3-10), Griffiths, and one apiece for Naomi Davies, Claire Nicholas and Seren Hughes. Essex only managed 139-8 from their 50 overs, as Wales came away with 17 points from a possible 18.
Wales’ season continues with Middlesex making the trip to Pontarddulais CC next Sunday.