Dunkley’s Defiance Proves the Difference: Wales Women’s Dramatic Tie with Middlesex
Following their impressive victory against Essex last weekend, Wales Women were keen to continue their winning streak with their next fixture against Middlesex at Pontarddulais CC. The London side had been relegated from Division 1 last year and are reigning champions of the Women’s T20 Cup, with several big names in their squads, meaning that this game would demand high standards and a strong performance from Wales to overcome them. England’s Sophia Dunkley, former England batsman Beth Morgan and Western Storm’s Naomi Dattani were just some of the names in Middlesex’s ranks.
Captain Lauren Parfitt lost the toss and Wales bowled first. However, with cloudy skies and a used wicket, they weren’t too disappointed with the result and were keen to utilise the conditions. They were granted the perfect start, with Ffion Wynne opening with a maiden and Sara Jenkins conceding just one run at the other end, before Wynne struck to have Cordelia Griffith caught at point in the third over after some high-pressure bowling – leaving Middlesex at 1-1 after 3 overs. This brought England’s Dunkley to the crease, and here she would stay until the end of their innings! With the score at 10, Wynne struck again to have Naomi Dattani caught behind for a 16-ball duck, and just as Dunkley and Tash Miles (12) began to rebuild, youngster Alex Griffiths had the latter pinned lbw to a delivery that kept low. Gabby Basketter and Seren Hughes then chipped in with a wicket apiece before Dunkley began a trend of catastrophic running between the wickets. The middle order were unable to keep up with her intensity and fitness levels between the wickets, which led to three run-outs thanks to some excellent sharp fielding from the Welsh fielding unit.
Dunkley appeared to be in a class of her own, however, as she negotiated the tricky periods efficiently to reach her fifty from 65 balls. All she needed was somebody to stay at the other end – and in number 10 Gayatri Gole, she found just that. She battled for 9 from 45 balls which allowed Dunkley to farm the strike effectively, accelerating in the closing overs, playing shots all around the wicket to which the Welsh bowlers had no answer. She reached her century off 120 balls, and Middlesex were dismissed for 163 from 47 overs to leave her on 114 not out. Wales’ fielding and bowling was exceptional, especially against a side of such class, but Dunkley’s form was simply too great and through no fault of the bowlers, she was dominant and proved why she is such an exciting young talent for England. It was a great experience for the young Welsh side to witness her innings.
Wales’ opening pair of Priest and Basketter again began brilliantly. Priest in particular capitalised on some wayward bowling in the opening overs, and they added 42 for the first wicket before the latter was dismissed for a run-a-ball 17. Priest was second to depart for 43 (59 balls) with the score at 75-2, leaving captain Lauren Parfitt (16 from 70) and Seren Hughes (17 from 76) to negotiate a pressurised passage of play. However, the openers had fulfilled their role in providing a solid platform and plenty of overs left to score the remaining 89 runs. Middlesex’s bowlers applied pressure effectively but Wales’ batsmen were unable to rotate the strike efficiently enough and when the equation reached 44 required from the last ten overs – with numbers 7 and 8 at the crease – they had left themselves with too much to do and the new batsmen struggled to score quickly enough when they had only just got in. Georgia Parfitt, Naomi Davies and Lydia Clements battled hard, scampering between the wickets in the closing overs in attempt to reach the required rate. With 11 required off the last over, Davies hit a glorious 4 over mid-on and with some excellent running, they brought the rate down to 3 to win from the last ball. Clements drilled the ball to long-on and the pair immediately called for 2, which they managed, leaving the scores tied and the points thus shared.
Despite the excitement, it was a very disappointing result for Wales who had held the upper hand for the majority of the game, especially with the effort they had put in with the ball and in the field. It was a game that they definitely should have won and the group was extremely disappointed not to have crossed the line.
However they will aim to regroup and bounce back with next weekend’s double header where they will face Worcestershire and Berkshire, both at Pontarddulais again.