Hursley Park Ladies 2020
The 2020 cricket season will be long remembered, and not all for positive reasons.
We had eagerly awaited the chance to build on the standout 2019 summer, but as the UK entered lockdown in March there was much speculation that cricket would not take place at all, especially after Boris’s ‘Vector of Disease’ claim.
So that the club could keep going in the unprecedented times, some of the senior girls decided to set up some online interaction, and as the sophistication of the project grew the Quarantine Cup was born. Organised and administered by Emily Windsor with help from several others this grew into a weekly competition with 81 ladies and girls taking part – and gained wider recognition when it was featured on BBC Radio Solent. (Read more about the Quarantine Cup)
Following guidance from the ECB we were allowed to start training in June, and Sundays saw up to 35 girls taking advantage of being able to use the Quarters again. Once the news came that competitive cricket could return, albeit with regulatory restrictions, we awaited instruction from our leagues and competition organisers. It was soon announced that the problems with travel around the South of England would prevent the Southern League taking place, meaning we were unable to defend our title that was clinched so memorably in 2019. The ECB National T20 and Kia Summer Smash (another of our titles from 2019) were also lost to a combination of the delay and logistical difficulties, and sadly all of the junior girls’ competitions were abandoned.
This just left the Hampshire League as our source of competitive cricket for most of the summer. The league allowed us to enter two teams in Division 1 as our first team league was not happening, and we decided to select two balanced squad – known as the Pirates and the Parrots (do not ask!), with Mel Story and Emily Windsor as the respective captains.
A couple of friendlies were played and then we were into league action. Becky Blake kicked off the season in style with an innings of 124 for the Parrots at Ropley, in a win that featured an outstanding catch by Grace Sansom and saw juniors Eve O’Neill and Emma Wheble take their first senior wickets. Ashneet Chahal (69) and Ariana Dowse (37) set up a 76 run win for the Pirates at Wessex, with two wickets for off-spinner Beth Brewster and a miserly spell by the consistent Hannah Timmins (1-4 from six overs).
Week two saw Dowse in good form again and her innings of 79 set up the Pirates win against Alton, with Caitlin Chissell and Courtney Lowman both chipping in with a couple of wickets. Freya Cutler, with a well-constructed half-century, underpinned the Parrots win at Aldershot, where Charlotte Taylor claimed three wickets and Sian Edwards took her 100th wicket for the club. The game at Aldershot also saw the end of Shameelah Mosweu’s career at HP (for now at least!) as she completed her studies and returned to Botswana. Fittingly her final ball in an HP shirt resulted in a wicket as Jemma Green completed the stumping.
Week three saw Wessex visit the Quarters to play the Parrots and half centuries from Taylor and Edwards set up another convincing win, with the Garratt sisters sharing four wickets and a three wicket haul for Harriet Batchelor. The Pirates made the short trip to St Cross and chased 162 to win a keenly contested game by four wickets, thanks largely to the all-round contributions of Story and Nicole Beesley, and another solid innings from Dani Ransley. Beesley and Chissell put together a match clinching partnership to ensure that both HP teams maintained 100% records.
Week 4 saw Ropley visit the Quarters, and they were dismissed for just 92 with Brewster (3-13) leading the way, and two wickets each for Story, Beesley and Sarah Matthews. Hannah Saunders, Chahal and Ransley made short work of the reply. The Parrots travelled to St.Cross and Blake and Taylor scored quick half-centuries to set up a potentially big total, and despite a mid-order collapse a typically ebullient knock by Caroline Garratt saw us past 200 and a 48 run was completed with three wickets for Taylor and two each for Ellie Musson and Windsor.
So, with both teams boasting perfect records it was apparent that the eagerly awaited clash between the two HP sides on August 16th would decide the league title. We managed to battle the restrictions imposed by the Pandemic in 2020, but sadly we could not battle the British weather and the game was abandoned without a ball being bowled.
The Pirates moved on to Aldershot, where good contributions from Abby Evans, Dowse and Story and another late flurry from Beesley set up a total of 181 which proved too much for the hosts. The Parrots entertained Cove and shot the visitors out for 47 (two wickets each for Musson, Sansom and O’Neill) before winning by 8 wickets.
As the league entered its final round of matches we were assured of an HP winner, but which team? If both won their respective final games it would all be decided on net run-rate and the Parrots held a slight advantage as they took the field at Alton. A solid if unspectacular batting performance saw the innings close at 165, with a vital 24 added for the last wicket by Green and Musson. But Ellie was certainly not finished for the day as she ripped through the home team’s batting to claim the remarkable figures of 7-14, the best in HP history. Batchelor (8 overs for 13) proved an ideal foil. Alton were eventually dismissed for 113.
Cove visited the Quarters for a second successive week, this time to play the Pirates. Once again the young Cove side won the toss and opted to bat – and once again the Hursley bowlers were on top. Matthews (4-5) led the way and Rachel Carrick (3-5) and Lauren Saunders (2-9) were also amongst the wickets before Hannah Saunders made short work of the reply, boosting the run rate as the target was reached quickly.
So the calculators were out and it transpired that the HP Pirates were winners of the Hampshire League in 2020. But the real story is that both our teams defeated every other club in the county and finished with 100% records, showing again our great strength in depth. One question that will continue to cause debate is which team would have won if it had not rained on August 16th?
And the season was not over! We arranged with two of our Southern League rivals, Finchley and Ansty to play a triangular tournament of 45 over games, which produced two outstanding matches. At home to Finchley, Story (5-17) continued her terrific form but the London visitors fought their way to 154. This total seemed way out of reach as we collapsed to 20-6 only for Taylor and Beesley to produce an astonishing unbeaten partnership of 135 which saw us to an unlikely victory. In the course of her innings of 77 not out Charlotte Taylor became the first HP player to reach the 3,000 run milestone.
At Ansty our team included three first team debutants – Mia Clark, Eve O’Neill and Leah Cutler – all 14 or under. The latter two each took a wicket in impressive spells as Timmins, with 3-21 from 9 overs, kept the home side in check and there were some outstanding catches and ground-fielding as we contained the Sussex side to 161. A good all-round batting display from Freya Cutler (41), Dani Ransley (24), Becky Blake (36) and Mel Story (25) took us to the brink and it was our under 13s Eve and Mia who saw us over the line to clinch the Triangular tournament.
We were not finished yet. Later in September we travelled to South London to defend our Ashford 8s title and did so successfully, winning all four matches in the round-robin tournament to lift the trophy for the fourth year in a row.
Throughout the truncated season we managed to fit in several junior games, at under 11, under 13, under 14 and under 16 level, and although not part of a regulated competition some well-fought games took place. Highlights included Mia Clark twice being on a hat-trick in the narrow under 14 win at Ropley as she took 5-8, Caitlin Chissell’s first half-century for the club in the narrow under 16 defeat at the same venue, Kezia Holmes and Hattie Platt scoring the 23 needed off the last two overs in the return match with Ropley, and a good all round performance to win a tight game at New Milton.
A very young under 11 side (several were 8 or less) played six games, which increased their experience and confidence and four girls (Izzy Prendergast, Niamh Magee, Orla O’Brien and Ellie Jerram) moved up to play their first ever hardball games.
Our softball women’s team, the Panthers, also managed to arrange some matches and recruited a few more mums to help ensure the sustainability of this section.
So the season that had not looked likely actually turned out very successfully. Over 60 women and girls played for HP during the summer and of 29 hardball games completed 28 resulted in wins for us.
Away from the club activity over 30 HP girls played district or county representative cricket, with three earning professional contracts with the Southern Vipers. You can read more about the Vipers success by clicking the link: Playing for the Southern Vipers.
Roll on 2021 – it will be difficult again with the international situation but HP will be on the field whenever possible in whatever format is thrown in our path!
Indoor Season 2019/20
We decided to make the 2019/20 winter our most ambitious indoor season yet. We entered a second team in the men’s league at Eastleigh and the women’s league at Dummer, as well as teams in every age group of the junior leagues at Winchester and Dummer. With the addition of our newly-formed women’s softball team playing in a league at Blackfield we had a total of 16 indoor teams on the fixture list.
All went quite well. Some of the age group sides struggled a bit, but the under 16s looked like winning the Serious Cricket League until a defeat by Yateley undid our hopes. With the club having been a dominant force in indoor cricket for so long it was good to see the ‘next generation’ starting to emerge. Eve O’Neill (v Falkland) and Kezia Holmes (v St.Cross) both recorded indoor half-centuries, while Caitlin Chissell batted fourteen times without being dismissed, totalling 247 runs. Ashneet Chahal led the C team in the women’s League as well as junior teams at three venues, and had a stellar season with the bat scoring 685 runs, the highest HP tally of the winter.
A highlight of the season (for most anyway!) was the young C team ending the A team’s long unbeaten run at Eastleigh, with Ashneet leading from the front.
The pandemic, which ended sporting activity, shortened the season – but the A teams at both centres were far enough head to be crowned champions in the foreshortened leagues. Unfortunately the cup at Eastleigh was abandoned, denying us the opportunity of another double, and our defence of the indoor crown in Dresden was not allowed to take place either.
Becky Blake, captaining the B team in both the women and men’s league at Eastleigh enjoyed a successful indoor season, scoring 668 runs and taking 17 wickets as well as holding 9 catches to be named Indoor Player of the Year for the second time. Anya Ahl had a consistently good winter with the ball and topped the bowling charts with 26 wickets.