For our first Premier League game of the season we entertained old rivals Horsham, against whom we have enjoyed many battles over the years, most recently in the National Indoor Finals at Leicester.
Horsham have built a strong squad, and include the nucleus of the Sussex County side, so it was a tough encounter for our first match. New skipper Linz won the toss and inserted the visitors as there was still some dampness from the overnight rain. The first over was eventful to say the least, Ellie starting with two wides, but then inducing a top-edged pull from Alexia Walker that was pouched by Sian at mid-wicket. Izzy Collis, the match-winner against us at this ground last year, and Tara Norris looked to rebuild and played well through the off-side but Mistry was bowling a tight line and she eventually found the outside edge of Collis’s bat into the safe hands of Timmo at gully. Mistry then won an LBW decision against Norris, and Baz reduced the visitors to 34-4 when she yorked Hannah Phelps in her first over. A flurry of shots from England Lions player Paige Schofield and a couple of missed chances lifted the visitors but Baz removed Schofield with the help of a catch by the skipper at short mid-wicket at 65-5 and Izi Noakes and Flora Birtwhistle were forced to rebuild. They did so carefully, held in check by a disciplined spell from Emily Windsor, sharing a stand of 41 before the returning Batchelor (3-47) had Noakes caught behind. At 129 Jess Jackson was caught fending off a lifting ball from the persevering Kiddo, and then Mistry returned to polish off the tail with the assistance of two more catches by our Kiwi wicket-keeper, and end with an impressive 4-18 from 8 overs. Tayz bowled the last batsman as 4 wickets fell for 4 runs and the visitors were dismissed for 133.
Tayz and Kiwi took the reply to 28 before the latter drove a wide ball to cover. Horsham realised that they needed to take wickets defending a low total and key bowler Noakes bowled her ten overs straight through, winning a caught behind decision to remove our skipper at 46-2. Tayz and Baz then batted sensibly in tandem, seeing off both Noakes and impressive left-arm spinner Birtwhistle in a patient partnership. Baz timed some good shots that unfortunately found fielders while Tayz punctuated watchful defence with the odd boundary and the partnership eventually passed 50 and proved a match-winning effort. Baz went at 106 and Kiddo also fell before the end, but Tayz’s unbeaten 58 saw us home by six wickets.
It was a very efficient and disciplined performance, despite some slackness in the field, against a talented side who completed the double over us last season, and was an ideal start to the league campaign.