The Amazing 2019 Season
If Carlsberg made cricket seasons……………………………
2019 was the year of England men finally lifting the World Cup, and Stokes’s Headingley heroics but in the annals of women’s cricket it will be remembered as the year that Hursley Park established ourselves as one of the leading clubs in the country.
As with every HP year it all started indoors. Jem led the A team to the league and cup double at Eastleigh for the 14th successive season, and Mistry led us to the title at Dummer again, with a highpoint being the 100th successive win in that competition, a run stretching back ten years (read more about it by clicking here). We have never been shy of pioneering trips and in March 2019 we travelled to Dresden for a European Indoor Tournament. It was a slightly different indoor game to that to which we are accustomed, not least the fact that it was a eight-a-side rather than six – but we adapted well and our indoor experience shone through as we won the tournament, defeating the Austrian national side in the final.
And so to the summer. Once again the Southern Premier League kicked off with the T20 element, and in the previous summer we had struggled in the format, but not this time! Long away trips to St Lawrence and Bishop’s Stortford brought four victories, with Emily Windsor and Charlotte Taylor to the all-round fore in Kent and stand-in skipper Abby Evans (74) and Naomi Lynch (54) leading the way with the bat in Hertfordshire. Bowling honours in the latter two games went to Anisa Ansar, Anya Ahl, Harriet Batchelor and Mel Story, showcasing the contribution of so many players.
We did suffer a narrow defeat against Southern League rivals Ansty in the second round of the National KO, but were back to winning ways with a double over Finchley, runs this time from Sam Betts and Dani Ransley, who also claimed five wickets over the two games. The momentum was now with us and Ickenham were buried under an avalanche of runs as Abby smashed 109, supported by Sian Edwards, and in the second game Mel came to the party with 66. Courtney Lowman with 2-5 was the pick of the bowlers this time. Ansty were next to visit the Quarters and after a narrow 2-wicket win in the first game, in which Courtney and debutant Anesu Mushangwe saw us over the line, a sensational opening partnership of 147 between Abby (78) and Mel (61) set up the second win. Skipper Hannah Timmins took four wickets across the two games as the KO defeat by the Sussex-side was avenged.
So it was a perfect ten from ten record in the T20 format of the Southern League, which put us well ahead of the rest at the half-way stage of the season, but with the 50 over games carrying twice as many points as the T20, there was still a lot to do. Our county players were now available for the rest of the campaign and we also had the good news that the talented Zimbabwean all-rounder Anesu Mushangwe could stay for the rest of the season, having originally only come over for three weeks. Timmo handed over the captaincy to Kiddo for the 50 over games, and the skipper was in the runs in the first game, sharing an unbeaten partnership of 118 with the in-form Abby to see us home by 8 wickets, after Anisa had claimed three wickets, when we entertained Bishop’s Stortford.
A trip to North London to face reigning champions Finchley came next. While England won the world cup a just a few miles away at Lord’s we pulled off a remarkable victory in unforgettable manner (read more about this memorable match by clicking here). We were now firmly in pole position in the league and a strong win at Ickenham followed, where a five-wicket spell by Dani complemented a solid all-round batting performance, initiated by Baz and Eleanor Ingram.
There now came a welcome distraction from our league campaign, as a new competition was launched. The Kia Summer Smash, a national 10 over competition commenced on a regional basis and we travelled to the lovely setting of Wellington College, although the weather did not match the facility. We were provided with orange team shirts by the organisers, which matched with our green trousers soon spawned the nickname of ‘The Carrots’, with the tannoy announcer not wasting any opportunity to use it. Victories against Aldershot, Bells Yew Green and Sutton set up a final against Ansty, again (by the end of the season we had played them six times). A tight, high-standard encounter ensued but it seemed we were about to fall just short until successive boundaries by Sophie Mitchelmore, one an audacious ramp over the keeper, saw us home in dramatic fashion. We were through to play at the Oval.
The following day we were back in league action, and had our bubble burst by visitors St.Lawrence. Our total of 248 appeared to be a little below par, and so it proved as Maxine Blythin’s well-constructed unbeaten innings of 131 saw the visitors to a seven-wicket victory. It was important to bounce back when we travelled to Ansty, usually a high-scoring game on a good deck, and after the home openers had got off to a flying start the match was turned in our favour in the middle of the innings, when our three spinners Anesu, Tayz and Timmo bowled superbly, conceding just 73 from their combined 30 overs. Anesu returned incredible figures of 4-11 from her ten, and all three were backed up by an outstanding team performance in the field. The Sussex team’s total of 173 was never likely to be enough against our in-form batters and Dani (64) led the way home by five wickets, with good support from Kiddo and Mel.
Next up was a trip to Bishop’s Stortford and Dani continued her good run with 63, supported by half-centuries from Kiddo and Sophie as we finished on 254-7. Two early wickets by Tayz put the home side on the back-foot and when the rains came in the middle of the reply we were well ahead on run-rate and claimed another victory. Ickenham visited the Quarters next and our usual top-order fluency was not evident as we slipped to a worrying 109-6. The whole season, though, was epitomised by different players stepping up when needed, and an unbeaten seventh-wicket partnership of 142 between Sophie (96 not) and Anesu (54not) steered us to 251. Wickets for Tayz, Sophie and Sian completed a 115 run victory.
By the time we travelled to St.Lawrence for our penultimate game we only needed a few bonus points to clinch the league title. The spinners were again in control, with Tayz taking 4-19 as we restricted our opponents to 193 and picked up the required bowling points. Despite the efforts of Abby (40) and Sian (35) our reply fell 20 runs short, possibly taking our foot of the pedal as the main task had been achieved.
Defeating Ansty at home would have been the perfect end to the first eleven’s triumphant campaign, but after Abby (68) and Kiddo (75) had put on 138 for the third wicket our innings lost some momentum and our total of 204 proved insufficient despite the best efforts of the spinners, with three wickets for Sian and Anesu returning 2-19 from her ten overs. It was a somewhat anticlimactic finish to the season, but it did not stop the celebrations going on long into the night. In our seventh season in the Premier League we had finally captured the league title.
But there was still work to be done and trophies to be earned. We travelled to London to retain the Ashford 8s title, defeating Brighton in the final. It was the third successive season that Jem had led us to success in the tournament.
Five days later we were back in the capital again – this time at the historic Kia Oval, just days after the conclusion of the Ashes at the same venue. A coach party of supporters joined us on the trip for the four-team, ten over per side tournament, and watched us chase down Western Champions Plympton’s total in the semi-final thanks primarily to the opening partnership of Windsor and Evans.
This set up a final against Sessay from Yorkshire and again we fielded first and were indebted to spinners Tayz and Timmo, who were instrumental throughout the competition. They helped keep the score to 82, one less than we had conceded in the semi-final. This time however we lost two quick wickets before captain Kiddo steered us home, pacing the innings perfectly. Becky was her partner at the wicket when the winning leg-bye was scampered with two balls left.
While all of the first eleven activity was going on the second eleven were putting together a solid campaign in Division1 of the Hampshire League, where we compete against other club’s first elevens.
The 2s season started with Nicole Beesley taking 4-16 to set up a win at Chapel Gate. Skipper Amy Mistry weighed in with two wickets and the target of 92 was seen off by Ashneet Chahal and Courtney Lowman. A trip to Alton was next up, and despite the best efforts of Mistry and Anya Ahl with the bat we could only muster 156, which was comfortably surpassed by the home batters for the loss of a single wicket.
Aldershot visited the Quarters for our next game and Abby Evans (51) and Harriet Batchelor (46), making rare appearances for the 2s, led the way to a total of 271, which proved more than enough as the visitors were dismissed for just 36 in a massive 235 run victory. Most of the bowlers chipped in, but Ashneet with 3-4 from 7 overs was the pick.
We bowled well again in the next game at Cove, restricting the home side to just 145-4 from the 40 overs allocation. The partnership of Mistry and Beesle was again to the fore, the pair conceding just 35 runs from their combined sixteen overs. Becky Blake and Sarah Attrill put on 86 for the first wicket to set up an eight- wicket victory.
The same pair gave us a good start again at St.Cross, this time adding 57 before a partnership of 109 between Becky (69) and Shami Mosweu (91) set up a final total of 266-9. The home side responded with 202-6. At the mid-point of the season we were lying second in the log, behind Alton.
Chapel Gate were another side who found it difficult to score freely against our 2s attack and Ellie Musson and Rach Carrick conceded only 27 between them from 16 overs, as they made just 100-6. Becky and Hannah Saunders saw off that target. Becky was in the runs again with 62 against Burridge, the best support coming from Ashneet (48) as we totalled 190-9 and then bowled the home side out for 79 with three wickets each for Rach and Caitlin.
Next came the return game against Alton at the Quarters. A tense victory snatched from the jaws of defeat (read more about this memorable match by clicking here) saw us to the top of the table, and with three games remaining the league title was in our hands. However, it seemed to have slipped through them at Aldershot the following week when Ella Chandler scored a crucial 72 in the home side’s 127, which proved too many on a wearing pitch, and we crumbled to 42-8 until a partnership of 56 between Mistry and Jem added some respectability to the scoreline.
Sarah Attrill (62) was again in form the following Sunday against St.Cross, and made 62, including a partnership of 104 with Hannah S, and our 205 was enough as the visitors closed on 111-7. The news that lifted us though was Aldershot beating Alton, which meant that we were on top again.
We just needed to beat Cove – and the Blake/Attrill opening partnership was again to the fore as they added 131 after we had won the toss. Ashneet and Hannah added a further 84 and we closed at 234-2. Cove needed batting points to stay up, and this became their focus rather than the win. A rather strange second innings ensued as the visitors batted their way to 202 without loss at the end of the 40 overs. They had avoided relegation – and we had won the Hampshire League for the third time.
Just in case pulling off the Southern Premier/Hampshire League double was not enough, our under 16s enjoyed a triumphant campaign to win the Warriors league, the vital game being the win at local rivals St.Cross on the last day of the season, when Ashneet, Hannah and Sanya Khurana scored the runs which laid the foundation for a good win – and when Hattie Platt took the vital wicket in the second innings another trophy was in the cabinet.
An unforgettable season for the club was capped by a visit to Nantes where were invited to be the first female team to play at the new ground, established to host the national team. A couple of wins and a good trip all-round put the icing on 2019, a season packed with travel, trophies and tons of memories