Corbridge 1st v Stocksfield 1st 17/6/15

Stocksfield 1st won the toss and elected to bat.

Despite not being as strong as they once were Stocksfield 1st have been the best team or one of the best teams in Northumberland for over a decade.

Nicola Hawes, County Captain and one of the best bats in the league when on song. Amy Nicholson, top order County bat and aggressive stroke maker to open.

Ellie and Yves to open in a double left arm attack punishing anything wide, anything too full, Nic and Amy got away quickly. Both playing the pull particularly well.

There was a little of a Penrith hangover kicking in, and it was here we go again. Two good bats getting away and the scoreboard rattling.

Both bowlers found themselves under fire and it was very hard work in the field as they picked the gaps.

Yves withdrew with Jen replacing her but with both batsmen settled they hit hard. Jen’s not been in the best form with the ball so far this season, she’s been struggling for consistency in line but more crucially for her length. As her main weapon is flight, if the length isn’t right, good bats cash in as Amy and Nic did.

It’s a hard thing to watch knowing that there isn’t any advice to give because Jen already knows not to bowl short, to keep going at a fuller length but I know that having that said to you and actually feeling confident enough to do it when you’re not feeling good with the ball in your hand, you can’t make the ball do what you want it to and the batsmen are going after you is a completely different thing but it only takes a wicket, a good over, a good spell for everything to click into place.

Form is fickle and Jen will find it again.

At 10 overs with 80 odd on the board for no loss, Nic with 50* they were on for 170 but a double change in bowling saw Lisa pick up the wicket of Amy for 39.

Selina back in form after an 80 against Benwell to the crease.

It was actually very strange bowling at Nic because I’ve done it so rarely in an actual match. Jen usually has her out before I get a chance to bowl at her, I managed to get some pressure on her, bowling quicker, firing the ball in, enough to force a mistake. Top edge that took an age to come down but I didn’t have to move too far to take the catch.

Selina is difficult to bowl at. Actually no, she’s not difficult to bowl at she’s just really frustrating because she has an unconventional technique that has a lot of flaws but a really good eye. She hits boundaries off balls that should send her straight back to the pavilion. She took a swipe at what I intended to be an arm ball but it turn a touch, enough to hit the stumps.

With Selina gone we were into the younger players and the scoring slowed. Katherine Dixon played a few good shots but she was struggling against me. Alice decided to ride her luck with hard hitting but she was ran out when they tried to take a suicidal single. Jenny throwing the stumps down.

Stocksfield’s tail collapsed to Yves and myself. Bex Knight was caught behind. Everyone heard the nick. It was a clear but she thought otherwise. It was still given out. Her reaction was unnecessary and maybe more to do with us giving them a scare. They had been looking at a very good score, they got less than they were expecting and less than they wanted.

129 all out (18.4 overs)

There was a clear plan for me and Lisa. The pitch had misbehaved a bit during the Stocksfield innings and we were very aware of it so ‘nought daft’. See off Emily Ward. I was expecting Amy to open the Rugby end but it was Bex which I was happier about.

It was hard work but we managed to get a start and although not quite up with the run rate we weren’t far off.

It was a bit niggly in the middle. There was a lot of stuff being said, it wasn’t sledging, it was just niggly. It was actually mostly from the young players and enough to leave a sour taste.

We had the foundation at 10 overs to kick on and chase the target down. I had to start hitting more boundaries and unfortunately I had it in my head to start hitting out and needing runs instead of playing the ball that was bowled. After an over of Amy’s inswing and not being able to get the runs we wanted, I had a slog at a straight one from Alice, it didn’t end well.

When Lisa got out not long after Stocksfield regained control and were able to stifle the chase as key wickets fell.

Corbridge 87-5 (20 overs)

Stocksfield 1st 15 points. Corbridge 1st 5 points (3 bowling, 2 batting)

There are a lot of positives to take out of the game, the biggest being; the recovery when staring down the barrel of a big total to get them all out for a manageable target in the field and that we could / should have chased down that target.

This game jogged a lot of memories for me and I was thinking about the Stocksfield sides that I’ve played in over the years and just thinking about where they are now to where they were then.

When I first started playing for Stocksfield we got beat a lot but that was alright because Shotley Bridge were canning everyone to win the league year in year out. They were just so much better than any other team. It was basically Durham county players.

A group of us kind of came together at the same time; myself; Jane Wright; Faye and Holly Allen all around the same age, in Holly’s case a bit younger. It took a couple of years of us to get to a level where we had the basis of a good team but we were lacking a bit of fire power. As we got better Chris Catnach decided to ask Nicola and Sarah White who had been playing at Shotley Bridge if they wanted to come back and play.

We got better, stronger as a team but every time we came up against Shotley we’d fall to the way side. We just couldn’t beat them. It was a mental block. We could beat any other team in the league, we could be playing some of our best cricket but playing them, there were so many mental scars from previous encounters that we’d crumble. I can still remember how much I hated bowling at Pauline Peel because I couldn’t get her out, I didn’t feel like I could get her out and I couldn’t stop her scoring. She had cut me to ribbons in my first couple of seasons when I was still learning to bowl (inswing at the time) and I didn’t have an answer to her then. But the thing is that if I had to bowl at Pauline now I wouldn’t be fazed because I know that I’m a much better bowler now and I know even though she was a very good bat if she was still playing she wouldn’t get the runs and I could find a way to get her out. Confidence and experience does that.

However one dull overcast, probably shouldn’t have even been allowed on the top pitch as it had rained a lot, day. It was the last game of the season. We’d won every match bar the away match at Shotley. We had a chance at the league title but we needed to beat Shotley and do it well enough that they couldn’t get the same bonus points as we had in the game against them. I can still remember how determined we all were that even if we didn’t win the league we were going to beat them, that was all that mattered, we were going to win. We won the toss, put them in and bowled them out cheap. Then chased the total down to not only beat them for the first time but to win the league.

The side that beat Shotley Bridge; Nicola Hawes; Rachel Cowens; Sarah White; Jane Wright; me; Carol, Faye and Holly Allen.

That win marked the start of the team that would go on to win the league pretty consistently.

Carol retired, Rachel Godschalk had moved up here. Jane Wright stopped playing Amy replaced her. Sarah White was injured then moved away but there was a fairly consistent line of juniors following on and up.

But they’ve now lost 7/8 senior players in the space of 4-5 years including myself, however they’ve picked up a couple of good players and their juniors are making the transition to seniors but it has hurt them, of the best side I played in only Nicola and Amy remain playing for them.

Corbridge might not match them player for player yet but we’re getting there.

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Benwell Hill 3rd v Matfen Hall 10/6/15

Sunshine, glorious sunshine. Beautiful clear blue sky. Warm. No wind, that alone made it a good night for a game.

T20 Division One Knock Out Cup…

Away at Benwell Hill’s actual ground instead of Riding Mill where their 3rd’s play on Saturday’s. At least we got that message because the umpires went to the wrong ground and were late.

One of the good things about playing at Benwell is it’s a pretty nice ground despite being on the West road and surrounded by houses. It’s North East Premier league ground so it’s very well looked after. Not that we got the 1st team wicket to play on we were a couple or 4 strips down off the central strip.

The boundary from the wicket to the carpark is rather long, a fairly comfortable 3 for good runner’s between the wickets. It’s a long hit though and the ball doesn’t always travel to the rope holding up and teasing the fielders. It needs a good arm to get the ball in. Down to the tennis courts, yeah not so much. It wasn’t as short as last year when we played 2-3 strips closer to them and it was almost like the boundary next to the river at Wylam but it was still pretty short.

Of course playing at Benwell means that it is far easier for them to get their ringers in from the 2nds. It’s expected. Annoying but expected… And I expect that when they get drawn away that those players will suddenly become unavailable just like they did last year when they beat us, got drawn against Allendale away, the team changed significantly and they got beat. Not that I’m bitter about it.

With Aaron away with work, Steve injured, and others not available for midweek, we were a bit thin on the ground. In step Peter ‘Pedro’ Armstrong for his 51st season’s debut.

Hamish and James D’Arcy to open the bowling against a loaded top order including a couple of unfamiliar faces and a few we know.

Benwell started well with the straight drive the most effective shot.

As always in cup matches the umpires were incredibly tight, at times, with legside wides and wides in general, there was a bit of inconsistency.

Benwell ran hard and collected boundaries along the way to rattle the scoreboard. The loss of Ladd didn’t slow the scoring at all in fact it upped the rate with the incoming bat not taking much time to get going.

Tom spelled Hamish the scoring continued. James Ankers spelled an economical D’Arcy.

It was hard work in the field espiecally as the outfield isn’t as flat as it looks. There’s some awful lumps and bumps knocking around that can play havoc. It’s very difficult to trust the bounce. Get one with spin on it, nightmare.

Hooper and Dawson continued their assault.

I spelled Tom and after 2 decent enough overs, although I was ready to outlaw the chip shot my 3rd wasn’t good at all, in fact it doubled the runs I had gone for. Getting hit back over my head for 6 was the icing, well I expect these things. I don’t like it but it was a good hit.

A couple of quick wickets towards the end didn’t really slow them up much.

159-4 (20 overs)

Required rate 8 an over against a pretty strong attack…

Pilki and D’Arcy to open.

Steady, sensible, have a look Pilki… First ball, long hop dispatched with a flourish, bang straight to the rope. 4. It’s going to be like that then.

James D’Arcy not to be out done finding the rope soon after and continuing to find it with an array of shots including a brilliant pick up, one bounce to the carpark. It was a big hit.

Pilki 6 into the tennis courts, over them and I was going to buy him a beer, as it was my purse was safe but the real damage was being done by D’Arcy.

43-0 after 3 overs. 6’s, 4’s, 2’s, quick singles.

Another couple of overs of this and the run rate will be manageable.

49-1 (5 overs). Pilki losing his off stump for 12 as Luke Musset got one to skid through.

Hamish in with time to play himself in while James continued to hit the bowlers pretty much all over the park.

72-2 (8 overs) Hamish not finding the middle as he went to hit out, found the fielder at mid-wicket.

There was a bit of a lull as Max tried to get himself going, the first big shot he went for he got caught.

83-3 (11 overs)

Although he had slowed up a bit, fielders pretty much all on the boundary will do that, James D’Arcy brought up a hard hitting aggressive 50.

We started to lose more wickets around him though, too many for not enough runs to sustain the chase.

107-5 when having been kept off strike for a while James went after Musset again but failed to connect instead lost his stumps, 65 very entertaining runs and after a bit of a torrid time of late in the longer format it was great to see.

Mathematically still possible but looking unlikely. That didn’t stop Paul Wood hitting what would have been shot of the night if we hadn’t already been spoilt, straight drive into the sightscreen, putting a hole in it.

We finished up 139-6 from 20 overs.

Benwell Hill through to the next round.

End of the cup run for a second year running at Benwell Hill in a very good quality match.

No fines as we decided not to fine in Cup matches.

Next up for Matfen is Stamfordham away, local derby.

Stamfordham a different prospect from last year when they were battling to stay in the division. They’ve been stringing some good results together in recent weeks and have picked up a couple of players. In the last couple of years the wicket has been pretty dire and the outfield can be and usually is a nightmare.

I was going to miss this game because I was selected to play two T20 games for Northumberland in Lincolnshire however now I’m moving house so I can’t play any matches this weekend.

The week after is Haydon Bridge at home, which I also miss because I’m going to watch England v New Zealand 5th ODI at Durham. If it doesn’t get washed out, which it usually does.

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Corbridge 1st v Penrith 7/6/15

Welcome to the acid test.

We’ve played well so far this season but this was the first of the title contenders, the most likely side to win the league (if they get their matches played). Especially when we saw the team. This was a strong side, a very strong side, Cumbrian senior and junior county players from various clubs united as Penrith as the only Cumbrian side in the Northumberland league added to that an Australian over on a scholarship. They get one every year, she plays for their men’s team and she’ll be playing for the Cumbrian women’s side as well.

Defiantly a day to have our strongest side out, unfortunately this wasn’t possible.

We were the second match for them, they had already caned Hexham Leazes putting on 234-2 (Montgomery 81 retired not out). It is a small ground but that’s still some batting performance in 20 overs.

Let’s bat first… Hard dry pitch, in better nick than it was the other day. Slightly bigger boundaries.

Penrith win the toss and elect to bat.

Into the field then…

Meghan Montgomery is a player the county players in our side know well, we’ve played her a lot. She is Cumbrian captain. We know how to get her out, only at County we’ve got 11 players and can have 3rd slip, gully and backward point, we also have Roshi to bowl outswingers to encourage the cut. She’s a very good bat. If she gets in she’ll make big runs.

Lisa to open as Ellie was nursing an Achilles’ strain. Yves behind the stumps until she was needed to bowl.

Penrith started quietly enough, getting used to the pitch but the aggressive intent was always there and anything short, anything with a bit of width was punished heavily.

I bowled flatter, with more pace than I would usually do in a women’s game so I couldn’t get the turn I would have liked but I knew there wasn’t going to be the turn that there was on Wednesday because there was less grass on the wicket and it was far harder added to that with both bats more than happy to go over the infield, come out of their crease and only 6 fielders to play with the cost of wickets would’ve been extremely high if I was going to try and buy them with a bit of flight.

Lisa took herself off as Monty clattered her into the leg side to be replaced by Erica who had a bit of a chastening experience as she struggled for line and length. Penrith aren’t a team for mercy.

Jenny was a big miss behind the stumps, Yves and Lisa both did their best but it is a specialist position and it was a day when we really needed a keeper comfortable with standing up to force both batsmen back into their crease.

70-0 after about 9-10 overs.

Platform set to launch an all-out assault.

Yves and Ellie both felt the force of it as boundaries flowed.

Even though it wasn’t a pleasant experience for Ellie having batsmen charge at her, hit good balls for 4 I think (and hope) that it proves to be a useful one in the long run. She didn’t bowl badly but she couldn’t stop them scoring, it happens to everyone.

169-1 (Montgomery 82*)

Required run rate 8.5 against the strongest attack in the league.

I went out to bat in the wrong frame of mind. I hadn’t had a good morning at home, I’d been rushing around I wasn’t in the best mood when I got to the ground then on top of that we’d been out the field getting pulled around by inform batsmen. And I had got distracted by the frankly uncalled for heckling by the Penrith supports. Cheering mis-fields. Is there any need at club level? Cheer the shot maybe but don’t make a point of cheering a mis-field then laugh. Smug sneering and general arrogance. It’s not necessary and really unhelpful when trying to build confidence especially in young players.

Anyway I wasn’t with it and I went for a shot that I didn’t need to, the ball bounced a lot more than I anticipated, got a leading edge and was caught at extra cover trying to hit the ball into next week. Very irresponsible and inexcusable from an opener.

It was hard going especially when Eliza Bunner, their Aussie started bowling all out. She was quick and the more I saw the more I couldn’t believe I’d chucked my wicket because that was the kind of pace that, as long as you can cope with it, can bring runs.

We lost 3 wickets and this brought Erica to the crease. Now I’m all for competitive cricket, I’m all for bowlers bowling all out but there are lines. They aren’t written in law but they come under the spirit of the game. Bowling bouncers at a youngster really isn’t in the spirit. Hitting her on the grill then bouncing her again is excessive. Fair play to Monty she told her to stop it and ease off, then took her off when it was clear that she didn’t see the problem.

She could’ve bounced me and I wouldn’t have cared. Lisa the same. Yves fine. That comes from the level we have played for other teams but at this level there are very few players in this league that have ever been bounced. They’ll have probably been beamed but deliberate bouncers aren’t common. There isn’t really anyone in the league quick enough to genuinely bounce someone and it be effective other than her. She has the pace to do it and I don’t disagree with her using it as a tactic against experienced players but when Erica failed to play the first bouncer well and got hit something should have perhaps clicked that she couldn’t play it, she didn’t know how to play it, she didn’t have the experience to play it and if she kept bowling them she could hurt her. Also the game situation we were 4 down for not many, nowhere near threatening to give chase. Bowling wicket to wicket would have been as effective especially since it was her full deliveries that had brought her wickets.

This isn’t international cricket. This isn’t County. And although competitive there are development teams who are in the first year. That kind of bowling can ruin a person’s confidence and their willingness to play.

Anyway, Lisa batted calmly and made sure that we got a batting bonus point before departing for a really well battled 22. A run out for the last wicket and we were all out.

55 all out (11.5 overs, Bunner 3 for 9)

Penrith 15 points. Corbridge 1 bonus point.

There is a bit of bad feeling about Penrith playing in our league, not because they’re good but they’re a combination of clubs which means they have far greater pool of players to draw from. And they make all the teams that make the trip over there play on a ropey/nearing the end of it’s life artificial wicket. The fact it’s artificial is bad enough.

Although it was a thumping there is a lot to take out of the game. Mistakes that can be rectified. We are a better team than that display. We can play better than that. But when a match like that happens I chalk it up to experience and find things that they did well that I want to bring into my game.

For me watching Monty and Sarah Earl bat the way they did was a reminder of the things that I need to work on with my batting. Shots that I need to work on and things I need to tighten up. I’ve been more than a little lazy with nets recently and it does show in my batting.

When Monty threatened to ruin my final over, I switched to bowling around the wicket something I don’t do often to right handers and I couldn’t find my line, even though it was sort of effective. It’s something that I’ve been encouraged not to do in the women’s game but it’s a useful tactic, a way for me to change things up. I practice it in Matfen nets because so many of the team take 2 as a guard and I find around the wicket cuts out some of the shots they can play making it easier to think of the field setting I would want. It’s something that I need to spend more time on so that I can get my line straight away.

Anyway, next up for Corbridge 1st is Stocksfield 1st.

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Stocksfield 3rd XI v Matfen Hall 6/6/15

Stocksfield 3rd XI are actually Stocksfield 2nd XI. It’s all to do with their 1st team’s switch in league that the 2nd team official title has to be used by their actual 3rd team in a different league division.

Stocksfield is a known as a batting track, not only because the wicket is generally good but because the short outfield gives what are big boundaries excellent value for shots.

For Alex a match against his old team, and a ground he had played on for 10 or so years for the first time as Captain.

Stocksfield won the toss and elected to field.

A dry, cloudy day with a cold blustery, very strong at times wind. Every time there was blue sky overhead the wind kicked up a notch, when the clouds rolled in the wind dropped only to pick up again. I lost count of the number of times the bails came off, the umpires seemed to be forever picking them up.

Our team sheet made me feel old, 2 under 15, 3 under 18’s and 2 under 19’s.

Pilki and Hamish to open against a pacey James Tolchard and Anthony Allen.

Everyone thought that this would be a very good ground for Hamish to get another big score, fast outfield, decent paced bowling, good track. It didn’t come to pass, after starting well he got a leading edge and found himself back in the pavilion for 6.

Tom Scott with a batting promotion to 3, played himself in and pushing the running harking back to last year when Tom ran Pilki pretty much into the ground against Prudhoe before Pilki got sick of it and went on a slogging mission to spare himself a heart attack. It wasn’t as bad today although Stocksfield set a very defensive field from the off. There was no slips and they had sweepers out especially on what was a pretty short boundary down the hill to the railway line.

Tom played some very good shots, driving well, there was a mullered cut that should have gone all the way up the hill for 4 but was stopped at a deep-ish point.

Pilki reined himself in a little (a lot from Monday) as the situation dictated with Hamish gone there needed to be an anchor to our innings and although he did take risks, was almost caught and was dropped, there was a good deal of responsible batting on display especially against Brown, Stocksfield’s young spinner who bowled with good flight and length, temptation rejected until he started bowling too short.

Tom was almost stumped chasing a ball from James Watson down legside (pretty sure he was gone, it looked out and Sam Beedle was very adamant about it) but it wasn’t given.

When Tom did depart for a very well-made 19, Max was next in and he didn’t look all that confident at the crease, a bit scratchy, he wasn’t in long though. Cha-ching fine.

The innings threatened to stutter.

Louis Charlton, played well to settle things back down again, looking at home at the crease, taking on the bad ball and rotating the strike.

James D’Arcy. What to say… He did all of the hard work. Played himself in patiently with no loose shots and looked set to build. Then the drinks break. He had been resisting going after wide outside off stump so well but after drinks he went hard, pretty much hit the cover off the ball to the fielder at backward point. He was desperately disappointed and we all felt for him because he had done the hard work and we wanted him to build on Monday’s performance as it was he fell victim to the break in concentration that the drinks bring.

Ross Colesky in at 7 with not enough runs on the board to show us what we had seen in nets the first time he came in a match with a borrowed bat from Hamish. Crisply timed shots, with good power behind them.

Pilki was out for looking to kick our score up as we came into the last 11 overs. No half-century dodging, 55 bringing Paul Irving to the crease. He had a look for a couple of overs as Stocksfield brought back their opening bowlers then had an unsuccessful swing looking to push the score on.

Me in at 9. Bewick put in a gully and took out midoff leaving a big old gap. It wasn’t pretty, it was described as a sweep, it was all bottom hand, baseball style 4 right through there. Unfortunately he put the midoff back in. Spoil sport. I didn’t see the point in hanging around so I was aggressive except I kept hitting the fielders not the boundary.

With James Tolchard bowled out they brought the spinner back on… Ross managed to break Hamish’s bat, ebay bought cheap one, not his good one. The handle broke a bit, Hamish then broke it off when he got it back up to the pavilion, shame it had a good middle on it. I didn’t even realise what had happened, I was more concerned with why we weren’t taking the single Ross had just hit… New bat please. Another Hamish’s bat. Too light for Ross he realised so I leant him mine which I don’t think actually heavier. Bat swapping ensued because although I reckoned I could bat with Hamish’s I was far too concerned about damaging the edges to dare use it.

Then there was proof that I do actually back up when I’m at the none strikers end, lovely straight drive from Ross deflected back onto the stumps by the bowler. Run out.

Aaron in for the last couple of overs to have a swing. Ross got out for a really good 25. Alex in to try and get us a couple more. He got out last ball.

156 all out (42 overs) Pilkington 55.

Knowing the kind of scores that are needed on the top pitch about 50-60 runs short.

Tea… Crusts cut off the sandwiches… Scones… Fruit salad… Cake… Very nice spread. Credit to the tea ladies because they also had another tea to do for the players on the back pitch.

In the interlude the sightscreen had managed to be felled by the wind over the hedge and it was a bit of a struggle for the Stockfield players to get it back up. It was then tied up which meant that when it was asked to be moved it couldn’t be.

Aaron with the wind from behind him. Two slips and a gully. Bit of a mixed bag from Aaron, there were some very, very good balls and some not so good. Hamish struggled bowling into the wind as it wrecked his line and with the ball swinging and a shot leg side boundary there were a few picked off.

James D’Arcy spelled him to bowl into the wind and found it easier going and picked up the wicket of Bewick.

I spelled Aaron.

Now there is a bit of history that comes from playing against a club that I played at for 12 years in various teams. When I started playing for Matfen, the first time I played against Stocksfield 2nd’s (this at a time I was still playing for Stocksfield women’s 1st’s) it was decided by them to hand out a Barbie doll at their presentation night to Bewick who I caught and bowled… It’s now a 3 year tradition. Get out to the girl and you get a Barbie doll on presentation night… Anyway Graeme Tolchard. He can’t stop himself from having a go. Flighted up, big hit, caught by Pilki. That’s twice now, same combination different fielding positions. He had to sing and dance Aqua’s Barbie girl for his team after the match and pay £2.50 in their fines for getting out to me. He took it in good humour as he always does.

Sam Beedle to the crease, not so proud owner of last year’s Barbie (that’s what you get for having a slog sunshine) but owner of some big scores. It was a bit of a surprise to see him even in the team as we thought that he would be playing 1st’s. He should be playing 1st’s but he wanted to keep wicket and bat so he was in the 2nd’s instead. We all know he’s a heavy scoring, difficult to get out batsmen. A couple of close calls but he succeeded in hitting me out of the attack.

All the while Jonny Tobin had been ticking along nicely. He’s only 15 but he bats with an older head, good power and has some very classy shots.

Hamish spelled me to bowl with the wind. Tom spelled D’Arcy and found himself under attack as Stocksfield put the hammer down. Pilki couldn’t find his usual control with the strong wind against him with a tweaked leg muscle.

With less than 10 to win and Sam chasing 50 there were a couple of interesting shot selections. Trying to hit a ramp shot off Hamish… It wasn’t welcomed with humour. An attempted 6 towards the school held up in the wind and was stopped from crossing the boundary by Aaron. He did get his 50 but with a more classic off drive.

159-2 (Tobin 50+*, Beedle 50*)

Stocksfield 12 points. Matfen Hall 5 points.

The first time this season a team’s got all 12 against us but we came out of it with maximum bonus points.

Fines box; run out (both of us); breaking Hamish’s bat; irresponsible batting (last ball), responsible batting, fielding “like an old woman” Toby in charge of all Pilki’s fines after that one; mis-fielding; being a ball magnet and mis-fielding; sulking / strops; tantrums; swearing at the batsmen (don’t try to ramp Hamish); swearing on the boundary (out of the mouth of babe’s); ruining averages (it’s still more than healthy) and the classic ducks 0* is still a duck.

It was a good match even with the wind being a nightmare played by two sides with some very talented young players.

Next up for Matfen next round of the T20 knock out cup away to Benwell Hill 3rd’s.

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Corbridge 1st v South Northumberland 3/6/15

Corbridge win the toss and elect to bowl.

We went out onto the field with a very definite first goal… Get Caroline Frew out.

I love watching Frew bat… Especially when we’re on the same team for Northumberland, or if I’m just watching a game but playing against her is completely different. Frew is destructive. She hits 6’s for fun, with little effort on the biggest boundary. If she gets going it doesn’t matter who is bowling at her, she is more than capable of taking a game away.

Frew is also just about the nicest person on the planet, for the record.

The way she started the threat was massive but as a lesson, don’t hit an outswinger through midwicket from outside the off stump off Dani’s bowling. The next ball will be a fair bit quicker. It hit the stumps.

With the major danger out what followed was an excellent bowling performance to keep South North to 43 from 20 overs only blemished by a few missed chances in the field.

I dropped another caught and bowled, this one hanging in the air instead of straight back. I’m hoping that’s the 3 out the way and I’ll catch the next one. Good job we don’t do fines.

The ball was swinging a mile for Dani. It was turning and there was some unexpected bounce on some deliveries for me especially with a new variation which I learned then adapted from Chris Fowler’s grip which he showed me at Matfen nets a couple of week ago. Jen Sewell had her tempting length going. Yves was mixing up her pace.

With a small total to chase and a required run rate of just over 2 an over.

Lisa was left with the dilemma of stick or twist? Mix up the batting order or not?

I’m personally not the biggest fan of switching the batting order as a rule. I’ve seen it go wrong so many times especially chasing small totals that I’m always on the stick side of that dilemma. But then I had said that I wasn’t all that bothered about having a bat earlier… Then I changed my mind having seen the wicket and what it had done, the bit of misbehaviour and not taking into account how well we had bowled if I’m honest. It looked like a challenge to bat on.

Lisa decided to stick so we went out.

Left arm seam to open which can be tricky but Sophie bowled so much down leg side that it was easy to pick off for runs especially for me as my pull shot was operational. Lisa had threatened that there might be some running required with the outfield not letting the ball run but time the ball well enough and it was no problem to get to the boundary.

The bowling continued to be too legside and South North missed Roshi, any team would miss Roshi as their opening bowler (and batting is very handy too). Without her there wasn’t enough pace to worry about. The biggest threat to me was getting myself out which I did try to do having a god awful slog, I got away with it but it served as a timely reminder to behave myself.

Lisa continued her good timing and got the straighter bowling to finish 17*.

Out of 25 runs for me, I’m pretty sure that only 2 of they came from offside shots.

45-0 (6 overs)

Corbridge 15 points. South Northumberland 0 points.

It was a hammering. There’s no real other way of describing it.

An unintentional hammering of a really good set of lasses who try hard and with a full strength side can be very dangerous but on the flip side it was a job that needed doing. A match that needed to be won with the least drama possible.

6 games played, 5 won, 1 conceded. 75 points. Top of the league at the moment but our toughest opponents are still to come and we’ve got a run of them in the coming weeks… Penrith, Stocksfield 1st’s, who will both be challenging for the league, Kirkley who may be new but are putting up some great results and Hexham Leazes a bit of a bogey team for us.

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Matfen Hall v Medomsley 1/6/15

Re-arranged T20 Knock out Cup match…

Don’t rain… Don’t rain… Please don’t rain… The afternoon chant looking down the valley at work as the clouds rolled in. The forecast was awful.

It starts drizzling on around 4pm and the winds really kicking up. Gale force wind yellow weather warnings issued.

5pm – Match still on as it stands.

The drizzle eased off, the wind only got stronger as we took the covers off.

A filthy night for a match.

With the threat of rain, the light not great and only going to get worse, it was decided to reduce the overs to 12 a side to give the best chances of a match and a result.

Matfen won the toss and elected to bowl.

Same short boundaries as Saturday. Jumpers, base layers, any piece of clothing available put on for fielding, not that it mattered because the wind would cut straight through. It was bitter.

Aaron to open bowling into a seriously strong wind held a good line but within a couple of balls it was clear that Thompson was a good bat. Straight driving and hitting the ball hard as Aaron strayed a little too full.

Hamish with the wind behind him bowled a good line and Mark Shaw didn’t find it as easy to get away trying to make cut / running to 3rd man shots out of balls that weren’t there to do it to.

With only 12 overs it was always going to be a big hitting contest and the boundaries started to mount up even though the bowling was good the scoreboard was rattling. It wasn’t a huge amount of slogging, there were a couple but most of the shot played were just good and hard as the bowlers maintain good discipline even with the ball getting greasy as it picked up damp from the outfield and the drizzle had returned.

Thompson continued his assault with his opening partner joining in… Gavin Todd then informed me that Thompson had hit 92 in the T20 match not so long ago which gave a bit of context.

Tom Scott spelled Aaron and found the wind difficult to deal with and both batsmen went about pushing the scoring on. Steve Tiffin found himself a ball magnet at fine leg as the batsmen used their inside edges.

James D’Arcy spelled Hamish and bowled some good deliveries but Meldomsely were rolling and they kept scoring although with the majority of our fielders on the line they weren’t having as many really big overs as there had been.

Shaw was caught by Pilki on the boundary late on for 49 which was the only wicket.

The scorecard suggests carnage but the bowling was far better than the figures suggest, the short boundary did a lot of damage.

123-1 (12 overs. Kennett 1 for 47) Thompson 68*

It was a relief to get out of the wind and try and get some feeling back in my hands.

Meldomsley weren’t all that keen to go out in it and no one could blame them but we had to suffer it so out you go.

Just over 10 an over. That’ll take some chasing. Top order really has to fire for this to work out.

Pilki and Hamish to open and take on the challenge. Some generous bowling (they hadn’t seen Pilki bat before to be fair, they weren’t to know they were bowling into his arc… They soon found out though) had Pilki timing the ball sweetly over the line and over the heads of the men on the line, hitting hard and long, the boundaries could have been out and he still would have cleared them. Hamish was aggressive too but he paid the price of hitting into the strong wind as the ball held up and he was caught at long on.


A couple of wides helped the cause as Max Stephens had the role of hitting into the gaps while Pilki as he continued his assault. Big 6 over cover has to be shot of the night.

We were gearing up to celebrate a Pilki 50, it was not to be as he came out of his crease, about a third of the way down the wicket to their best bowler Mark Charlton, off-spinner, missed and was stumped for 48, half century dodging.

79-2 The rain really starting to come down but no one wanted to come off. If it was abandoned the match would have to be replayed this week. May as well get it finished.

All the while James D’Arcy had been itching to get in, practically bouncing when he saw their bowling. T20 is his game he proclaimed as we took the covers off. He got his chance to prove it.

“Hitting a 6 into the field in this wind isn’t going to happen.” James managed it. There were some great hits as he took their bowling on. Everyone bar the wicketkeeper and bowler were patrolling the boundary encouraging rotating the strike.

A quick fire 23 had the chase right up with the rate. It was down to a run a ball before a couple of wides had us on the right side of the rate.


Eddie went for a big one, hitting high out towards the road but the wind caught it and it hung in the air, it was a good catch but with less wind it probably would have been on the road.


The field all came up to try and save any singles.

Tom Scott to see us through with Max who finished 24*, a wide running down to the boundary did the job.

124-4 with 6 balls to spare.

Matfen beat Meldomsley by 6 wickets.

A very entertaining, very quick match, in awful weather played in excellent spirit. Credit to Medomsley there was a catch taken on the boundary during our innings but the fielder had just breached the line. They didn’t claim it, the bowler told the umpire to give 6.

Next round against Benwell Hill away in a week and a bit.

Saturday is away at Stocksfield who were finally beaten at the weekend by Wylam.

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Matfen Hall v Allendale 30/5/15

A warm and sunny day, bit of cloud knocking about, no threat of rain. Two Saturday’s on the trot? Strange.

Stranger still driving up to the ground there were these big dome green things with wheels on the pitch… Oh yes Matfen have got covers now and after a week of unsettled weather, plenty of rain which put pay to our T20 cup match they are a very useful addition and something that has been wanted for a long time.

Before the match Hamish proudly bounced a ball on the wicket to show that there was actual bounce in it after the work that had been put in during the week. It was impressive given the rain that we’ve had and the low bounce that we’ve had at home so far.

Standing next to the wicket gave a real appreciation of just how short the boundary had been made, a good 3m in from the usual pavilion line, 2m off the fence at the road, 3m shorter at the football end, a little off the fence at the village end. Too short? Well the grass hadn’t been cut on Friday because of the rain so it was going to hold up. It turned out that it played about right. Shots that deserved 4 got 4.

Allendale won the toss and elected to bat.

We’ve been batting first for a while, bit of a change, not unwelcome.

Left handed Welch and right handed Hyde their Kiwi/Aussie (not sure which, according to our experts he sounds more like an Aussie) to open for Allendale to face Aaron from the football end and Hamish from the Village end.

Welch is unconventional, he is not pretty to watch but he’s got a good eye and he knows where his stumps are so he is effective.

Haltwhistle told us that Hyde was the major danger batting wise and he looks a good bat but Hamish bowled him so we didn’t see much of him.

Amit Sunda, loves a straight drive, loves a hit, seen him a fair few times. 4.2. Out. Another wicket for Hamish.

Terry Sparke came in and with Welch began to rebuild from 15-2. A few chances were put down as Sparke flashed outside off. Cha-ching. Fines.

James D’Arcy spelled Aaron and bowled a very tidy spell. He had a couple of very good shouts of LBW against Welch turned down as he failed to connect as he bowled a middle – leg stump line tying him up (all LBW’s were turned down, it has to be stone cold dead plumb to get a LBW off David Neal and that’s fine because it’s the same for both sides). He did pick up the wicket of Sparke for his efforts.

Richard Sadler is a very handy bat and plays the short ball very well. That bounce that Hamish was so proud of was playing out and there were genuine bouncers as an option for the bowlers.

James Ankers in the meantime had spelled Hamish and was mistaken for the batsmen as David Neal raised his finger for a run out off a great throw by Ross Colesky. Tap on the shoulder from Welch well inside his crease. He was behind you Mr Neal. Not run out.

Welch did get run out though in a genuinely strange bit of play. Welch hit the ball into the deep pretty much straight to the fielder and started running, the ball came in, Sadler hadn’t moved. Two batsmen at one end. Welch run out. “**** I’ve done it again” perhaps not the first time this has happened at a guess.

Stobbs was caught by Paul Wood off James Ankers bowling shortly afterwards.

Allendale frustrated us for a time as chances went down and some good shots were played until Ross Colesky bowled Sadler who departed for a well-made 28. Ross’ first Matfen wicket.

When Rutherford lost his wicket to Tom Scott as he was caught by Hamish, it was time to mop up the tail.

I was wondering if I was even going to get a bowl at this stage… We’ve got a glut of bowlers this year and there’s no denying it’s a difficult job for Alex to manage all of us.

Hamish to come back on this time from the football end because the boundaries meant that the only sensible end for me was the village.

I was a little dubious about coming on in for the 34th over, wondering whether this was going to be a case of being cannon fodder because traditionally the last 10 overs is the slog fest and having just seen Hamish get rid of the last left hander, given 2 right handers… There were so many left handers in the Allendale team and I love bowling to left handers, I’m an off spinner of course I love bowling at left handers… Anyway, first ball dragged down too short put away for 4 as it should have been, probably a bit of worry from my team mates that after waiting so long to get a bowl I was going to bowl badly and have to be taken off but I often drag the first ball short if I’ve been fielding for a long time, getting a bit cold, it’s annoying but it doesn’t upset me. Get it out of the way then I start bowling better. There was some good turn on offer. Slope aiding. Sparke played the wrong line not expecting the ball to turn, it did. Same thing for the last wicket in my next over.

Allendale 128 all out (36 overs, Kennett 3 for 21) J Welch 33.

Tea time. Loads of sandwiches, sausages in Dijon mustard, scones… Well feed.

Hamish and Paul Wood to open against Amit Sunda, one of the quickest in the league when he bends his back, skiddy with a good Yorker and a pretty decent bouncer. Not many of his usual Yorkers going on mind, he was using more good to back of a length.

Sparke’s immaculate length brought him 5 maidens on the trot. Both batsmen preferring to go after and use the pace of Sunda which lead to him being taken off and replaced by Terry Sparke. You two like pace? Well here is none. Patience is a virtue, here’s a test.

There really is no pace to work with and a lot of flight (grenade trajectory basically) and to cap it off they brought Swann on from the other end to bowl his slower still leggies. Something had to give and it was Paul coming out of his crease after Sparke. It was a very sharp piece of work by Welch for the stumping. Bails off before Woody could even think about getting back.

Tom Scott next in to have his patience examined while Hamish used good footwork and power to keep the scoreboard ticking Tom found it hard to get going. There is nothing worse than going in to bat against no pace.

When Tom departed Max was next in, he hit the ball well and put the fielders under pressure. There was some good running in the partnership which pushed the score on. Allendale turned back to Sunda for a breakthrough. With a bit of an examination he found Max’s playing of the short ball a little suspect so cue bouncers just about every time that Max was on strike. It paid off as he was caught.

Aaron Tiffin promoted up the order because he had to leave around 6pm. He certainly wasn’t looking to hang about. Hamish’s face when Aaron came out was a picture, he was probably expecting Eddie or James D’Arcy, actual middle order batsmen… The celebration when Aaron played a really good pull for 4 was that given to a lower order player making runs out of position, on the side of OTT. Trying to run out Hamish was not welcomed with such enthusiasm. When he settled down, a bit there were some good drives and a couple of defensive shots.

What was not expected was that it was Hamish, not Aaron who was the next wicket, 1 shy of another half century. A really good ball from Sunda, nick through to the keeper. His average halved to 122.67. Not happy.

Eddie Scott to bat for his average through to the end. He even admitted it.

Aaron got out at 6pm. Now that is excellent timing.

113-5. 16 to win.

James D’Arcy in for a cameo to see us over the line with Eddie, scores level he hit the winning runs with a flourish, 4.

132-5 (30.5 overs. Sunda 3 for 47) Kennett 49.

Matfen Hall beat Allendale by 5 wickets. 12 points.

Allendale 4 bonus points (2 batting, 2 bowling)

“The weather forecast is bad for overnight. Do you want the covers on?” We’re going to have to get used to asking that one and doing it, although they aren’t heavy to push up the hill, a bit tricky to line them up but it’s still more than worth it.

Fines box; dropped catches; allowing Sparke to bowl 5 maidens; scoring less than Aaron; mis-fields; over complicating a dive on the boundary to save 4 (showing off); inability to play a pull (probably a bit harsh but it was admitted before batting then demonstrated); losing the toss and the heinous crime of half century avoidance.

Big thank you to Claire for scoring; Eddie, Hamish, James for wicket prep, Tom for the boundaries and everyone involved for a good match.

Next up T20 cup rearranged fixture Monday.

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Things are changing for the better…

I had a reminder midweek about sexism in cricket and it tagged on from a discussion about involving more women who were capable and wanted to in the Saturday teams at Corbridge. The club encouraging and wanting women players to be available for the 2nd’s and 3rd’s.

It was really good to hear that Corbridge were wanting more women to play in their men’s teams, sorry their other teams, their Saturday teams as I was reminded. The reason I use Men’s cricket even though it’s open to both men and women is for one thing habit, secondly because the leagues are predominantly male only teams and also because men can’t play in a women’s league. And in some league women need permission to play, not that a league can afford to refuse on the basis of gender alone, because that would be sexist and they’d fear getting taken to court. However they could refuse on the basis that the player would be playing at a level which they could not manage and could be dangerous for them, then the refusal is on health and safety grounds. This is used for both genders and tends to be with the involvement of juniors in senior teams. That’s a different issue.

Anyway this discussion struck a chord with me because when I first started out playing Saturday cricket more than a decade ago, scary, I used to make up the numbers for Stocksfield’s 3rd team, meaning no bowling and batting at 11. I was there to field basically.

It hit me how much things have changed in terms of attitudes and the opportunities available in a relatively short space of time.

As I put it 10-12 years ago I was there to make up the numbers and I was fine with that then because I was still learning the game and the opportunity it gave me was to play the longer format at a higher standard even if it was as a fielder.

I didn’t really get an opportunity to play men’s properly until I started playing for Stocksfield Mid-week league team and I was allowed to bowl. Allowed probably isn’t the right word, it was more like, here’s a ball, nothing else is working, you can’t do any worse than anyone else (any of the lads) you may as well have a go. And I picked up a few wickets and didn’t get clattered too much so I became more trusted and given more overs.

The more I played, the more the team saw me play the more I was able to get involved.

To make it clear when I started there was a lot of upfront sexism directed at me or within earshot. Some of it was quite nasty, the rest was run of the mill and what I expected. I wasn’t overly bothered by it. It could annoy me a bit, I either kept my mouth shut or I made a joke of it and played despite of it because I wasn’t naïve enough to think that I could change everyone’s minds and if that was their opinion it was up to me to prove them wrong. I may have said a couple of times “well you either have me on the team or you have 10”. For some players at that time they would have rather had 10 and that was up to them. I was still going to play if I was asked because I wanted to play and since I was willing to drop everything to play at half an hours’ notice… That did tend to make selectors and captains remember my number.

Things have changed. Attitudes as a whole have softened. Some of it is down to the much higher profile of the women’s international game. Higher profile players. Recently professionalism. Some of it is down to more girls being involved in age group cricket. I didn’t play age group but a fair few of the women I now play with did and it defiantly filters through into senior years. Men remember that woman/girl who took that wicket, took that catch or made those runs when they were playing together in their formative years.

There’s an awful lot more respect about. That doesn’t mean that there is, or should be a glossing over of the differences between men’s and women’s cricket.

Most differences stem from physical aspects. Men bowl faster than women. The faster men’s bowlers break 90mph consistently, the faster women high 70’s mph, early 80’s mph. Average spinners mph is higher in men than women too. This is not about skill or accuracy or effectiveness just speed / strength.

Men can throw harder and further than women. Not mentioning accuracy at all.

Men can hit the ball harder than women. Again this is not about skill, placement or timing.

There is an match a ball difference… For a men’s match the ball is between 5 ½ & 5 ¾ ounces, circumference between 8 13/16 and 9”. For a women’s match the ball is between 4 15/16 & 5 1/16 ounces, circumference between 8.3 & 8.5”.

Anyway what really brought this up was a game that I played for Corbridge Ratcatchers, midweek XI this week. I played a bit at the back end of last year, this was my first game of the season for them. New league after getting promoted last year, a team we hadn’t played last year when there had often been one, two or three women in the team. Anyway they made a few comments about me, about me coming on to bowl, basically that I wouldn’t be if they weren’t losing already, these were relayed back by our scorer.

I’ve gotten a bit used to playing in the West Tyne Division 1. I’ve been around a while. I’ve played 49 games for Matfen, this is my 4th year and teams have gotten used to me being on the team. Yes early on there were some raised eyebrows and more than a few comments but it’s settled down. There is still a thing about getting out to the woman but it’s not as big of a thing as it used to be, especially since I’ve taken a fair few wickets, it’s not embarrassing to them anymore. I’ve earned some respect.

There are also more women in Division 2, more involved on a Saturday around the North East. It’s becoming more common place so more accepted.

Anyway hearing about what this team had said was a bit irritating, a throwback and it reminded me that there are those attitudes still out there, the “women shouldn’t be on the pitch they should be making the tea” attitude.

It reminded me of what some women have to face to play in some teams and in some leagues and why it can be off putting.

That’s not to say that all women want to play against men. Some don’t and are happy to play their cricket solely against women. That’s fine and their choice. But that doesn’t mean that those who do and are good enough should be denied the opportunity because of their gender.

With that in mind though there are a few things that as a woman I’ve found very useful playing with and against men.

First off a thick skin, comments are going to come.

To be able to bite your tongue and keep your head down, no reaction is sometimes the best reaction.

It should go without saying but the best of your ability, competitiveness, be willing to listen, ask and learn. It is a learning curve playing at a higher level and it can be more frustrating than learning the game in the first place.

A sense of humour, preferably a massive one.

Practically, being prepared to change in toilets or coming to matches in whites, which isn’t really a hardship. Getting used to playing with a bigger ball especially as a bowler.

I get so much out of playing against men. I’ve learned a huge amount with yet more to learn and been forced to develop my game in ways that wouldn’t have been needed if I had only played in the women’s league. I am a far better player for the experience.

With attitudes shifting within clubs, more opportunities arising and more inclusion sexism should be getting less of an issue but I’m not naïve enough to ever think it will disappear completely.

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Northumberland women v Lincolnshire women 24/5/15

There’s no way I can keep escaping writing about the Norfolk match, however much I would love it to be stricken from my memory, but it impacts on this match so here is the grisly tale of Norfolk away 3/5/15.

A really long travel down the M1, staying over in King’s Lynn. Sunday morning it was absolutely bucketing down. We drove out to the ground, 11am start time comes and goes, still raining. A lot of card games and a fair bit of “can we not just call this off and go home, we’re not going to get played” later, 3pm actually. It had faired up enough to get in a 30 over game on a hill. We had Norfolk 24-4, 67-7 they got more than we would have liked given that position with some hard hitting from their number 3 Woodhouse who got 50*, 115-7.

More than gettable… What followed was a horror batting performance.

It started with the run out of Rachael Gillott in the first over. Amy running herself out without facing a ball in the second. Then it was bad shot selection, some trying to hit their way out of trouble, not getting their heads over the ball and a lack of patience was apparent throughout the order.

We collapsed monumentally, in a heap 24 all out.

So we needed to redeem ourselves…

This is the first year Lincolnshire are playing 50 over cricket. We played them last year at the Penrith T20 competition on a dust bowl. Beat them the first day, got beat when we should have won the following day when the pace and bounce in the wicket had all but disappeared

If Summer arrived in Northumberland Saturday, overnight it had gone MIA again. Grey skies, cold wind greeted us at the ground.

400+ runs scored on Saturday on the wicket two over from the one that we had played on Friday. Different strip but another good batting track.

Lincolnshire won the toss and elected to field. Fair enough, Nic wanted to bat anyway.

Change up in the batting order with Nicola and Rachael Gillott to open. They found the Lincs bowling generous as the umpires enforced tight wides. As they both got going and found the pace of the pitch there was some sweet hits on display, the runs were piling on.

At 80-0 both Nic and Rach were in the early 30’s which gives an indication of how many extra’s there had been at that point.

It took a run out just shy of the 100 to break the partnership. Nicola run out for 35. Amy Nic came in with great intentions of a century. She had watched Chris Catnach get one the previous day, she wanted one of her own.

Gillott continued on but departed curtesy of a good reaction catch at cover, she had hit the ball about as hard as she can, the pity was that she was looking in great touch. Her new bat looks to have a good middle on it.

Roshi entered the fray and once she had the pace of the pitch she was timing the ball well. When Amy bottom edged onto her own stumps we were already around the 150 mark.

The drinks break offered Lincs the chance to regroup, settle their bowlers down and it worked because there were far less wides and no balls in the second half of the innings than the first.

Hilary was next in and things were looking good for me not getting a bat until Roshi was caught at cover and off I went to face their opening bowler, fine with me the more pace the better.

I’m in pretty good nick, I’ve not hit my best form but it’s good enough not to worry about at the moment, still the pitch wasn’t as nice as Friday and it was holding up rather than really coming through.

It took a fair while for me to settle. Part of that was the pitch, the other part is I don’t feel comfortable at 6. I don’t have a plan for 6. I have a plan for opening, I have a plan for 3 or 4, I have a well-practiced plan for 7 and below. Proper middle order, not so much.

However once I got a nice feel off a cover drive for 4 I felt like I was set. A nice little late as possible punch cut off a leg spinner, played down and everything. Push on then, there’s a plan…

I’ve never really batted with Hilary, maybe once before this match and it should be a good combination because while she places the ball into gaps, I hit the ball hard it should in theory be a partnership that upsets the bowlers, but in practice it’s not a good combination. I see runs where she doesn’t, she sees runs where I don’t. It was kind of a bit inevitable that a run out would happen. There were a couple of misunderstandings that were causing hesitation.

Shot hit to their weakest fielder I was confident there was a comfortable one there, I was going to the danger end. It’s a single. Hilary said no when I was half was down, I called her through because if she went she still would have been safe because the throw was coming to that end as it was she stood her ground. The ball got to the bowler and I was run out.

Not amused to put it mildly, but then there’s nothing I could do. I had committed to a single that was there. She refused it and stood. It was massively frustrating because I was in and ready to take the bowling on.

Our innings lost momentum. Beth struggled to get the ball away and there were a few too many quiet overs. When Beth looked to make runs she was caught.

Lisa got the most hideous decision. Bottom edge, ball running away down fine leg. Lincs appealed for LBW, which was interesting given that we all heard the bat from the pavilion. The umpire gave her out LBW. Lincs didn’t retract their appeal.

Alice came in and gave the bat a good swing pushing Hilary as hard as she could to get her to run harder and put the fielders under pressure, a nice little cameo came to an end bringing Yves to the crease to see out the rest of our 50 overs.

247-8. Redemption with the bat.

Tea’s are always nice for County matches and Stocksfield spread was no different.

Required rate 4.94

We may be unpredictable with the bat but we are a good bowling unit with plenty of options at Nic’s disposal. Roshi and Amy swing bowlers; Emily and Nic wicket to wicket with a hint of movement bowlers; Yves left arm spinner and me right arm spinner. Others available if required.

I’ve started fielding at 1st slip for County, something I quite enjoy even though I think I’m probably better at gully or backward point but close in is where I like to be. So standing next to Gillott for a fair few overs in Norfolk we had made a bit of our own fun… Elton John song titles, Eric Clapton song titles, 80’s songs, one hit wonders, appalling singing (from me), films… Obviously this is secondary to supporting our bowlers.

And perhaps a few comments about the batting on display may come in every now and again.

Roshi bowled into the wind and had a weird day. She bowled with good pace and swing, created chances, a couple of drops, then wickets, nearly a hattrick, then she had to be taken off for bowling too many above waist height no balls which is very unlike her.

Amy bowled well but had no luck. Emily followed on from Roshi and picked up a couple of wickets.

68-6 when Nic picked up a wicket and the heart ripped out of Lincs batting.

One of their openers was still in and batting well but there wasn’t much support for her. Bring on the most frustrating part of cricket, short of us all losing the plot with the ball, Lincs had lost but we still had to get the last couple of wickets…

On with the spinners for the slow death…

It got a bit boring, very quickly. I bowled a bit quicker than normal, the wind was behind me and I was trying to beat the bat, which I did multiple times only to miss off stump by an inch. Alright then, I asked Nic if I was alright to toss it up and let them have a slog with a couple of catchers moved into position. I kept mixing my pace up inviting the slog, then not. Yves was doing the same. Eventually Lincs’ tail caved.

96 all out.

Northumberland won by 151 runs. 18 points (4 bowing, 4 batting bonus points)

Lincolnshire bonus points 1 batting, 3 bowling.

Next up for Northumberland women a T20 double headed away fixture in Lincolnshire against Cumbria and Shropshire. Another trip down the M1, this time of Stamford which I know well because Burghley Horse Trails are just on the outskirts. Food in The George might be too much to ask, but at least I know how to get there.

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Haltwhistle v Matfen Hall 23/5/15

Beautiful blue sky… Warm… Summer arrived in Northumberland, even in Haltwhistle, one of the most likely to be rained off fixtures along side Allendale away.

Straight along the A69… further than you think past Haydon Bridge but still pretty straight forward…

I was a bit on the late side even though I had left my house in more than good time, the petrol station at Corbridge had a fuel delivery, yeah I really appreciated that, still 10 minuets late wasn’t that bad.

Aaron who had been working in the morning, a bit later, fair enough. Paul Irving. James Ankers.

A bit of looking at the clock because it was now past 1pm and we only had 6 players at the ground…

Matfen won the toss and elected to bat in the meantime.

Great, now where are our top order? Tom and Eddie arrive along with the Kiwi’s bag’s. 8, getting better.

1 car = 3 of our usual top order… Dicey.

As Paul Irving and Pilky walked out to open the batting, we were on the lookout for Max’s car… There he is, he’s slowing, he’s slowing, that’s still a bit fast, he’s past the entrance to the ground and out of sight… Cue chorus of laughing from us lot. All was well though, he turned around and pulled in at the second asking.

Turns out that he had followed Eddie and Tom along the Military which isn’t as straight forward as the A69, got stuck behind some traffic while Eddie managed to get past it in the process lost Max. At least it was a nice day to see the sights up on the tops. Stressful start to Max’s day though.

Haltwhistle missing a couple of players we were expecting. No Dan Kirkup, no Barber for example but still plenty of talent there.

Anyway, the return to the responsibility and required patience of opening for Pilky. First ball from Mark Rowell, chest height no ball guided off the face for 4 easy as you like. Now if only Rowell will play fair and start the game of short, shorter, shorter again bowling this could be more than fun. Alas he didn’t but that didn’t stop Pilky sending him into the fence at the road end for 6. Careful and restrained obviously. Yep, always entertaining when Pilki opens. However there were leaves involved. It wasn’t all hard hitting.

Paul was far more watchful. The partnership lasted through the crucial 10 over mark with the scoreboard rolling on nicely. The pitch was looking a bit two paced, some holding up, some rushing on…

More good hits from Pilki before he lost his off stump, if he had connected the ball would have gone an awfully long way as it was his stump and the bails were the ones travelling.

Hamish Kennett to the crease, he took his time to play himself in as we expect but he wasn’t looking as fluent as he usually does, with Rowell spelled for an awkward Foxcroft and Sconer on from the other end the scoring slowed a little.

Paul Irving was run out brought about by an excellent stop at gully, bringing Eddie Scott to the crease, batting promotion. He stuck around a few overs restraining himself and trying to get the timing of the pitch. The first ball when he had decided to push the button and take on the bowling saw him out LBW playing a mow. It wasn’t a good shot and if he hadn’t been given for actually being LBW I’m pretty sure he’d have been given out for the shot alone.

A quick blast of temper in the changing room, poor James D’Arcy to keep his head firmly down as he had the misfortune of needing to pad up, Tom shutting the door so neither could escape… But less than 30 seconds later out Eddie came with a smile and a greeting and James survived.

Max found his timing fairly quickly and dispatched a fair few balls to kick the scoreboard on again. He was batting with good power which complimented Hamish’s patience well. It was already looking like we would get a good score. With Max out, Tom came in at a time when we were looking to push on, he looked to take on the bowling, the bowler won.

James D’Arcy in at 7, 12 or so overs left to push the score to up 200. With his family present we were introduced to a different version of D’Arcy’s batting. Sensible, restrained, playing himself in… Until Mark Rowell came back on and tested out his playing of the short ball, yep he likes that. Keep it coming.

There were only a couple of overs left when D’Arcy was out looking for that 200 score. Aaron was given the opportunity on the basis of the players left, he can hit the ball the hardest and if he came off then he could score runs quickly. It didn’t work but at the stage it was worth a try. James Ankers went in the aim to get Hamish back on strike, problem he hit the ball too well.

Matfen 191-7 (Hamish another 50-odd*, his batting average is sky high and if not for being given bat before at Wylam then he wouldn’t have been out yet)

Haltwhistle were very good in the field, their in fielding was excellent, they stopped a lot of good shots getting runs.

Good tea, although the tea itself cold as no one had turned the boiler on for hot water.

Aaron to open from the road end, right hand, left hand combination at the crease.

Haltwhistle went off hard, using the pace on the ball to their advantage, punishing anything off line and good length. James D’Arcy spelled Aaron but again with pace on the ball the opening pair were comfortable. James Ankers spelled Hamish, the scoring continued.

Tom Scott spelled D’Arcy and produced the first clean cut chance of the innings which was shelled by Max at mid wicket.

We weren’t at our best in the field. My hands firmly up as having a ‘mare at mid-on. If looks could kill I’d be dead via Tom Scott’s death glare for an awful miss-field when trying to pick up and throw in fast and clean I missed the ball, it went through my legs and a quick 1 turned into a comfortable 2. Fine’s box was having a good day, I was not the only guilty party.

After having a week of struggling for rhythm in the women’s game I wasn’t at my most confident as I was given the chance to bowl as a complete change up but the ball was coming out well and the batsmen didn’t seem to like the slower pace. There wasn’t a massive amount of turn but there was enough.

At drinks, 21 overs Haltwhistle were well on their way, past 110-0.

With Max asked to bowl spin from the other end we managed to slow them down and put on some pressure.

Finally we got a break through. A mix up with one batsmen looking to push a quick single that had gone straight to the fielder left both at the same end. I missed collecting the throw into bowlers end stumps, thankfully Hamish backing me up got hold of the ball, he had time to run in and take the bails off. A bit of a mess, but still a wicket.

Pilki following on from Max found his usual bit of swing and got an LBW which had the batsmen walking before the finger had even gone up. Back foot in front of middle stump.

1 brings 2, 2 brings 3 and all that. Haltwhistle slowed and there was a lull in scoring with the fall of wickets but with Dan Parker still at the crease they were still favourites to see it through which they did, it took them more overs than it looked like it would.

Haltwhistle won by 7 wickets. (Dan Parker 100+*)

Haltwhistle 10 points. Matfen Hall 5 points.

A game which it was thought could potentially be a bit feisty was actually played in good spirit and decent humour.

Big thank you to Claire for scoring both innings.

Next up a midweek T20 cup match against Medomsley. Next weekend Allendale who haven’t had the best results so far, but they have recently acquired a Kiwi batsmen of their very own who helped them end Haltwhistle’s unbeaten run last week.

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