Review of Women’s ICC European Twenty20 Qualifiers
August 19th 2012 | International
Ireland Women will head into the tough challenges next week of Pakistan and Bangladesh full of confidence after their victory in the ICC European Women’s T20 Qualifier this week in Bready
Having beaten Scotland in a nail-biter on Tuesday morning, the competition was looking like it might get washed out completely when a torrential downpour put paid to Ireland and The Netherlands’ game that afternoon. Indeed, when the rain finally did stop, it quickly became obvious that not only was Tuesday washed out, but play on Wednesday would be doubtful.
The Bready groundstaff worked tirelessly to give the teams the best chance possible to play on Wednesday, and if that was not possible, then certainly on Thursday.
The weather continued to frustrate all when it turned fine on Wednesday morning, but the wicket needed time to dry, which it did just in time for gale force winds and torrential rain in the afternoon. All three teams joined forces with the ground-staff to get the square covered in an effort to save the pitch for the final day.
Finally the sun arrived on Thursday morning and the ground was relatively dry. Play would start at 10.35 and a 17-over match was the best that could be hoped for. Having won the toss, stand-in captain Cecelia Joyce (sister Isobel received a knock on the knee in training the day before) elected to field.
Kim Garth and Louise McCarthy opened up and kept things very tight. It was a hostile track which Dutch veteran Helmien Rambaldo found out to her cost when she took a nasty ball to the neck in the second over and had to retire hurt. Dutch captain Denise Hannema (4) soon followed Rambaldo when McCarthy took the outside edge in her second over.
Carlijn de Groot and Miranda Veringmeier occupied the crease for the next 11 overs and their partnership of 56 was crucial to The Netherlands reaching 84, but a series of quick wickets cost the visitors in the final over.
De Groot was the first to go, her leading edge off Laura Cullen’s bowling not causing Joyce much trouble in mid-wicket in the 15th over. That brought Heather Sieger to the wicket and she hit an entertaining seven before she was run out at the bowlers’ end after attempting to run on a wide which went straight to the wicket keeper. Mary Waldron kept her head, though, and threw the ball to bowler Kim Garth who duly took the stumps.
That brought Rambaldo back to the crease, but not for long as she was run-out by Shillington from long-on the next ball coming back for a second. Leonie Bennett came in for the last five balls but only lasted two, run-out by a great throw over the top from Laura Cullen on the cover boundary, again trying to take a second that wasn’t there. H———Hofman came in to face the last two balls and was out on the last ball for no runs, spooning a second catch to Joyce in mid-wicket.
A short shower just as the second innings was about to begin meant another two overs lost, so Ireland were set the Duckworth-Lewis total of 76 from 15.
Clare Shillington and Joyce opened and began well, scoring nine from the first over. The score was 32 when Joyce came down to a wide one and was stumped off the bowling of Esther de Lange. Kim Garth moved up the order to three and showed great maturity, happy to punch the ball for one and put the bad ball away.
Shillington was trapped leg-before for 35 to leg-spinner Hannema with 14 left to win. Melissa Scott-Hayward (3) and Garth (26) saw the game to the end in the 11th over.
The Netherlands had a quick turnaround, facing Scotland in arguably the most important game of the tournament. Ireland had already secured qualification for the World Twenty20 Qualifier but the second spot was up for grabs for the victor, and the game did not disappoint.
Scotland are a much improved team and showed how far they have come with a good display in the field. The Netherlands were struggling on 79 for five after 15, but with Veringmeier still at the crease and on 34 they would have hoped to post a total of over 120.
But in the first ball of the last over Veringmeier (50) was bowled by Scotland captain Abi Aitken and The Netherlands only reached 115, just two more than Scotland managed against Ireland earlier in the week.
The stage was set for an intriguing finish to the tournament. Fiona Urquhart, who scored 34 against Ireland on Tuesday, opened with all-rounder Leigh Kasperek. But the wheels came off early on when Urquhart and Carrie Anderson were dismissed in the second and third over consecutively and The Netherlands were very much in the driver’s seat with Scotland on just eight from three for those two wickets.
And when Samantha Haggo was caught in cover by Rambaldo with the score still eight, things were not looking good for Scotland. Kathryn White started to look comfortable when she was caught on the deep square-leg boundary with the score on 50.
It was a lot to ask of Lynn Dickson who was in at six and she soon departed, caught by Rambaldo off the bowling of captain Hannema. Abbi Aitken then joined Kasperek and the total looked reachable with the score poised for a tight finish on 70 with seven overs to go.
The next three overs went for 17 but once again, as soon as Scotland gained momentum, another wicket fell when Aitken didn’t quite get hold of one and was caught at mid-off. Kasperek was next to depart when the Scots needed 26 from 18 deliveries. The pressure was on, and it told. Kasperek hit one straight to mid-wicket and was run-out for 49 and with just three wickets in hand, 115 looked too much.
Kirstie Gordan did well before she got an inside edge which left Lorna Jack and Priyanaz Chatterji with 14 to get from the last over. The pair got five from the first three balls but when Jack was bowled it left just two balls for Nadia Wheeler to score 10, and the numbers 10 and 11 only managed two which meant The Netherlands won by seven runs to take the spoils.
Speaking after the final game, Netherlands captain Denise Hannema said: “It was pretty exciting, we worked hard and I think Scotland made it very difficult for us and played well. We learned a lot from the whole day. We learned a lesson in the first game when Ireland punished the bad ball and we came back well in the second game.
“We still have to play our ECB game against Durham to make sure we stay in Division 2, and next year we will hopefully play in the competition again. And we’re obviously going to train hard for this global qualifier over the winter.
“We are also playing north versus south in The Netherlands to make sure our best players are playing against each other and to make sure we play cricket at a higher level than just club cricket,” she added.
Since losing One-Day status at the last global qualifiers in November 2011 they lost most of their funding. Consequently the players had to raise money to travel to the Europeans as well as pay a lot out of their own pockets to play in the ECB County Championships this summer.
“It’s been hard. We set up a ‘Sponsume’ page for the Euros where people from all walks of life could support us and it worked out really well. We raised over two thousand euro and gave signed shirts and bats and things like that in return for sponsorship, depending on how much you donated. We are also looking to raise the profile of cricket for women in The Netherlands and looking for a new sponsor.”
Scotland captain Abi Aitken said her team was gutted to have come so close, and lost. “We are very disappointed to get so close but I think there are plenty positives. It’s the closest we’ve come so we are heading in the right direction. Gutted, but we’ve got to take it and move on.
“The match against The Netherlands was in our hands but both teams put up a good fight, both knew what was at stake. There was a lot of positives again. We bowled well, fielded well and I think our batting was where we need to look, but that’s cricket. Winning becomes a habit and it’s not one we’ve got yet.
“That’s pretty much our season over now so we’ll regroup and look at where we can improve. With the squad we have (geographically) we can’t all come together so we’ll have to do a lot of individual work which is hard, but it’s the commitment you have to make. We are still a very young squad and can take a lot from this week.”
Ireland captain Isobel Joyce echoed the other two captains. “That was the closest European tournament I have played in - all of the matches were tight. Twenty20 brings teams closer together and I think the fact that Leigh Kasperek from Scotland won the Most Valuable Player award tells it’s own story.
“All of the squads have a lot of young players which is exciting to see, it’s just a pity all of the matches couldn’t have been played. As it was we were lucky to get any matches played today so you have to give a huge amount of credit to the Bready groundstaff who worked incredibly hard.
“We go into matches with Bangladesh and Pakistan next week knowing that we will have to up every aspect of our game from this week to compete,” she admitted, “and we are looking forward to the challenges ahead.”
Ireland’s first match in the triangular series will be against Pakistan at Phoenix Cricket Club on Tuesday - For a full list of fixtures click here