2017 has been a fantastic year for Women’s Cricket. With the England Ladies winning the World Cup and Western Storm defeating the Southern Vipers in the Kia Super League Final, Women’s Cricket has become one of the leading female sports in England.
However, it’s not just the professional circuit that has had some success!
Across the country, thousands of women have picked up a bat and a ball and taken part in the brand new Women’s Soft Ball Cricket initiative. Here, in Wiltshire, the story is no different!
From June to September, the women’s game has recruited over 60 new participants to join those who were already playing the sport! These new cricket enthusiasts were introduced to the game by means of a free 6-week coaching program, which allowed them to socialise, improve their skills and above all have a great time.
The six-week program introduced the participants to basic bowling, batting and fielding skills and gave the women a chance to progress from ‘never bowled overarm’ or ‘picked up a bat’ to being able to ‘bowl some wicket-taking deliveries’ or ‘hit multiple sixes’. The enthusiasm for the program was also translated to the off-field activities which included ‘Pizza and Prosecco’ nights but also the chance to be involved with, and in some cases, understand their children’s cricket in their own leisure time!
Leading on from the 6-week coaching program, the ladies were given 3 opportunities to take part in a Soft Ball Cricket Festival. Photos and reports for these can be seen below:
Festival 1: Corsham Cricket Club
As many Britons visited the beach with buckets and spades in hand during one of the warmest bank holiday weekends recorded, the ladies of Corsham Cricket Club and Calne Cricket club picked up a bat and a ball and took to the cricket field in Wiltshire’s first Women’s Soft Ball Cricket Festival.
With the majority of the ladies having only been introduced to the game of cricket in recent months via the free 6-week coaching programme, this festival gave them a chance to put their newly acquired batting, bowling and fielding skills to the test in a paired format of the game, that requires no pads, gloves or helmets.
The festival kicked off with the local derby match between the Corsham Condors and Calne Ladies, which turned out to be a high scoring affair with both teams surpassing 85 runs in their 10 over innings. Fortunately for Calne Ladies, several high scoring partnerships saw the visiting team reach their required total with an over to spare, meaning an over without a wicket loss (-5 runs) would see them to victory.
A brief pause in proceedings allowed all participants and spectators to enjoy the other activities that were on offer around the cricket ground, including a BBQ, bar, raffle, inflatable bowling net with speed gun and of course, a free glass of prosecco or soft drink.
Having restored energy, Calne ladies were asked to bat first in the second fixture against a team composed of sons, daughters and other young spectators. Another thrilling encounter saw the Calne ladies post a total of 76 which they would later defend by taking a wicket on the last ball of the game, to reduce the team of young cricketers to a total of 75.
The final fixture was not quite as competitive, but was still accompanied with enthusiasm and excitement. With the young cricketers winning the toss again, the Corsham Condors were put into bat and posted a total in excess of 70 runs again, whilst the team of next generation cricketers struggled to a final total of 38, partially due to the loss of several wickets.
Wiltshire’s first women’s soft ball cricket festival was a fantastic success and with future festivals taking place on Sunday 10th September and Sunday 17th September at Calne CC and Chippenham CC, respectively, the growth of the women’s game can only continue.
Festival 2: Calne Cricket Club
In complete contrast to the weather at the Corsham Festival, the second Women’s Soft Ball festival was met by strong winds and a few downpours of rain. However, where most men’s league teams would have run for shelter, the 54 women and their team supporters braved the miserable weather and continued to complete their competitive, yet very friendly and sociable, games of paired soft ball cricket!
With all of the players forming 6 teams, each team completed 3 fixtures over the course of the afternoon, whilst enjoying the music, commentary, BBQ, refreshments and prosecco! With lots of outstanding performances to mention, it is simply not possible to list all of them. However, highlights ranged from Lucy Wood hitting 22 in one over to Corsham Condors achieving their first win and finally Chippenham and Calne finishing their respective innings on the same score meaning their next encounter is likely to be competitive and great fun!
With all of the participating clubs being able to field nearly 2 full Soft Ball Cricket squads each, the plan for growth in the future should see these clubs thriving as Women’s Soft Ball Cricket hubs and all would welcome new members to their sociable and enthusiastic set-up!
Festival 3 – Chippenham Cricket Club
Yet again, over 40 female cricketers took part in the third and final 2017 Women’s Soft Ball Cricket Festival, which turned out to be another fantastic day in the sunshine!
Throughout the final festival, the regular Wiltshire Women’s Teams (Calne, Corsham, Chippenham, Swindon) and the visiting Moreton-in-Marsh team showcased their ever improving abilities to hit sixes, take wickets and hold catches.
The festival kicked off at 2pm sharp and with all participants taking part in the first round of fixtures, there was no shortage of excitement, especially from the pitches involving Corsham A (vs Calne) and Corsham B (vs Moreton) which both finished with a 2-run win and a 2-run loss, respectively.
With Swindon fielding a slightly changed squad to the previous festival; it was great to see both the physical skill and the tactical awareness of all of their players. Throughout the festival fixtures, this game awareness has saved them countless runs and taken numerous wickets which will come in particularly useful in seasons to come.
Perhaps the most noticeable aspect of the festival relates to the Chippenham Cricket Club supporters who can always be relied on to provide enthusiasm, cheering and general noise at the Soft Ball festivals, especially when Chippenham CC come face-to-face with their closest competitors from last week – Calne CC.
With Chippenham and Calne coming back to compete after last week’s tied fixture, it is clear to see why each match is so evenly contested. With sixes being hit almost every over and wickets falling on a regular basis, neither the players or well-voiced supporters could predict the result until the last over had taken place…Chippenham triumphed.
Following such an exciting festival and to follow Women’s Soft Ball Cricket tradition, the players reconvened in front of the clubhouse to enjoy a glass of prosecco and a selection of chocolates to celebrate their fantastic achievements this summer and discuss their own winter training plans, in preparation for the winter competitions, which are likely to take place in the new year!!
With the season now at it’s end, it is clear to see that these festivals are only the start of a huge growth in Women’s Soft Ball Cricket across Wiltshire and it is hoped that next year, more ladies will be given the opportunity to take part in Cricket!