Optimists Maidens tie against Royal Brussels
Women's cricket side Optimists Maidens welcomed the Royal Brussels CC ladies team for the season’s return fixture at Walferdange’s Pierre Werner Cricket ground on Sunday.
The match one month ago in Ohain had resulted in a narrow defeat for the Luxembourgers and, braving the early morning dew, they were keen to make amends in this game of 25 overs.
RBCC won the toss and elected to bowl first. Carole Dagand and Pat Heath opened the batting for the hosts and made a bright start, keeping the scoreboard ticking and putting on 34 before Brussels’ star bowler Poppy struck, removing Carole’s off-stump. Pat followed shortly for 19, but helped by the occasional extra, runs continued to accumulate from the middle order and the innings closed on 132-4.
The Maidens had set a challenging target, and a lot would depend on the accuracy of their bowlers. Harriet and Janey opened for RBCC and Francesca Ellingworth and Paula Correia shared the new ball. Runs were conceded sparingly, but Janey proved adept at pinching singles with Harriet steadfast at the other end. RBCC had made their way to 35 from eight overs before Paula bowled Harriet.
The visitors continued to run aggressively, which was paying dividends before two quick run-outs came with the score on 97 and six overs remaining. Laura Ellingworth (2-21) continued to bowl with accuracy and took the wicket of Janey for 29, whilst Carole showed courage to overcome a wobbly first over and deliver four more for just 17 runs, but the dangerous Poppy was at the crease and starting to pick off boundaries. With two overs remaining, Brussels were 129-5 and needing just four to win. Skipper Francesca gambled and took the ball for the penultimate over, knowing that Poppy was capable of finishing the game in one hit.
With the first ball, Francesca attacked the off stump and lacking room to cut, Poppy could only drag an inside edge back onto her wicket. Brussels knew they were close, and from the fifth ball, Vanessa swept, but the top-edge was caught by Paula running round to short-fine-leg. Just two runs had come from the over.
The tension for the final over was palpable, as more and more spectators gathered around the boundary. Brussels were 131-7, needing just two runs to win. Paula took the ball, mindful that with two penalty runs for a wide, anything stray would end the game. Three straight balls were delivered and batter Carrie couldn’t bypass the close fielders. She connected from the fourth, but straight to Godin at mid-wicket who took the catch. Lise came to the wicket and played and missed.
Everything was on the last delivery – another straight one. Lise pulled it to leg, and the Brussels batters scrambled one run to tie the match.
The two teams will meet again on September 17 at a triangular tournament in Thoiry, just outside Paris. With the confidence gained from this result against a strong Brussels team, the Maidens should be hopeful for success.