A first, A fall And A Victory!
By Catherine Caunce
Mum’s Play Cricket Too – follows Women and Girls’ teams as they venture into the 2023 season. Read on to find out about the inaugural games of the Colton teams this season.
It’s that time of year again – creaking cricket bags are being wheeled out of the shed, new bats are being furiously ‘knocked in’ and kits look the best they’ll ever be. Throughout this glorious land we call Yorkshire, the cricket season is - ever so gently - firing up!
No place more so than Colton Cricket Club, in East Leeds. Here, some of the club’s junior cricketers have undergone a series of winter training sessions to prepare for the adventures the 2023 season is set to bring. Colton boasts a veritable bounty of home-grown talent and they’re now fielding a strong and confident girls’ team and a new, emerging team of women too.
Colton Cricket Club, as the name suggests, has been cultivating the game for many a year, generations even. But recently, due to the considerable time and effort from Andy Scholes and his team of coaches, the first ever cohort of girls have emerged. Brimming with potential, Colton Girls 13’s won the Leeds and Wetherby Girls Under 13’s League the first year they entered, and are now ready to take on all that this second season together brings. Now, these talented girls form two teams together. Fielding a team in the Under 13’s Softball in the West Yorkshire Women and Girls Cricket League and Under 11’s Hardball in the Leeds and Wetherby Junior Cricket League. Inspired by their achievements, and after meeting some of the fabulous women from the Northern Superchargers team, the idea that Mum’s Can Play Cricket Too was born and so too was Colton Women’s team.
To celebrate the growth of women and girls in cricket, and to entice even more females into this exhilarating sport, we’re running a weekly blog. We’ll pique your curiosity and hopefully encourage you to wander down to your nearest cricket ground and pick up a bat – or at least sit on the boundary and cheer your local girl’s team on.
A Colton First And A Victory
It’s pretty sweet to find yourselves making history – but the Colton Girls’ Under 11 team
did so without batting an eyelid. For the first time ever at Colton, a full squad of girls
could be fielded in the mixed league. This means (pleasingly), we now have a team of
mixed players and a full squad of female players in the Leeds and Wetherby Under 11
Hardball League. Yes, that’s right – these girls are trailblazers! There was a bit of a
hoorah when coach Nick Linley gathered the girls in for a pre-match pep talk, but after
that it was all down to business.
As the sweet, resonating sound of the ball colliding against the bat began, the girls
powered through, scoring 261 runs during their innings. The Whitkirk squad bowled
strongly and fielded magnificently as the temperature plummeted, making a spring
sunset feel like a winter sunrise. Parents cheered on as much as they could whilst their
faces froze and feet seized; everyone desperately moving round to stand in the dying
rays of the sun. At the end of the first innings the girls had cemented themselves back
into the old grove and Whitkirk had battled hard too. During the second innings, the
girls worked instinctively as a team, picking up from where they left off the season
before. In the dying overs of the game, parents found themselves donning extra layers
and woolly hats but both teams seemed untouched by the cold and fought on
relentlessly. Whitkirk connected with the ball to score 239 but the girls worked in sync
to prevent them from winning. What a start to the season, what a group of girls, what a
A First And A Fall
And so too, the first ever league game approached for the Colton Women’s team. What’s truly amazing about the women’s team is that it was born largely from the unity and passion shown by the girls - inspired by watching them adapt to cricketing life, the
mums wanted in on it too. Needless to say, the first few training sessions opened our
eyes and our aching muscles to the fact it wasn’t as easy as it looked. The girls had made it look pretty natural – but honestly, it wasn’t! Laughter, many missed catches and an enormous amount of wide balls ensued. Never before had so many adult women ran past each other, into each other and away from each other shouting, “Sorry!” But as the muscles remembered the moves, and the lungs managed to take in a fraction more air, the throws straightened out and found the hands of the intended target. There were fewer ‘sorrys’ but just as many laughs and the team started to look and feel like it belonged together. Camaraderie that had been missing for some of us since our school days, came flooding back. Standing on the boundary complaining about aching knees and backs or complimenting each other on a surprise wicket takes you back to the days when life was simpler – in all the best ways! It’s not to be underestimated, in fact it’s a feeling to be cherished.
During the winter months, a sponsor was found, two players were trained as
Foundation Level 1 ECB coaches, and a series of winter training sessions took place.
This team of women were ready and raring to go. New kits on and a ton of skills and
techniques, finely practised and honed – they were ready to face their opposition.
Colton Women are part of the newly established West Yorkshire Women and Girls
Cricket League, which has amazingly doubled in size in its second year, demonstrating
just how accessible cricket is for female players. Our Women’s Team form part of the
Women’s Softball Leeds East Region, but excitingly, there are 45 teams across the
county – meaning wherever you’re reading this from, there’s a team out there for you!
Taking on Thorp Arch and Boston Spa (TABS), also a brand new team, Colton Women
arrived nervously and excitedly at the away ground. Losing the coin toss, Colton women were batting first. With a wicket from the first bowl, the Colton ladies were off to a shaky start but once the nerves wore off, a few fours flew over the boundary line. But, well placed TABS fielders prevented Colton from wracking up as many fours as they’d like. However, at the end of the first innings there was a decent total of 284 runs for Colton. During the second innings, Colton Women had a plan – but so did the TABS
team. Battle commenced once again! Bowling well, but with a wide here and there
creeping in, Colton’s wicket keeper managed to take the stumps with an impressive
dive. At close of play, TABS had nailed it – by two runs! Well done to TABS, a super start
to their season.
As the scores were being tallied, one of the Colton ladies found herself being more distracted by the sharp pain in her shoulder than the final results. Without much warning, the pain became overwhelming and after first aid had been administered, an ambulance had to be called. It turns out our Colton player had been bowling with a broken wing. After taking a dive early on in the over she had continued to bowl (and field) throughout the second innings only feeling the pain once the game was over.
During the trip to the hospital, a broken collar bone was discovered. Never one to give
into an injury, we found her back on the Colton boundary line, cheering on her daughter less than 24 hours later, arm in a sling and smile on her face. If that’s not cricket, I don’t know what is!
What a start to a new season. New shirts are already grass-stained, the odd bruise(or
broken collarbone) has emerged yet we’re still smiling. If anything, we’re only more
determined to get out there and prove we’re strong, we’re ready to learn and we want
to win. And remember, Mums Play Cricket Too! Check back in next week to see how we fared in our next round of matches. Here come the girls!