Ladies and Girls Cricket

Girls Junior League Cricket and Lady Taverners – We struggled to raise all girl sides to play league matches against the boys once again this year. Those we did play were incredibly worthwhile. The coaches from all clubs were cooperative and the boys welcoming and sportsmanlike. It is brilliant for the girls to be included in the boys’ teams and we are all in favour of that but all girls’ teams are good for the girls because in the boys’ games they tend to bowl up the order and then bat down the order. Whilst this is fair and accepted practice in boys’ matches to include everyone, the problem is that the girls often do not bat. As a result, the batting ability and strength of the girls is often an issue; as we all know, there is no substitute for time in the middle.

Still, the lack of league matches did not have a tremendously adverse effect on the girls. The tough winter training with the exceptional Mark Overton meant that the U13 and U15 girls had
great runs in the 8 a side National Lady Taverners Hardball competition. Unfortunately, we could not enter the softball competitions due to clashes with County fixtures. With the critical
mass of girls playing cricket at a reasonable level in the North plummeting again after a few good years, the Tarka Girls’ teams are crucial in providing a vehicle for girls from North Devon
Clubs to compete. Congratulations to all the clubs with girls in the Tarka sides. The U13s had some great games- most notably against a strong Paignton side with several very competent
County girls. We really enjoyed the game and, once again, we were made aware of the number of really good people one can meet through cricket! The U13’s finally reached their waterloo
when we were beaten in Newport by a very strong side. Unfortunately, we were certainly not at our best that day and the right side won. That said, we are extremely proud of all they achieved
becoming the Devon champions and reaching the last 16 in the country.

The U15 Tarka Girls were, once again, phenomenal. The depth and quality of the cricket they played to become Devon Champions and then South West Regional lady Taverner’s Hardball Champions was outstanding. Make no mistake, many of the other teams field sides made up entirely of County players. We needed to play tactically to subdue the tremendous batting power of Rebecca Halliday in Plymouth but, several matches later, the girls were Devon Champions.

The most memorable match for me was the dash up the motorway to play the mighty Frenchay on a week-night. Frenchay fielded an incredibly strong side made up largely of Glos. County girls to whom the Devon U15 had lost the week before.

And who ever said “catches win matches” was correct. A terrific, mature fielding performance by the Tarka girls, featuring no less than six catches, one worth of a male adult county cricketer taken diving forward by Sophie Gillies, accompanied by some hugely disciplined batting from Eluned Davies, Daisy Meadowcroft and Kate Williams saw us to victory. One match later and we were once again Regional Champions for Zone 4 West England, and in the top four teams in the country for the second year in a row- off to stay in a posh hotel up country courtesy of the ECB!

Sadly, the finals did not go as we had hoped. Our game was eventually rained off in the morning, although I can’t say that we were robbed, as we certainly were not in the best form physically or mentally for the match. Whilst it was disappointing after so much great cricket, you can’t win ’em all! We had many ups and a few downs and anyone dealing with teenage girls on a regular basis will know that there is nothing better than them at times, and also nothing worse at others. I don’t regret a moment and for all of us; parents, players, Mark and I, it has been an
awesome experience.

Tarka Ladies Devon Ladies League Champions- again!

2016 Squad – Lauren Bowden (Captain), Alli Kelly, Lydia Clements, Carmen Clements, Anna Clements, Eluned Davies, Ellie Holland, Kate Williams, Charlotte Lipscombe, Rose Ball, Molly Down, Evie
Huxtable, Clare Williams, Flora Corbin, Grace Heard, Olivia Kingdom, Jan Witheridge. North Devon Tarka Ladies once again dominated their division of the Devon ladies league. Some of the girls play for mens’ and youth teams at other clubs -B & P, Filleigh, Newton Tracey, Bideford, Chulmleigh and NDCC they are a gelled and formidable unit and it has been a great achievement for the players, parents and their coach to have won the League for two years running. The 2017 season is memorable for a number of reasons. Firstly, the team spirit, cameraderie and support for one another was outstanding and, as a result, as already stated the girls/ladies won their league. It was not always easy. We lost two important players to mens’ cricket before the season started which was a blow. Our key bowler Rose Ball suffered from a back injury all season and was largely unable to bowl. Carmen Clements a terrific all rounder who took 4 wickets in the second match of the season, sustained a really nasty injury to her foot and was out for most of the season-we won’t ask how it happened! But despite that, we lost only one match and more importantly, no less than five different young women scored 50 runs over the eight matches we played! We worked hard on our batting at training, attending carefully to the dulcet tones of Mark’s brilliant coaching floating gently over the Instow wind, but we also had the inspiration of Alli Kelly. She batted brilliantly and unselfishly throughout the season. Inspiring, coaching and supporting young batswomen at the other end of the wicket to achieve their potential.

The only game we ‘lost’ in the season felt like a victory. Short of players through injury, holiday and a Devon Ladies match, we pulled in our youngsters who got down to Plymouth to see a fantastic display of batting by delightful Plymothian batswoman Claire Varcoe (91) and Alli Kelly (112) batting with Ellie Holland who, despite injury, gritted her teeth to reach her first 50! The younger players were all given a go by Alli Kelly who was captain for the day – whilst Tarka Ladies may have lost the game – womens’ cricket was the winner that day and I couldn’t have
asked for a better 54th birthday!

The combination of Alli, Lydia and Mark Overton and such a fantastic group of girls was dynamite. However, this terrific combination would not have been anywhere near as awe inspiring without the hallowed turf that is the Instow ground – thank you Andrew Cameron. The Instow pitch is heaven for a batswomen who is class and finesse and not a slogger. There is absolutely no doubt that this is the best pitch in Devon for our women! Never has the quality of the pitch and the improvement in the standard of our girls’ cricket been more evident than when Tarka Ladies posted 337 runs on the board in 35 overs against Topsham (winning the match by 232 runs!), losing only 4 wickets and posted an outstanding 288 for 4 against Cornwood!

There are far too many highlights to list them all here. We started the season very positively with a convincing victory over Cornwood. Charlotte Lipscombe was reliable and committed behind the stumps. Lydia Clements 63, Kate Williams our brave and stalwart opener 16, Lauren Bowden 37 NO and Alli Kelly setting the tone for her season with a mere 128. NDCC Tarka Ladies 288 for 4 Cornwood 144-7. The following week was a game to remember Eluned Davies scored a long awaited and very well deserved 50. Lydia Clements had a dream innings finishing on 109 with Alli on a not too shabby 72 for Tarka to win by a mammoth 232 runs. The game against Hatherleigh, away was wet. We eventually won a stop/start match by 42 runs. The highlight there was 13 year old Grace Heard taking her first women’s wicket. We played Cornwood away. The first two wickets wobbled and then to steady the ship the player of the match, was Molly Down who scored a very solid 30 in a great batting display. Result; Cornwood 121 for 6 and NDCC 123 for 3. Back at home again on a terrific wicket we played the mighty Plympton. We thundered to a total of 186 then Ellie Holland, Alli Kelly and Lydia Clements all took two wickets a piece. Despite the best efforts of the delightful and talented Evie Pitman from Plympton Tarka ladies won by a magnificent 115 runs.

Having lost a match to Plymouth the girls then decided to frighten me to death by a number of them announcing that they were not available to play Plymouth at home as they were all off together to a pop concert Boardmasters!! It says a great deal about them that after some discussion, the wanderers returned to play the match. There were several useful innings and they kept their heads, despite being without Alli, Eluned Davies, Carmen Clements who sadly spent much of the season injured, Lauren Bowden and Ellie Holland all batted wisely and contributed to a score of 148 for 4. Some solid bowling with 2 wickets each for Eluned Davies and Lauren Bowden sealed the fate of Plymouth kept them to a score of 147 for and Tarka won by six wickets. A great team performance! We finished the season in fine form with Lydia Clements scoring 125 NO against Topsham. Some top bowling from Ellie Holland meant that Topsham finished 110 for 8 NDCC 226 for 8.

We rounded of the season with a great night at the Commodore Hotel in November, joining the men from NDCC for a great evening of awards. Thank you all who made the season possible, parents, players, scorers (Michael Ball and Mark Davies) and of course Mark O.

Jan Witheridge