Tarka Ladies 2022 season
Tarka Ladies started the 2022 season as reigning Devon Women’s Cricket League First Division Champions. We were all ready for another top-quality season. The spring brought the amazing news that a female Samoan cricketer was moving to Devon and wanted to play for Tarka Ladies. So it was that Regina Lilii (Gee) arrived at Instow. Gee was Captain of the Samoan women’s team and the New Zealand Ladies Indoor Cricket Team. We couldn’t believe our luck. With all the Tarka Ladies bar one having come through the ranks of the North Devon Youth Cricket League it was brilliant to have Gee’s fantastic international experience joining our very high achieving North Devon born Ladies. The greatest gain was not her cricketing ability (although that is a joy to watch!), but iher wonderfully warm, engaging, and positive personality which has been such an asset to the club through 2022.
With a new three Division structure to the league there were only five teams in the First Division. We were concerned that if one team couldn’t raise a side the number of matches would be too few. That said, we were not prepared for the shock of Sandford Ladies pulling out all together. Still, every cloud has a silver lining and the ladies were welcomed in to playing for the men’s teams. I think it would be fair to say there were some very impressed and pleasantly surprised North Devon male players and supporters when the North Devon Ladies took to the field. There were only four teams left in Division One. We knew that every match was to be hard fought but still we were determined to stick to our principles in both the Super 8’s Competition and the thirty-five over league and give every player an opportunity to develop. We always work hard to progress our youngsters and this year, despite the strong opposition, was no exception.
Our first game was Taunton Deane away. Taunton Deane have enough ladies to field a first and a second team and have several Somerset Junior and Senior Ladies in their sides. We were
delighted to see the return of Morgan Harrison-Hooton to the Tarka fold. It was a very exciting match with Gee playing for the first time in our fabulous Tarka kit. The depth of talent of the Tarka Ladies was clearly demonstrated. Taunton batted first and young Olivia Kingdon took 3 for 20 off 5. Captain Lauren Bowden led by example with a fifer and with some sharp on point fielding from the Tarka Ladies notably Shauna Vetch and Gee Lilii. Taunton were all out for 116. Tarka stepped up to bat with our opener Kate Williams hitting a great 50 not out to get her season off to a great start. With a contribution of 32 from the stylish Ruby Davis, Tarka won the match passing Taunton’s score with 13 overs left to spare.
Next, we played Plympton away. Plympton is always a very tough game as this is the club where the Devon Senior Ladies Team seem to gather. Tarka were put in to bat their 35 overs for 122. This was not such an enjoyable game but there were great high spots. Young Isabella Ollis aged 13 took her first adult ladies wicket and Ruby scored a creditable 40. Plympton took 24 overs to pass our score and a disappointed team returned to North Devon admitting that they certainly had not played their best.
In true Tarka style we dusted ourselves off and prepared to play a very strong Exeter side at home. With the main pitch unavailable we played at the beautiful but challenging Westleigh. Tarka won the toss and elected to field. Exeter, a strong side with several county players, were bowled out in 24.1 overs for 106. Lauren’s inclusive approach to Captaincy is perfectly demonstrated here. We used seven bowlers, youngster Emily Jakes took 2-22-4, Flora Corbin also took two wickets. Rebecca Savory aged 13 took her first adult ladies’ wicket, other wickets were taken by Millie Wright, Gee Lilii, Rose Ball and Ruby Davis. A fabulous team effort. We chased down the Exeter score in 23.3 overs and there was a slightly more cheerful journey to the Clubhouse that week.
We had our best game of the season at Exeter two weeks later. Gee had returned to NZ to play in the World Cup and we were a little nervous at the start. Exeter won the toss and elected to bat. It is always Jan’s preference that we field first but as their score climbed to 198 for 6 with Eva Lloyd’s triumphant return to cricket being marked by a magnificent 63 and the diminutive Grace Goldsworthy playing excellent shots to reach 40, we were starting to wonder if we could do it. Min Muir a past Tarka stalwart returned to the team after a lengthy cricketing break and she was our outstanding fielder of the day. Lauren Bowden took three wickets. Again, seven different bowlers were given opportunities. It was the day for catches though and every wicket was a catch including a great first catch behind the stumps for Ellie Hird and a magnificent caught and bowled by Freyja Malin. The hard work catching training paid off. A call from Mark Overton at tea said calmly – “They haven’t got enough”, and so it was with confidence and some sage advice from Mark Davis, honorary Tarka Ladies Coach, that our openers took to the field. What a performance; Ruby Davis gave a batting master class scoring her first century and ending on 102 not out. Rose Ball got a tremendous 53 before being given LBW to Elle Goldsworthy. It was time play Taunton at NDCC. We were delighted to see the return of the fabulous Alli Kelly who is always a joy to watch and supportive of our youngsters. The steadfast Kate Williams scored 42 when Tarka Ladies lost the toss and batted first scoring 168 off 35 overs and Taunton were 112 all out in reply after 29.5 overs. Flora Corbin and Rose Ball took two wickets each, but the pick of the bowlers was Ruby Davis with a magnificent 4 for 14 off 7.
With no games in August Tarka were a bit rusty, even before the rain at Instow. We were playing Plympton for the DWCL title. After a game which we can hardly bear to talk about Tarka scored 185 off their 35 overs with Alli Kelly 57 not out, Ruby 33, Kate 32. And then came the rain. Plympton went into bat. Eluned Davies ran out the Plympton top scorer and it was game on. After several excruciating withdrawals from the field, Plympton were batting for a revised score of only 138 and the match came down to the last ball. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we lost the title by one point.
I cannot end this report without mentioning my great friend Michael Ball. Tragically, Michael passed away just before Christmas. Michael and Maxine Ball have been staunch supporters of the Tarka girls/ladies since its inception. Michael was a meticulous scorer for the girls, and a quiet modest cricketing genius. All the girls (except Rose of course) hung on his every quietly spoken word of advice and he travelled the country supporting the Tarka Ladies and his beloved Rose. We missed Mike and Max at our Annual Awards which they always attended. We all played Bingo and stand up sit down as it is an occasion always filled with fun and laughter and shows what a warm community we have in our ladies side – he would have loved it!
Awards were presented to Isabella Ollis, Ellie Holland, Olivia Kingdon, Ruby Davis and the Club Award to Captain Lauren Bowden. Congratulations to you all.
And that is our season.
Can’t wait for the next one!
Lauren and Jan