Northamptonshire’s Women’s team has set the seal on a season to remember in ECB national competitions – winning 13 matches out of 13 in the 50-over and Twenty20 formats.
It saw the Steelettos crowned champions of Division 3B in both formats with last weekend’s T20 victories over Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire securing the side’s 100 per cent record.
“We have a very young team as they always like to remind me!” commented captain Trish Hankins, who made her Northamptonshire debut as a 14-year-old back in 2003.
“The squad put in a lot of work during the winter. Our Strength and Conditioning coach Archie Ogden pushed the girls really hard. We have youngsters coming through who have been pressing for places in the team and it’s made selection difficult at times.
“The whole set-up has changed hugely in recent years. When I first started playing for the County there were no age-group sides for girls. Now they have so many more opportunities to train and play.”
Hankins – whose ‘day job’ is as one of Northamptonshire’s Club and Community Managers, based at Wantage Road – led the bowling statistics for the season with 22 wickets in all formats, including a devastating 5-13 burst to dismiss Norfolk for just 43 in the T20, backed up by Emily Starr with three wickets for just two runs!
Farida Bibi, Bethan Solomon and Summer Keightley also enjoyed success with the ball, while Hayley Brown took the principal batting honours with 445 runs at an average of just under 56. She produced another of the campaign’s most memorable performances with an unbeaten knock of 111 to set up a crushing 164-run victory over Cambridgeshire in a 50-over game. On that occasion she shared a 126-run opening stand with Simran Dehal before Alicia Presland pressed home the advantage with 70.
The longer matches certainly suited the Northamptonshire squad. In addition to that big win over Cambs, they also swept aside Suffolk (by eight wickets), Norfolk (nine wickets), Hertfordshire (five wickets) and the Netherlands (nine wickets) with some ease.
Whether they will have the opportunity to show off at a higher level next summer depends on the outcome of ongoing discussions over the future of women’s county cricket.
“We’re still waiting to hear from ECB at the moment,” explained Hankins. “It’s a bit uncertain what’s going on but hopefully we’ll hear more in the next couple of weeks.”
Whatever happens in the years to come, 2019 has unquestionably been a golden season for Trish and the Steelettos.