Cheltenham Women made the short journey across town to play Charlton Kings for our last league game of the season.
CK won the toss and elected to have a bat first on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Liv struck in our second over, bowling one opener for a duck and we were off to a great start. Grace, Eloise, Pippa and Sophie all bowled well and kept CK pegged back so that at drinks CK only had 36 on the board. Lily forced the breakthrough thanks to a run out effected by Helen. A few overs later Cheltenham got another run out as Liv deflected a ball drilled back at her on to the stumps to catch the unfortunate batter backing up out of her ground. CK were now 57 for 3 from 16 overs. For the final 4 overs CK really put pressure on the fielders with lots of quick singles and the odd boundary. On her debut, bowling the all important final over Lucy picked up her first Cheltenham CC wicket, as Liv caught the no5. CK completed their 20 overs on 91 for 4 and it was game on.
Grace and Liv opened the batting and were going along nicely until Liv was bowled for 11 (including 2 nice boundaries to fine leg) in the 3rd over with the score on 19. Grace and Eloise then put on a great partnership of 32 for the second wicket, only broken in the 12th over as Eloise was bowled for 11 (1 four). The same bowler got past Pippa’s defences in her next over and she had to depart for 3. Lily contrived to run herself out without scoring and the next ball Grace played on (for the second match in a row) for a well played 15 (1 four). Cheltenham found themselves on 64 for 5 after 15 overs - ahead of the CK score at this stage in runs but fewer wickets in hand. Sophie and Helen put on 15 (including Helens first ever boundary) in the next 3 overs before Sophie was bowled for 3 in a wicket maiden over from CK. 14 needed from the final 2 overs, Annie-May and Helen struggled to get the ball away and the final over was upon us with 12 more runs required. Helen dispatched the first ball to the boundary and the tension was palpable. The next delivery however Annie-May was run out to bring our final batter, debutant Lucy to the middle. CK held their nerve with tight bowling and Helen and Lucy could only manage 2 from the final deliveries - Cheltenham fall short to lose by 5 runs (Helen finishing on her top score: 11 not out).
Only a few weeks ago CK had thrashed us by 10 wickets so this was a fantastic effort by the Cheltenham Ladies, and shows just how far we have come as a team. An excellent bowling effort to restrict the CK runs and a very pleasing reduction in the extras column compared with previous games. Everyone played their part with the bat and to come so close is a real triumph and a fitting end to the league season, where we almost certainly finish 5th out of 8 (won 6 lost 8 - compared to last seasons won 2 lost 9). It’s been wonderful to see the team develop and improve, and next season we can be sure we will continue to build on this great foundation.
We look forward to hosting a hardball festival at Cheltenham on Sunday 1st September - so please come a support this if you able (as well as possible softball tournaments and friendlies to be announced), and don’t forget the beer festival at the club on 6th-8th September.