In the midst of exams and looming deadlines the women’s cricket team made the second trip down to the north-east in the space of a few days to face Durham in the third BUCS match of the campaign. Having secured comfortable wins in the pre-season friendlies but unable to clinch victories against Leeds and Northumbria universities, the side were under pressure to claim the first points for the season.
Arriving at the ground with plenty of time to spare after an unspeakably awful departure time, the picturesque cricket field overlooked by the impressive Durham sport centre was bathed in English sunshine. Having lost the toss and been invited to bat first on a damp and spongy wicket, it was the captain/vice-captain combination of Ellie Porter and Beth Caunce who took to the crease for the Saints.
Looking to bounce back from a disappointing innings against Northumbria, Porter narrowly avoided the embarrassment of falling for a golden duck having been dropped at point. After the initial scare, though, the pair quickly took control of some fairly mediocre bowling to get St Andrews off to a great start. With Caunce falling caught at cover, Emma Singer joined her captain in the middle with the team flying at 35-1 from the opening six overs.
Building a brilliant partnership, the pair saw St Andrews to a fine score of 167 for no further wickets. The Durham bowling caused neither batsmen many issues as Porter reached a ton in a wonderful innings which included some powerful leg-side hitting and some very classy straight drives. Singer did well in rotating the strike to allow Porter’s onslaught and finished with a deserved 15.
Having amassed a huge total from their allotted 30 overs, it was devastating for the side as the forecasted rain arrived with a vengeance. The umpires, more keen to watch the football on the final weekend of the Premier League, were reluctant to restart play owing to the now sodden pitch, meaning an anxious wait for the Saints desperate to capitalise on their dominant position. The arrival of the groundsman and what were essentially glorified towels meant play was able to continue as the St Andrews eleven took to the field to defend their impressive total.
Again, the opening combination of Caunce and Porter, this time with the ball, proved effective. The Durham batsman had no answers to some very accomplished bowling and were desperately lucky that several aerial shots landed safely. With some better fortune it could all have been finished within a few overs, but Caunce finally made the breakthrough with a trademark yorker that made a right royal mess of the batsman’s stumps. Porter joined in the fun courtesy of a well-taken catch from Solomon-Strauss behind the sticks as Durham simply had no answers to Caunce’s pace, Porter’s vicious spin and some excellent work in the field.
The first bowling changes saw Meishan Zhang and Emma Singer enter the fray as the onslaught did not cease. Singer contributed a wicket but it was Zhang who again showed her brilliance with the ball to amass six wickets in as many overs. Half of those wickets were courtesy of catches well taken by the intimidating Caunce lurking at short midwicket, with Porter also providing a tidy catch at short extra cover. Zhang’s efforts meant victory for the saints was assured, leaving Louise McCaul and Hannah Anderson to compete for the glory of the final wicket as the Durham number 11 nervously took to the crease. It was Anderson who sealed the win courtesy of a fourth catch of the day for Caunce as Durham collapsed to a meagre total of 39 having scored only ten runs off the bat.
It was a brilliant win which saw the complete annihilation of Durham opposition in the face of aggression with the bat, brilliance with the ball and excellence in the field from a strong, though largely inexperienced, St Andrews eleven. An unfortunate midweek loss to Newcastle with a depleted side in the middle of the exam season means St Andrews are currently placed mid-table having completed all of their fixtures.
The team has developed well through the year and continues to go from strength to strength. With a solid foundation to build on next year and women’s cricket growing ever more popular, the club is well placed for further development and another brilliant year of cricket.