TSJ WOMEN'S SEASON REVIEW 2015
A glance at the final table for the Yorkshire Women's Regional League Division 1 for 2015 shows our girls sat in a highly commendable 4th place finish (from the 8 teams who competed). However, the story of the season has been much more than just a year of promise, it's been one of blood, sweat and tears, some towering individual performances and the truly exciting progression of some of our yopunger players all the way up into county recognition. Here then is the story of the year.
Your erstwhile correspondent had some serious intentions of watching the women's team this year; having formed in 2014, this was the first season in which the girls were to make Crompton Meadows their playing home. This in itself was a huge coup for the club, further enhanced with the news that we'd be skippered by Lancashire captain Jasmine Titmuss, feature the international talents of Lancs' overseas player Meg, and boast any number of county level juniors and seniors. The reality of kids, travel, illness and more meant that in the end I watched about half an hour all season long. Yet even that short time, spread over hasty visits to several games, was enough to confirm that the club has made a spectacular success of integrating the women's group, mainly thanks to the sterling work of Jen Laycock, assorted parents and supporters (Simon, Gemma, etc - we're looking at you), and a few of our lads, particularly Kieran who gave up countless hours to prepare pitches, serve drinks, help organise everything that needs to be done at the club side, and more. The buzz created on Twitter has undoubtledly elevated things to the wider local and regional cricketing world, and I suspect we're the envy of many clubs in the area for our ability to take on a new division like this and take it forwards.
But enough self-aggrandising, on with the review. April was cold, spectacularly so at times, so it was a particularly great time to blood Sheila, fresh from Tasmanian climes and a total stranger to the mud, rain, freezing winds, and everything that is so ingrained in the rest of us that play cricket in Northern England. Suffice to say, it took her about 5 minutes to fit in.
With torrential rain and driving winds causing temperatures to plummet to Arctic levels, surely the first game would be off? Not a bit of it. Astonishing work from KC to get the ground dry resulted in Sheila thrashing the ball to all parts (well, occasionally hitting it hard enough to get up a hill or two) for a classy 40 odd not out as we steamrollered to a 9 wicket victory. A week later the girls were off to Harrogate where thankfully things had warmed up. Well, a degree or two ...
By this time, the girls were seemingly already fully adept in the TSJ way of life, and Sheila even found herself in the mens 1st XI, partly because she's sheer class, and partly because she doubled the number of first teamers able to bend over far enough to field the ball. Things were going swimmingly until our erstwhile skipper Jas decided that the stress of leading the side meant that she felt the need to first throw herself off the Lancs pavilion, and then injure herself for the rest of the year (though not before taking a stunning 6 wicket haul as we romped to yet another win).
The county season was kicking in, which meant that the weather continued to be freezing and that we were forced to cobble together a side here and there. However in the midst of some turmoil came the season's highlight, a superb 124 not out from Charlotte Boulton, a top notch cricketer who was busy juggling playing for us, her men's side over in Yorkshire, and finishing her studies. Ceebs had notched the same score in a Totts game last year, and bizarrely both scores came from team totals of 161-7 ... a moment worthy of the Twilight Zone theme? The fact that the next highest individual scorer was class clown Nicki Wilcox with 8 shows just how good a knock it was!
By this stage, we were also starting to see some of the younger faces making an impact. Young Abi Henson, whose dad Simon must surely be the most enthusiastic parent in history, was producing for both club and county, while the likes of Ellie Fitton and Nat Kaye were also contributing well - if we don't mention everyone by name, don't assume we've forgotten you; every single player has contibuted to the team ethos and success this year. Indeed, it was this kind of development that saw no fewer than SEVEN Totts girls make the same Lancs U15s side at one point this season!
With the large distances involved across the Yorkshire league, the arrival of the holiday season, and county commitments, it was inevitable that the girls would have a couple of disappointing games, both through weakened teams, and in 2 cases to opponents that were forced to concede through player unavailability. However, by the time that Sheila had departed back home, both she and the other senior players had made a massive impact on the club, the younger girls, and on our perception of the game as a whole - what an absolute joy it's been to see the enthusiasm and commitment, at training and on match days. From parents to partners, seniors to junior members, all have played their part in what has been a superb season for our girls, one in which the club's star has risen immeasurably, and which will be hard to top in 2016.
We'll leave it to Nicki Wilcox to sum up the honour of playing for The "Top Totties" ...