While Daniel Beswick runs an eye over a host of exciting young women’s cricketers, Nick Skinner takes a look at 5 classic matches involving just a handful of the players – and one extra match showing the depth of quality in the women’s game.
Netherlands v Zimbabwe at the 2015 WT20 qualifiers in Bangkok (Sterre Kalis)
An agonising last-gasp loss for the underdogs, this match had hope, heartbreak, shifting momentum, a strong performance by EC pick Sterre Kalis, and a dash of controversy.
With an average age in the teens, the Netherlands were inexperienced and unfancied going into the Bangkok-hosted tournament. Roderick Lyall, former vice-chairman of the KNCB (and perhaps more pertinently, a retired university professor), had even been drafted in by Dutch women’s team management as a “homework supervisor” to help the young cricketers keep up their studies on tour. Recalling the experience as “fairly challenging”, Lyall’s presence was deemed necessary for several of the team to be granted dispensation by their schools or universities to play overseas during semester.
After a chastening loss in their first match to eventual champions Ireland, Esther de Lange’s side rallied to produce a much-improved display against Zimbabwe. Opting to field first after she won the toss, de Lange led a disciplined effort with the ball as she collected 2/16 from 4 overs with her steady off-spin. Her teammates kept the Africans largely in check until a late surge from Precious Marange (who top-scored with 24* off 21) lifted Zimbabwe to 110-5 off their 20 – a challenging total at the low-scoring Terdthai cricket venue.
In response, Sterre Kalis anchored the chase with a measured 49 (62), but Zimbabwe’s bowlers never let the Dutch get away. Marange backed up her effort with the bat as she sent down a tidy spell of 0/13, and also claimed a run-out in the 8th over when she fired out Cher van Slobbe to cap a Player-of-the-Match performance. An equally parsimonious 1/13 from Tasmeen Granger kept the required rate steadily climbing, and the equation in the last over had the Netherlands needing 12 runs from their 6 deliveries. The Dutch hustled well between wickets, and despite Kalis being run out, set batter Heather Siegers was left with 3 runs to get from the final delivery. Seamer Josephine Nkomo held her nerve amidst the tension, and Siegers could only manage a knock into the covers followed by a desperate scramble for runs that saw her run out with the Netherlands tantalisingly close to pulling off a shock win and possibly qualifying for the knockouts.
It was an emotional loss for the young side, and their disappointment was all the more bitter for the fact that they had been genuinely robbed of an opportunity – back in the 13th over, the umpires failed register that Sharne Mayers had only bowled 5 legitimate deliveries, leaving the Dutch innings closed one ball short of their quota. The Zimbabwean celebration was ecstatic, and showed how lucky they knew themselves to be having escaped a famous upset.