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Northern Cricket Union Women's Review 2017

Richard White

Women's cricket in the Northern Cricket Union continued to make positive advancements in 2017, with an increased number of clubs competing and more representative fixtures. Five teams competed for the Premier League title; Lurgan, CSNI, Waringstown, Muckamore and North Down. Lurgan became Premier League champions, going through the campaign unbeaten, by winning seven of the eight league games, and the other a no result.

The league table shows that they won the league by 16 points from CSNI and Waringstown, however they had to overcome their nearest rivals in some close finishes; defeating CSNI by one wicket and four wickets, and Waringstown by three wickets. Hannah Grieve the Lurgan captain was named NCU player of the year as she helped her side to a League and Cup double. Standout performances during the season came from Alison Cowan (CSNI), and for Waringstown, Cara Murray and Anne Linehan.

Lurgan's search for a double almost came unstuck in the semi-final of the Arthur J. Gallagher Senior Challenge Cup, when they narrowly beat CSNI by two wickets. North Down progressed to the final with a ten wicket victory over Division 1 side Instonians. Hannah Grieve once again was the match winner in an exciting final scoring 52 (retired) and taking two wickets for twenty-two runs as the Mid-Ulster side won by five runs.

Seven teams competed for the Division 1 title; North Down Seconds, Donacloney Mill, Laurelvale, Instonians, Clogher, Carrickfergus, and Templepatrick. North Down Seconds proved worthy champions as they went through the campaign unbeaten, winning five of their six games (one no result). The Mid-Ulster rivals Donacloney Mill and Laurelvale finished joint runners-up on twelve points.

On the representative stage the NCU Women had an impressive five wicket win against their North-West counterparts at Fox Lodge.

North-West Women 105 all out (24.2 overs; Karen Haslett 40, Alana Dalzell 11; Amy Hunter 4-11, Beth McCrea 3-33, Staci Maxwell 1-9)

NCU Women 106-5 (25.3 overs; Alison Cowan 30, Hannah Grieve 24*, Alana Dalzell 2-19, Chloe Deans 1-23)

The return fixture at Stormont was set for an entertaining finale, however this was cut short as persistent rain forced its abandonment.

The NCU Under 17 Girls (sponsored by PwC)  recorded home and away victories against the North-West. 

At Stormont Charlotte Slater top scored with thirteen runs in a total of 44 all out from 12 overs. Despite the low total to defend the NCU opening bowlers Abbi Leckey and Nikhita Gondhia produced a magnificent spell of bowling with Leckey finishing with career best figures of 4 overs, 1 maiden, 5 wickets for 7 runs. The North-West found it difficult to develop partnerships in pursuit of the low total. Cara Murray, Amy Hunter, Taryn Schutzler and Molly Mathers continued to build pressure, bowling the North-West out for 36 runs. Other notable performances on the day came from Cara Murray (6 catches) and Erin McQuiston's wicket keeping. The efforts of the NCU Under 17 Girls winning by eight runs proved that any score is defendable in cricket, and illustrated how low scoring games can be very exciting. 

At Burndennett Cricket Club a fourth wicket partnership of 72 runs between Charlotte Lyons and Amy Hunter proved vital for the NCU. Amy Hunter's innings of 48, including four boundaries and two maximums, proved her cricketing composure and maturity. However it took a last wicket partnership of nineteen runs by Jessica Jackson and Abbi Leckey to take the NCU to victory in a tense finish by one wicket. Abbi Leckey showed her experience by taking singles and dispatching the bad ball whilst Jessica Jackson showed determination not to give her wicket away.

Over recent years a lot of hard work has taken place within The Northern Cricket Union (NCU) to develop Women's Cricket, and it is hoped that next season the progress will continue with more teams and more players participating in the sport. Many of the men's teams in the Junior Leagues of the NCU have women cricketers playing, and this will only benefit their development. It is hoped that the increased number of representative fixtures can be further advanced so that the profile of the game in the NCU continues to grow.