January 14, 2002

Northern women fight back and gain the win

Anna Wilkins

Like all of New Zealand, Hamilton has had a huge amount of rain this summer and this past week has been no exception. WestpacTrust Park took a fair soaking as the thunder and lightning crashed around the Waikato on Friday night. However, groundsman Doug Strachan has become adept at dealing with such conditions and play was under way for both our first round matches against Otago with no more than an hour's delay.

Saturday's match was abandoned after rain set before lunch and never lifted. This was somewhat of a blessing for us as we made a lethargic start after Otago won the toss and elected to bat.

Sunday brought fine weather and only the wet outfield delayed play by half an hour. Play commenced at 11am with a repeat of the outcome of Saturday's toss.

Otago's decision to bat looked a little dubious as Elizabeth Scurr was removed first ball of the match, edging Louise Milliken into the slips. Milliken produced outstanding spells throughout the match and was rewarded with the figures of 3-13 from 10 overs. In combination with Nic [Nicola] Browne she created pressure at the top of the innings and consequently Otago were unable to establish any partnerships of consequence until Natalie Bannerman and Sarah Helmore combined to give the innings some momentum. The dismissal of Bannerman (47) gave the initiative back to us and the innings was wrapped up for 132.

The bowling performance was a huge improvement on yesterday, as was the fielding. Often we have been able to pick up early wickets in an innings, but rarely have we maintained the momentum and collected all ten for a reasonable score.

In good conditions 132 is not a difficult total to chase and it is no understatement when I say we made an absolute meal of it. The bowlers may have come out yesterday with cobwebs and nerves, but it was the batsmen who had them today. Just as the bowlers managed to turn the corner today, the batsmen must tomorrow if we are going to compete with Canterbury.

Rachel Pullar, who I rate as a bowler with the rare combination of pace and intelligence, created problems for us early on. Our shot selection was poor and our running between the wickets was atrocious at times.

Janice Fraser showed some good form in getting to 35 but she would be the first to tell you that getting out when you are established at the crease and feeling comfortable on 35 is sometimes worse than getting a duck. However, her runs were valuable ones and in combination with some gutsy lower order contributions, especially those of Milliken and Jenny Stafford, they got us home with two wickets in hand.

It was not a well-constructed performance, but to analyze it to the extent that we forget that we managed to sneak home with a win defeats the purpose of playing the game. A win is a win and it was pleasing to see the team dig out of a hole today and come up with the victory.