Match Report: Essex Women vs. Kent Women

Match Report: Essex Women vs. Kent Women

A final-ball thriller saw a new-look Kent Women side miss out by three wickets against Essex Women at The Cloud Count Ground, Chelmsford.

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On a hot and humid evening in Essex, Kent Women contested their annual ‘Battle of the Bridge’ T20 showcase against Essex Women.

With the Charlotte Edwards Cup underway for regionally contracted players, Kent Women Head Coach Dave Hathrill named a playing XI that had three players aged 15 and under, including two debutants from Kent’s Age Group squads, alongside returners Chelsey Rowson and Jodie Hobson.

After originally announcing her retirement three years ago and after hip surgery, Kent Women’s 42nd Capped Player, Jenni Jackson, made a sensational return to captain the side, and Kent also secured the services of Berkshire’s Laura Bailey for the match.

The hosts won the toss and put Kent in to bat on a very green deck, and the Horses opened up with the duo of youth and experience – Megan Sturge and Hannah Jelfs were tasked with putting runs on the board early on.

Jelfs made 15 from 17 balls before feathering behind trying to drive Callaghan off the back foot, and at the end of the powerplay, the visitors were 24/1.

After a slow start, Megan Sturge began to move through the gears, coming down the pitch on several occasions to record boundaries and up Kent’s scoring rate.

Her new batting partner, Ryana MacDonald-Gay, would profit more against spin – a well-timed four in her fourth delivery faced set the mood as the right-hander, along with Sturge, looked to shift the momentum fully towards Kent.

The pair bought up Kent’s 50 after 8.4 overs, and they started to look more and more confident against the Essex attack. Aggression would prove to be Sturge’s downfall, as she was run out for 24 taking a risky single the ball after MacDonald-Gay hit a four from the bowling of Jasmine Westley.

Chelsey Rowson came into the middle for her first Kent Women appearance in two seasons, but would only add three runs to Kent’s total before being trapped LBW to Westley, leaving Kent 75/3 in the 13th over.

The Essex seamer would find herself on a hat-trick after Isla McCullough was adjudged leg-before, but Jodie Hobson survive hat-trick ball to take a quick single and get off the mark.

Hobson was bowled for 1 by Bella Howarth, and Kent found themselves in trouble at 78/5 in the 14th over.

MacDonald-Gay was now the anchor of Kent’s innings – putting away bad deliveries and keeping the scoreboard moving, but she would be caught by Grace Poole from the bowling of Westley for 32 off 19 deliveries.

Westley found herself on another hat trick as Genevieve Jeer spooned an attempted sweep shot to Katherine Speed, and she would complete the feat with the umpire giving out Jackson LBW from a full toss to seal her fifth wicket of the innings.

With Kent on 84/8, Laura Bailey entered the fray for the first time as a Kent player, but made two runs until Poole had her LBW too, and debutant Tilly Corteen-Coleman came in for her first taste of Kent Women cricket.

The left-handed batter sliced a four to take Kent up to 100/9 after 18 overs, and alongside Sydney Gorham, the visitors put on a score of 109 all out.

Essex made five runs in the first over of their reply, and in the second over, MacDonald-Gay went up for a big LBW chance against Catherine Dalton which was not given. A tidy maiden for the right-armer’s first over helped Kent’s cause as they looked to take wickets and dry up runs.

The early breakthrough then materialised as Sydney Gorham took a sublime caught and bowled to see the end of Jessica Olorenshaw for no score – Gorham also not leaking any runs for two maidens in a row for the visitors.

MacDonald-Gay got her first wicket of the innings as the dangerous Speed holed out to Jeer for 1, and at the end of the powerplay, Essex were 27/2.

The prized wicket of skipper Dalton became more and more important as she passed the 25-run mark, and more worrying for Kent was that in Jessica Bird, Dalton had a steady batting partner. After ten overs, Essex required 62 to win from 60 balls.

A chance came during Chelsey Rowson’s third over that was agonisingly missed and the ball rolled over the rope for four, before Dalton smashed the first six of the match to put Essex firmly in control.

Dalton passed 50 runs in the 14th over following a tight first set from Hannah Jelfs, who would then make Kent’s much-needed breakthrough with Essex needed 25 from 32 – Dalton caught by McCulloch for a well-made 52.

Corteen-Coleman then took a smart caught and bowled equally as impressive as Sydney Gorham’s, cool as you like, to see the end of Bird – Essex were now 87/4 needing 23 from 27.

The debutant put Kent supporters to the edge of their seats two balls later, bowling Tilly Callaghan for no score.

Essex needed 11 to win from the final two overs.

Hannah Jelfs forced Poole into trying to hit her out of the park only to find the hands of Jackson, and only conceded four runs in the 19th – Essex needed seven to win off the last.

The final over got off to the best possible start as Dack skied a top-edge for Gorham to enact her second caught and bowled of the evening. Essex 103/7.

After singles from the next two balls and a two, Essex needed three from two. Another single, two from one required.

Trying to strangle the Essex batter with the final ball, Gorham’s delivery ended down the leg side which was signalled a wide from the umpire, and Essex won with just a ball to spare.

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Kent Spitfires also take on Essex Eagles in the Battle of the Bridge as they contest the second tie of this season’s Mike Denness Shield in the Vitality Blast

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