I know that I am a little Sussex-centric, but that is because they are the teams that I see the most, but I do try to be fair in my assessment of all the players I see on the field. For me a good performance is a good performance no matter who the player is or what country, county or team they play for. I enjoy watching good cricket and good cricketers.
Having said all that I doubt that anyone who was at the U17 T20 Performance Division 3 competition at St Lawrence & Highland Court CC in Kent over the last two days could have failed to have been impressed by the batting of Sussex's Paige Scholfield.
Sussex had three group games against Oxfordshire, Essex and Kent. Paige normally bats at five in the longer format of the game, but for T20s she opens. She likes to hit the ball, and when she hits it it generally stays hit. In their first game agaisnt Oxfordshire Sussex racked up 176/3 in their 20 overs. A decent score in u17 T20s is generally about 100. Paige hit a magnificent 105* off 66 balls, including sixteen 4s and two 6s. Her timing was impeccable and she hits with a high back-lift and a full follow-through. On song I doubt there are many cleaner hitters of a cricket ball. She is particularly clinically through wide mid-on and on anything short, but she hits just as cleanly straight and through the covers if the ball is over-pitched.
In the second game of the day against Essex she missed out, only scoring 15 off eight balls, including three 4s. She was caught at short third man edging a drive high into the air. Sussex however went on to record their second win of the day.
In their final group stage game the next day Sussex scored 151/2. Paige recorded her second century of the competition scoring 102* off 72 balls, including sixteen 4s. It was another classy innings with barely a false shot. It was her shot selection which seemed so good. If the ball was not there to hit then she simply pushed it for one.
And so Sussex progressed to the final unbeaten, where they met Essex again. They had escaped lightly the previous day, but they were not to do so again. Paige had saved her best to last. She and her opening partner, Izzy Collis (54*) put on an unbeaten 206. Paige hit a stunning 134* off just 71 balls including twenty-one 4s and six 6s. It was imperious batting and great to see. Even the Essex supporters were generous in their appreciation of her knock. Needless to say Sussex won the tournament.
Paige had scored 356 runs in four T20 innings and had only been out once. She had hit fifty-six 4s and eight 6s. Unfortunately I am not sure that anyone from the ECB scouting staff was there, but you can but hope that they will hear of her performance and take note. She is already a member of the EWDP U19 squad and has shown similar hard-hitting batting skills for the Sussex 1st XI. She has a talent which needs to be nurtured, particularly in the shorter version of the game. Like many who bat in her fashion she will not come off all the time, but when she does it is game-changing and I, for one, would be happy to pay to watch it.