Sunday, 15 September 2013

Taylor leads Sussex to County Champs title

Sussex have won the Women's County Championship 2013. It is their sixth Championship win in the last 10 years, but their first for three years. Having finished top of the league they beat Yorkshire by 95 runs in the Division One top of the table play-off. Rumours that this maybe the last year of such play-offs are to be welcomed.

With a dire weather forecast the toss was going to be a vital factor, and it was Yorkshire that had that advantage. Put into bat Sussex got off to the worst of starts losing two early wickets to Beatrice Firth (2/36) to be 10/2 in the fifth over. Yorkshire had Katherine Brunt in their side, but she was not fit enough to bowl. Sarah Taylor (128*) and Arran Brindle (17) set about trying to restore some order to the innings. They had added 56 before Brindle was caught behind off Dani Hazell (1/57). Holly Colvin (18) looked in good touch before she too fell to a catch behind but this time off Aimee Simms (1/35).

Sussex were 99/4 with almost half their overs gone and with the weather threatening to reduce the game to far fewer than the scheduled 50 overs. Izzy Collis, one of three under 17 year olds in the Sussex team, came to join her skipper and they remained together to the end of the Sussex innings - a stand of 143. Collis' contribution was a mature 51 (with a towering 6 off Dani Hazell to bring up her 50), which helped Taylor to a magnificent undefeated 128 off 127 balls as she flayed the cold and dejected Yorkshire bowling to all parts of Campbell Park in grey Milton Keynes. Sussex closed on 242/4 and a run rate of 4.87. If the game were shortened Yorkshire simply needed to be above that rate to win.

Yorkshire too made a bad start, losing the highly influential Lauren Winfield to a sharp low catch by Taylor behind the stumps off Noakes, and then Jess Watson was unfortunately run out backing up at the bowler's end. Campbell went shortly afterwards lofting Brindle to Alexia Walker at mid-off. Yorkshire were 42/3 in the 14th over. Briefly Dani Hazell (26), Kathryn Doherty (20) and Katherine Brunt (46*) got Yorkshire back on track, but when Hazell was neatly stumped by Taylor off Colvin (3/23) Yorkshire looked a spent force.  They battled on gamely and despite the weather the game reached a natural conclusion with a fourth  run out 11 overs before the scheduled finish and with Yorkshire all out for 147. On paper it was a comprehensive victory, and thoroughly well deserved by the better team on the day, but no-one can deny the massive influence of Sarah Taylor's masterful innings. Without her Sussex may still have achieved a decent score - they had batting to come - but probably not many over 200. Yorkshire then would not have had such great scoreboard pressure and may have got much closer.


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