Div 2 County Championship Results Round-Up
Lancashire have stamped their authority all over Division Two of the County Championship with two convincing wins over possible title challengers Somerset and Ireland. They were the only team to win both their games and sit proudly at the top of the league with maximum bonus points. It seems unlikely that they will be shifted from this spot. Hard on their heels though are Devon and Wales, who put the disappointment of last year's campaigns behind them to start their seasons with thumping wins. At the bottom Staffs and Durham lost both their opening games.
Lancashire started their promotion campaign against Ireland on Sunday. Inserted by Lancs' skipper Jasmine Titmuss Ireland's innings never really got going as they lost wickets at regular intervals, mainly to England's Kate Cross (4/29). Bhumika Doshi and Nalisha Patel also picked up a couple of wickets each. Only the experience of Isobel Joyce (35) and Mary Waldron (25) saw Ireland through to an under-par 122/10. Lancs lost Laura Marshall early in their reply, but from then on the win was never in doubt as Emma Lamb (57) and Eleanor Threlkeld (31) steadily accumulated the runs. Both eventually fell but not before the game was effectively won, which it duly was in the 31st over with four wickets down.
On Monday Lancs turned their attention to Somerset, who surprisingly beat them in the top of the table play-off last year. Despite being so early in the campaign this was potentially the promotion-winning match. Lancs sailed through it with flying colours. Again they inserted their opponents and 31 overs later they were all out for just 103. Only Sophie Luff (35) put up any meaningful resistance to the rampant Lancs' bowlers. Megan Fairclough took 4/24 as all the Lancs' bowlers chipped in. Lamb (62*) and Marshall (32) put on 84 for the first wicket in reply and victory was secured by eight wickets in the 25th over. Job done.
Devon had to be better this year than they were last, and they started with a crushing 167 run win over Staffs. Put into bat their top six all got starts with Amara Carr (53) and Jodie Dibble (49) making the most of their time at the crease. After 50 overs they had accumulated 228/6. Elsa-Marie Evans claimed 2/41. Thanks to Jodie Dibble (4/11) and two wickets each for Rebecca Donahue and Hazelle Garton, Staffs were shot out for 61 in reply with six ducks for their batsmen. Only Evelyn Jones (26) and Francesca James (12) made double figures for the Midlands side.
It was a disappointing end to the weekend for Staffs who had lost a tight match the day before against Cheshire. Electing to bat Cheshire made 175/6 from their 50 overs with the top four all making contributions. Opener and skipper Jennifer Dunn set the tone with a 136 ball 54. Stephanie Butler claimed 2/10 from her 10 overs. Butler (43) then opened the batting, but lost her opening five partners getting to just 60 runs. At 114/8 the game looked done and dusted in Cheshire's favour, but number 10 Elsa-Marie Evans had other ideas as she hit a run a ball 27, including the only 6 of the game. But with an improbable victory in sight she was stumped with six balls remaining and just eight runs short of the Cheshire total.
Fresh from their victory the previous day Cheshire then travelled to Worcestershire for their second game of the weekend. Inserted by Worcestershire they made 119/10 - Jennifer Dunn, Kate Coppack and Ellie Mason all got into the twenties, but could not go on. Rachel Baldwin took 3/20 and Vicky Evans and Abigail Houghton both took a couple of wickets each. A 70 run partnership between Worcestershire opener Naomi Heywood (46) and number three Thea Brookes (34) put the game to bed and despite a late flurry of wickets to Kate Coppack (3/25) Worcestershire won by four wickets with nine overs in hand.
The day before Worcestershire had lost by three wickets to Somerset. Put into bat Worcs could only make 112/9 in their 50 overs against an accurate Somerset attack lacking Anya Shrubsole. The only release was the bowling of Anya's sister Lauren, but she had the last laugh claiming four Worcs wickets for 42 runs. Somerset made hard work of getting the runs they needed and had Sophie Luff (42*) to thank for anchoring an innings that was drifting onto the rocks at one stage. Thea Brookes (3/29) was the best bowler for Worcs as they claimed seven Somerset wickets (and 3 bowling bonus points) before they reached the required 113 in 30 overs.
Durham joined Staffs at the bottom of the league after defeats to both Wales and Ireland. In the opening game of the season they were bowled out by Wales for just 79. Lauren Parfitt took 3/18, Marsha Davies 2/7 and Naomi Williams-Wadley 2/18. Only three Durham batsmen crawled into double figures. Wales got the runs they needed, but not without losing four wickets and taking up 32 overs. The game with Ireland the following day was a much closer affair, even if runs were still not in great supply. Ireland batted first and made 108/10 in 44 overs with Loughborough's Emma Flannagan (23) the top scorer. In reply Durham staggered to 37/7 and then 66/9, before a brave last wicket partnership took them passed 100 and within touching distance of victory. But a direct hit run out from Amy Kenealy at mid-off ended the spirited Durham fightback and won the game for Ireland.
scorecards - here
league table - here