28 Jun 2016

The U11A team showed remarkable fortitude and perseverance over April, May and June on the long ‘journey’ to reach the Nationals, playing match after match in really rather indifferent weather conditions. They then had to show these attributes again on the journey to Sussex for the finals competition. The traffic in the south east is indeed a challenge and we battled in the bus for five hours before reaching Findon Manor where we were to stay prior to the tournament. After a quick change it was down to the beach at Worthing for a run around and paddle in the rather murky sea under slate grey skies and a rainbow! A paddle turned into a splash and some very wet girls (Poppy in particular) then enjoyed fish and chips from Harry Ramsden’s on the beach – Sienna particularly enjoyed a massive carbo feast!

It was then back to the hotel for a bath and bed. Bedtime saw the start of a massive storm; the heavens literally opened, the rain just fell and there was a stunning lightening display with accompanying thunder that went on for over two hours! Ella was not deterred and slept through the entire light show; Sophie found it all a bit much and ended up in bed with Mia and Katie!

Fortunately the day dawned damply but with the promise of better weather – which meant that we had final confirmation that the tournament would actually be played! Breakfast was an interesting affair with some confusion over free range eggs…..full English….and boiled eggs. However, with a massive fruit platter, croissants, cereal and yogurt no one was short. After a short drive the girls arrived at Windlesham Prep and set about getting warmed up for their day.

First up was Portsmouth Grammar JS. We won the toss and elected to field. There were some great catches from Bella and Bonnie and good work in the field to stump out players from Ella at 2nd and 3rd and from Lulie, as a part of the triangle. This kept the Portsmouth score at 4 ½ . With the bat many of team found the going quite tough with Portsmouth fielding strongly – 5 Witham players were out on either their first or second bat. Fielding was certainly an area of strength for Portsmouth.   However, Ella, Bella, Sienna and Katie really focussed and just stayed in notching up the score ending up with 10 ½ rounders. (Ella 1 ½; Bella 1 ½; Sienna 4 ½; Katie 3) – a fantastic effort! In the second innings the girls fielded with rather more nerves and less urgency allowing Portsmouth to get to 13 rounders. Nevertheless it was still a manageable target after our first batting innings: but still a tough ask when nerves were altering play. It took the team 22 balls to pass the target – some nail biting minutes! However, Bonnie’s ability with the bat shone through and she was the only girl to score – three whole blistering rounders!

Lunch for us was very relaxed as we had a good one and a half hour break. Windlesham made us feel very welcome with a cooked meal for the children and a tasty spread for staff and supporters. For most of the lunch hour the other two semi-final teams battled away needing two additional innings in order to get a result. In the end it was Granville Prep that was victorious over Cheam.

Cheam ended up with a very quick turnaround as black skies loomed on the horizon. After their ‘high’ of winning such a protracted match and then their rush through lunch, they were perhaps not quite as prepared as we were for the final. The Witham girls were quick and efficient in the field using their three different bowlers to good effect and never letting the Granville girls get into any kind of batting rhythm. From some rather lacklustre movement from out-field to in-field in the first game the girls really pulled out all the stops and were far more dynamic in this match; there were catches from Bonnie and Ella but most of the opposition were out from stumpings out as the Witham girls seized every chance that came their way. In a slightly brutal fashion we restricted them to two rounders, getting some of their best batters out almost directly by making strategic changes in the field to counter the threat of the lefties! The Witham girls then went into bat and did all they were asked; most just stayed in and stayed in gradually notching up the half rounders – however, Bonnie was once again superb hitting a full 5 rounders and getting an additional half. Other scores came from Ella (4); Katie (1); Sienna (2 ½); Bella and Lulie (1/2 each). Overall with the addition of scores from no balls Witham scored 15 rounders and went into the second innings full of optimism. Full of focus and a clear plan Witham only let Granville score a further 1 ½  rounders and secured their victory without having to bat again. National Champions!

After the matches the England Umpire that had been on our pitch for both matches came to tell me that what had impressed her most about the Witham team was their thinking skills and the adapting of different strategies to counter the different threats they faced. Praise indeed! To put the icing on the cake, at the presentation Bonnie was awarded one of the two ‘player of the tournament’ awards (outstanding fielding, batting and bowling) – well done!

A huge well done to all the team for their hard work and commitment all term; not only in games time and at matches but for their commitment to additional lunch time batting practices. For some of them, this is the third Nationals they have been to this year – a tremendous achievement for which they should be extremely proud. It has been a pleasure for me to coach them over the last two terms – what a finale! Thank you too goes to our parent and grand-parent supporters who were a fantastic morale boosting support all day, not to mention the food re-supply for the girls as they entered their last fielding innings which was just the boost that was needed!

The Team: Lulie Pumphrey (Capt / 1st Base/Strategy); Ella Chandler (Vice Capt/fielder/2nd/3rd/ strategy); Bonnie Harris (out-fielder/in-fielder and donkey drop bowler); Mia Paylor (bowler/2nd and fielder);  Matilda Craven (fast bowler and fielder); Sienna McAlpine (deep fielder); Poppy Wraith (deep fielder); Sophie Marshall (deep fielder); Bella Fox (back stop/4th i/c Focus!); Katie Wraith (deep fielder/motivator and communicator!)