Who could have imagined that, having picked up their bats for the first time little more than a year ago, Beaconsfield CC’s women’s team would be boarding a plane and jetting to Spain to take part in an international 6-a-side tournament?
The excitement was palpable as all 15 members of the squad, resplendent in tour hoodies and caps, boarded the coach to Gatwick just as the great British rain began to fall.
Arriving at the La Manga Club a few hours later, the teams checked into their accommodation and headed straight to the bar to discuss tactics and and attend a tournament briefing. The initial, and arguably most important, decision made (the rosé was better than the white) rules were agreed and the women were all set.
Day one began with a net session in the recently refurbished facilities launched just three days earlier. There followed a day of friendly matches for both teams under a glorious Spanish sun and a welcome sea breeze. The more experienced players from opposition teams were extremely supportive and encouraging, even inviting the more adventurous of the Beaconsfield squad to pad up and have a go with the hard ball. This resulted in Beaconsfield CC Women's first hard ball match, against Kempston CC, which they went on to win in the final over.
Day two saw the 5/5 tournament begin in earnest for our two teams, the Beaconsfield Lions, captained by Erin, and the Beaconsfield Ladies, led by Pushpa. First up were the Ladies who took on Spain. Batting first they set a challenging total, Alex top scoring with 15 not out, hitting two fours despite a painfully slow outfield. The Ladies bowlers found a good line and length, with skipper, Pushpa, conceding a miserly three runs in her over.
Next up against Spain were the Beaconsfield Lions who, despite a great performance from the bowlers, including Erin who conceded only two runs, just weren’t able to match the Spanish target and suffered a narrow defeat.
After lunch the two Beaconsfield teams faced each other for the first time. The Ladies opened the bowling with a fine display, Richa restricting the Lions to just four runs in her over. The reply from the Lions was fierce, with Erin taking a wicket and Annabel giving away just three runs. With the Lions taking the game all three teams were on equal points going into the next round.
Fortunes were reversed in the next three games, with Spain beating the Ladies then being defeated by the Lions. In the Lions game, Moona scored a tournament record of 25 runs, while Michelle took a wicket with her second ball, conceding only three runs in her over.
In the final match there was everything to play for as the two Beaconsfield teams faced each other for the final time. A win would have meant a tournament victory for the Beaconsfield Lions whilst a win for the Ladies would have resulted in a tie between all three teams with the winners decided on wickets lost.
The Lions batted first, setting a tournament record of 49 runs in their five overs. Moona was on fine form, hitting the only six of the tournament and carrying her bat in a powerful batting display. At the end of the innings the result appeared inevitable, but the Ladies had other ideas. Chasing the total against some tired bowling from the Lions, Amy scored an impressive 10 runs and Ellen hit a boundary, securing victory for the Ladies on the penultimate ball of the game.
With all three teams tied on points, the final tournament rankings were decided on wickets lost, with Spain winning, Beaconsfield Lions taking second spot and Ladies placed third by the narrowest of margins – just one wicket.
Putting rivalries aside, the squad headed out for a few drinks and a celebratory meal. Prizes were awarded to Erin as top wicket taker and Moona as top run scorer, whilst Jenny was rewarded for her performance as Tour Manager, Scorer and 12th Woman with some well-earned spa vouchers.
Sunday morning saw a welcome rest by the pool in the morning before the squad, with tanned arms and aching muscles, boarded the bus to begin the return journey home. As the last glasses of rosé were consumed and the lid firmly closed on the almost empty jar of Tiger Balm, the Beaconsfield CC women looked forward to a new chapter. It was time to don the pads and start hard-ball training, ready for La Manga, 2018.
Updated 16:46 - 30 Apr 2018 by Eileen Daniel