Cricket: NSW wins 10th straight Betty Butcher Shield

MAITLAN Brown's NSW team has won the Betty Butcher Shield for the 10th consecutive season after defeating Victoria by just two wickets in a thrilling final at the U/18 Female National Championships in Ballarat this week.

NSW’s winning streak stretches back to the 2004/05 season when this was still an U/17 competition.

 After losing two of their first three games, NSW recorded a number of double bonus point victories to storm into second place on the competition ladder, earning themselves a berth in the decider.

Victoria had finished on equal competition points with NSW but claimed top spot on the ladder after winning one extra game. They had also beaten NSW by one wicket in Round One.

Most of NSW’s matches in this tournament had been low scoring and the Final was no exception, with Victoria bowled out for 107 in 47.3 overs after winning the toss and electing to bat.

Spinners Lauren Smith (2-17) and Ashleigh Gardner (2-11) again led the way with the ball, conceding just 28 runs in 20 overs between them. Fast bowler Anna Horton then ripped through the Victorian lower order to finish with 3-26 from 8.3 overs.

Chasing the runs was never going to be easy given the strength of the Victorian line-up and a slow outfield. Neither team was able to gain any advantage in the match as every time NSW built a partnership, Victoria would answer the challenge by taking wickets.

NSW reached 5-95 before losing their next three wickets for just seven runs.

With plenty of overs up their sleeve and needing just six runs to win, the eighth wicket pairing of fast bowler Taryn Heddo and wicketkeeper Rochelle Davis adopted a cautious approach, choosing to play out maidens rather than attempt a rash shot and risk their wicket.

They finally received their break one ball into the 44th over. With two runs needed, Davis received a short ball from leg-spinner Chelsea Moscript which was promptly pulled to deep mid-wicket for the winning runs. Davis finished unbeaten on four runs with Heddo two not out.

“It was a thrilling finish, and one which certainly reflected the sort of tournament we’ve had. The girls didn’t play their best cricket, but they fought hard and got the results they needed. This victory was a reward for their determination,” said Cricket NSW Female Youth Programs Manager, Lisa Sthalekar.

There were some outstanding individual performances by NSW players during the competition.

Ashleigh Gardner was the tournament’s second leading run scorer with 212 runs at 26.50, while spinner Lauren Smith was the fourth leading wicket taker with 15 scalps at 5.67.

Taryn Heddo (13 wickets at 8.23) and Anna Horton (11 wickets at 9.00) were also ranked in the top 10 bowlers, with Ashleigh Gardner (10 wickets at 9.90) 11th on the list.

 The following players were part of the NSW squad for the U/18 Female National Championships (clubs/regions in brackets):

 Ashleigh Gardner (captain – Bankstown Sports)

Mary Molloy (vice-captain – St George-Sutherland)

Maitlan Brown (Sydney/North Coastal)

Rochelle Davis (Northern District/Central Coast)

Amy Edgar (Penrith/Western)

Tayler Gilbert (Northern District/Western)

Taryn Heddo (Gordon/Central Coast)

Mikayla Hinkley (Penrith)

Anna Horton (St George-Sutherland)

Jessica Marks (Sydney/North Coastal)

Tess Noble (Sydney)

Lauren Smith (Northern District/Central Coast)

Belinda Vakarewa (Campbelltown-Camden)

This is NSW’s third National Championship this summer having already won the U/15 Female and U/19 Male titles.