Well, the season’s first provincial cricket results are out today, and what reading they make! Reigning champions and Coastal League contenders Western Province stormed into an early lead in the season’s opening matches, leaving runners-up Boland, who were on a bye, with some catching up to do.
In the Inland League, Free State, who had a disappointing season last time around, vented their frustration on Mpumalanga to post the best run-rate stats early in a long season, which draws to a close end of February, 2008.
The first part of the 2007-08 season is effectively a trials process for the inaugural seeding for two new leagues, aimed at ensuring a strength-versus-strength for the best six teams in a Super League competition.
The remaining teams will contest a Shield Competition, with a promotion-relegation system in place annually to reward teams earning a changed status.
The Inland Clashes
Saturday’s play kicked the initial season off, and Free State made a big statement to record the early season’s highest Net Run Rate when they encountered Mpumalanga in Middelburg ( Click here to download the Mpumalanga vs Free State Score Sheet 11.05 Kb).
Free State bowled the home side out in 34 overs for a below-par score of 113 which saw captain Naidoo top-scoring with 41, before opener Benade and Minny racked up the required total in the fourteenth over. Loftus earned best-bowling with three for 29 in eight, while Benade took two wickets in her 10 overs, costing a mere 15 runs.
Gauteng hosted Easterns in Lenasia ( Click here to download the Gauteng vs Easterns Score Sheet 11.43 Kb), and were put in to post a significant 274 for eight, including an opening partnership of 139 between Terblanche and Thompson, with Homann, Cocklin and Neto each claiming two wickets for Easterns.
In reply, Easterns collapsed dramatically, and were eventually bowled out in the twenty-third over for a total of 50, without a batswoman reaching double figures, Smook’s figures of two for 10 in five overs the better of the other double-wicket takers Veeriah, Terblanche and Schmahl.
North West won the toss at home against Griqualand West in Potchefstroom ( Click here to download the North West vs Griqualand West Score Sheet 11.46 Kb, and their decision to field first allowed last season’s whipping team to post a boosting 263 for eight wickets in their allotted overs, Geyer the pick among the batswomen with her 70 off 78 balls.
Geyer was eventually bowled by Breytenbach, who was only bettered in the bowling column by Burger’s three for 46, though the 68 extras will cause concern. In response, North West never looked like reaching the asking rate, and were eventually bowled out for a total of 163 after 38 overs, with Griqualand West’s Van Rhyn doing the most damage, three for 27 in her ten.
The opening rounds in the Inland League ( Click here to download the Log Sheet 10.70 Kb) saw each winning team earn a bonus point for a total of five, with Free State leading Gauteng and a surprise Griqualand West in third position.
Coastal goes Postal
Rewarded following a great season with a national call-up, Western Province captain Anderson showed her appreciation with a quick-fire 84 after being invited to bat by KwaZulu-Natal Inland in Cape Town ( Click here to download the Western Province vs KwaZulu-Natal Inland Score Sheet 11.56 Kb), but her achievement was outplayed by Kilowan’s 116 in 100 balls, the home side finishing on 329 for four wickets, after 49 overs.
In reply, the Natalians lost Cannon before scoring a run, and their eventual total of 46 all-out in the twentieth over was largely due to a refreshed Fritz, who relished her first outing after returning from severe injury by taking six wickets for a total of 20 runs in six overs, her enthusiasm difficult to miss.
KwaZulu-Natal hosted Eastern Province in Chatsworth ( Click here to download the KwaZulu-Natal vs Eastern Province Score Sheet 11.43 Kb), and seemed in the pound seats after the visitors chose to bat only to lose all their wickets for a paltry 130 after 39 overs, captain opener Webber top-scoring with a patient 39.
All of the local bowlers performed well, but the pick were Tapp’s four for 25 in ten, while Sole’s three wickets for thirty runs in five overs collapsed the middle order, but they were let down by their batswomen, who stumbled from the get-go. National keeper Chetty’s top-score of 23 wasn’t enough to prevent a disappointing total of 83 all-out in the thirty-third over, Kapp supplementing her batting performance with her side’s best bowling figures, when she took three for thirteen in seven overs.
Bringing the opening week’s matches to a close was Border hosting South Western Districts in East London ( Click here to download the Border vs South Western Districts Score Sheet 11.47 Kb), and after putting the home side in to bat after winning the toss, the visitors would have been happy to see them bowled out for 132, with the only significant contributions coming from Soka and Taai.
But SWD failed to take advantage of a rare opportunity, and their total of 98 all-out with five overs to go will hurt. Crause’s patient 38 were the best runs achieved, while Border was best represented by Taai, who took the first two wickets for a total of 23 runs in her eight overs.
Western Province lead Eastern Province and Border in the Coastal Log ( Click here to download the Log Sheet 10.70 Kb) by a wide margin following their emphatic opening match’s victory, but with five points apiece for all winning sides, this must be viewed as an exciting start to a crucial season.