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Cornwall Girls U17 Cricket Tour to South Africa – Written by Amber Cummins
After fundraising, training and preparing for the South Africa Tour throughout the late summer and into the winter, we made our way up to Heathrow in harsh snowy conditions- all excited for the change in temperature to come!
Once we landed in Johannesburg and the chaos of transporting all the 30 cricket bags to the coaches had been dealt with, we made our way down to Pilanesburg National Park for the first couple of days. With only 3 girls returning from the last touring team, it was a very different set of players. However, we gelled really well, going on games drives and visiting Sun City before we travelled back up to Jo’burg to play our first few matches.
First off were an improved Jeppe High School team. We scored 200 odd in the first innings but the game was abandoned after a few balls into our bowling innings as the lightning threatened. The following day we played a fifty over match against Ikageng Invitational XI, where we bowled them out for 100. The weather played its part yet again; going from 30+ degree heat in the morning to on and off showers during our batting innings. This resulted in a lack of focus from us as a team and we collapsed to 60 all out. Heading into the third game we were eager to prove to ourselves and the coaches that we could display a more professional and concentrated approach. We played Tshwane University the following day, scoring a massive 217 and bowling them out for 150. We were back to winning ways.
The time had come to head down to Cape Town, which allowed for a travelling and recovery day after a packed few days of matches. With the obvious problem of the Cape Town drought, we were unsure as to how many games would be played due to the conditions of the grounds. However, we managed to play all scheduled games. After some differing levels of opposition, we were met with a strong Western Province side. The wicket was hard but was very green on the surface, so I chose to bowl; unsure of how the wicket would play out. Western province got off to a steady start, however, our bowlers stood up to the challenge taking regular wickets at crucial points. The irony is that nearing the end of our bowling innings, the lightning and rain swept over Cape Town and the rain did not stop for the rest of the afternoon. It seems even when a city is in drought, we never fail to bring the weather with us from Cornwall. We played a couple more games in Cape Town, against Rustenburg and Pinelands High School where I personally managed to score a 50 after the drought of runs and lack of form I had been through. After a visit up Table Mountain and a day of relaxing sightseeing along the coast, we packed up our bags and flew back up to Jo’burg on the 17th of February.
Two games remained against the strongest opposition yet – Northern Titans Provincial team. On the 18th we played a 50 over match in the intense 35+ degree heat where we chose to bowl first. Again we started well and got a couple of early wickets, however, the Titans fought hard and in the searing heat we were struggling to keep our high standards in the field. After the drinks break we came out and battled well. I took 3 wickets and we bowled them all out for 246. A good start from our opening batters set us up well. I came in and scored 34 but a flurry of wickets from the Titans left us 158-9. A few of our players dug in (Joleigh Roberts scoring 47) but unfortunately we were bowled out for 197. However, as a captain I thought we played really well under very difficult and different conditions to what we are used to here in Cornwall.
The next day we played the Northern Titans again in a thrilling floodlit day/night T20 match. We were up for some revenge. I lost the toss and we were put into bowl. A brilliant few spells from our bowlers, backed up by our fielders, meant we were chasing a modest 119. A good batting performance from the top three (Ellie, Caitlin and I) meant we were 99-1 off 11. A mini collapse in the 12th over saw a few nerves surface, however, a quick 64* from Ellie Mitchell brought us home for the win.
It was an honour to captain such a great bunch of talented girls. Touring this time as a captain was very different. I had extra responsibilities during the games with the ‘ceremonial duties’ of handing out tour gifts to the opposition captain and officials. I also found captaining in South Africa a much harder experience; having to keep the team loud, encouraging them all the time and with the added heat, it took its toll in the longer format matches. However, it was an honour to represent my county out in such a beautiful country and the tour was a great experience for everyone. A special mention has to go to my team-mate Ellie Mitchell for scoring not only her maiden 100 but then scoring another 100 and a 64*on tour.
I would like to say a massive “thank you” to the local community, businesses, trusts and individuals who supported me to make my participation in the tour possible. Particular thanks must go to Glyn and Dayana at The Coombe Barton Inn for holding an amazing fund raising night.
Having been back for a few weeks now, I’ve been straight back into training and am looking forward to the season ahead with Cornwall U17, Cornwall Women and the Western Storm Development Squad.