The picturesque landscape of the Zuoz Festival of Cricket was the perfect backdrop for a momentous weekend for women’s youth cricket in Switzerland. The Swiss National Girls Team made their first appearance as a squad, competing in the U11s tournament, Ananth Srinivasan reports.
The team, which is barely 45 day old, has been assembled from the girls playing in the Basel, Geneva and Zurich mixed squads. With the addition of three boys from Cossonay CC, the team took on the U11 boys of their home teams. Given the relative experience of the other teams, the expectation was that the girls would bond as a team, develop as cricketers and emerge with some personal highlights. As it turned out, the girls exceeded all expectations.
Match 1 – Basel Dragons U11 103/6 (18) bt Swiss Girls/CCC U11 66/6 (18) by 37 runs
In their first ever outing, the squad first lined-up against a very strong Basel Dragons, the eventual winners of the tournament, with 5 players from the Swiss u11 National team.
Though the girls knew they were up against a tough team, they were eager to take the boys head-on. Batting first, Basel put on a good score of 103 runs in 18 overs. The girls excelled in the field with three run-outs including 2 direct hits. Millie, Annabelle and Samiha took a wicket each. It was the disciplined bowling that took everyone by surprise, including the batsmen. The girls bowled just 7 wides in the innings and were both accurate and occasionally fiery. A few
dropped catches, a lot of bad luck where many chances did not go to a fielder and a couple of very expensive overs by 2 of the boys enabled the Basel batsmen to put on more runs than the girls would have hoped for.
In response, the girls showed great grit and determination while batting. Meghna scored 17 (30) to anchor the innings and Finn (10) and Millie (9) also made substantial contributions. The team managed to bat out their overs thanks to Isabelle’s 25 ball unbeaten innings, and walked out to massive applause from the opposition in spite of falling 37 runs short. This game was a strong statement that the girls were here to compete and not just make up the numbers.
Match 2 – Zurich Crickets U11 104/3 (18) bt Swiss Girls/CCC U11 43 (15.3) by 61 runs
In their second game against Zurich, the girls were again very disciplined against a strong batting line up. Zurich got off to a very good start and looked set for a big total after seeing off our best bowlers without losing wickets. However the second string bowlers all delivered, bowling some very economical overs. Samiha (6 runs in 2 overs), Annabelle (1 wkt for 7 runs in
2 overs), Naina and Ananya (4 runs in 1 over) and Lily who conceded just 1 run in her over, all put a brake on the scoring rate and Zurich finished at a solid 104. Out of 104, 40 runs came from extras and girls missed out on hanging to the tough catches in the field, which would have turned the tide in the game.
In response, the team lost wickets regularly and were in trouble at 6 for 4. Isabelle and Ananya then both displayed their tenacity, keeping their wickets intact for long innings while Finn scored runs at the other end. We were eventually bowled out for 43 runs. The scoreboard this time, did not reflect the improvement in game skills and confidence that the girls displayed.
It was noteworthy that before and after the game, all the girls wanted to do was to get into the nets and practice some more.
Match 3 – Gingins/GRYCC U11 95/9(18) bt Swiss Girls/CCC U11 83/9 (18) by 12 runs
The team was improving with every match and came very close to pulling off an upset in game 3. The girls were inspired on the field scoring 3 run outs with direct hits. They also picked up regular wickets. Millie (2-11) led the way and Meghna (1-19), Samiha (1-16), Anabelle (1-4) and Isabelle (1-2) all picked up a wicket each. Ananya, Annabelle, Isabelle and Lily also bowled
miserly overs giving away just 2 runs per over each. A late flurry of runs by extra players and some loss of focus in the middle of the game enabled the opponents to climb to a total of 95.
The run-chase began in earnest as Meghna 25 (21) blazed away in the company of Finn 9 (9). At 50-2 in 6 overs, an upset win looked on the cards. However Gingins/GRYCC fought their way back into the match. Despite valiant efforts by Isabelle 12 (30), Ananya 4 (13) and Samiha 3* (11) who hung in there, the required rate kept climbing, and despite the return of Meghna after
retiring, the team fell agonisingly short by 12 runs. The team once again departed to strong applause and with their heads held high. The boost in confidence from coming so close saw them all rushing to the nets again. Girls realised that the ultimate difference in the scores was due to the extras they had given ( 46 vs 26 by Gingins) and they were determined to keep it low in the next game.
Match 4 – 3rd/4th Place Match Swiss Girls/CCC U11 – 75/7 (18) bt Gingins/GRYCC U11 58/9 (17.4) by 17 runs
Do dreams come true? Of course they do. Put into bat for the first time in the tournament, the team finally showed their abilities when setting a target. Despite losing 2 wickets in the first two balls, the team showed a calm and cool head and set about accumulating runs slowly. Isabelle 8(34) showed her now familiar ability to stay at the crease. Meghna 13(17), the star batsman again smashed quick runs despite taking a nasty blow to her helmet. At 42/6 in the 10th over, when the team looked in trouble, they switched gears to play defence, hang in there and take occasional singles. Samiha 6 (16) stitched useful partnerships with Isabelle and Lily 4 (14) to get to a defendable total of 75. The girls showed tremendous maturity in stitching a 33 runs partnership for 6th and 7th wicket.
In response, Gingins/GRYCC got off to a quick start but Finn dismissed the star batsman Ed early. Boosted by this wicket, Meghna (3.0/2/1/2) and Millie (3/1/7/2) bowled like tigers, harrying the batsmen with their pace and forcing them to play bad shots. Meghna also took two unbelievable catches and scored a run-out. Samiha, Annabelle and Roshan took a wicket each.
Gingins/GRYCC were reduced to 28/8 and the girls were already celebrating. At this point, a stubborn last wicket partnership aided by the sudden appearance of nerves and wides saw Gingings/GRYCC creep towards the target. At this point, Ananya and Isabelle showed up with some cool bowling and cut out the runs and wides. Gingins/GRYCC lost momentum and
eventually fell 17 runs short. This was a momentous moment for the girls who smiled many a smile and shed many tears of joy.
In summary the tournament was an enormous success for the first edition of the Swiss National Girls Team. Every single girl contributed to the performance and achieved personal highs during the process. All the girls fared better in the girls team than they did previously in the mixed teams. They all received knocks and injuries while batting and fielding, but refused to leave the field of play. The team also gelled brilliantly and are a well-bonded unit now, each knowing the roles and capabilities. Meghna and Millie who jointly captained the team under the able guidance of Srini the coach, assisted by Ananth and guidance of Nitin, displayed great leadership as well as cricketing thinking. One can safely say that the future is bright for this
squad and for girls cricket in Switzerland.
The Squad (in alphabetical order)
Ananya: Wicketkeeper with a safe pair of hands, kept byes down to low numbers. Joint 4th in the tournament leaderboard for bowling economy (2.0 after 4 overs). Contributed with the bat through a few long innings when they were needed. Came on at crucial moments, including the winning game to bowl in a miserly fashion. Though it was hard work to keep wickets for long, Ananya was game for it including assisting Gingins boys in their game.
Annabelle: Took a wicket in every game. 6th highest wicket taker in the tournament with 4 wickets at an average of 4.5 and an economy of 2.57. Also a livewire in the field. Her ability to bowl straight and take wickets was crucial, especially in the
Isabelle: They just couldn’t get her out. 3 not outs in 4 innings, 10th highest run-scorer in the tournament with 25 runs. Isabelle made sure we did not suffer from collapses in every innings. Her long patient innings made the difference in the winning game.
Lily: After a hesitant start, Lily came to the party giving away just 3 runs in 2 overs in the next two matches. Despite a hamstring injury, she came on to bat in the winning game and put on an astonishing 15 runs for the last wicket with Samiha which gave us a defendable score.
Meghna: Words will not suffice to describe Meghna’s impact on this team and tournament. The best batsman in the team by far, she plundered 55 runs to finish the 3rd highest run getter in the tournament (Nos 1 and 2 both got 56). She also picked up 3 wickets took two of the best diving catches in the tournament and had 3 run outs to her credit. Her captaincy displayed her enormous cricketing acumen. The most natural girl cricketer in Switzerland today.
Millie: Along with Meghna, the co-captain and bulwark of the team. 4th on the tournament bowling leaderboard with 5 wickets, Millie bowled quick and put fear into the batsmen. Her personal highlight was clean bowling her brother. She also executed 3 run outs and saved many runs in the field. Her captaincy was astute and showed a great understanding of the game. Millie will remain a star of the team for a long time.
Naina: Just about beginning to play cricket, Naina is a clean hitter of the ball. She didn’t get too many opportunities with the bat but bowled her overs very economically and was very active in the field. Naina has the ability to be a super pinch hitter for the team with a little training. Niana has shown great improvement in the over all cricketing abilities both with the ball and bat.
Samiha: Samiha made crucial contributions with the bat and ball in every game. Her bowling was highly accurate and she displayed a rare knack of taking wickets and bowling unplayable balls. Samiha has shown tremendous improvement in the field accounting for a direct throw and assisted a runout. She finished 13th in the bowling leaderboard with 3 wickets and a creditable 23rd in the batting leaderboard with 2 not outs. Her long vigil at the wicket and partnerships with Isabelle and Lily were key factors in the team putting up a good total in the win.
Other members of the squad (Cossonay Boys U11):