New Captain, New Expectations

Don McDermott reports on how Essex Women’s Cricket are looking to build on last season’s late surge as skipper Cordelia Griffith takes charge of a talented squad.

Essex Women’s Cricket Head coach Matt Hyam said he is looking for the team to build on their hard work over the winter and achieve top-of-the-table finishes in both the 50-over and 20-over competitions.

Hyam said, “We’ve had a really good winter; the girls have worked hard in their training program. We’ve got a lot of young talent coming through. Hopefully what we’re looking to do is build on how we finished the end of last season, where we started to put together some results and ended up in a decent position in the 50-over competition and finished quite highly in the 20-over competition. Our aspirations are top four for the 50-over and we’re looking for a top-two place in the 20-over league.”

Essex will be striving for those goals without last season’s captain Hannah Courtnell, who moved to Australia during the off season. Without her, Hyam will be relying on new skipper Griffith and fellow veteran Hannah Jeffries to provide leadership.

Hyam added, “Kelly Castle had a breakthrough year with the ball last year and was our player of the season, we’ll be looking for Kelly to build on her performances and we think she’ll have a good year. And then the younger ones, Jessica Bird and Beth Dodd, who came into the side towards the back end of last season and really impressed in the field and with the bat, it would be really nice to see them kick on from their hard work from the winter.”

Essex played against the Essex Men’s Disability XI last week as a warm-up match and although they lost in cold conditions at Harlow Town Cricket Club, Hyam said that the team took away many positives, particularly after posting 141-9 on a tough wicket.

“It was nice to get outside and start to put our skills into practice,” Hyam said. “From a batting point of view, we put some really good partnerships together. It was a difficult ground to score on, because it was so wet, but we felt we got a good total in that situation. So they really pushed themselves to be positive but also to bat out our overs.”

The first matches of the season saw Essex play Wales in a 50-over match on Sunday in Billericay and then Devon on the following day at Felsted Cricket Club.

Hyam said she was, “looking for a really positive performance—bat, ball and in the field. We’re hoping we can get a good start to the season.”