Date: 23rd Jul 2024
L&DCC is not responsible for Third Party websites


Date: 20th May 2023

By Tom Evans Merseyside Cricket Online

It’s still relatively early days for the Love Lane Liverpool Competition’s women’s section.

But if it carries on expanding at the rate it’s going, the sky’s the limit beyond the glass ceiling.

The T20 league for established women’s sides has doubled in size from last season, with Hightown St Marys, Leigh, Liverpool and Maghull joining Firwood Bootle, Sefton Park, Northern and Wavertree.

Reigning champions Sefton have had to close their doors to new members, having reached capacity – they run two hard-ball sides, a soft-ball XI and two Super 8s sides.

Clubs including Leigh, Hightown St Mary’s and Northern have imported overseas players to play at various levels up to their open 2nd XI.

Newton-le-Willows this week announced the signing of Thunder, Middlesex and London Spirit all-rounder Naomi Dattani – with the club not yet having a women’s hard-ball side, she will join an 1st XI squad which has already fielded its first ever woman, Emilia Lamb, this year.

Bootle’s Hannah Gallimore broke similar ground at Wadham Road in an ECHO Cup match on Tuesday – she took 3/11 in a comfortable win over Prescot & Odyssey.

Established Comp players like Thunder captain Ellie Threlkeld, her Rainford clubmate and former Norley Hall bowler Laura Jackson and Sutton’s Nat Brown used to be the rare exceptions – suddenly, they look more like early trailblazers leading the way to a whole new approach to senior cricket.

Sefton Park skipper Sarah John said: “A year ago, I was the first woman to play in a senior side at Sefton, whereas now lots of people do it.

“It’s not unusual to turn up to a senior match and see two or three women on each side, which is very exciting for us.

“We gain loads from playing in the senior matches as well. Lots of the men we play with have played since they were kids – just playing alongside them, you pick up loads of stuff like tactics, fields and everything.”

But the women’s sides exist to compete in their own right, not just to provide players for the open 1st XI. 

John admits the start to the season has been “pretty hectic” at Croxteth Drive, but she’s looking forward to beginning her side’s title defence with a local derby against Liverpool on Sunday.

She said: “We’ve had such growth over the past couple of seasons, it’s meant we can enter mostly different teams into each of the competitions.

“It gives players the opportunity to play more in the format they want to and at the right level for them.

“Women’s cricket is a bit different to men’s in that most boys have played cricket at some point, whether competitively or not, but a lot of women get into the game in adulthood having literally never played before.

“This is brilliant, but it means we need to continue to offer our softball formats to introduce them into the game.

“And it brings its own challenges with regards to coaching and session planning – you’ve got people who have played county in the past and you’ve got people who have never picked up a bat before.

“But when it comes to the Liverpool Comp, the T20 league is my priority.

“It’s always a tough match every time we play Liverpool – it nearly always comes down to the last over.

Sefton’s triumph last year – making it two in a row after also topping the table in 2021 – came at the expense of Firwood Bootle Belles, whom they beat in a final after the league stage.

Belles skipper Gemma Hurst hopes her side can go one better this year.

She said: “It’s going to be a tough league to do well in but we think we’ve got what it takes.

“We got to finals day last year and it was a close game but we lost out, we had the worst of the bad weather – so we’re looking forward to this year’s league.”

Leigh will be the Belles’ first opponents at Wadham Road on Sunday, and Hurst knows they’ll be a tough proposition.

But with Gallimore’s progress fresh in the mind, the skipper reckons her squad is up there with the best of them.

She said: “It’s happening more and more, that women are being selected for the men’s sides.

“We’re used to seeing it at 3rd and 2nd XI level but now it’s happening more at 1st XI level too.

“It’s great to see.

“I think the success of the England women’s side is key to it – and Lancashire have an excellent women’s squad as well.

“I don’t think the Hundred has much of an effect, maybe it’s more for the kids – but the T20 has a massive impact.”

Sefton and Bootle have a historic rivalry far older than the women’s section, which only started in 2021. 

But Hurst says it adds a bit of spice to the mix whenever the two sides meet.

“We’re friendly off the pitch, but once we cross the boundary we’re rivals,” she added.

Real life has an awkward habit of interfering with the important business of cricket. Hurst will miss the season due to the trivial matter of “having a baby” – John, a doctor, is waiting to see how studying for her anaesthetists’ exams will impact her performance.

Last year was the Sefton skipper’s best ever with the bat. She averaged 49 while helping her side to the semi-finals of the Lancashire 40-over cup, including an unbeaten century against Blackpool, as well as their local T20 glory.

“I don’t need to have the same season as last year, but anywhere close would be great,” she added.

“One of the things I love about our team is that everyone comes from completely different backgrounds. 

“And we’d never have met each other if it wasn’t for the cricket team. 

“Everyone’s so committed but we’re also aware of everything else that’s going on in everyone else’s lives. 

“A few weeks ago, one of our players, Aaishah Amjad, was observing Ramadan and she invited us all to break the fast with her.

“She and Amani Riz, one of our other players, put on this massive feast for us at Sefton after training, and a few of us fasted with them through the day and they were helping us through it. It was an amazing event.”

John’s role as a junior coach has given her a glimpse of the future – and she can see only good things for Sefton, and for the women’s game in general.

She said: “Caitlin Summers is just 13, but she’s made her debut for the women’s team – she’s going to be a regular this season so it’s going to be great to see what she can achieve.

“And the girls that are coming through are going to go from strength to strength as well.”


Back to top