Game 1: Plenty Valley 8/109 (A Price 35, K Lamb 27, Brock 3/9) defeated by Box Hill 3/110 (A. Lanning 39, Carter 24, Brock 23*, O’Donnell 1/19) by 7 wickets
Leading her young charges, Anna Lanning opened the bowling to immediate effect. Runs were always going to be hard to come by on the green-tinged pitch, and Lanning’s first victim was that of Hope Irvine. Penelope Cleghorn clung – one handed – onto a ball that flew into the slip cordon, and at 1/4, the Mustangs already had one foot down.
Twenty20 is all about strategy, and Box Hill’s worked well. Good, tight bowling meant only 10 extras were conceded in the innings. Before Plenty Valley could make amends, Box Hill struck again a short time later, removing Kate Shallard for just five.
Enter Kirsty Lamb and Alexandra Price, who set about building a partnership. None of the Box Hill bowlers were content to give Plenty Valley any width, and a quick one-two at the halfway mark of the innings was a definite indication the Mustangs were going to chase a sub 120 score.
After Lamb departed, Price continued putting balls all around the field, much to the dismay of Box Hill, who continued to persist to dismiss her. Ultimately, it was Cassie Brock who took a regulation caught and bowled to dismiss the stubborn right-hander. Brock’s contribution was a major part of the Box Hill win.
From there, the acceleration never came for the Bats, finishing on 109. Where the enthusiasm kicked off in the field, it continued with bat in hand. Although it took a while to kick into gear, Lanning and Rebecca Carter shared a well-built 53 run opening stand. Lanning continued to hit the bowlers to all parts, including one very clean six over long on. The final few overs saw the chase come down to the last six balls – Brock sealing the winning runs.
Catches win matches, and Box Hill took theirs – Plenty Valley never backed down from defending a small total, and, despite 18 extras, made Box Hill work for the runs. Field placement was also vital. However, timing was everything, and that was the winner for the Mustangs.
Game 2: Box Hill Mustangs v Dandenong
Box Hill 5/116 (A Lanning 49, Chancellor-Goddard 24*, J Hunter 2/20) lost to Dandenong 4/118 (Molineux 42, Applebee 29, Wright 2/23) by 6 wickets.
By the time 2.30pm rolled around, the air was warm and the breeze infrequent. Winning the toss and batting, Lanning and Carter wanted runs, but a beauty of a delivery from the experienced Julie Hunter squared Carter up LBW at 1/0.
Lanning decided to keep going from the first game, and that was to dispatch the bowlers with almost no mercy. Brock and Makinley Blows came in to help support, but the pressure in the field from Dandenong saw them back in the sheds at 3/36. Keen to get a go in the middle, Chancellor-Goddard excelled in her 67 run partnership with captain Lanning.
While they couldn’t get the spinners away, Emma Gallagher (1/24) and Sophie Molineux (0/12) leaked a few runs. Once again Lanning cleared the boundary with a booming six, while Chancellor-Goddard looked incredibly solid punching the ball into the gaps.
One over from Dandenong – which included seven wides – gifted Box Hill runs, but even with some late scoring it was only enough to get to 116.
Sometimes the smaller totals give lease to thrilling chases, and to put Dandenong on the back foot, Box Hill needed quick wickets. Molineux and Erica Kershaw had other ideas, the tactics the same as Box Hill – hit the bad balls for four and find all the available gaps.
Frustration was evident – and through the bowling of young Maddie Wright, the Mustangs struck, removing Kershaw for 19. Kelly Applebee joined Molineux, and no matter what happened, Box Hill just couldn’t find the breakthrough.
Wright struck again when Dandenong needed 26 within five overs, removing Molineux for a well made 42. The job was certainly not finished, and Box Hill sent Laura Croft back to the dressing room for five. Lanning struck again just a few minutes later, producing a pearler that sent Applebee’s off stump flying. At 4/106, and a limited number of balls to go, Box Hill were looking up and about.
Julie Hunter had struck with the ball, and through a lofted four so nearly caught on the boundary, won the game for Dandenong with one ball to spare. Right down to the last ball, the Mustangs continued to push to close all potential gaps and keep Dandenong on their toes.
Playing in the warmth can mean fatigue, however Box Hill coach Alan Carter said the players know what is expected of them.
“The girls are pretty accustomed to what they need to do to prepare for a day. Two Twenty20s in cricket terms is not as long as a 50 over game. They know they have to hydrate well in the lead up to the game, and keep going throughout.”
Runs are gold in Twenty20, and while more of them would have been ideal against Dandenong, the good bowling changed the outcome.
“The significant factor was that in the first eight overs, we lost three wickets. If you lose wickets regularly, it takes the momentum out of your innings. We had to consolidate before we moved on.”
Conditions –both the field and the players – in the first game against Plenty Valley meant that the game never completely swung to either side. Carter indicated that the intent wasn’t too let the game so close.
“We had wickets in hand, and needed a big over six or seven overs from the end. To their credit, they (Plenty Valley) bowled to their field and defended the shorter boundaries. That (first) wicket wasn’t top rate…it made it hard for the batter to take the bowler on.”
There has been a lot of “variety” in the Big Bash League when it comes to bowling, but at Box Hill, Carter wants the girls to “understand what they want to bowl, and the field they want to set.
“There are very few girls that bowl with genuine pace, so the one length that is not on is short, which would give the batsman time to pull and cut.” Strategy is to push the ball up onto a full and yorker length, but Carter believes there simply wasn’t enough good length balls bowled.
Anna Lanning, Captain
Box Hill’s First XI side is young, but it hasn’t stopped Lanning, 19, from making sure everyone got a go.
“In both games it was down to the wire, it was pretty challenging as a captain. You win some, you lose some…we played well but only won one, so it was a bit disappointing.”
Leading quite a young side isn’t a deterrence for Lanning, who has years of experience to draw on.
“I love captaining, and have been doing it since under-age sport. For me it comes naturally, sometimes I get a bit nervous in certain situations. I try and help the younger girls out where I can.”
Box Hill will play Essendon Maribyrnong Park next Saturday, January 18th at Aberfeldie Park. The conditions are set to be much cooler for the one day match.