This was a repeat of the previous year’s final between two sides at full strength with 16 County players involved and a close match anticipated.
Abbots elected to field on winning the toss. Knebworth’s opening pair Catherine Cirkel (17no) supported by Emma Jones (7no) got the team off to a flier with 26 runs and no loss of wicket.
Abbots fought back with 4 wickets in the next couple of phases to keep Knebworth in check. By the 16th over the score got up to just above 240 with some determined boundary fielding to keep the score in check. Knebworth’s last pair Charlotte Wilde (19 not out) and Izzy Cloke(13 not out) came out all guns blazing to get the host’s score to a competitive 277 limited only by some excellent ground fielding.
Millie Dyer was the pick of the bowlers 3 overs for 9 runs including 1 wicket.
Abbots started steady scoring 18 runs in the first 4 overs but losing 2 wickets put Knebworth in front at this stage. Karmi Parmar played well for her 11 not out supported by Tess Foley.
The third pair Elizabeth Ruxton and Millie Hughes turned the tide slightly in Abbots favour by the end of the 10th over has the score reached 239 – with another 39 runs to get in the remaining 10 overs. The 11th over proved pivotal as captain Elizabeth Ruxton hit one delivery over the midwicket boundary which was followed by 4 byes to get the run rate down. Knebworth aware of the situation brought on their quick bowler, Emma Jones back to get some wickets- Elizabeth’s partner Millie doing a determined job to fend off the bowling.
Evie Bourne and Keya Patel continued the good work, not losing a wicket and scoring above the required rate to get the score up to 275 after 16 overs. Jessica Biggerstaff fresh (?) from the All England Schools Athletic Championship in Gateshead the day before and Nicole had the job to get the score over the line.
The scores when levelled with an easy single to square leg but fell back 5 runs after a misfield from the wicket keeper Izzy led to a run out when a second run was attempted. This lead to a tense but intriguing 3 more overs for the spectators and players alike with a game of cat and mouse between the two teams led to the scoring limited to the occasional single and one wide.
With two balls remaining Abbots crept up to 5 runs ahead – and on blocking the last 2 balls out held onto the winning margin. The game was played in good spirits and the event was very well organised with a well prepared wicket which encouraged the good standard of cricket played with refreshments available for players and spectators alike through the day.
The Audrey Collins Shield was awaited to the winners has in past years by the St Albans Soroptimists who have supported girls cricket in the County for a number of years now.