The legend that cricket originated in Belgium never fails to bring a smile to our faces, no much more so than the tale that over arm bowling was invented so as to enable women in huge skirts to play the game.
Women’s cricket in Belgium has been on the ascendancy in the last few years, due in no small part to the initiative of the Royal Brussels Cricket Club, who have played an active role in the encouragement and development of women’s cricket. 2013 was a significant year. The Belgian team showed enthusiasm and spirit, training hard in order to prepare for a European T20 competition in Bologna over the summer. The team will continue to improve on its performance in 2014, taking part in a number of international friendlies. The season will culminate in a European T20 tournament in Berlin during the summer, where Belgium will face the likes of Germany, Jersey, Denmark, Italy, Hungary, Gibraltar and France.
Belgium Women in Bologna For European T20 Tournament
I’m pleased to report that the Ladies tournament in Bologna in August 2013 was a roaring success from the perspective of both the Belgian team and women’s cricket in Europe. Overall, Belgium came (joint) third in the tournament but everyone, even the winning Italian side, consider the result of the tournament to be a footnote to what the tournament actually achieved. It brought together five teams from across the continent to play some amazing cricket, share ideas and experiences and show the boys how tournaments should be played, on and off the pitch.
Belgium first met Gibraltar, through a combination of nerves and inexperience Belgium frustratingly did not quite manage to put enough runs on the board, field tightly enough or bowl straight enough to win the very, very close game only won in the 19th over of the second innings.
Belgium met the home team Italy second; the Italian team played a level of cricket that quite frankly outclassed Belgium (and the other teams!) with bowling and batting never previously experienced by our ladies. It was such a pleasure to watch Ladies cricket being played to such high standard that there was no disappointment from the Belgian Ladies in defeat.
On the third day, Belgium met Estonia in the morning and Denmark in the afternoon. In the first game of the day, Belgium achieved their first victory, rewardingly meeting the runs put on the board by Estonia in the 17th over with 4 wickets to spare. The game was well matched and thoroughly enjoyable with friendly competition and great inter-team camaraderie by the end of the game.
In the second game of the day, Belgium met the extremely strong Danish team. With some extremely high quality batting the Danes set an extremely high target which Belgium failed to match in their innings given the aggressive fielding tactics adopted by the Danes.
The stand out players on the Belgian side were RBCC’s Nicky Thrupp who batted and bowled in every game and came in fourth on the overall tournament leader board for batting; and RBCC’s Carly Hicks for some terrific bowling under immense pressure and who came in fourth in the overall tournament leader board for wicket taking.
Everyone on the Belgium team can be proud of themselves for their performance but also the improvement that they showed over the four games. Everything from the batting partnerships to the backing-up in the field and the team cry were organised, focused and united by the end of the fourth day. Simply being on the field for four games translated things that Fazil has explained to us into instinctive reactions and made us twice the players we were when we arrived.
At the start we were categorically one of the least experienced teams in terms of match practice, I think if we had had more practice games then we could have beaten Gibraltar and had more of a fighting chance against Denmark. The tournament has highlighted the importance of us building relationships with other teams in France and the Netherlands and of setting up other female teams in Belgium to get more critical match practice.
Fazil has been a fantastic coach over the last months, the fact that we won the game that we did is entirely down to the time and effort he put into our team.
Sara Ashall (National Team Captain)