Jersey aim to build on record-breaking week of cricket

Jersey aim to build on record-breaking week of cricket
Jersey won three and lost two of their matches during the week

A record-breaking week for Jersey's cricketers, as they hosted the ICC Women's T20 World Cup Qualifier, didn't quite have the fairytale ending they were hoping for. But proud head coach Lee Meloy believes this is "just the start" for this group of players and an exciting future lies ahead.

Wins over Italy, Turkey and Sweden were interspersed with defeats against Germany and France, as the young Lionesses finished third in the table behind the Italians and the French, who both progress to the next stage on the road to Bangladesh 2024.

This was memorable week for this youthful Jersey side though. The improvements in the past few years, under Meloy's watchful eye, were clear to see in all three disciplines. Massive strides forward have been made in the batting, bowling and fielding departments.

"Some of the girls, when I first started, were just 13 years old and hadn’t really had much coaching," he told, reflecting on the progress made to reach this level.

"They've put in the hard work and stuck together. Where we've come from, there to now, is a very long way. It's just such a tender age still for the majority of the squad, there's really a lot of excitement for the future but the skills are where they need to be now.

"For now, it's about pushing them to keep improving and adding that layer of experience that they need to continue their development."

A comfortable opening-day win over Italy, who were bowled out for just 42 runs, would understandably have raised expectations among the home supporters, who turned out in excellent numbers all week at Grainville and FB Fields.

Grace Wetherall fielding for Jersey
Grace Wetherall was amongst the record breakers for Jersey

A nine-wicket loss to the Germans was to follow though, but even in that heavy defeat there were international records to cheer and celebrate. The superb unbroken partnership of 101 between Analise Merritt and Grace Wetherall was a new women's T20 international (T20I) record for a seventh wicket stand. Wetherall's 57* featured 10 boundaries and made her the first woman batting at number eight to score a T20I half century.

This was a team striding through new territory and reaching new heights even in defeat.

They bounced back later that afternoon, returning to winning ways by chasing down a Turkey target of 53 in just six overs. And so, to a crunch game against near neighbours France. As cries of "Allez les Bleus" rang out from the boundary edge at FB Fields, the French posted 110-8, with Wetherall again impressing, this time with three of the wickets.

With seven overs of the chase remaining, Jersey were languishing on 63-6. They looked out of it, but a Wetherall six down the ground and a final-over four to fine leg off the bat of Mia Maguire left the hosts needing eight from the last four deliveries with just the one wicket left. Game on. It's the hope that kills you.

With balls ticking away, the final pair - who had already put on an impressive 15-run last-wicket partnership - looked for a quick two. They weren't the only ones in the ground who would have gone for that second run, albeit relying on a French fielding mistake or a fumble. It was a gamble too far, despite a valiant lunge for the line. The French had won by just six runs and Jersey were left relying on results elsewhere if they were to progress.

Jersey batting
Jersey's six-run loss to France left them relying on other results

In a week dominated by windy weather, that loss to France could easily have knocked the wind out of Jersey's sails. But the hosts were to lift themselves again with a dominant victory over the Swedes on the final day of competition. It was another record-breaking outing, with captain Chloe Greechan becoming the first Jersey woman to take five wickets in a T20I.

Greechan had top-scored with 27 in Jersey's total of 129-7, before her figures of 4-3-4-5 played a key role in bowling Sweden out for just 21 inside 10 overs. The 108-run margin of victory helped Jersey finish with the best net run rate in the tournament (+2.674).

Meloy added: "The biggest [learning] we'll take is handling the pressure. The home crowd were superb all week, we were delighted with the support we received and we were very grateful for it. At the same time, that can create an extra layer of pressure that they haven't necessarily experienced before. That's certainly something that we'll take the learning from and start really delving into how they can fall back on that experience in the future.

"Other than that, it's understanding that we belong at that level, if not the level above, believing that we are a good enough team to get out of that group. I think the results show that, finishing with the highest net run rate, and a convincing victory against Italy, who ended up getting promoted."

Three wins from five, not quite enough to continue on the World Cup journey this time, but with youth on their side there's a sense that more big opportunities for this squad lie just around the corner.

"If we can keep this group together for as long as possible, they're only going to improve. Later this year we'll be travelling to Holland to play them in a three-game series which'll be really tough opposition for us, and a bit of exposure at Division 1 level," said Meloy.

"The more cricket we play, the more overs they bowl, the more time they spend in the middle, they're only going to improve as cricketers. It's just the start for this group and there'll be plenty of ICC cricket to come. It's a very exciting project to be a part of."

ICC Women's T20 World Cup Europe Division 2 Qualifier 2023

  1. France - 8 points
  2. Italy - 8 Points
  3. Jersey - 6 points
  4. Germany - 6 points
  5. Sweden - 2 points
  6. Turkey - 0 points