Nottinghamshire Women’s new season begins this weekend with Head Coach Martyn Kiel hoping the squad can retain the strong team unity from last year that helped them earn T20 promotion.
The side open up with a double header of one-day away fixtures – against Hampshire at Havant on Sunday and Somerset at Nailsea on Monday.
They go into those matches with a squad showing considerable changes from 2017. Rebecca Widdowson has gone travelling, Natasha Allen has joined Derbyshire, Rosie Penford is taking time away from cricket and Jane Smith has retired.
All-rounder Teresa Graves, meanwhile, has signed on loan from Yorkshire, offering options with both bat and ball.
But other familiar faces in the squad remain – and Kiel believes the ability of a number of squad members chipping in at different points will decide their fortunes.
“The cohesion of the squad was also an important factor last year and all 12 in the current squad are key this time,” he said. “Our strength is the sum of our parts and players sharing the workload and everyone making contributions when it counts.
“Standing up and being counted rather than expecting someone else to do it for you is really important.
“We will miss Jane Smit who has retired after an amazing career. She was the heartbeat of the team behind the stumps and batting in the middle order.
“It wasn’t an easy decision for her to make, but it was important Jane retired on her own terms. Her contribution to the women’s game has been immense.
“But the gaps left behind present opportunities for players to make those positions their own.
“Last year players performed when it counted and performances were shared around the group. On debut Sophie Munro came in and took a five-fer against Middlesex and won us the game after Sonia Odedra and Georgie Boyce’s opening stand up set the game.
“Likewise Sonia and Yvonne Graves' partnership against Yorkshire on the last day set up the run chase. We’ll be looking for more of the same this year.”
The pool of professional players in the women’s game is currently much smaller than that in the men’s, which presents its challenges in terms of preparation and training.
But Kiel is pleased with the way the team have acquitted themselves over the winter ready for their new campaign and said: “We have players with various commitments, as is the nature of women’s county cricket - school, university, other cricket commitments.
“It can be tough at times. However, when we have all been together we’ve worked hard.
“We’re now just excited to get the season going on the road this weekend. It’s been a long winter indoors and the recent wet weather hasn’t been ideal, but we’ll be ready to start tomorrow morning.”
The Women play the majority of their home games at Welbeck CC – the venue for the men’s first team Royal London One-Day Cup game against Northamptonshire Steelbacks on 20 May.
Kiel is looking for steady improvement from the side in both formats – one-day and T20.
“We’d like to be more consistent in one-day cricket and, as I said at the end of last season, we need to continue where we left off in T20 cricket,” he said. “Ultimately, in order to achieve these things, we know people need to score runs and take wickets.
“Our aims will be to achieve consistency in one-day results and hopefully improving on our fourth place finish, while also holding our own in T20 cricket after last season’s promotion.
“It would also be fantastic to see those involved in Kia Super League and England Women’s Academy have successful summers after the conclusion of the county season as well.”
Nottinghamshire Women's squad to face Hampshire and Somerset: Sonia Odedra (c) Georgie Boyce, Megan Burton, Jodie Dibble, Amy Gauvrit, Kirstie Gordon, Teresa Graves, Yvonne Graves, Lucy Higham, Hannah Hughes, Pavan Landa and Sophie Munro.
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