Quizzed on which players impressed him during Nottinghamshire Women’s T20 season, in which they won all five playable games and secured the East Midlands title in the process, Martyn Kiel rattles off names.
Michaela Kirk, Maddie Ward and Amelia Kite get an initial mention before the Head Coach takes stock of all 15 players who represented the Green and Golds during the duration of the campaign.
“I think there is almost three elements to the team”, the head coach says, referencing the characters within the Notts set-up.
The varying experience of players within the squad reflects the restructuring of the domestic cricket; the county game now providing the pathway between clubs, academies and regional representation.
The likes of Sophie Munro and Sonia Odedra represent one group within the Notts team, both are preparing to play for Lightning and in The Hundred for London Spirit and Southern Brave respectively.
“They want to perform, nail down their places for later in the year and get overs under their belts in a competitive environment," says Kiel.
“In the middle, there are those players for whom Nottinghamshire cricket is their bread and butter, so they want to make the most of it. For various reasons, regional cricket and The Hundred is not an option for them.
“The third element is those younger players. They want to secure their place in the Nottinghamshire team and keep pushing on to get to where that top band is.”
That Notts were able to garner so much success whilst catering for a range of requirements is testament to the talent within the side, as well as a concerted effort to provide opportunities, forced, in one sense, by having a large pool of seam bowling talent.
“With fewer spin bowling options compared to previous years, Sonia [Odedra] had to manage the bowling to create variety in a different way – short spells, keeping the opposition guessing and moving between bowlers.”
Miserly bowling became something of a refrain during the month-long season, over the course of which Notts were scheduled to play four double-headers against Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire.
In the five completed games, opponents only posted a score of over one hundred once.
“We talked about bowling wicket to wicket and maintaining our line and length,” recalls Kiel.
“Where it proved most important was the close game against Leicestershire at Market Overton [Notts won by six runs] where it was a slow wicket, there had been a lot of rain around that week, and it was always going to be a turgid game.
“If we weren’t going to bowl them out, we were going to have to keep the runs down and keep them from getting to the score by not letting them pick up any momentum.”
Pleasingly for Kiel, experience punctuated the prevalence of youth throughout the side, which provided the younger players with the opportunity to learn and develop.
Lightning Academy players Maddie Ward, Rhiannon Knowling-Davies and Ella Porter were all exposed to competetive senior county cricket.
“For someone like Maddie, having those older players around was fantastic. She had the opportunity to observe how they go about their business on and off the field,” Kiel says.
16-year-old Ward became a mainstay behind the stumps and exhibited her confidence standing up to the entirety of Notts’ attack.
“Rhiannon now knows what she needs to do if she wants to bowl more overs and play more games, and Ella has been able to see how the players at the top of the order go about their business, like Yvonne’s [Graves] innings against Derbyshire where she got 42 in no time.”
Kiel’s delight didn’t stop at seeing the homegrown players excel. Kirk and Kite both came from further afield to don the Green and Gold for the first time, and flourished.
“Michaela came over from South Africa into slightly alien conditions in north Nottinghamshire, having been picked up by the Trent Rockets.
“She made her debut in some friendlies against Yorkshire, and I remember, quite vividly, she walked in to face her first ball for the club and pulled it through mid-wicket for four. It made everyone sit up and take notice. She walked in and exuded confidence from the start.
“The way she moves, she is an athlete, it’s been easy to slot her in at four, and she has shown what she is capable of. Hopefully she goes on and has a decent season for the Lightning and the Rockets.
“Amelia is also someone who you can just throw the ball to, and whether she is opening, bowling in the middle overs or at the death, she quietly goes about her business and will bowl her four overs for not many runs.
“She came on loan from Warwickshire a couple of years ago having been at Worcestershire before that, and has now made a permanent move, but she is still in her second year at university. She will be knowing on the door of regional cricket if she continues to perform.”
Having waxed lyrical about the stars of his squad and the progression opportunities for his young guns, Kiel is able reflect on what was, regardless of the wins on the pitch, a success off it.
“Having been in lockdown the season has, importantly, been really fun,” he says candidly.
“It’s been great to have everybody back together after the winter we have had. It has put the squad in a good place for next year with an exciting mix of homegrown Notts players, those who have kicked onto the regional stuff and also the players that are trying to make their way through.”
Until then, Kiel will assume coaching responsibilities for the Notts’ women under 18s side with several of those who represented the senior team among them.
He will also watch, with interest, how those who represented Nottinghamshire in the summer's infancy will fare in the inaugural versions of the regional white ball competition and The Hundred.