Europe’s leading women cricketers will be pitted against each other in two forms of the game in Utrecht next week, with hosts The Netherlands, Ireland and Scotland playing each other in both Twenty20 and 50-over formats.
The ICC European Women’s Championships, at the Kampong club’s Maarschalkerweerd ground, will open with three T20 games on Monday to be followed by three one-day games on 17-19 August. Since Ireland and The Netherlands holding ODI status, the match between them on 17 August will be a full ODI.
Having never lost to either of their rivals in any European tournament, Ireland have a proud record to defend, and they will go into the competition as clear favourites. They have, however, selected a relatively inexperienced squad, including only five of the side which won the ICC European Women’s World Cup qualifier in Stirling last season.
That said, the country’s strength in depth is reflected in the fact that nine of the squad have already played in ODIs, and in Isobel Joyce the side will have a captain of immense international experience. Joyce will lead a batting line-up which also includes Louise McCarthy, Shauna Kavanagh and Kim Garth, at 15 already the veteran of 10 ODIs.
A largely medium-pace attack will feature McCarthy, Amy Kenealy and Laura Delany, and there will be interest in the performances of 13-year-old Elena Tice, the baby of the tournament, who has appeared in two of Ireland A team’s ECB county championship matches this season.
The Netherlands, by contrast, have retained nine of last year’s WCQ squad, and have strengthened the side by recalling opening bowler Jolet Hartenhof, who was unavailable in 2010. Also included is batsman Carolien Salomons, who announced her retirement from international cricket last winter, but has again made herself available for selection.
Having recently won their section of the ECB Women’s Twenty20 Cup competition, the Dutch will go into this tournament with plenty of confidence, and it may indeed represent their best opportunity for many years to post a victory over their Irish rivals.
Newcomers to the full squad are bowlers Leonie Bennett and Maxime Entrop, joining an attack which also includes Laura Brouwers, Esther Lanser and spinner Esther de Lange, while the batting will rely on the experience of captain Helmien Rambaldo, Salomons, and Violet Wattenberg, as well as the extremely promising Miranda Veringmeier.
Scotland, too, have a good balance of experience and youth, including five teenagers in their squad. Three of them – wicketkeeper Laura Jack and all-rounders Samantha Haggo and Leigh Kasperek – also played last year, while the newcomers are batters Priyanaz Chatterji and Lois Wilkinson.
The side will be led by Kari Anderson, who has played more than 50 times for her country, and also includes left-armer Sahar Aslam, wicketkeeper Dianne Pedgrift and allrounder Fiona Urquhart, all of whom were absent last year.
The Scots have been steadily rebuilding their women’s side over recent seasons, and will be looking to mount a serious challenge to their more established opponents in the Utrecht tournament. The experience they have built up in rising to Division 3 of the ECB county championship will no doubt stand them in good stead, and there is every reason to anticipate a week of consistently competitive cricket.