An important initiative in fostering European women’s cricket became a reality in Utrecht over the weekend, when a combined Continental XI, assembled by Belgium’s Patrick Demaerschalk and drawing its players from six different countries, took on a Dutch Invitation XI in a series of Twenty20 matches.

The programme was originally intended to comprise four games, but the record-breaking summer storm which assailed the Netherlands on Saturday ensured that only one innings of the first of the day’s two matches could actually take place that day.

Put in to bat after Continental XI skipper Claudia Balogh won the toss, the local side got off to an excellent start with an opening partnership of 87 in under 11 overs between captain Sterre Kalis and wicketkeeper Mireille van Haaren.

Van Haaren was eventually bowled by Belgium’s Shweta Sinha for 22 and Roos Sillevis was dismissed soon afterwards, trapped in front by Linne Østergaard, but Kalis continued in tandem with co-captain Lisa Klokgieters. They pushed the score on to 135 before Klokgieters went for 26, but Kalis continued to the end, remaining undefeated on 66.

For the Continental XI bowlers, who did well in the end to contain the home side to 149 for four, it was mostly about damage limitation. Balogh tried nine bowlers, the most successful of whom were Austria’s Andrea Zepeda, whose three overs cost just 13 runs, Camilla Østergaard (one for 16 from three) and Rebecca Blake (one for 22 from three).

All in all, it was an encouraging start, but before the visitors could embark on their chase the rain began to fall, and the rest of the day was devoted to observing the slowly passing storm, team-building discussions, and watching the Dutch men’s side getting the better of Ireland in Dublin.

By agreement the unfinished match was completed on Sunday morning, in bright sunshine and on Kampong’s second ground.

The Continental XI found the Dutch bowling a challenge, and were dismissed for 56 within 12 overs. Sinha top-scored with 19, while for the home side leg-spinner Silver Siegers claimed three wickets for 3 runs.

With this revision to the original schedule, it was agreed to play just one further game on Sunday, in the somewhat unconventional format of a two-innings match, each innings comprising 15 overs.

Again batting first, the Dutch XI reached 63 for four in their initial stint at the crease, Kalis again leading the way with an unbeaten 35 and sharing an opening stand of 39 with Van Haaren.

But the Continental XI did much better at their second attempt, and a defiant partnership between Blake and Camilla Østergaard saw them through to 71 before Blake was run out by Siegers with a side-on direct hit off the final ball before lunch.

She had made 26, while for the home side Lisa Klokgieters took two for 9 in three overs.

Resuming with a deficit of eight runs, the Dutch women made 76 for five in their second innings, thanks to a contribution of 17 from Kalis before she retired and a useful partnership in the closing overs between Van Haaren and Jetske Parée. Camilla and Linne Østergaard picked up two wickets apiece, at a cost of 11 and 10 runs respectively.

This left the visitors with 69 to make, but they suffered an early setback when Klokgieters removed both openers in the first over. She added another in her next, and with a run-out into the bargain the Continental side found themselves on 9 for four.

They never really recovered and with Gibraltar’s Christine McNally and Dutch guest player Nicole Zegers the only batters to reach double figures, they were all out in 12.3 overs for just 52. Klokgieters finished with three for 3.

With a Dutch side which combined teenagers from the Lionesses programme and more experienced club players – not to mention three members of the national side – the Continental team gained a great deal of valuable experience, and Demaerschalk was more than satisfied with the first fruits of his initiative.

The scores:
Match 1
Netherlands Invitation XI 149-4 (20 overs, SL Kalis 66)
Continental XI 56 (11. Overs, SNL Siegers 3-3)
Netherlands Invitation XI won by 93 runs

Match 2
Netherlands Invitation XI 63-4 (15 overs, SL Kalis 35*) and 76-5 (15 overs)
Continental XI 71-5 (15 overs) and 52 (12.3 overs)
Netherlands Invitation XI won by 16 runs.