The 2017 season – as well as being remembered for the club playing back in the top flight of the Devon County League – will also be fondly remembered for it seeing the reincarnation of ladies’ cricket at Kensham Park.
There was ‘serious’ ladies’ cricket back in the early 1990s, but this year, thanks to an initial drive by the ECB (English Cricket Board), who launched a concept known as ‘Wine and Wickets’, the club has been able to launch a ladies’ team once more – and the idea looks to be gathering so much momentum that, in 2018, there may well be two ladies’ teams representing the club – one in league cricket and one to be used for friendly cricket and introducing yet more ladies to the sport!
The driving force at ‘Ninch’ is a young woman who was brought up in a cricketing family – it’s Megan Acton, daughter of Chris and Bridgette Acton and granddaughter of club president – the Bradninch CC legend that is Roy Nott.
Megan was well-schooled in cricket at a young age, but her passion for the sport waned when she was 15 – but now, a decade on – the love for the game is rekindled and she has found similar in an increasing number of lady cricketers in and around the club.
“It’s got to be done, hasn’t it? I thought that as I am part of what is a terrific social side around the senior cricketing section, and my entire family are involved in one way or another, it seemed the sensible thing to join them!
The next step was to put together a team and that was fairly easy for I soon found lots of like-minded ladies keen to get something going.”
“The next logical step was the speak with my Dad…
[Chris Acton – another legend of the willow and the leather at Kensham Park],
… and he suggested that my first port of call ought to be Nat [BCC colts’ section supremo Natalie Hunt], and she was certainly the ‘perfect’ person to go and see first and, without too much further ado, we had formed a BCC ladies’ team committee and, as a ladies’ team, we have been playing since the middle of June.
The ladies first registered with the Devon Cricket Board’s ECB-inspired Wine and Wickets scheme and, after a number of sessions, we were able to head into our first action – a Ladies’ Cricket Festival meeting at Abbotskerswell.”
Given that the team had only had the aforementioned couple of sessions prior to the Festival (a day-long event that saw a number of other ladies’ teams meet each other in soft ball action), the Ninch ladies did superbly well to win two of their three games.
That first Ninch ladies’ squad comprised: Megan Acton (captain), Roxy Phillips, Carrian Jones, Rebecca Eccles, Victoria West, Abby Hayes, Paula Rovira and Autumn Sharpe.
“On Tuesday nights we hold our Bradninch Ladies’ training sessions from 7pm to 9pm. We have so far had about 26 ladies come up popping in and out with about 16 committed ladies who turn up every week.
The wicket and wine DCB promotion has now finished, but as the girls are so committed we are carrying on these sessions until mid-September and then, fingers-crossed will then be carrying on our training sessions indoor through the winter (location is yet to be confirmed).
To date my dad [Chris Acton] and Bryn Jones have coached us on every Tuesday evening and we have also been given great help with the likes of James Yeabsley, the Bradninch men’s 1st XI skipper Gary Chappell along with 1st XI players Andrew Buzza and Tim Piper.”
The ladies still have plenty of action to face staring with a Sunday, August 13th game at Sandford, followed, two days later (August 15th) with a Tuesday evening meeting with Sidmouth at Kensham Park.
There’s a Friday, August 18th match at Sidmouth before a Sunday, September 3rd softball tournament at Paignton CC and, the icing on the cake, looks to be a Bradninch CC Ladies’ Cricket Festival at Kensham Park on Saturday, September 16th.
“I am the captain of the Bradninch Ladies’ team and have decided that, for the remainder of this season, we will include in our games any lady who wants to train [all-comers are always welcome to the Tuesday evening sessions), but that will change next year as we intend to enter a league when it gets a little more serious.
That said, we’ll also run a second team which will mean we can offer cricket to all standards – the better players can play in the league side and the aspiring cricketers and others can enjoy their action in the friendly team.
We have a great group of ladies that come up and join in, they are all very enthusiastic, are striving to develop and most want to be playing in a league – so that’s what we will deliver for them.”