Canterbury (Kent): Successive victories away at Yorkshire and Lancashire helped Kent clinch their eighth Women’s County Championship title after winning every game in the competition with one fixture left to play.
This result means that Kent will bring the trophy back after a three-year absence. The Tamsin Beaumont-led side’s final match will be a local derby clash against Sussex in Canterbury on June 2, where they will be crowned champions in front of a home crowd.
The game against Yorkshire on Monday started with Kent winning the toss and electing to field. Alice Davidson-Richards made the first breakthrough, taking the scalp of Lancashire captain Evelyn Jones for six. Emma Lamb and Georgie Boyce built a 45-run stand before Chelsey Rowson dismissed Lamb (33), who was caught behind by Beaumont.
Rowson then got rid of Boyce (20), who was also caught behind, before excellent bowling saw wickets spread around, including England international Sophie Ecclestone. Lancashire’s tail showed little resistance and were all out 161 in 49.2 overs. Rowson was the pick of Kent’s bowlers with figures of 4/24.
In reply, an opening stand of 48 between Beaumont and Davidson-Richards put Kent well ahead of the required rate to set up almost formulaic innings. No batter scored less than fifteen runs each as Fran Wilson finished top-scorer on 54 not out with four boundaries as Kent reached their target of 162 after losing only four wickets and in 43.5 overs.
Earlier, on Sunday, Kent came out victorious by just five runs against Yorkshire at Harrogate. Yorkshire won the toss and elected for field following a rain delay, the match was shortened to 36 overs per side.
Kent got off to the worst possible of starts as skipper Beaumont was out leg-before to England international Katherine Brunt for a four-ball duck in the first over. Alice Davidson-Richards (4) also fell cheaply, leaving Kent on 26/2.
Fran Wilson and Maxine Blythin put Kent back on the right track with a third-wicket stand of 55 before wickets fell at a steady pace. Kent managed a total of 121 all out in their 36 overs.
In reply, a solid start from Yorkshire was ended by all-rounder Laura Marsh as she took the wicket of wicketkeeper-batter Lauren Winfield (20). Off-spinner Megan Belt then took to Yorkshire’s middle order, running out Abbey Freeborn (13), bowling out Leigh Kasperek (0) and dismissing Alex MacDonald caught and bowled for three.
Great bowling to scupper Yorkshire’s scoring rate from all of Kent’s bowlers included Hannah Jelfs conceding just nine runs from her nine overs, including one maiden, and Chelsey Rowson letting only 14 runs slip from her seven overs, saw Yorkshire end five runs short of their target after their 36 overs.
Belt finished with figures of 3/20, Jelfs (1/9) and Davidson-Richards (1/34) also in the wickets.