By Luke Voogt
Geelong’s top female cricket side has made history by winning its first game in a local men’s comp.
Geelong Cricket Club women’s first XI beat Aireys Inlet Surf Coast’s thirds by 18 runs in the One Day South retire 50s competition on Saturday.
“We were really excited,” Geelong women’s cricket director and player Sarah Pike said.
“We went in with a really strong game plan and an absolute intention to win.”
The win advances the side’s chances of debuting in Premier Cricket Victoria’s women’s league next season.
“We’re definitely ready to face some tougher women’s competition,” Pike said.
“Initially, it was never about winning for us this season. But our time in the men’s comp has accelerated our improvement so much.”
Previously, the team had played in the Women’s Community Cricket Competition against clubs in Melbourne.
But with last year’s COVID-19 restrictions limiting travel, the club joined GCA’s retire 100s competition, before being demoted to the retire 50s.
“We struggled with the adjustment of playing against women to playing against men,” Pike said.
“The challenge is the pure strength of the men’s batting.
“They hit the ball so much harder, so our bowlers really have to be on song with line and length.
“If we don’t we get punished – if we bowl short we’ll get hit for six.
“We can’t just have a bad day in the field, we’ve got to go out every day switched on or else they’ll hit boundaries.
“We’re against some players that have been playing two or three times longer than some of our girls have been alive.”
A turning point came in their previous game against Aireys Inlet, where they lost by 73 runs chasing 218 despite having eight wickets in hand.
“There have been some moments when we’ve thought, ‘what are we doing?’” Pike said.
“We had that moment where we realised we didn’t have to just bat the 40 overs.
“We’ve improved our batting, now let’s start pushing for these runs and giving these guys a run for their money.
“Once we were getting through the overs it was like, ‘we need to consistently get more than 100’. Then the goal became to consistently get more than 150.”
Renee Cox and Paris Bowdler both made 50* (retired) to help the Cats post 5/178.
Aireys Inlet captain Paul Rossiter made 40, but the tight bowling of Jazz Fisher (1/13), Marni Luhrs (3/25) and Jasmine Thomas (3/29) left the Stingrays needing about 10 an over at the death.
Mick Kelly (24* off 27), and some incredible cross-bat slogging from former club man of the year Tim Eden (22* off 17), almost ruined the women’s fairytale win.
“I didn’t get excited until the last three balls, when we knew it was mathematically impossible,” Pike said.
Rossiter praised the women on their “huge improvement” over the season.
“Their fielding is always good and their batting is smart and disciplined,” he said.
“They deserved the win, bowled tight – excellent line and length – and their top three or four batters are super solid.
“They’ll worry a few sides next season; after their experience [in the men’s competition] they will only get better.”