Hungary host a very successful weekend of Women's cricket
Rain and sun, young and old, beginners and veterans - the II Anita-Hungaria Women's Cricket Festival in Hungary was a true weekend of contrasts. But in the end, the results were close and the atmosphere electric as girls and women from five countries came together to play cricket, make friends and enjoy the whole experience.
The 2009 version of the Festival had a French women's team come to Budapest for two matches. This time around, the invitation went round to every country in Europe and 24 players travelled to play on 27th-29th August - 11 from Belgium, 5 from Serbia, 4 from Austria and 4 from Germany.
The rain on Friday night meant that two men's matches were cancelled in Budapest on Saturday, but it didn't stop the women from travelling to Szolnok for a 6-a-side indoor tournament. The reason for the journey was to give the girls of eastern Hungary the chance to play some international cricket. Coaching has been given in Szolnok and Bekescsaba for over two years, but this was the biggest day for their girls so far.
Poppy and Danielle were in great form all day for Belgium 1, hitting 135 points between them to help their team win all four matches. Yasmin hit 56 for Austria/Germany and Jelena got 39 points for Serbia.
Jani came good with the ball after a slow start, pipping Brigi to the most wickets title. Agnes took 4 for Hungary (3 of them caught by Fanni, the joint leading catcher).
All in all a fantastic day of non-stop cricket, 10 matches in 5 hours with coaching in the corridor outside. Just what the coaches ordered for the players to be ready for Sunday's outdoor action...
In the first match Belgium put Hungary into bat and squeezed them with some tight bowling. It was only when Brigi replaced the retired Nora (14) to partner Claudia (22 not out) that the runs came and the score was doubled in the last 5 overs. Half of the 98-1 total came from extras, many thanks to aggressive Hungarian running.
In contrast to the Hungarian innings, Belgium got off to a flyer, with Poppy and Sue dominating the bowling. Sue was dropped once, helping her stay at the crease to hit 7 boundaries. When she was caught by Brigi for 40 in the 10th over, the target was already in sight and Danielle assisted Poppy over the line with 3 overs to spare. All the bowlers leaked boundaries, but Niki's debut performance with the ball was impressive.
Hungary then played the Austria/Germany/Serbia team and batted first. They again got off to a slow but steady start, with the runs mainly coming from extras (51 in total). Nora and Mirtyll put on 21 for the first wicket, Zics Nora and Balogh Claudia combined for a 34-run partnership, but then three quick wickets fell to leave the team in trouble. Dobrentei Zsuzsa then reached double figures, but her 11 was the top score in a disappointing batting display to end on 79-5.
Twelve runs off the first over got them off to a strong start, but after Brigi bowled Georgina and Nigina in the fifth over, the run-rate was always lower than Hungary's. Three of the team's best batswomen were then run out, meaning Hungary only had to control the extras to win. Claudia bowled the final over, with Austria needing 9 to win, but they couldn't do it and Hungary had the victory.
Brigi's 3-5 off three overs was fantastic and Niki impressed again with just 13 coming off her 3 overs. Despite some basic fielding errors, the team gelled together to pull off the win.
The final match of the weekend saw Belgium bat first, but this time their best young players failed with the bat to leave them in disarray at 16-4 off 5 overs. Sue came to the rescue with three boundaries in her 20, but the remaining six batswomen all failed to score, meaning that they only reached 70-9 off their 15 overs. That was easy for Austria/Germany/Serbia, with captain Jani hitting a masterful 22.
So, each team won once on Sunday. According to net run rate Austria were the overall winners, with Belgium second and Hungary third, but everybody agreed to call it a tie.
Thanks to sponsors Anita Hungaria (distributors of sports, pregnancy and care lingerie and swimwear) and Comenius School in Szekesfehervar, each player received a medal and an Anita goodie bag, with the best players receiving cups and other players receiving mugs and certificates for their contributions to a wonderful weekend of cricket.
Next year Belgium have promised to hold a similar event and the Austrians also said they would - so, next year Europe's female cricketers will have lots of travelling to do!