For the first time this season we have a full complement of fixtures from Sprint Coatings Division One, as all 8 teams take the field tonight in what are set to be four excellent ties.
Malahide host Clontarf with both sides yet to win a league game so far this season. Both have fallen at the hands of Leinster, in games where the champions have shown just why they are chasing a fourth consecutive title this season.
Malahide’s batting power will be tested against a strong, controlled Clontarf bowling attack, led by captain Emma Butler, and leg-spinner Cara Murray, both of whom have controlled their bowling well so far in the face of some top-quality batting. Malahide meanwhile haven’t lost many wickets, just 7 in their 2 league games so far, if their opening pair can set another solid platform, they’ll have a good chance to score enough runs to win this game, if not, they’ll risk being smothered by the ‘Tarf bowling attack.
KEY BATTLE: Caoimhe McCann vs Emma Butler
YMCA get their season underway with a trip to The Hills, a side who are much improved since last season and gave Merrion a far from welcoming start to the season last week. Given the Sandymount side haven’t yet taken the field this season, they will need to hit the ground running if they are to get off to a winning start.
YM are led by Gaby Lewis, who’s runs will be crucial as ever in a young, but still experienced side. Sarah Forbes has made an impact in the Super Series already this season, and alongside Robyn Lewis make up a very strong trio at the top of the batting order. Whilst with ball in hand, they’ll hope to call on Lucy O’Reilly’s skills to give them the upper hand in tight spells in the game. For the Skerries side, Katie Boylan and Jane Maguire were excellent with ball in hand last week, and they’ll need wickets from one or both of their opening pair to keep that explosive YM top 3 under control.
KEY BATTLE: Jane Maguire vs Gaby Lewis
Pembroke host Phoenix in the first of two ties between two unbeaten sides this week. There’s set to be a real ding-dong in some international battles in this game, with some excellent performances from various Ireland players having seen both sides off to winning starts in the league campaign.
Phoenix’s top order is where their strength lies, Georgina Dempsey and Lara Maritz have shown the ability to find the boundary regularly, with Maritz dismissed just once in three innings so far, amassing 228 runs in the process. She will be a massive factor for the inexperienced Phoenix side if they are to score enough runs to see off the Pembroke experience and batting talents of Orla Prendergast, Shauna Kavanagh and Clare Shillington who all looked in good touch in their opening day victory. It’s likely this game will be won and lost in the PowerPlays in each innings, if Pembroke can get a couple of early wickets and dismiss Maritz, one would have to feel they are a big chance of being the side still unbeaten at the end of the night, if not, Phoenix will have to fancy themselves, and their strong seam attack, to overpower the ‘Broke.
KEY BATTLE: Orla Prendergast vs Lara Maritz
The game of the day takes place at Anglesea Road, where Merrion welcome Leinster in what is always a fantastic game of cricket. There’s set to be plenty of talent on show on both sides, Merrion last week taking the field with four of the current Ireland squad in their ranks, including their captain Leah Paul, who was again kind enough to give us some thoughts about the game this week;
"We are excited at the prospect of playing Leinster tonight and the challenge that playing them always brings. They have an experienced batting and bowling lineup which we are looking forward to taking on."
There are challenges that her side will know all too well in the Leinster side, and Leah was quick to point to a couple of players they are particularly wary of;
“Sophie MacMahon and Jenny Sparrow are an attacking threat with the bat, and are key wickets we will be looking to take early. It will be weird to play against International and Super Series teammates, who all know eachother inside out."
Merrion will be ready for a proper battle, and the skipper is expecting no less;
"There is no doubt it will be a fiery encounter, and one both teams are looking forward too."
On the Leinster side, we spoke to coach Rob O’Connor, who’s players have all just been relishing getting back out onto the field this season;
“It’s been a great start to the season, with all our teams getting to play 3 or 4 games each. Everyone has loved getting back out on the pitch.”
Their start to the season has been strong, and in spite of some team news that doesn’t help Leinster hugely, Rob remains upbeat about the chance for someone else;
“Our firsts have had some good results, with our top 4 batters consistently in the runs. We will be without our captain, Laura Delany this week so it will be good to see who steps up to fill her shoes.”
Looking at Merrion, the Leinster camp are all too aware of the test they face this evening, and O’Connor is quick to acknowledge there’s more to just Merrion than some star names;
“Merrion are always tough to play against, especially in Anglasea Road. Their international players might take the headlines, but Merrion always have good depth and will consistently keep you under pressure. I’m looking forward to a tight, competitive game.”
The two captains for tonight have both had very strong impacts on the season so far, Leah Paul has led from the front with the bat, whilst continuing her fine wicket-taking bowling form. On the other hand, Sophie MacMahon has been blitzing bowling attacks with her aggressive stroke play, scoring heavily and quickly. It’s likely that both will bowl to one another at some stage in the course of the game, and whoever gets the upper hand will have played a key part in what way the result swings.
KEY BATTLE: Leah Paul vs Sophie MacMahon
SPRINT COATINGS DIVISION 1 – 24.06
Malahide vs Clontarf – Malahide, 18:00
The Hills vs YMCA – Milverton, 18:00
Pembroke vs Phoenix – Sydney Parade, 18:00
Merrion vs Leinster – Anglesea Road, 18:00 (featured game)