Strength in depth of women’s and girls’ set-up to be crucial for Thriplow
Lara Neild believes Thriplow’s burgeoning women’s and girls’ set-up will come to the fore this summer.
The first team will play in the first full season of the East Anglian Women’s Premier League, which was run for the first time last year but in a truncated format because of the pandemic.
But across the board the club are well placed, with the oldest player in the first-team set-up being 26 and the ages going down to 13.
“We’re looking to have most people available most weeks, and we’ve managed to organise 10 second-team fixtures on the same day as the first-team fixtures which shows we have a lot of strength in depth in the squad to be able to put 22 girls out on a weekend,” said Neild, who has been first-team captain since 2013.
“I think from that point of view we’re looking very strong as a squad and as a club set-up.
“We’re very fortunate where we are for women’s and girls’ cricket and we’ve got some great volunteers engaged in it as well.
“We develop a lot of girls from a young age through the junior section which is very well structured, particularly for girls and getting them involved.
“We attract players obviously from having the EAPL team, so players of a good standard come anyway because of that. We’ve got a lot of nurtured youngsters coming through that are looking very strong, they start growing and developing year on year and get much stronger and better as they go through.
“Hopefully we will get a lot more of our younger Thriplow girls going through into the first-team this year, that’s the aim.”
The EAPL does not start until July, with the intention to avoid clashes with Cambridgeshire cricket, and the season will run through to the end of September.
“It’s to try to ensure you get as many players available for both, and a lot of our first team play for the county first team as well so if they clash you end with very weak squads across the board,” said Neild.
“If they don’t clash, you end up with two much stronger teams.”
Thriplow will face many of the same opponents they have been up against in the past, but with the structured league, it should increase competition.
Neild also hopes that it will lead to further growth of the game.
“The teams playing in the league we’ve played for a number of years, so we know them quite well but it will be much more interesting in the EAPL structure,” she said.
“For the future of women’s cricket to be able to have the EAPL structure, hopefully we can develop and build the leagues beneath it, it will hopefully be a top tier league in the next five years.”
The competitive campaign does start for Thriplow this bank holiday weekend though.
They face Stony Stratford in the ECB Women’s Club T20 on Monday, although there is a county match the same day.
“It’s a little bit frustrating as it clashes with a county fixture as well so we’ve sent a couple of players off to the county instead but we’ve got a decent strength team so hopefully we will stand a good chance,” said Neild.
She added: “Talking to all the players, everyone is very excited to get started particularly with the EAPL, as we did very well last year.”