Grafton girls go to pitch war at national titles
CRICKET: NSW Country opener Naomi McDonald has drawn first blood in the battle of the Grafton girls at the Australian Women's Country Cricket Championships at Shepparton, Victoria.
Coming up against friend and former junior teammate Amy Riddell, who is playing as an all-rounder for the Queensland Country side, McDonald was unstoppable as she notched an unbeaten half-century in T20 action.
It was the second unbeaten knock of the tournament so far for the NSW opener, and helped propel her side to a total of 2-122 from 20 overs.
Despite Riddell's best efforts with the bat in the Queensland middle order, top-scoring for her side with 31 runs, an early top-order collapse saw the side fall 11 runs short of the target in their 20 overs.
"It was pretty good; it makes it two years in a row we have gotten the result against Amy's Queensland side,” McDonald said. "I didn't let her know too much, you I have to be kind to my fellow Graftonian.
"We don't get a whole lot of time together being in opposing sides, but it is always good to see each other at a tournament like this. I guess it is pretty good for Grafton.”
McDonald has only improved on her efforts at the corresponding tournament last year when she was named in the Australian merit squad, already guiding NSW to a win in their opening clash against Northern Territory.
"The decks have definitely been good to bat on, and I have gone into this really confident after last year's efforts.
"My form hasn't been great in the Sydney competition this season but I have taken some confidence out of my early knocks for NSW. I just need to keep performing with the bat to help our side back into the finals again.
"To have this sort of opportunity to represent my state and the regional communities as well as just to play cricket at this level is great and I really want to make the most of it.”
While McDonald's NSW side has started the tournament in a flurry, it has been a tough entry for Riddell's Queensland outfit who dropped their opening two matches in Shepparton.
But it was not for a lack of trying, and the off-spinner said the side had taken a lot out of each match.
"In every game we focus on the positives and talk about a few things that we can improve on,” she said.
"In the game against NSW, considering the collapse we had in the top order, it was very positive to see our girls dig deep and get the team into a winning position.
"We also fielded really well and that is something that will come into play further into the tournament.”
Riddell said she thinks the Queensland outfit are not far away from turning their fortunes around.
"We know we have the most dominant top six in the competition, it is just about getting everything to click together,” she said.
While she might have been disappointed not to get a result against the NSW Country side, Riddell said she was stoked to see McDonald raise the bat to celebrate a half-century.
"If anyone was going to do it for that team, I am glad it was Naomi,” she said. "She is a quality batter.”
Both sides played a second game yesterday afternoon which had not finished when The Daily Examiner went to print. The tournament continues at Shepparton for the rest of the week with semi-finals played on Thursday.