200 players and officials from league member clubs came together for the Presentation Evening, held at the Halton Stadium in Widnes on Saturday October 1, for a chance to reward the teams and individuals who have been successful this year.
This may have been the league’s highest scoring season to date, with as many as 13 centuries in the first division alone, made by batters from seven different clubs. Ellie Mason reached three figures on three occasions, despite only playing five matches, but the overall highest run scorer was Rachael Walsh, whose 580 runs took Leigh to their first league title. The top-flight’s leading wicket taker was Emily Page, who played a major role in Appleton’s second place finish.
Leigh won this year's league championship after finishing bottom of division one in 2021, becoming the seventh different team to finish as leaders in the top division of the CWCL in the last decade. The period starting from 2012 - the last of Appleton's three titles in a row - has seen only one occasion when a club has retained the first division title. It all adds up to a level of competitiveness and unpredictability that is the envy of every other English women's club competition! Indeed, with Leigh having finished bottom of division one last year, and only reprieved from relegation due to an expansion of the top-flight, this could be the League’s Leicester City moment!
Furthermore, 10 different clubs took home a team trophy this year, with no club winning more than one prize. The closest fought division was undoubtedly Division 2, where Upton edged out Lindow by a single point, despite a second division record of 432 runs across the season from Heidi Cheadle. Along with Leigh's Jaimie-Lee Strang, New South Wales 2nd XI captain Cheadle heralded a new era in the league this year as one of the first women's overseas players to come to Cheshire specifically to play for a club team, with previous CWCL overseas players having also been in the UK to represent counties.
The players winning two individual trophies this year were Appleton’s Emma Barlow (as wicketkeeper in both Division 1 and T20 competitions), Jenny Wallace of Langley (best bowler and fielder in Division 4) and Stockport Trinity’s Emma Royle (leading wicket taker in T20 and also tied for most fielding dismissals in the short-form competitions). After winning the division 1 batting award on numerous occasions – albeit not this year – Barlow has certainly won more individual trophies than anyone else since the league’s awards ceremonies began back in 2007.
Alex Blake, who coached the Cheshire senior women between 2011 and 2014, was Master of Ceremonies for the event, which was once again superbly organised by Di Totty. Di chose Sarah McCann – league chair for more than a decade up until last year - as the recipient of the coveted President’s Award for an outstanding contribution to the sport in Cheshire.
The League was also delighted to welcome Laura MacLeod - currently director of West Midlands Women's Cricket - as its special guest, and she presented the prizes to the winners and participated in a Q&A session with Alex, where she talked about her progression from grassroots cricket in Cheshire to an international career that included 13 Test matches, 73 ODIs and three IT20s. She spoke of the fact that women’s cricket can now be a career, but that sacrifices need to be made by those fortunate enough to make it to professional level. Laura also nominated an Ashes win in 2005 and her role in the first ever t20 international in 2004 as career highlights.