Optimists use girl power to oust LSW

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 March, 2006, 12:00am

Natasha Miles, 17, proves more than equal to men in the Sunday Cup

A woman has extended the boundaries of cricket in Hong Kong - and possibly the world. Natasha Miles created history by becoming the first woman to play in the premier Sunday Cup, helping HKCC Optimists to a 98-run victory over JKN Little Sai Wan yesterday.

Cricket will never be the same again. First it was George W. Bush with the bat, although that was just a fun gesture from the US president who took a swing at batting while on a state visit to Pakistan at the weekend. But it was more serious here at home after the Hong Kong Cricket Club outfit drafted in Natasha as they were short of numbers.

And the Island School teenager lived up to her growing reputation as a promising player, when she took two wickets, including that of Hong Kong Sixes representative Munir Dar, as Sai Wan, chasing 238 to win, were bowled out for 139.

'I didn't feel nervous playing against the men. Actually, it felt pretty good out there. I hope I will be picked to play for the next match, which is the semi-finals,' said Natasha.

On Saturday, Natasha, 17, turned out for Craigengower Cricket Club in their final league game and took six for 53 against Nomads. Yesterday, she went one step further, playing in the more competitive Sunday Cup.

Coming in as first change bowler in the 11th over, Natasha bowled her allotted 10 overs on the trot and finished with figures of 10-1-30-2. 'Bowling a maiden over' must have taken on a whole new meaning for the Sai Wan batsmen yesterday.

'She bowled well and kept a tight line. While she did not have any pace, she swung the ball around a bit. But I feel she should not be playing in the men's league as it could prove to be dangerous for her,' said Sai Wan skipper Tabarak Dar, who faced her.

Having skipped her homework in the morning - she is in the final year of secondary school - Natasha arrived at the ground to find that the Optimists had been put in to bat. She did not get a chance to bat as her side reached 237 for seven in their 50 overs with the main contributors being Mark Eames (33), Shane Sibraa (32) and Aaron Stewart (36).

But she was soon in the thick of the action. Thrown the ball by her captain Mark Fuzes, Natasha lived up to his expectations when she grabbed the key wicket of explosive hitter Munir Dar, who trying to slog sweep her out of the ground, missed and was ruled out by umpire Glyn Davies.

'Munir was on bended knee and tried to hit her out of the ground. He missed and was right in front. I think they treated her with a degree of contempt and paid for it. She bowled very, very well,' Davies said.

'She was tested in England while on holiday and they found out that she was the fastest woman bowler in the country. Her ambition is to one day play for England. Playing in the men's league in Hong Kong will be good experience for her,' said proud father Rodney Miles.

Optimists hope that Natasha can be their key to winning the Sunday Cup competition and have already pencilled her in for the semi-finals on March 19.

'She came in as a replacement yesterday but she will now be a part of the team next time. She fitted in fantastically and we are all very proud of her,' said Fuzes. 'We are hoping she can help us win the cup.'

Fellow-HKCC side Scorpions stayed on course for the double this season when they defeated Millennium by 43 runs at Mission Road. Batting first, Scorpions reached 219 for eight. In reply, Millennium were bowled out for 176 with Gopal Lalchandani taking four for 23.

Meanwhile, KCC Templars knocked out nine-man Pakistan Association. Chasing 176 for victory, Templars reached the target for the loss of five wickets with Jamie Atkinson top-scoring with 43.