Former England cricket stars support Kia Summer Smash as the first two teams qualify for finals day

Hursley Park posing with trophy
Winning feeling: England cricketer Ebony Rainford-Brent was there to congratulate the winning Hursley Park team

Lydia Greenway and Ebony Rainford-Brent watch Hursley Park join Plympton in finals day of the inaugural national competition

Former England Test players Lydia Greenway and Ebony Rainford-Brent took on the roles of supporters-in-chief at the Kia Summer Smash Southern Festival at Wellington College in Berkshire last weekend. 

The cricketing stars watched the day reach a thrilling climax, with Hursley Park scoring 14 off the last over of the T10 final to defeat Ansty and reach the inaugural finals day at The Kia Oval on Sept 20.

It has been so nice to hear what this means to people

The Kia Summer Smash, a thrilling T10 competition for women’s amateur clubs across the country, aims to feed off the increasing interest in women’s sport and inspire players of all ages to take up the game and emulate their heroes in the England women’s team.

After the Southern Festival Telegraph columnist Rainford-Brent, who presented Hursley Park with their trophy, said: “I have come through the game for 20 years and one of the biggest gaps has been the investment in the club game for women. Speaking to clubs, you get that insight that this is where it is most needed and where the impetus for driving the game really is.

“Having such a big corporate sponsor behind this competition in Kia creates so much excitement and gives it added weight. So for the future this is great. It has been so nice to hear what this means to people and that the players are really up for trying to win the Kia Summer Smash trophy.”

Squad goals: Hursley Park needed 14 runs in the final over against East Sussex club Ansty

Hampshire-based Hursley Park came through group matches against Aldershot and Bells Yew Green plus a semi-final against Sutton before facing East Sussex club Ansty for the fourth time this season and stretching their lead in that series to 3-1. Chasing 69, they needed 14 from the last six balls but Sophie Mitchelmore and Mel Story took them over the line, Mitchelmore steering the ball past point for the winning run off the last ball.

Emily Windsor, the Hursley captain, said: “It was a fantastic final and there were periods where both teams were on top. Everyone contributed in the team and that is where we are good – we bat deep and we have so many bowlers.”

It has been 15 years in the making so to get to the Kia Oval is absolutely fantasticJemma Green

Windsor is the kind of player the sponsors hope can use the 10-overs-a-side competition as a springboard to greater things. “The Kia Summer Smash is really exciting and it is fantastic to get to the Oval,” she added. “I had a Super League contract last year and just missed out this year. But I always have that ambition to play professionally. A competition like this shows the game is growing. The future is bright for women’s cricket.”

Hursley Park Cricket Club was founded in 1785, 220 years before its ladies team came into existence. Jemma Green, 37, who started the women’s section, said: “We now have about 100 members and teams from under-11 level up to seniors. We have just started W10 (a soft-ball version aimed at introducing players to cricket) and we have some much older ladies playing.”

Green, who is a cricket analyst for all Hampshire CCC and international matches at the Rose Bowl, added:  “I started playing when I was 15 and set up Hursley Ladies with a vision to have more than one team. “It has been 15 years in the making so to get to the Kia Oval is absolutely fantastic. It was a dream when we heard about the Kia Summer Smash and now it’s a reality, it is just amazing.”

All smiles: Hursley Park players celebrate qualifying for the Kia Summer Smash

Four regional competitions precede finals day at the Kia Oval on Sept 20 and the event reflects Kia’s ambition to extend to the grassroots of the game the support it has shown since 2014 as Official Partner of the England Women’s team and, more recently, title sponsor of the Kia Super League. 

Hursley Park join Plympton, from south-west Devon, at finals day with Plympton having marched through the Western Festival at Millfield School in Somerset, winning their group matches against Bath and Huntley by nine wickets and 66 runs respectively, and then dispatching Cornwood by eight wickets in the semi-final. In the final against Newport, they comfortably chased a target of 70, Becca Halliday top-scoring with 31 and Imogen Beasley making an unbeaten 20 before Milly Squire struck the winning runs with an over to spare.     

One of the things in cricket is breaking down the perceptions that are linked to itLydia Greenway

Greenway, a five-time Ashes winner, met the players and held a fun coaching session for supporters at last week’s Southern Festival. Now retired, she was one of the first women to benefit from Kia’s backing for the England team and was full of praise for the competition, its sponsor and its aims.

“One of the things in cricket is breaking down the perceptions that are linked to it,” she said. “For example, it can be a long game so I think the format we have seen today – T10 with a number of teams turning up and playing multiple games – is good. 

“If they don’t succeed in one, they have more opportunities. Also, the spirit it is being played in is fantastic and that is a huge credit to Kia and their support of the game from the grass roots all the way to the top.”

Kia Summer Smash

Western Festival 

(20 July – Millfield School, Somerset)
Plympton (70-2 off 9 overs) beat Newport (69-5) by eight wickets

Southern Festival

(27 July – Wellington College, Berkshire)
Hursley Park (69-3 off 10 overs) beat Ansty (68-4) by seven wickets

Northern Festival

(10 August – St Peter’s School, York)

Midlands Festival

(17 August – Caythorpe CC, Nottinghamshire)

Finals Day

20 September – KIA Oval

Backing women's sport

Each regional festival will be free to attend for clubs and spectators. Alongside the cricket there will be fun family activities including kids’ coaching sessions. To find out more or enter a team, go to the Kia Summer Smash website at kiasummersmash.co.uk