Barbados Royals finished the 2023 Massy Women’s Premier League (WCPL) season as champions after they wrapped up an eight-run final win against the Guyana Amazon Warriors on Sunday.

After topping the group stage with two wins over the Warriors and a win and a loss over previous winners Trinbago Knight Riders, the Royals claimed the second ever WCPL title at Brian Lara Cricket Academy, Trinidad.

Having lost the toss and being put into bat for the first time, the Royals posted 169-7 with Captain Hayley Matthews finding a big score at the right time before being slowed down in the final few overs keeping the Warriors in hope of a result.

In response, competition top scorer Sophie Devine could only manage a start before some tight bowling restricted the run rate required, leaving the Warriors short.

Gaby Lewis got the Royals off to a firing start before falling side the PowerPlay with a score of 37-1 after six overs.

Matthews prevailed through the middle overs putting on the first century partnership of the competition with Rashada Williams. The Warriors clawed back the Royals, restricting them to 32-6 from the final five overs.

After early struggles for wickets, Shabnim Ismail showed her quality with 4-30, picking up the wickets of all the Royals top four batters.

Guyana Amazon Warriors, in similar fashion to the Royals, had an important middle over partnership after making the most of the PowerPlay, with Suzie Bates and Shemaine Campbelle putting on 60.

The Royals’ bowlers did enough with the ball to restrict run rate enough to deny the Warriors despite some late hope given by Natasha McLean with a 17-ball 28, including taking 16 runs from the 17th over.

Matthews was at the forefront once again in key moments with McLean being run-out off Matthews’ bowling at the non-striker’s end with some misfortune in her dismissal combined with some brilliant reactions from the Barbados captain.

Royals bowlers were economical as they have been throughout the competition with overseas star Amanda-Jade Wellington, in particular, starring with 4-23, including 3-2 in the penultimate over when the Warriors required 23 from 12 balls.

Campbelle’s brilliant unbeaten knock of 47 was in vain as Matthews was able to defend 21 off the final over despite Ismail’s cameo giving the Royals a late scare.

Scores: Barbados Royals 169-7 (Matthews 82, Williams 36; Ismail 4-30, Patil 1-25) beat Guyana Amazon Warriors 161-8 by eight runs

Shabnim Ismail has revealed how representing Welsh Fire in The Hundred is helping her fill the void left by her retirement from international cricket.

The pace bowler has been integral to reviving the fortunes of the Cardiff-based side, who finished rock bottom last summer, and powered them to the top of the table with a nerveless hat-trick at the death to see off Birmingham Phoenix on Thursday night.

Ismail is a proven winner in the 100-ball format, having helped Oval Invincibles to the title in 2021 and 2022, but did not shrink from the challenge after being drafted by the struggling Fire and has thrown herself into the task.

The 34-year-old called an end to her South Africa career earlier this year but feels that doing her bit for the principality is helping her find her peak performance.

“When I moved I didn’t really realise it wasn’t just Welsh Fire the club, but Wales the country. I’m so proud to play in the Welsh colours,” she told the PA news agency.

“I’m calling myself an honorary Welshwoman, of course! I’m retired from internationals but I’m lucky that I still get to play for a country. To represent a nation, it almost feels like I’m back with South Africa at a World Cup. It makes me play with my heart on my sleeve and do well for them.

“I was nervous first of all coming into the team but it has been like a family, an amazing welcome. I always say I can only produce the goods and play to the best of my ability when I’m comfortable in the environment and here I know I can speak my mind with no drama, everybody trusts me.”

Ismail certainly had no problem finding her finest form when she conjured a classic finish to defeat the Phoenix in a nail-biter at Edgbaston. Defending four runs from the last three balls of the match she dismissed Tess Flintoff, Erin Burns and Issy Wong. More remarkable than the feat itself, though, was the fact that Ismail did not even realise she had done it.

“I knew exactly what I wanted to do and I told the team I wanted the last five balls. But I was so in the zone I didn’t even know I had a hat-trick,” she said.

“I just didn’t realise it was three in a row, in my head every wicket was a dot ball. I didn’t even hear the crowd initially, but it pumped me up when I did. I think we made the whole of Birmingham angry.”

Welsh Fire now find themselves in the unexpected position of leading the way after two years of under-delivering but, if that is a surprise to some, Ismail called it before a ball had been bowled.

“When I met Breesey (head coach Gareth Breese), I told him ‘we are going to win this’,” she said.

“I told him things will be different this year. He told me ‘baby steps, one at a time’ but I keep telling him we’ve got this. Now we all believe, we know we can do it.”

West Indies Women lost their final ODI by six wickets to South Africa’s Women in Johannesburg on Sunday and with it the series 2-1.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.