Norfolk stars aim to banish bad memories

Norfolk's leading ladies take centre stage next week when they begin their challenge in the first round of the English inter-county championship. They are hosting the regional County Week matches at Royal Norwich - and they will be women with a mission.

Norfolk's leading ladies take centre stage next week when they begin their challenge in the first round of the English inter-county championship.

They are hosting the regional County Week matches at Royal Norwich - and they will be women with a mission.

Last year, Norfolk made a dismal showing in this event, recording their worst results in 25 years. This year they are out to show it's all change.

County captain Carol Delf said: “We've picked ourselves up from last year and we are looking forward to the challenge of this year. We are positive about winning and the players are definitely up for it.”

The week brings together four counties who play a round robin tournament for the privilege of a place in the Midland final of the championship. The winner of that event goes forward to the national County Finals.

Norfolk's challengers next week are Cambs & Hunts on Tuesday, Bedfordshire on Wednesday and Suffolk on Thursday.

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Last year's winners were Cambs & Hunts who made it all the way through to the County Finals.

Norfolk will bid to follow them with a team which blends youth and experience.

The line-up includes two teenagers: Norfolk girls' champion Tiffany Howie, 17, from Sprowston Manor, and Eaton's Edwina Lowrey-Gold, 18, who is a member of the Scottish U22 squad. In addition, Amy Skoulding from King's Lynn has only just turned 20.

They will play alongside Sammy Martin (Royal Norwich), Charlotte Presland (Banrham Broom), Rebecca Shubrook (Sprowston Manor) and Tracey Williamson (Royal Cromer). Norfolk champion Karen Young (Eaton) is unavailable because of work commitments.

“It must be one of the youngest teams we've had for a long time,” said Delf. “It's very encouraging to see the players coming through and this is what we need for the future.”

It is a similar story with the other counties who will also be fielding youngsters and all four teams are likely to be evenly matched.

“There's very little difference between the counties and each game will be difficult,” said Delf.

Norfolk has prepared with a series of warm-up matches, the most recent of which saw the ladies take on the county men at Royal Norwich this week.

They have also worked hard during winter training on short game technique.

Players have also been encouraged to analyse their own games to identify strengths and weaknesses.

“All the girls are up for the challenge, they've worked hard and prepared well and they're all committed,” said Carol, who hopes to see a good crowd of Norfolk supporters at the matches.