Norfolk women’s captain Alex Cowie preparing for inter-county match
Inter-county match week is still over three months away – but Norfolk's women are already preparing for their biggest test of the year.
A get-together at Royal Norwich on Sunday gave captain Alex Cowie the chance to watch some of her players in action, and chat to them about the challenges that lie ahead – and she is already looking forward to what promises to be a tough five days of golf at the Purdis Heath club in Suffolk.
Norfolk will be pitting their wits against the best amateur players in the Eastern Counties, and with teams like Essex and Hertfordshire boasting far greater playing resources, Alex knows her team will be hard pressed to improve on last year's promising third place finish.
'If I could field our strongest team I think we would go close, even if winning it might be a tall order,' said the Norfolk captain. 'Unfortunately even at this early stage if doesn't look like everyone will be able to play, which is disappointing, but I'm sure we'll still go down there and give a good account of ourselves.
'Counties like Essex and Hertfordshire have far more courses than us and far more players to call upon. If a few of their players are unavailable they always have a lot options, but it's not the same for us.'
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Last year Norfolk were represented by Amber Ratcliffe, Jennifer Hide, Sammy Martin, Karen Young, Tracey Williamson, Shelley Pleasance, Sue Henderson, Tiffany Mills and Rebecca Heeles – and Alex is already worried about the availablity of three of those players for the competition at Purdis Heath, which runs from June 11-15.
Defending county champion Ratcliffe might have to miss the event, or at least part of it, to concentrate on her GSCE examinations, another talented youngster Hide is recovering from a wrist injury and Henderson is also off course at present.
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'It's difficult to know who will be playing in June, even though I have got a good idea in my mind of what I would like my team to be,' said Alex. 'All I can really do is wait and see what the situation is nearer the time.'
Whatever happens Norfolk will be warming up for County Week, which takes place a month after the County Championship at Sheringham (May 11-13), with a couple of matches.
Following on from the get-together at Royal Norwich there is another gathering at Eaton on Sunday, followed by fixtures against Hunstanton's men on March 25 and Norfolk's senior men at Yarmouth and Caister on April 23.
On Sunday a total of 15 players from the first and second team and junior ranks turned up at Royal Norwich. The first match due to be played in February was cancelled due to snow and the weather at the weekend was not much better. It rained all day but the group, which included Amber Ratcliffe, completed 14 competitive holes.
On Sunday the group meet again for short game training at Eaton. Once again players from the various teams will be mixed up, a move that is helping to create an good spirit in the county scene.