VALLEY END players Abi Shaw-Hales, Izzy Moors and Amy Williamson have joined the select band of cricketers to win a trophy at Lord’s.

The trio, all aged 15, turned out for Guildford Hub as they beat Bolton Hub in the girls’ final of the Marylebone Cricket Club Foundation National Hub Competition. 

Shaw-Hales captained Guildford to a four-wicket success in the Twenty20 clash played before a crowd of 1,000 on the Main Ground at the iconic venue in London’s St John’s Wood.

Bolton posted 102-3 off their 20 overs but Guildford slipped to 27-3 from 7.1 overs in reply. 

Moors then came out to the middle and brought a much-needed injection of positivity and calm to the chase. 

She steered Guildford to 79-5 from 14.2 overs and was then joined by Shaw-Hales, who smashed 16 off eight balls.

When the skipper was dismissed to make the score 101-6, the job was all but done. 

Moors saw Guildford over the line one ball later. She finished with an unbeaten 29 to add to the three overs for five runs that she sent down earlier in the day.

The final marked the conclusion of a 20-week-long tournament that saw state-educated boys and girls aged 16 and under from 77 sites across the country face off for the chance to play in NW8.

The hubs aim to nurture young talent, creating opportunities for promising cricketers to hone their skills and improve their confidence under the mentorship of the foundation’s network of coaches. 

Shaw-Hales, Moors and Williamson started their training with the foundation in January.

Shaw-Hales, who has been playing cricket for four years, said of the final: “After the winning run, the whole team was filled with excitement and we all ran out to celebrate with the batters. 

“It was a memorable moment for all of us and one that I’ll cherish for ever.

“Going onto the pitch to bat, I was nervous but excited and I remember thinking that I just wanted to do well and do my part for the team. 

“On getting to the middle I was much more relaxed, as Izzy, one of my best friends, was the person I was batting with. 

“When we bat together, we usually get a good partnership. So going into the game I was already in a good mindset, which is definitely key for batting, as there can be a lot of pressure. 

“Our coach said to me that the other players had three aspects of the game to think about – bowling, batting and fielding – whereas I had another one: captaining. It was definitely a challenge for me as I had a lot to think about. 

“But I credit the whole team, as many of my team-mates – especially our two vice-captains, who both have very good knowledge of the game – helped with decisions. 

“I’m so proud of the whole team as everyone worked hard and contributed to the victory. 

“I’m also really proud of how everyone has supported each other throughout the competition.”

Shaw-Hales spoke of her pride at being involved in the progression of girls’ cricket.

She said: “Any girls interested in playing cricket should go for it. It can be a hard sport to get into, especially for girls. 

“However, more and more girls are getting involved in the sport and opportunities in cricket for girls are increasing. 

“I joined Valley End when there were no girls’ teams and just seven girls at the club.

“I didn’t once think that I’d have the incredible opportunity to play in, let alone win, a final at Lord’s with many other talented female players, which just proves how far women’s cricket has come – and it will definitely continue to grow. 

“It’s been amazing to be part of the growth in girls’ cricket. 

“I’m very grateful that the MCC Foundation have set up this competition as I’ve found it a great opportunity and have met so many amazing people through it.”

Moors will also never forget winning at Lord’s.

She said: “It was a great feeling to win, especially as they had last year [Bolton beat Guildford in the 2022 final]. 

“The whole day was such an amazing atmosphere. It’s a day I’ll never forget.”  

Shaw-Hales and Moors are pupils of Gordon’s School at West End. They had little time to celebrate the victory as they were whisked off to London Heathrow to board a flight to South Africa for the school’s netball tour.

Williamson, who joined Valley End on the back of friendships made through the hub and has become an invaluable member of their team, was thrilled to receive her winner’s medal from England skipper Heather Knight.

Having scored eight from six balls and bowled four overs at a cost of 24 runs in the final, Williamson said: “The whole Lord’s experience was inspiring, especially receiving my winner’s medal from Heather Knight and getting to sit in the home dressing room, where Ben Stokes and his team were sitting a few weeks earlier [for the second Ashes Test].

“It felt surreal to see our names and pictures on the big screen before and during the game.”

Andrew Monk, Valley’s director of cricket, highlighted the inspiration that Shaw-Hales, Moors and Williamson have provided for other girls at the club.

He told the News & Mail: “We’re all incredibly proud of what our girls have achieved on the field this season, and to have three of them play at Lord’s, the home of cricket, is sensational. 

“It rewards all their hard work and practice – and they provide inspiration for more girls to play cricket and have fun doing so. 

“Our girls’ section continues to thrive, and we hope that girls reading this article will be inspired to contact us and give cricket a go.”