The Leicestershire and Rutland Women’s Cricket team are celebrating after their excellent 2015 season was capped by promotion.

Despite losing the last game of the season, the penultimate match versus closest rivals Derbyshire effectively ensured the side would go up.

That represented a fifth victory of the season for Leicestershire and Rutland, who collected the most batting points and was second only to division winners Hampshire in terms of bowling points.

Leicestershire bowled Derbyshire out for 126 with Niki Patel returning 3-18 from nine overs while Katie Midwood led the chase with 55 from 62 balls to chase in 29 overs. It was part of a terrific season for Midwood, who struck three fifties and averaged 51.13 after scoring 409 runs.

Captain Harriet Leach added 396 runs at 39.60 and had a highest score of 86 not out while Lucy Higham took 21 wickets at a terrific average of 13.43.

Those performances have helped Higham gain selection to the England Women’s Development Programme for 2015-16. Training for the squad will commence from October at the National Cricket Performance Centre (NCPC) in Loughborough and everybody at Grace Road wishes her well.

Along with Lucy’s achievement, her fellow U17s teammate and Women’s wicket-keeper Katie Winterton was also part of the England Women’s Development Programme Super 3s selection week. Katie’s consistent performances all season and moments of brilliance behind the stumps (13 dismissals, 7 catches and 6 stumpings) meant that she caught the eye of the EWDP scouts.

Lucy was well supported by Anna Kingstone (18 wickets) and Georgia Relf (10 wickets), and Uma Paramjothy had amazing figures of 10 overs for 11 runs as the team landed a vital one-wicket win against Suffolk along the way. Another important contribution in that particular game was a half-century from Emily Starr.

Leach said: “After a big restructure of the management of the team, promotion was the big aim for the season. We had been competing well for the last few seasons but not quite managed to perform in the games that really mattered.

“So to finally get the promotion we had all been working for so long felt like such a massive achievement, especially after all the hard work the coaches and players put in at pre-season and training.

“We hope to step that work up another level next season and continue to develop a squad that girls and women will want to play for and can attract new players to further strengthen the talent we’ve already got. Hopefully we can step up to the challenge and prove ourselves in division two cricket next season.”

Coach Tom Leonard, Cricket Development Officer (Inclusion) for Leicestershire and Rutland Cricket, added: “We started the journey to promotion this year with a meeting in a secondary school class room where we were training.

“We set the goal of promotion and what we needed to do to achieve this, and from then on the girls have been exemplary in their attitude, commitment and skill levels in order to achieve what they have.

“They thoroughly deserve promotion and it was great to see some top performances from a number of players in the team, including girls still in the U17 age group. It demonstrates the strength in depth we have and I really believe we can compete in division two against some high performing county teams.

“There is the added excitement of coloured kit and white ball cricket for us next year which adds to the occasion of stepping up a level in Women’s county cricket and will certainly create a more professional feel to the games for the girls.”

* Congratulations also to Tammy Beaumont, who is in the England Women’s Performance Squad for 2015-16. Tammy has worked closely with Leicestershire and Rutland Cricket through her work with Chance to Shine and will also be training at Loughborough over the winter.

If you would like more information on women or girls team please contact Tom Leonard or 0116 2442198 07495092718