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Teenager Mima Bicknell makes her debut for Belton Park Cricket Club





A village cricket team who included a female player in their Saturday XI for the first time hope to attract more girls and women to the sport.

Mima Bicknell, 15, lined up for Belton Park in their South Lincs and Border League Division 2 game at Billingborough on Saturday.

She’s the daughter of player William Bicknell and briefly batted with her dad towards the end of the reply.

Mima Bicknell (Belton). Billingborough 2nds v Belton Park, South Lincs and Border League, 25 May 2024. Picture: Chris Lowndes
Mima Bicknell (Belton). Billingborough 2nds v Belton Park, South Lincs and Border League, 25 May 2024. Picture: Chris Lowndes

The teenager has been coached at Stamford School by former England fast bowler Dean Headley and Belton want her debut to inspire other females to join them.

“She was a bit nervous but we expected that,” said club captain Pandula Abeysekera.

“The idea is to promote female cricketers, either by playing with the men’s team, or, if we’re lucky enough, to form a female team to play on a Sunday.

“We hope Mima will inspire other young girls to come and join us.

“That’s the plan. Whether it works, we don’t know, but we can only try.

“We want this to be the stepping stone for greater things to come.”

Belton Park are hoping that Mima Bicknell (centre) can inspire more females to join the club this summer. Photo: Chris Lowndes
Belton Park are hoping that Mima Bicknell (centre) can inspire more females to join the club this summer. Photo: Chris Lowndes

Bicknell fielded as Billingborough made 183-9 from their 45 overs.

She scored her first run for the side coming in at No.10 as Belton were bowled out for 88, beaten by 95 runs.

“Mima does bowl but because it was her first game amongst men she was a bit nervous,” said Abeysekera.

“We offered her a couple of overs but we didn’t want to force her.

“We said take your time and enjoy your batting, and she did bat with her dad briefly.

“She enjoyed the game and it helped that her dad was playing.

Teenager Mima Bicknell having fun in the field on Saturday for Belton Park. Photo: Chris Lowndes
Teenager Mima Bicknell having fun in the field on Saturday for Belton Park. Photo: Chris Lowndes

“We thought it was a good opportunity that if we can encourage her to play, it might inspire other girls or her friends.”

Belton Park play in the picturesque grounds of Belton House, a stately home managed by the National Trust.

It’s a stunning place to host cricket, with visitors to the house often stopping off with picnics to take in some of the action.

The club used to have two sides but the Sunday XI tailed off as numbers dwindled post-pandemic.

Belton are keen to fill the void with a female team.

“We’re at the rebuilding stage,” said Abeysekera, who joined Belton in 1985.

“It’s just a case of encouraging youngsters to join - girls and boys - but we’re really hoping to attract more girls.

“I can’t see us finding 11 bodies to form a female team this season but having one girl can encourage others to join.

“It’s a fantastic venue to play and the more we can attract, we can look to create a girls' team.

“It’s a question of finding like-minded people to play cricket and have fun.

“If we can get two or three more girls to join this year, they won’t have their own team but they can play in the men’s team.

“We’ll give them a game and rotate the players to make it fair for everybody, not that we’ve got a huge squad.

“Anyone looking to play for Belton Park, at a historical, beautiful place, come and join us.

“There’s no membership fee, just a nominal match fee.”

For information on joining Belton Park, call Pandula on 07746 001887.



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