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Rider makes history with unbeaten 104

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Falkland’s Holly Rider wrote her name into the record books when she scored 104 not out in a top of the table clash against Checkendon on Saturday, June 18.

Rider’s hundred, her first in the league, represents a landmark moment for women’s cricket in the area – it is thought to be the first scored by a woman in the Berkshire League’s history.

Her father, Neil Rider, watched Holly pass 100 from the non-striker’s end – it was to be a memorable Father’s Day for the former England Women’s head coach.

Holly, 16, said: “It definitely felt amazing because I’ve been playing men’s cricket for quite a few years now so to get that achievement was really special.”

For some, having dad up the other end might have added some extra pressure – but not for Holly.

She said: “It didn’t add any extra pressure, it was nice that he was at the non-striker’s end when I got it because we started playing men’s cricket together.”

Holly Rider in action for Falkland
Holly Rider in action for Falkland

And for Neil, it was “one of the proudest moments” he’s experienced.

He said: “I was probably more nervous than she was.

“As we got towards the end one of the guys brought out a drink and told me she was on 89, but we only needed 18 more runs to win the game.

“I knew she needed most of the strike, and I didn’t want to get out either so we could share that moment on the pitch.”

Out in the middle, Neil “has to wear a few different hats” as a coach, clubmate and parent but, first and foremost, “a cricketer”.

A special moment for the Riders, then, and a special moment for Falkland too, who have worked hard to champion and develop the women’s game.

Holly said: “When I first started, there weren’t any girls playing men’s cricket, I was the only one.

“Falkland’s developed the women’s section and there’s quite a few girls in the team and that’s a brilliant feeling.

“It’s a brilliant club that I’m so lucky to have and a brilliant community to be a part of.”

When Neil isn’t at the crease, he’s one of those working to develop women’s cricket at Falkland.

He said: “We set the girls section up six years ago now, this is our seventh season.

“We’ve got 75 to 80 girls turning up to training and we run girls teams from under-11s up to under-17s and now with a dedicated women’s first team.”

When she's playing, Holly has to contend with pace, bounce and swing – as well as some less obvious challenges.

“I started playing men’s cricket when I was 13 and I wasn’t really aware of it at the time.

“In my first game I walked straight into the men’s changing room and dad had to run in and manoeuvre me away!”

Since January, Holly has been training with the Southern Vipers and Neil is confident it’s an “exciting time” for women’s cricket.

He said: “Thousands of people are watching the game, enjoying it and coming back.

“I’ve got no doubt that the standard is going to keep on improving.

"Holly's training 20 hours a week with the best coaches, in the best environment and she's immersed in the whole Vipers mentality.

"There are thousands more girls playing the game at a young age.

“Girls are turning up to watch and are seeing role models and heroes that they can go and emulate.”

Holly is "aiming for number one in the world" – with the support of Neil, Falkland, Southern Vipers and so many more, she might just get there.

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