BRADFORD Under-15 girls are the champions of the MCC’s National Foundation competition, achieving the dream of winning a Lord’s final on Monday.

Teams representing hubs from Bradford, the Cotswolds, Manchester and Slough all took part in the finals day at the Home of Cricket.

And Bradford did Yorkshire proud, beating the Cotswolds in the final on the main pitch at Lord’s.

They comfortably defended their 20-over total of 135-3.

Their coach, Mohammed Salim, said: “I have coached most of these players for a long time, and I knew they could do it with the right support.

“They are a fantastic team of girls.

“None of this would be possible without the support of Woodlands Cricket Club, who have made their outdoor and indoor facilities available whenever needed.”

And Bradford hub manager Katie Stewart said: “It was absolutely incredible for them and we’re all thrilled to bits.

“We did quite a bit to prepare the girls, with extra training sessions and a few friendlies, with one against an Under-15 boys team.

“We took them to Headingley too, just so they could absorb being in a huge stadium before going down to Lord’s.

“We told them to relax and enjoy their day at Lord’s, and just play their natural game.

“To even get to finals day was a fantastic achievement, so to win the whole tournament was amazing.”

Bradford had to beat Sheffield, Hull and a Lord’s team at Harrow to reach finals day. They should have had five qualifying games but some cities could not raise a side.

Despite that being a slight disappointment, women’s and girls’ cricket does seem to be growing in the UK.

Stewart agreed, saying: “I do think women’s cricket is going in the right direction.

“Covid made things challenging, but there seems to be a lot of enthusiasm across all age groups, and I think a lot of girls and women were inspired by England winning the World Cup in 2017 and this year’s Hundred.

“Particularly the latter, because looking at the crowds at the games, they were full of families and girls, and it just made the sport seem more gender neutral.

“It was a shorter format, easier to understand for newcomers, and in general, the tournament was good fun.”

The victorious Bradford side only linked up in May, just two months before the start of The Hundred.

Stewart said: “Some of the girls in the Under-15 side have played together since they were 11, and had been on MCC training programmes down at Woodlands.

“But they missed out on all that for 18 months because of Covid, and then we had to recruit some new players too.

“I only started my job as Women and Girls Club and League Development Manager for West Yorkshire in March, and didn’t have many contacts, so when the MCC said they wanted us to put a Bradford team together for this tournament, there was nothing in place.

“So it was all a bit hurried, a case of quickly finding out which girls were interested in playing, and having a trial, but it all worked out in the end.”

And there could be more to come from some of these talented teenagers, with Stewart saying: “Yorkshire have got their eye on a couple of the girls.

“But some of them who’ve not been noticed before, now they’ve performed on a big stage at Lord’s, I think they’ll be picked up.

“Hopefully it’ll help them push forward, because I think some of the girls have gained in confidence after Monday.

“Not being part of a county set-up, they might have thought they weren’t quite good enough.

“But now they know they can do it on a big finals day, they’ll maybe see cricket as a viable career for them in future.”