Cricket: Middlesex Women’s Dunkley excited by Lord’s clash
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Middlesex all-rounder Sophia Dunkley hopes their historic Twenty20 clash with Surrey this week will be the first of many local derbies staged at Lord’s.
The county's women made their inaugural appearance on the main square at Lord's just over a year ago, when they beat an MCC team by six wickets.
But Wednesday's match represents the initial meeting between rival women's county sides at cricket's most famous venue - and the chance for Dunkley to perform there for the first time in her career.
"I'm really looking forward to it," the 20-year-old England international said.
"I wasn't here for that first home game at Lord's, so this will be my first time on the main pitch and it'll be a very special occasion.
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"To get this opportunity shows how much the women's game is growing. Being against local rivals as well will give the game that extra competitiveness.
"I think it'll be a good game, I'm sure we'll put on a good show and it's something we won't forget. All the girls love being part of these games.
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"Having had the opportunity to play against Surrey at The Oval, now to have home-and-away games on a regular basis would be great."
Dunkley has made a stunning start to the summer, hitting two centuries in the Women's Royal London One-Day Cup, while her unbeaten 74 on Monday helped Middlesex to an eight-wicket win over Devon.
The leg-spinner has also returned figures of four for 18, against Durham earlier this month, with her good form timely at the start of an Ashes summer and six months on from making her England debut at the World T20 in the Caribbean last November.
"I've been working on some technical things and I'm happy with the way the season's started," she added. "Hopefully that can continue.
"You don't want to pick one format of the game over another, but I really like the fast pace of T20 and the way it allows you to express yourself.
"It's also a good way to get people interested and it's been really exciting to see how many are watching or tuning in on TV - everything's heading in a good direction."
For now Dunkley is focusing on this Wednesday's match at Lord's, which starts at 4pm, and which will pit her against some familiar faces after she was a member of the Surrey Stars T20 squad that clinched their first Kia Women's Super League title in 2018.
Yet Middlesex, captained by Natasha Miles, are certainly not lacking pedigree in the shortest form of the game, having become T20 county champions last summer while they have lost just once in the 50-over tournament so far this season.
It'll be a bit weird playing against some of the Surrey team," Dunkley admitted.
"Before and after the game I'll be catching up with them, but in between that it'll be about getting the job done on the pitch.
"They've got some top players - Bryony Smith at the top of the order and Aylish Cranstone coming in at three or four - so it'll be a good challenge for us.
"We've got a young, exciting team at the moment and everyone's really enthusiastic. We did well to fight back in the T20s last year after a hard 50-over season and everyone worked hard to win the trophy, which was an amazing moment."