April 4, 2001 11:10: SIX girls from Hayes School came within a bails-width of pulling off a sensational victory in the final of the

National Indoor Six-a-side Cricket Championship.

The girls, representating the South of England, went to the Lord's for the final against teams from Cheshire, Middlesex and Wiltshire.

Games were of 10 overs with each player bowling two with the exception of the wicketkeeper.

The four teams played each other twice and at the end of the six-match round-robin, each had won four and lost two matches.

This meant the title would be decided by the fastest run-rate and a nail-biting wait ensued while officials checked the figures.

Unluckily, for the Hayes girls, they were only third-fastest after beating Middlesex, the eventual winners, in the first game.

But it was still a magnificent effort by the Hayes girls, Charlotte Rideout, Kate Crozier, Lynsey Askew, Jo Lovegrove, Jessica Riley and Jenna Reeves.

They had earned the right to play at Lord's after winning the Kent and then South of England qualifying titles.

After coming through the preliminary rounds, the Hayes girls met Rochester in the Kent final and beat them in both games.

A feature of the side's success was the all-round team effort and the consistently fine batting from the top order of Charlotte, Jessica and Lynsey, which was particularly evident in the wins over Rochester.

And the added support of brilliant bowling and fielding from Joanna, Jenna and Kate ensured their place in to the South of England final where the Hayes girls met teams representing Essex, Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex.

Although they had to endure a cliffhanging finish against Surrey, winning by just three runs, the Kent girls won the other three group games with some degree of comfort.

They beat Hampshire by 50 runs, Essex by 23 runs and Sussex by 28 runs to book their place at Lord's.

Mike Askew, whose daughter Lynsey was part of the Hayes squad, said: "Everything was going well for the girls up to lunchtime, having won their first three games.

"But they could not quite maintain their best form after and losing on run-rate was very disappointing,

although getting to last four was obviously a wonderful achievement in what was an extremely strongly-contested championship.

Lynsey, meanwhile, was at Trent Bridge last weekend for training with the England under-17 squad along with Hayes Cricket club-mates Lydia Greenway and Natalie Lane.