WHEN teenage cricketer Gemma Porter hoisted the ball high toward cow corner during Alton fourth XI’s match with Fernhurst seconds on Saturday she thought she had blown her chance of a maiden century.

But the catch was spilled with Gemma on 97 and two runs later the talented county batsman stroked a single up toward deep mid-on to become the first female player in the 118-year history of the I’Anson League to reach three figures.

“My captain had told me that he was going to be declaring the innings at the end of the next over so if I wanted to try to get to a hundred, then I’d have to get on with it,” said Gemma, 16, who is in her final year at Amery Hill School in Alton.

“So I went for a big shot but it didn’t reach the boundary, but luckily it was dropped.”

Thankfully it didn’t matter as Gemma, who will be studying A-Levels in maths, economics and PE at Alton College in the autumn, deservedly reached three figures moments later watched by dad Jonathan, who was umpiring the game, mum Helen who was scorer, and brother James.

“I thought that was pretty cool when I found out that I was the first girl in the league to score a century,” said Gemma.

“It’s something I hadn’t really thought about because I assumed another girl had probably already scored a hundred.

“It was pretty nervewracking when I was in the 90s but I knew that I could do it.”

Gemma, who was at the East Hampshire Sports Awards at Old Thorns near Liphook in February with her Alton girls’ side when former England cricket star Charlotte Edwards was the special guest, hopes to maybe one day follow in her footsteps as the women’s game continues to grow at pace.

“I would love to be the next Charlotte Edwards,” she said, “as the women’s game just keep on improving and improving.

“There are noticably more girls playing in the I’Anson League now and it’s nice when you turn up and see other girls playing.

“I just can’t imagine not playing cricket.”

Girls’ coach and fourth XI captain Martin Green said: “Gemma has been a colt at the club since the age of seven and is someone who works very hard at her game, always looking to learn and improve from those around her.

“She has previously scored half centuries for the men’s team, so a century was always going to happen, it was just a matter of time, opportunity and application.

“Fernhurst were the unlucky team this weekend, although we are sure there will be many more to come.”

And he added: “Gemma is one of four Alton girls’ players who represent Hampshire at the under-17 age group and she also plays in the Young Vipers team.

“Alton has always tried to include ladies and girls in their teams where appropriate. As a club we are blessed with a number of county standard girls across the age groups and we are very proud of them all.”