Loughborough Lightning kick-started their Kia Super League campaign with an away fixture against Western Storm at Somerset County Ground, eventually losing out by five wickets.
The game was played as a double-header with the men’s fixture between Somerset and Kent, as is the case with many of the KSL games this season, allowing live broadcast on Sky Sports. Following the incredible success of the Women’s World Cup and England’s victory, the games provide a great opportunity for the team to showcase their skills and hard work in front of larger crowds and the cameras.
Captain Georgia Elwiss lost the toss, and Storm’s Heather Knight chose to bowl, with the cloudy conditions seeming favourable for bowling. Amy Jones and Ellyse Perry opened the batting for Lightning, and made a calm start taking seven off Claire Nicholas’ first over. Jones raced to 21, smashing three fours from Holly Huddleston’s first over before she was dismissed by Freya Davies, caught at mid-on in the fourth over.
Having reached 38-1 after the Powerplay, Ellyse Perry launched Dibble over long-off for the first six of the innings but was run out for 25 in the next over by Western Storm’s overseas Stafanie Taylor.
Lightning remained in a solid position, with Elwiss and Scholfield at the crease, until Taylor came on to bowl. In her first over, she conceded just one run and claimed three wickets; Elwiss and Brookes both adjudged lbw and Odedra stumped by Priest, leaving Lightning struggling at 62-5.
An impressively tight spell of bowling which included 20 dot balls meant that Taylor finished with astonishing figures of 4-5 off her 4 overs, as she also claimed Scholfield caught behind for 15. Boundaries were then much more difficult to come by, as Lucy Higham and Marie Kelly were faced with the tough task of rebuilding the Lightning innings.
The score reached 95 when Kelly was clean bowled by Huddleston for a well-made 18. Lightning eventually finished on 108-9 as Beth Langston was caught at long-on off the last ball of the innings, leaving the bowlers with a tough task of defending.
Lightning’s bowling innings had the perfect start as Beams bowled Rachel Priest for a duck in the first over, bringing the England captain Heather Knight to the crease early. Knight and Hennessy rebuilt well, with the skipper cruising to 24 comfortably until she was brilliantly run out by debutant Lucy Higham from backward point.
Despite the opposition’s solid start, Lightning battled hard in the field and kept pressure on throughout, with Elwiss claiming the wicket of Hennessy for 23 at a crucial stage of the game. However Stafanie Taylor looked extremely comfortable at the crease throughout her innings as she charged to 34, proving her immense capabilities with both bat and ball during the game, eventually earning her the Player of the Match award. She was eventually dismissed by Georgia Elwiss thanks to a phenomenal diving catch by Paige Scholfield at long-on, but at this stage Storm only required two to win off the final seven balls.
Sophie Luff of the England Academy finished strongly on 18* as she hit the winning runs off the first ball of Perry’s final over, resulting in a five wicket victory for the hosts.
Reflecting upon the game, Head Coach Salliann Briggs calls upon Stafanie Taylor’s first over as the crucial point of the game, stating:
“We asked too much of ourselves due to some poor decisions with the bat. Losing three wickets in one over cost us heavily and gave them momentum”.
However Sall and her players are confident that they can definitely recover from this initial defeat, and are boosted by the excellent performances given with the ball and in the field. Lightning will be aiming to bounce back strongly from defeat against the Southern Vipers at Derby on Tuesday 15th August.
Tickets for Tuesday’s game, a double header alongside Derbyshire Falcons Natwest T20 Blast clash against Durham Jets, are still available by clicking here.
Report courtesy Loughborough University