Following a disappointing performance in the first game of the 2017 Kia Super League against Western Storm, Loughborough Lightning looked to bounce back against last year’s champions, Southern Vipers on Tuesday afternoon. It was Vipers who came out on top however, after setting a KSL record of 180-2, Lightning unable to chase them down.
With a strong team that included former England captain Charlotte Edwards, New Zealand’s Suzie Bates and Hayley Matthews of the West Indies, the game was always going to be a tough challenge.
Lightning were boosted however with the inclusion of Elyse Villani to the squad, joining her international team-mates Ellyse Perry and Kristen Beams. Despite Villani’s recovery, Lightning unfortunately lost Paige Scholfield for the rest of the KSL, having broken her thumb during the game against Western Storm. Kent’s Phoebe Franklin was called up as her for the remainder of the competition, whilst Sarah Glenn replaced Marie Kelly in the middle order for this fixture.
Captain Georgia Elwiss won the toss and elected to bowl, which proved to be a risky decision as Vipers eventually posted the highest KSL score to date – ending up on 180-2 after their 20 overs. This was largely thanks to a record-breaking 119* from Suzie Bates, as she recorded the highest individual KSL score and the competition’s maiden century. Bates reached her half-century at the end of the Power Play, and despite Lightning’s best efforts in the field, she proved to be unstoppable as she smashed 15 fours and four sixes in her breath-taking innings.
Kristen Beams was the pick of the bowlers for the home side, as her four overs only conceded 19 runs, with young Lucy Higham also taking excellent figures of 1-26 given the period in which she bowled and the incredible form of Bates. Higham struck in the tenth over to dismiss Hayley Matthews thanks to a great catch from Elyse Villani at long-on, and Thea Brookes’ direct-hit run out of Georgia Adams was the only other dismissal of the Vipers’ innings.
Amy Jones and Elyse Villani strode out to the middle to begin Lightning’s run chase. The innings did not start well, as Villani was unluckily run out at the non-striker’s end, as Tash Farrant managed to deflect a drive from Jones onto the stumps, leaving the score at 8-1 after the first over.
Lightning concluded the Power Play on 41-3, as Jones (11) was bowled by Matthews in the first over and Perry (4) was run out attempting a third run. Runs were difficult to come by after this start as Vipers mounted the pressure upon the Lightning batsmen, as they reached 64-4 at the halfway stage.
Captain Georgia Elwiss led well from the front making a fine 32 from 29 balls before she was bowled by Bates, who continued her fine day by finishing with figures of 3-15. Despite the flurry of wickets, Thea Brookes and Sarah Glenn, the latter aged just 18 and playing on her home ground, continued to entertain the crowd. Brookes smashed her way to 24 off just 11 balls including two sixes, whilst Glenn also cleared the rope twice on her way to 25 on her KSL debut.
Vipers’ monumental total proved to be too much, however, as the lower order were left with the impossible task of scoring 82 off the final five overs. As Becky Grundy (12) was stumped off the final ball, Lightning were dismissed for 134, falling 46 runs short. The day undoubtedly belonged to Suzie Bates, as she followed her fine century and three wickets with a spectacular juggling catch at long-on to dismiss Beth Langston, unsurprisingly earning her the Player of the Match award.
Of her sides performance Lightning Head Coach said: “Susie Bates batted really well but I was disappointed with how we bowled in the Power Play – we bowled too short and too wide to her, and anyone could hit those balls for four, never mind Susie. We need to put it in the right areas to build pressure and unfortunately we didn’t do that early on and they got a decent Power Play and kept momentum from there.
“The girls battled hard and I thought Kristen bowled very well for her overs; we had a couple of chances but they would have been great catches. Scoring 130 when your top order hasn’t contributed fully has to be a positive – we got some great depth in our batting but we just need to create those partnerships early on.”
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Report courtesy of Loughborough University