As Finals Day (August 27) creeps ever closer, every game takes on added meaning. Southern Vipers clash with Surrey Stars at Hove had almost everything a spectator could want, not least a thrilling finish.
Suzie Bates turned to Danni Wyatt to bowl two closing overs. In the twentieth, she let a foot clip a stump as she delivered, and bails went flying – at her end. Under the nonsensical law-change the ICC saw fit to introduce after Steve Finn had a bout of this problem, a no-ball was called and a free hit indicated. The next ball Marizanne Kapp smote for a maximum. Stars squeaked home with three balls to spare.
Stars were desperate for victory. Three teams qualify for the finals; Storm and Lightning are already booked in; Stars needed to maintain their third position, under attack from Thunder.
Vipers were feeling sorry for themselves, with some justification. They had suffered a number of important injuries, removing front-line bowlers like Katie George and Tash Farrant. Their batting proved vulnerable again, relying on Suzie Bates to play the skipper’s role with a dominant innings of 82. Only Danielle Wyatt and Mignon du Preez joined her in double figures and neither reached 20.
Totals below 150 are always vulnerable these days, but a remarkable opening pair of bowlers did their best to deny Stars the start they wanted. Two youngsters with a combined age of 35 from the opposite ends of the earth and bowling in contrasting styles caused Lizelle Lee and Bryony Smith plenty of problems. At the sea end, Lauren Bell, only in the side because of those injuries, demonstrated why England are so hopeful of her future. She is tall with a good high action and sends the ball down at pace. She bowled the only maiden of the game to finish with the analysis 4-1-16-0, the most economical of the day.
At the Cromwell Road end Amelia Kerr picked up where she left off, causing all the batters problems with her leg-breaks and googlies. She didn’t fox Sarah Taylor with her googly this time, but she did take her wicket, at least her third success this season. 4-0-26-2
Stars’ batting was far more consistent, so they didn’t need a major knock like Bates’. As Taylor (38) and Sciver (46) put on 73, their only concern was ‘Are we scoring fast enough?’ The skipper was run out in bizarre circumstances in the 19th over – Carla Rudd, the keeper, was hopping around after being struck off the bat on the foot, but the ball finished up breaking the bowler’s wicket to leave Sciver cursing her fate. 13 runs were still needed. But Vipers couldn’t apply the brakes hard enough. Their unhappy run continues.
Women’s cricket was done no favours by the ticket-pricing. The many folk wanting to see only the first of the two matches on show were charged the full whack of £28. This comes in at £18 more than for any game England Women have played this summer. For a similar double header at the Oval, a £5 ticket was available for the women’s game only. Whoever scheduled the games left too little time between the two for the ground to be cleared and reopened.
KSL Table after 8/9 Rounds
Storm 8 30
Lightning 8 28
Stars 9 20
Thunder 9 17
Diamonds 9 11
Vipers 9 10