Source: Julian Thompson

KSL Final Round – Hit and Hope

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If you were looking for your first win in ten, how would you prefer to set about it?

Perhaps in a game reduced to 9 overs each, facing the hardest female hitter of a cricket ball in the world? (Australian commentators might like to dispute this claim, but in vain.)

That is precisely what happened to Lancashire Thunder as they attempted to break their duck at Blackpool.

Lizelle Lee was determined to give her all for Surrey Stars after their failure to make Finals Day. Her stats defy belief: 75 runs off 28 balls of which 13 were hit for 4 and three others for 6. That is: over half the deliveries she received finished in the crowd.

Kate Cross, the home skipper, may have sensed what was coming: she gave Sophie Ecclestone the first over instead of letting her wait six balls. She went for 25 off her two overs. Cross herself conceded 42 runs of her twelve deliveries. At least Lee contrived to be bowled by her.

Lee’s batting partner happened to be Nat Sciver, who would have been in no mood for generosity after her side’s recent failings. She had to satisfy herself with 50* off 26 balls, a strike-rate a mere 84.55 slower than her partner’s!

By the time they were parted, only two balls remained to be bowled. Sarah Taylor struck one of them for a single, so all three batters returned strike-rates of 100+.

Thunder made a valiant attempt to overtake this rate of 14.66. Tahlia McGrath scored 41 in an opening partnership of 50 with Eve Jones (13). After them the remaining batters all indulged in big hits (six attained strike-rates between 100 and 240), but only Ellie Threlkeld reached double figures (12).

So their winless sequence continued to the end, letting you wonder whether the ECB was at all concerned about balancing up the nation’s cricketing talents.

After their heartening record last year (5 wins, 4th place) they returned to the basement.

Result:
Stars 132-1
Thunder 97-7
Stars win by 35 runs (9-over match)

The only game to be allowed its full 40 overs was at the Hampshire Bowl. Once more Amy Jones was central to proceedings, scoring 74* in a Lightning total of 163-4. She received sound support from Chamari Athapaththu (35), Georgia Elwiss (28) and Jenny Gunn (15*). Of the bowlers, only Amanda-Jade Wellington could claim a run-rate below 8, and she snaffled a couple of wickets (4-0-22-2)

Lightning’s bowlers returned Vipers’ three top batters, Suzie Bates, Danni Wyatt and Tammy Beaumont, to the hutch before they could do irreparable damage (42-3 inside 6 overs). Jones added to her laurels with a delightful leg-side stumping of Bates off Gunn’s bowling.

From then on, it was beyond the hosts’ ability to maintain the asking rate, and the innings subsided to 127 all out, only Fi Morris demanding respect with 36 off 31.

Result:
Lightning 163-4
Vipers 127
Lightning win by 36 runs

The other abbreviated match was between the runaway leaders Western Storm and Yorkshire Diamonds at Taunton. Here, 10 overs each were decreed.

The visitors were indebted once more to Jemimah Rodrigues for a leading knock of 60 off 27, to complete a slog at over 10 runs per over.

At last Storm were put under real pressure. Their first three batters, Priest, Mandhana and Knight, who had carried all before them thus far this season, all succumbed early. It was left to Fran Wilson and Sophie Luff to right the ship.

They hit about them to great effect, so that (only) 25 were needed off the last two overs. Lauren Winfield asked Linsey Smith to bowl the ninth. Much to her credit, she finished with an analysis of 2-0-14-1.

Who should bowl the last over? 14 runs were needed. This is where experienced bowlers find someone in the crowd to wave to; they turn away from the skipper to do up a stray bootlace. But she had made her mind up; bowlers were permitted two over each – only Beth Langston remained. Runs came off each ball, but only in ones and twos. Wilson (45*/20) and Luff (31*/18) could get no closer than five runs from the visitors’ score. They put on 66 runs in 5.4 overs, a tremendous effort, but not quite enough.

Was this Langston’s most dramatic over ever? If not, we’d sure like to hear an account of the other one. A great triumph of character for her.

Result:
Diamonds 104-4
Storm 99-3
Diamonds win by 5 runs (10-over match)

Table at the end of the normal Season:

Team

W

L

T

N/R

Points

Western Storm

9

1

0

 0

39

Loughborough Lightning

7

3

0

0

32

Southern Vipers 

4

4

1

1

22

Yorkshire Diamonds

5

5

0

0

20

Surrey Stars

3

6

0

1

16

Lancashire Thunder

0

9

1

0

2

It will be intriguing to see whether these positions are maintained at the end of Final Day at Hove on Sunday 1 September.

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