The glorious experiment of the RHF Trophy came to a worthy end at the halfway-house venue of Edgbaston. This test arena was a fitting background. As most experts expected, Vipers completed an unbeaten sequence of games against their battling opponents.
Lauren Winfield-Hill, released from the Derby bubble, resumed the captaincy of the Northerners and opted to field first.
In the process Georgia Adams (80), the triumphant captain, reached 500 runs in her seven innings, a total many would give their right arm for in a complete season. But she didn’t win the Player of the Match Award; instead it went to spinner Charlotte Taylor with an inspired analysis of 6-34. In the process she became the highest wicket-taker of the tournament.
She personifies what the administrators had hoped for: to offer a shop window for a wide range of players selected to fill this vital intermediate stage between county and international level. Invidious to pick names out; so many made their mark.
How the game unfolded
Vipers got away to their usual profitable start, the highly promising Ella McCaughan (35) helping her captain to raise 100 runs before she raised Diamonds’ hopes with a loose shot. She was caught behind off Linsey Smith. Maia Bouchier impressed with some elegant strokes (28), but Charlie Dean and Paige Scholfield fell cheaply, helping to reduce Vipers from 150-1 to an inadequate looking 191-8. It was Emily Windsor (37) who, for the second time running, added vital runs boosting the total to 231.
It’s hard to tell how pitches should be behaving in late September when they haven’t been used at all until late summer, but the odd ball did keep low, meaning that batters couldn’t have complete confidence in the bounce.
The Diamonds’ innings followed a familiar pattern. The top three, Winfield-Hill (20), Hollie Armitage (26) and Sterre Kalis (55), raised hopes by getting the score to 74-1. In the process they saw off the quicks, Lauren Bell and Tara Norris (neither took a wicket); but from there it was the Dutch youngster, Kalis, who had to hold the fort as wickets tumbled at the other end.
A severe middle-order collapse brought them to a desperate 110-7. Batters 4-8 managed only 16 runs between them. The cause of this disaster was Taylor; she dismissed two of them for ducks, but it was a sad run-out for Alex MacDonald, also for 0, that started the rot. Kalis helped inspire tail-enders, Beth Langston (21) and Phoebe Graham (16), to sterling deeds as they added a further 83 defiant runs.
Graham was the last to fall, caught by Scholfield on the boundary off – yes, of course – skipper Adams.
So the short-odds favourites won the day and the memorable prize of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy.
The organisers deserve huge thanks for laying on such a splendid tournament in so a short time against a forest of obstacles. Let’s hope it can be repeated in the future in less constrained circumstances.
Result: Vipers 231 beat Diamonds 193 by 28 runs
Georgia Adams (C), Ella McCaughan, Maia Bouchier, Charlie Dean, Paige Scholfield, Emily Windsor, Carla Rudd (wk), Tara Norris, Alice Monaghan, Charlotte Taylor, Lauren Bell
Lauren Winfield-Hill (C), Hollie Armitage, Sterre Kalis, Ami Campbell, Alex MacDonald, Jenny Gunn, Bess Heath (wk), Beth Langston, Phoebe Graham, Katie Levick, Linsey Smith