Source: Julian Thompson

Lightning v Western Storm at Loughborough (Haselgrave Ground)

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Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy on July 2 (11h30)

This was reportedly an historic ‘ICC List A’ match. Never before had a cricket match been Umpired ‘on-field’ by a married couple: Jasmine Naeem and Naeem Ashraf  former Pakistan International cricketers, now husband-and-wife. Umpires had plenty to do once play got underway in overcast conditions with the perpetual threat of rain, with a fifty-minute hiatus just before (what was) the mid-match point.

Storm’s skipper Sophie Luff (pictured) came closest to scoring ‘fifty,’ top-scoring with 48 runs (from 66 balls.) Storm’s Dani Gibson deserves special mention: not only for bowling the last two deliveries through a shower of rain; but also for top bowler’s economy throughout the entire match. Gibson also took two wickets (2/26) and made two catches at a critical moment – as mentioned below. Two fixed side-screen cameras captured key moments for broadcast via social media (via NV play livestream, with commentator Mike Perkins; and via ESPN-cric-info) – as evidenced by video clips – please see below.

Storm’s innings. *Remarkably, Storm’s batters avoided playing unwise ‘sweeps’ that had thrown away wickets in shorter formats of the game. *This strategy allowed substantive batting partnerships to develop throughout their innings. *Partnered by (A) Alex Griffiths, (B) Fran Wilson and (C) Dani Gibson, a collective 121 runs were bagged when batting with skipper Luff. Thereafter, Natasha Wraith mini-partnerships bagged 64, continuing with Dani Gibson, followed by Lauren Parfitt and Sophia Smale. Finally, a cameo between showers between Sophia Smale with Lauren Filer and Claire Nicholas bagged another 59 runs.

*Australian seamer Piepa Cleary (3/45) struck early, trapping opener Georgia Hennessy 11(19) ‘leg before.’ *After 10 overs ‘power play’, Storm were 44/1; and 65/2 by the 100-ball benchmark (16.4 overs.) *Skipper Sophie Luff 48(66) added 67 runs from 68 balls for Storm’s third wicket with Fran Wilson 43(37). *Having hit two-out-of-three ’sixes,’ Fran Wilson was caught at ‘mid-off’ by Katherine Bryce during the twenty-fifth over, the last ball of that over marking mid-way (118/3; 25 overs.) Later, Katherine Bryce took a second ‘mid-off’ catch.

*Skipper Luff also added 29 runs from 27 balls with Dani Gibson 16(20), for Storm’s fourth wicket, until Luff was caught behind by keeper Sarah Bryce. Katie George 16(10) played a short-lived cameo hitting spinner Kirstie Gordon for two ‘fours’ and Josie Groves for ’six ’until ‘run-out.’ *Returning for two more overs, Piepa Cleary’s fifth ball had Dani Gibson caught by Grace Ballinger, bringing a new pair of batters to the crease. Storm passed the 200-mark just after 38 overs. Natasha Wraith 35(36) played anchor for the next twelve overs until ‘run out’ by Beth Harmer’s direct hit. *Piepa Cleary also caught-and-bowled Lauren Filer from an aerial shot (5.) *Thereafter, Claire Nicholas 23(38) and Sophia Smale 12(15) steered Storm home without further loss through the five remaining overs; also chalking-up 250 runs during the final over. Playing their full quota of fifty overs, Storm closed on 255/9.

Lightning’s reply. *After applying the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern ‘DLS’ method calculation, Lightning were handed a lower target: 242 runs from 34.2 overs. *Having been loaned from Vipers, Emily Windsor had immediate impact, forming cameo partnerships that added a total of 80 runs: with (A) Marie Kelly, (B) Lucy Higham and (C) Beth Harmer. *Storm’s opening bowlers (Dani Gibson and Lauren Filer) gifted two wides that delivered Lightning’s first two overs with eight balls. *Both bowlers went on to take ‘big-hitters’ wickets: Lauren Filer clean-bowled Sarah Bryce (11) and Dani Gibson having Kathryn Bryce caught by Fran Wilson (5). *Dani Gibson’s (2/26) next over bagged Marie Kelly’s wicket (2): caught by Sophia Smale. *After ten overs ‘power play’ and with their biggest hitters gone: Lightning seemed depleted on 36/3 (vs 44/1.) *Thereafter, Lucy Higham 34(39) and Emily Windsor 27(46) stepped-up, adding 62 runs for the fourth wicket. *As Lightning’s top scorer Lucy Higham was eventually caught-and-bowled by Claire Nicholas (1/36).

*Disaster struck Lightning during Lauren Parfitt’s (2/22) second over when Storm’s Dani Gibson took two catches. Firstly to dismiss Emily Windsor (27.) Secondly catching Piepa Cleary for a golden duck. *Lightning posted 128/6 (vs 118/3) carrying three wickets’ disadvantage after 25 overs. *Lighting’s scaled-down run-chase fizzled out following a tail-end collapse when keeper Natasha Wraith snapped-up two wickets just three balls apart. *Wraith’s first catch dismissed Kirstie Gordon for a third-ball duck; also catching Josie Groves (4).

Summary: Storm took fewer risks when playing the longer format of the game where batting partnerships are paramount. *Lighting’s innings reached a premature end after 34.2 overs, falling 75 runs short of their revised DLS target; played in much wetter conditions  than their opponents. *Turning to the Rachael Heyhoe Flint trophy table for 50-over matches, Storm’s first five points win nudge them top; ahead of Stars on equal points but with superior net-run-rate.

Result Western Storm Women 260/9 (50 overs) beat Loughborough Lightning Women 166/9 (target 242 from 34.2/34.2 overs) by 75 runs – DLS method

Storm: 260/9 (50 overs, 5.2 runs-per-over): Sophie Luff 48(66), Fran Wilson 43(37), Natasha Wraith 35(36), Sophia Smale 23(38), Alex Griffiths 22(38); Lightning bowling: Piepa Cleary 3/45, Teresa Graves 1/23, Josie Groves 1/25, Lucy Higham 1/38, Kirstie Gordon 1/55; Fow 1-22, 2-47, 3-114, 4-143, 5-159, 6-168, 7-196, 8-223, 9-230; L’boro Lightning 166/9 (34.2/34.2 overs, 4.83 runs-per-over): Lucy Higham 34(39), Bethany Harmer 27(20), Emily Windsor 27(46), Teresa Graves 26(40); Storm bowling: Lauren Filer 3/35, Lauren Parfitt 2/22, Danielle ‘Dani’ Gibson 2/26, Claire Nicholas 1/36. Fow  1-17, 2-22, 3-23, 4-85, 5-102, 6-102, 7-133, 8-135, 9-139.

Edited highlights are free-to-view courtesy of Lightning live stream – ignoring the incorrect match banner at the time of writing (nv play) via Youtube and Smart TV at URL Scorecard and statistics at URL: