A fine all-round contribution from Alice Davidson-Richards, and the gutsy leg spin of Katie Levick, secured a comfortable win over Lancashire Thunder for Yorkshire Diamonds, in their opening match of the Kia Super League at Headingley.
The difference in the quality of the teams’ fielding, particularly in the catching department, proved decisive after Lea Tahuhu missed an early chance to remove Diamonds captain Lauren Winfield.
Winfield got off the mark with a healthy edge that beat the despairing dive of wide third man. It was Sri Lankan vice-captain Chamari Atapattu, however, who looked more assured early on, guiding Jess Jonassen’s left-arm spin gently but firmly for four in the second over and pulling Lea Tahuhu authoritatively for four through midwicket in the third.
Atapattu is only part of the Yorkshire Diamonds squad because of an injury to Beth Mooney, and rose to prominence by smashing 178* against Australia in the Women’s World Cup. Her love affair with destroying Australian bowling continued as she thumped two consecutive deliveries from Jonassen for four.
When Winfield had just six runs, Tahuhu failed to hold onto a relatively simple return catch at head height. The mistake was punished as Winfield grew in confidence: she emulated her opening partner’s grace with a delightful drive through extra cover that exasperated the boundary fielders, to take her to 17.
Atapattu was herself dropped shortly after the Diamonds reached 64-0, at the halfway stage. A typically confident stroke flew straight to Jess Jonassen, but the ball fell from her grasp to the visible ire of her teammates. After hitting another drive perilously close to the fielder, Atapattu changed her bat.
Her luck ran out a few balls later, though, when she was caught on the boundary by Emma Lamb. Sophie Devine joined Winfield, and deposited Danielle Hazell over the ropes before being caught attempting an identical boundary off the next ball.
Winfield took on the aggressive role when Tahuhu returned, punishing a rank full toss with a clean six, but she perished chasing her half-century when Amy Satterthwaite held on to a terrific blind catch as the ball came sharply over her shoulder. It was a rare moment of brilliance in a fielding performance littered with costly errors.
Katherine Brunt compounded Tahuhu’s tough start to the Super League, bludgeoning 17 off her final over including a marvellous straight six to leave the New Zealand international with figures of 1-42 off her four. Her quickfire 31 along with a highly impressive cameo of 22 off 13 from Alice Davidson-Richards left Thunder needing 163 to win.
Brunt’s belligerence continued into the Thunder innings: her bowling was disciplined and hostile, and kept the openers from dominating during the powerplay.
The required rate kept climbing despite a relatively comfortable start for the Thunder openers, but the difference between the sides became clear when Sophie Devine clung on to a superb catch to dismiss Emma Lamb.
The energy and purpose the Diamonds showed in the field had been sorely lacking for the Thunder, and it was a huge factor in the outcome of the match.
Thunder remained within touching distance of the Diamonds until Winfield threw the ball to Davidson-Richards for the tenth over. With her first ball, she clattered Eve Jones’s stumps to pile even more pressure on the visiting side. In her second over, she also removed Jess Jonassen as Atapattu claimed a high, spiralling catch.
Jonassen did not play in the World Cup match, in which Atapattu destroyed her compatriots’ bowling attack, but she is unlikely to be joining the Sri Lankan’s fan club after being tormented by her in both innings at Headingley.
Yorkshire’s tenacious ability to hold on to their chances came to the fore again when Satterthwaite holed out to long off, to give leg spinner Katie Levick her second wicket. She claimed her third when Danielle Hazell danced down the wicket and was cheerily stumped by Anna Nicholls.
Levick and Davidson-Richards finished with 3-30 and 3-20 respectively, proving definitively that there is far more to this year’s Kia Super League than the chance to bask in the glory of England’s World Cup stars.