Sciver outguns Taylor to guide Stars to victory over Thunder

Surrey Stars all-rounder Natalie Sciver got the better of her England teammate Sarah Taylor to guide her side to a 33-run win over Lancashire Thunder at Old Trafford.

Chasing 134, Taylor looked to be playing a guiding hand for her team but her dismissal triggered a remarkable collapse which left the Stars celebrating a second win from two.

Sciver had earlier rescued the Stars’ innings to post a total of 133, which ultimately proved unassailable.

But for much of the Thunder innings it looked like a run chase that was well within their reach. Having lost Emma Lamb in the second over, Taylor came in and began to construct the innings.

Alongside Eve Jones, she pushed the total on to 32-1 at the end of the Powerplay. Jones was the aggressor but fell for 26 from 28 balls in the ninth over. At that point, Taylor picked up the baton and launched Alex Hartley down the ground for six three balls later.

With nine overs remaining, Thunder needed 65 and the general assessment was that it was a chase that they should have been able to manage.

Even when Amy Satterthwaite was bowled by Australian Rene Farrell, the Thunder would have remained confident while Taylor remained to spearhead the innings.

Her dismissal changed the match. She attempted a scoop but only succeeded in picking out Grace Gibbs off Farrell to fall for a brilliantly-made 34 from 29 balls. Much like Jos Buttler’s dismissal in the Lancashire Lightning side, it felt as though the Thunder’s chances went with her.

And so it proved in dramatic fashion. The final seven wickets of the Thunder innings fell in the space of just 27 balls as the Stars surged to a comprehensive 33-run victory.

That collapse included Ellie Threlkeld being stumped off a wide with her first ball faced, before Sophie Ecclestone also departed for a duck as she was trapped by Sciver.

Farrell had done the bulk of the damage and finished with a superb five-wicket haul, claiming 5-26 from her four overs.

That the Stars had a total to bowl at was thanks largely to Sciver’s guiding hand at the end of their innings.

After a bright start in the powerplay, thanks to the excellence of Tammy Beaumont – who made a powerful and elegant 36 from 25 balls – the Stars began to lose their way.

From 50-1 after the first six overs, at the end of the 13th over they had 74-4 and were being pegged back by Lancashire’s pace-off-the-ball approach in the middle overs.

Jess Jonassen had Laura Marsh stumped by Taylor for 11 and that brought Sciver together with Sophia Dunkley-Brown. The pair shared a pivotal 50-partnership from just 33 balls, with Dunkley-Brown run out off the last delivery of the innings. She made 24 from 17 balls but the real controlling knock had come from Sciver.

She had rebuilt the Stars’ innings and put her foot on the accelerator towards the end, including hitting the only six of the innings by dumping Satterthwaite over the rope in the 18th over.

Her 40 from 36 balls was ultimately the difference between the two sides and helped the Stars to a superb win.

Lancashire captain Danielle Hazell bemoaned the way the batting fell apart and singled out Sciver’s innings for Surrey.

“We can’t lose that many wickets for that many runs chasing,” she said. “It’s disappointing and it hurts but it’s clear now that we have to win three games of cricket if we want to get to Finals Day really.

“You need to have somebody in who is going to guide you to the end and that showed in their innings how Nat [Sciver] got them to the end and that was the difference really we didn’t have that player.”

Five-wickets are a rarity in T20 cricket and Farrell was responsible for blowing away the Thunder lower order. She expressed her delight at how the day had gone.

“Everyone bowled really well, great performance by all the girls,” Farrell said.

“I’m happy to take any wickets in a T20 and not get hit for eight-plus runs per over. Happy to get them on the board and sometimes it’s your day and today was mine.

“We knew once we got past Taylor and Satterthwaite and also Jess Jonassen as well, then we were in with a sniff. We just move forward now, onwards and upwards and fingers crossed we are there on finals day.”

Lancashire Thunder face Loughborough Lightning at Blackpool on Sunday knowing that only a win is good enough to keep them in the competition.

Bates scores first ever KSL century as Vipers down Lightning

New Zealand opener Suzie Bates destroyed Loughborough Lightning with a magnificent unbeaten 119, the first ever KSL century, with an innings that combined elegance and ruthlessness, aided by some poor bowling and sloppy fielding from the home side.

She followed it up with two wickets and a fine catch in Loughborough Lightning’s chase, to ensure the Vipers extended their winning streak to four games.

After a typically miserly over of leg spin from Kristen Beams, the hallmarks of Bates’ innings were clear from the seventh ball of the match, when teenager Lucy Higham failed to get low enough to stop a powerfully flayed cut shot off the bowling of Beth Langston.

Bates repeated the shot, better, off the next delivery. She punched the fourth ball of the over through Langston’s legs, and top-edged another four from the fifth.

Rebecca Grundy was given similarly disdainful treatment in the fourth over with two assertive sweeps in front of square, and by the time Georgia Elwiss turned to her senior bowler in Ellyse Perry, Bates was settled and in fearless form.

Perry shelled a caught and bowled chance before Bates had scored off her, just failing to close her hand at the right time. Bates made the most out of her second life, smashing two fours and a six off Perry’s final three balls.

Hayley Matthews perished shortly after Bates reached her half-century trying to join in Bates’s fun, skying a well-flighted delivery from Lucy Higham, but Bates was unperturbed by such a minor distraction.

She made light work of the Lightning bowlers despite the relaxed fielding restrictions, threading the narrowest gaps between fielders and lofting even the better balls over the infield with delicious ease.

While there were far too many loose balls from the Lightning attack, and far too many mis-fields, Bates deserves all the credit for putting experienced and talented bowlers like Perry under so much pressure.

She reached 90 off a free hit bowled by Perry, and the next ball was caught off a chest-high full toss. Perry was clearly feeling the pressure, but followed it up with a good wide yorker, which led to Georgia Adams being run out heading to the striker’s end. Bates remained on 90*, one short the Kia Super League record.

She passed Dane van Niekerk’s 91* for the Lightning last year with yet another boundary gifted to her by a mis-field. Her century came off the final ball of Beams’ four-over spell, pivoting on a shorter ball for a single behind square.

The Vipers finished on 180-2, the second highest total in domestic women’s Twenty20 cricket.

The scoreboard pressure told on Loughborough’s top order, and when three wickets fell in the powerplay the game was as good as over. Ellyse Villani felt a little aggrieved at being run out at the non-striker’s end, when Tash Farrant bent to fingertip the ball onto the stumps. Amy Jones followed shortly after, bowled by Hayley Matthews trying to cut a ball with no room to execute the shot, and finally Perry was run out by a direct hit from Georgia Adams.

Georgia Elwiss started a respectable rebuilding phase of the chase, and once Sonia Odedra was stumped for the second time in two games, Thea Brookes joined in with some impressive positive hitting.

The thin and flickering candle of hope was finally extinguished when Bates came on to bowl. She snagged Elwiss with her second ball and added Lucy Higham with a plumb lbw in her second. She also pulled off an outstanding catch on the straight boundary, juggling a clean hit from Langston a couple of times before finishing on her knees with the ball clasped in her right hand.

Loughborough Lightning have now lost their last four games, and the consolation that they passed Bates’ individual total before Grundy was run out by Carla Rudd off the final ball is likely to be cold comfort for the Midlands side, given that finals day seems little more than a dream fading in a pink and purple haze.

Taylor drives Western Storm to victory

Last year’s player of the competition Stafanie Taylor became the first bowler to claim a second four-wicket haul in the Kia Super League, as she turned the Loughborough Lightning innings on its head to deliver a crucial comeback victory for the Western Storm at Taunton.

Amy Jones and Ellyse Perry opened comfortably on a good flat pitch, with Jones in a particularly aggressive mood, striking five boundaries from her first 11 balls. After she struck Freya Davies firmly to mid on, Perry rebuilt the innings with composure and class.

The turning point was a suicidal run from Perry. She hit the ball straight to Taylor, who sprang forward to run out the Australian all-rounder for 25. It was to prove a costly brain fade from the experienced international, whose wicket was especially valuable given the absence of her compatriot Ellyse Villani with a shoulder injury.

An over later, Taylor was brought on to bowl her seemingly innocuous off spin. She is not a big turner of the ball, and with her second delivery she deceived Lightning Captain Georgia Elwiss to trap her lbw for one. Two balls later, Sonia Odedra skipped down the track and was ably stumped by Rachel Priest, who was solid with the gloves throughout.

With the final ball of the over, Thea Brookes also fell victim to Taylor’s lack of spin, pinned right in front of her stumps. A single followed from Taylor’s second over, and she added Paige Scholfield thanks to a sharp catch from Priest off a thick edge. Her final over yielded three runs to leave her with outstanding figures of 4-5.

Only injured Storm teammate Anya Shrubsole has better innings figures in the KSL (5-23 against the Yorkshire Diamonds at Headingley), but the run-out as well as her 20 dot balls in four overs had a devastating effect on Loughborough Lightning’s progress. They limped to 108-9, far from a par score on a docile wicket.

Lightning had the perfect start to their tight defence, though, when Kristen Beams followed four dot balls with the wicket of Rachel Priest, trying to heave a cut but being bowled. Heather Knight kept the Storm well within striking distance with a steady 24, but she fell victim to a superb piece of fielding from Lucy Higham, who executed an excellent stop and throw to remove the England captain.

The teams were engaged in a standoff and Georgia Hennessy was just starting to look dangerous before she gifted her wicket to Elwiss, caught by Perry for 23. The required run rate continued to hover around six an over, teasing the hopes of Lightning fans, but Taylor batted outstandingly from the moment she came to the crease.

A steady stream of dot balls and singles left the girls in green needing 24 off the final three overs, but Taylor and Luff took Rebecca Grundy’s spin apart at the death. Even though Taylor could not quite finish the job, she had taken her side to within two runs of victory.

Elysse Perry was given the final over and needed a maiden to tie – unfortunately from a Lightning perspective, Sophie Luff took a single off the first ball to secure a reassuring return to form for last year’s runners-up following their thrashing from the Southern Vipers on Thursday.

Despite the defeat, there were some encouraging signs for Loughborough Lightning, particularly in how close they made the match given their low total and the quality of the pitch. They now move on to face the Vipers at Derby on Tuesday – a game they can ill afford to lose in this short, sharp tournament.

Davidson-Richards helps Diamonds to Roses victory

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.

Bates stars as Southern Vipers wipe out Western Storm

It may not be part of any Women’s World Cup highlights reels, but Anya Shrubsole’s crucial bowling spell at Lord’s in late July started with an over that included three wides as she struggled to find her line with a swinging ball.

So, when Tash Farrant’s first two balls elicited the familiar double-arm raise from the umpire, perhaps we should have seen what was coming.

Farrant, who has not featured for England for three years, provided a timely reminder in front of England coach Mark Robinson that she is, at 21, very much a part of the future of the international side.

Her spell of 2-10 off her four overs set the tone for a dominant Vipers performance in the field. It started in her second over when Rachel Priest chased an out-swinger and edged behind to Carla Rudd, who was outstanding behind the stumps throughout the Storm innings.

Anya Shrubsole is part of the Storm attack this season, but was ruled out of this encounter with a side strain. Even if she had been fit, this game may have been beyond even her considerable powers, as regular wickets prevented last year’s runners-up from getting anywhere near a competitive total to exact revenge for the 2016 final at Chelmsford.

Shortly after Priest’s departure, England captain Heather Knight tried to punish Linsey Smith for dropping short and bowling slowly, but was through her pull shot far too quickly and under-edged onto her stumps.

Georgia Hennessy rebuilt in the company of the West Indies’ Stafanie Taylor, even crunching a free hit off veteran Arran Brindle to the ropes for four in an over that saw two fours and one six.

Those three were the only boundaries in the entire Storm innings, however, and when she got her legs in a muddle and was trapped lbw to Suzie Bates’ second ball, her team collapsed in an ugly green heap.

Tash Farrant returned to remove Taylor who was caught at mid off by Charlotte Edwards after a nervous juggle. There were no nerves from the former England skipper in the next over, when she nailed a direct hit to run out Sophie Luff for a duck.

Fran Wilson was dropped off Suzie Bates’ third over, but Bates reacted perfectly by catching Alice Macleod the very next ball. Wilson, the second member of the Storm side present in England’s World Cup-winning team, was caught behind shortly after by Carla Rudd, again chasing an outswinging delivery.

The West Indies’ Hayley Matthews chipped in by bowling Clare Nicholas, and the rout was completed when Freya Davies was run out.

Chasing just 71 to win, the formidable Vipers batting line-up made a confident start, with Suzie Bates middling the first delivery along the ground to mid-on. She survived a close run-out in the opening over, but along with Hayley Matthews she provided a classy display of how to bat on a wicket that isn’t offering much pace.

The centrepiece of Bates’ innings was the fourth over. She produced a couple of beautiful shots to tear up the confidence of her New Zealand team mate, Holly Huddlestone.

In the second half of the over, Huddlestone simply couldn’t keep her heel behind the no-ball line: a tough over became a disaster as ball after ball was punished, first by Bates and then by the umpire.

By the time Bates punted a single into the leg side, Huddlestone had bowled ten deliveries and conceded 33 runs, almost half of the Storm total.

There can’t have been too many times a chasing side has scored 47.9% of their target in an over. Taylor claimed a consolation wicket, but the Vipers won with an enormous 11 overs remaining.

Their title defence is underway, while the Storm will need the wind to change direction rapidly if they are to make a second consecutive appearance at KSL finals day.


KSL report: Yorkshire Diamonds v Loughborough Lighting

If there were any concerns about the quality of the cricket in the Kia Super League, Ellyse Perry’s magnificent straight drive off Shabnam Ismael dismissed them.

If there were any concerns about the competitive spirit of the matches, the sight of Hollie Armitage and Jenny Gunn pointing at their bats in disbelief after being given out lbw, or Katherine Brunt exchanging sharp words with the Lightning fielders after being bowled, dismissed those.

The Yorkshire Diamonds raged against the dying of the light, but after Barnsley-born Brunt was gone, the game was clearly up for the hosts.

It was not the curtain-raiser Brunt had hoped to star in.

Just after 2.30pm, Brunt took the first wicket of the Kia Super League with her very first delivery. She found enough outswing to clip the edge of Dane van Niekerk’s bat and present an easy catch for Hollie Armitage at slip. She backed up the breakthrough with five perfectly placed dot balls, and her international quality was clear for all to see.

Just after the powerplay finished, Loughborough skipper Georgia Elwiss threw her wicket away by dancing down the track to Danielle Hazell, who pushed the ball out wider for an easy stumping. It was to become a theme of the Lightning’s innings.
Before that, however, the partnership of Sophie Devine and Ellyse Perry was a fine display of skill and nous. They stole singles to the fielders in the ring who were ever-so-slightly too deep, and Devine helped herself to boundaries off the weaker bowlers once Brunt and Ismael had been taken out of the attack.

There was a moment of minor dispute when Devine pushed Hazell to the third man boundary for four. The fielder chasing, Kent’s Alice Davidson-Richards, slipped, touched the rope, and returned the ball. An unimpressed Sophie Devine responded immediately with a boundary.

Shot of the day went to Ellyse Perry, who played a sumptuous straight drive to destroy a well-directed Ismael yorker. The combination of patience and power brought the Antipodean pairing a 50 partnership, and Loughborough were firmly on top.

That was until Ellyse Perry charged for a single that wasn’t there and was run out by some sharp work from wicketkeeper Beth Mooney. Amy Jones was gone before she had opened her eyes after a smart delivery from Hazell trapped her in front.

Sonia Odedra raced to 9 with two identical sweeps off Levick, but was superbly caught and bowled by Jenny Gunn when she smashed a quicker ball to the England medium pacer’s left. Devine perished in the next over, misjudging a big shot that was again well-held by Gunn, this time in the deep. Thea Brookes was run out, completing a dramatic collapse of 5-12.

Set a below-par 128 to win after a modest late-order recovery from Loughborough, Yorkshire hopes were further boosted when Amy Jones put down a relatively straightforward catch off Lauren Winfield.

Despite losing her partner to Perry’s first delivery, Winfield put her stamp on the match with five authoritative boundaries to take the hosts to 37-1.

A horrid mix-up ended her fabulous innings in the cruellest of fashions. After a seeming obstruction, she was well run-out despite a tumbling dive. Her 23 had come off just 13 balls, and her fury at her dismissal was evident as she lingered at the crease before throwing her bat and pads away in the dugout.

Tight bowling and regular wickets helped the Lightning claw their way back into the game, leaving Yorkshire’s fortunes in the hands of Katherine Brunt and Jenny Gunn.
The partnership between Brunt and Gunn was broken when Brunt missed a straight one from Georgia Elwiss, and Gunn followed when she failed to read a floaty full ball from Dane van Niekerk. Both players appeared to exchange warm words with the opposition, and Gunn appeared to address the umpire in less than cordial fashion.

The final coup de grace was delivered fittingly by the half-centurion Sophie Devine, who had Hazell caught at extra cover by Lightning’s captain Georgia Elwiss to end the hosts’ innings on 85. Yorkshire need to turn their fortunes around quickly if they are to finish in the top three, but Loughborough have pulled off a thoroughly deserved win with some high-quality cricket.