Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy preview: Lightning

Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy preview: Lightning

Lightning have strengthened the squad (Loughborough Sport via YouTube, with thanks)

Lightning have recruited well over the winter with the inclusion of Sonia Odedra and Michaela Kirk. After their England duo of Tammy Beaumont and Kirsty Gordon departed for the series against West Indies, Lightning lacked the experience to get them over the line in a couple of close games.

Odedra and Kirk do join a squad that has much promise. Bethan Ellis has been in form during the county T20 cup with Derbyshire, averaging 70 with the bat and 16.75 with the ball.

The players the 2020 season focused around were the Bryce Sisters, Kathryn, the captain and Sarah, an opening bat and wicketkeeper. The Scottish internationals were inspirational in their efforts for Lightning. 

Kathryn led by example, taking 14 wickets and contributing 141 runs with the bat. Sarah, with 395 runs, was the standout player for Lightning and, in her six innings, she scored four fifties and her first List A century with 136 not out against midlands rivals Central Sparks.

Lightning’s only two wins came against Central Sparks and in the game at Leicester, Lightning became the first and only team in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy to pass 300.

There are hints that the batting can improve, Teresa Graves and Abbie Freeborn played important innings at times, and a winter of working on their game can only help.

Key Player

Dependent on how much Beaumont and Gordon are around the Lightning camp this summer, much will again depend on the form of Sarah Bryce at the top of the order. Bryce has started the season well with two T20 fifties for Kent and also in an important year for Scotland, Sarah will hope that form can last the rest of the year.

One to watch

Sophie Munro will turn 20 during the season and has still yet to bowl 1000 balls in List A cricket, but she has impressed at times. She burst onto the county scene in 2017, taking nine wickets across two games over a weekend. Munro, a bowler who can get the ball to swing, will hope to play more games for Lightning and will fit right in. An opening partnership with Kathryn Bryce could be a fruitful one. Also, look out for her bowling at the death as well up front. Munro led Nottinghamshire in two pre-season T20 games, which indicates that she thinks about the game going on around her.

How will they fare?

It could be argued that Lightning lacked the experience that some of the other teams in the North group possessed. That can be backed up in the games at Trent Bridge and Leicester, where they lost close games to Thunder and Northern Diamonds. 

A season as a team for those players will have done them a world of good. Players like Graves, Ellis and Freeborn showed that they could compete at this level, and it will be interesting to see if they kick on this season and propel Lightning forward.

Opening fixture: 29 May, Southern Vipers, Ageas Bowl


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