There was an inevitability that Southern Vipers would be one of the teams in contention for this T20 competition. A pace-setting start to the Rachael Heyhoe Flint trophy was an early indicator. In addition, a fantastic record in the Kia Super League showed there was pedigree in the Vipers set-up.
Finally, though the icing on the cake was the tournament was christened the Charlotte Edwards Cup in the days before the action commenced.
They did little to belie their status as one of the favourites to lift the silverware in early September. However, today at Arundel Castle, they won by 46 runs.
With the start delayed by half an hour due to early rain, it made sense for Lightning to ask their hosts to bat in overcast but muggy conditions, and when Kathryn Bryce took the early wicket of Danni Wyatt for four there was encouragement for the Lighting fielders.
At the halfway point, Vipers were 51 for two. With Georgia Adams and Georgia Elwiss, the experienced Vipers pair in the middle, the home side had a base on which they could build.
The highest score for Vipers was 37 from Adams, the skipper, and while she couldn’t find one of her charges to kick on and take the game away from Lightning, the efforts of Charlie Dean ensured that a competitive total was set. Dean was rapid between the wickets as she made sure that singles were turned into twos, and on a ground with significant boundaries square on every extra run scored could prove crucial. It was to establish a shift in momentum and one from which Lightning would never recover.
When it came to the Lightning innings, their bowlers took the crucial wickets early on. Charlotte Taylor remains a mystery to opposing batters – the biggest mystery being how they keep getting out to her.
The fortunes of the Bryce sisters would determine the outcome of this contest, and Vipers won those battles. Sarah tried to hit over cover off Taylor’s bowling to find Dean with the catch. Kathryn tickled one down the legside, and Carla Rudd took a smart catch to gift Norris her first wicket of the day.
Lightning hopes hung on the partnership of Michaela Kirk and Teresa Graves, both players who can hit the ball hard. Graves went for three, and at 61 for six, there was no way back. However, Lightning’s innings fizzled out as they finished on 88 all out, Sophie Munro missing a full toss. Norris finished with T20 best figures of four for 14.
Afterwards, Southern Vipers’ Tara Norris spoke: “We really feel chuffed,” she said, “It’s been a great day for us at Arundel, with our friends and family around too.
“We hope we’re doing the Charlotte Edwards Cup proud. We’ve planned well, we’ve prepared well and we all want success for each other. Arundel doesn’t do too much for seamers so I tried to mix it up and change my pace. I feel really good and comfortable with my bowling.”
Next week, Vipers travel to Beckenham, where they take on South East Stars, who have won both their games. Then, Lightning have a home game at Leicester against Midland’s rivals Central Sparks who are also yet to win a game in this competition.