Grace Road is one of those places where odd things happen in T20 cricket, maybe partly due to the abnormally large playing area or just a cricketing gremlin in residence. The Charlotte Edwards Cup game between Lightning and Thunder produced another as Lighting Won by five wickets with seven balls to spare.
Half-centuries from Georgie Boyce and Emma Lamb set up the visitors nicely as they confidently put The Thunder on the front foot with an opening partnership of 130 from 101 balls. That isn’t to say they hadn’t given Lightning opportunities; both were dropped from differing degrees of difficulty. Josie Groves dropped Lamb on 30 to a ball that dipped on the fielder, and Boyce was spilt by Marie Kelly on 40 to a catch that Kelly would have expected to take. It was a pattern set at times by Lightning’s ground fielding that leaked runs that could have proved costly, as previous results have gone. At times Boyce was scoring at a better rate than Lamb. Boyce has been seen as a player who will accumulate runs instead of blow you away, even though there is evidence suggesting she has an expansive game. That proved itself today.
Having once played in the African violet of Loughborough Lighting Boyce, she has since established her cricketing identity further north. As Thunder’s vice-captain, she is putting in returns. As often seems to happen once those top-order players who have been seeing like a beach ball get out and with the temptation of late innings runs on offer against a deflated attack. Lighting captain Kathryn Bryce held onto catches to dismiss the openers. Boyce became Josie Groves’s first Charlotte Edwards Cup wicket before Piepa Cleary used her experience to claim three wickets. Including two in two balls. The second to dismiss Danielle Collins was down to an excellent piece of wicketkeeping from Sarah Bryce. Where a score of over 170 was possible, Thunder slumped to 152 for five. However, it was a good comeback from a Lighting side that had yet to taste victory in this competition and suddenly, a bit of luck and a good start from their top order.
With a batter of the class of Tammy Beaumont, that was always going to be a possibility; Lighting weathered the loss of Marie Kelly, falling for eight runs. Ella Claridge was in the side today as an extra batter in place of Grace Ballinger. Claridge, who is establishing her place in the Lighting squad, stepped up to play a cameo to support her more illustrious partner, which kept the runs flowing. With a middle-order confident of chasing anything under seven an over, it was a vital knock of 24 runs from 18 balls before Phoebe Graham bowled her. Beaumont scored 59 runs, the same score she compiled last week against Northern Diamonds. Today’s innings was far more flowing, and the Beaumont of old was there for all to see.
By the time the England opener holed out to give Laura Jackson her only wicket of the day, Lighting had reached their century mark, and while there was still some work to do, Kathryn Bryce with 29 and Bethan Ellis with 19 from 14 balls ensured there weren’t any later dramas.