There is such a wealth of talent in the Southern Vipers that even with several international call-ups, they still look like one of the best regional outfits. Only weeks ago, Vipers loaned today’s opponents, Lightning, Emily Windsor for one match.
They would eventually win with relative calm at Derby by 66 runs.
Without the likes of Danni Wyatt, Maia Bouchier and Lauren Bell, all currently on international duty and Freya Kemp called into the Commonwealth Games squad today, most teams would be cursing their luck. However, Southern Vipers aren’t most teams and still had a wealth of experience at their disposal. Windsor has been back in orange since her week in Loughborough and was able to give loan stumper Chloe Hill a debut.
Vipers batters needed to put runs on the board, and on a warm day, they chose to set their hosts a target. Georgia Adams, the skipper and Ella McCaughan started cautiously; Piepa Cleary and Sophie Munro bowled tight lines, and Cleary, in particular, was difficult to get away.
The brakes came off as the opening pair started to attack, and the usually economical Kathryn Bryce began to leak runs, McCaughan tucking into her with vigour. The opening ten overs cost Lightning just 37 runs, but the next ten overs disappeared for 68.
It was a disjointed innings from Vipers at times: they should have sailed over the 300 mark. With an opening partnership reaching its end during the 26th over a mammoth score was a possibility. But instead, the young leg-spinner Josie Groves made the breakthrough for Lightning. McCaughan was beaten in the flight as she tried to play through the leg side and the ball turned just enough to evade the blade for an 88-ball 72.
Georgia Elwiss was bowled by Bryce in the next over, and Hill, in her first innings for Vipers, was lbw to Groves for one in the spinner’s next over.
If Adams batted through, then Vipers would have set an unassailable target well beyond the capabilities of Lightning. However, Adams didn’t last the course and gave Cleary a return catch for 82.
Windsor, thankful for the chance to regain some match time with Lightning, returned the favour with an unbeaten 47 to propel Vipers to 294 for six with cameos from Tara Norris (21) and Nancy Harman (23).
Last week, Lightning chased down 239 with little fuss, which would have filled them with hope as they chased down the best part of 300.
It started to look achievable as Norris’ first three overs went for 27 runs; only Charlotte Taylor kept the score respectable in the Powerplay. Openers Sarah Bryce and Beth Harmer were taking advantage of anything slightly short and wide, and Lightning would finish the first ten overs ahead of Vipers on runs if not wickets.
Harmer was the first to fall lbw to Paige Scholfield after Sarah Bryce had done the hard work in the over. Harmer was pinned back on her stumps, and there was little that could be done about it.
Kathryn Bryce, who had an unbeaten century last week, could only add one this week as it appeared to be her sister’s turn for heroics with the bat. However, when Alice Monaghan caught Sarah for 49, it looked like Lighting’s chances had gone with her.
A spirited 55 from 39 balls from Groves put Lighting back in the race, and with support from Lucy Higham, who contributed with 31 from 28 balls, the game was in the balance. The DLS par score was levelling up with the runs on the board, and if the lusty blows of Gorves and deft paddle sweeps of Higham had kept going for another five overs, Lightning would have been favourites the first time in the game.
Vipers, however, never give up, and they soon wrestled the game back; Harman got Groves to try one shot too many, and Norris took the catch. Taylor finished with three for 31.
Lighting were without three experienced players in Tammy Beaumont, Marie Kelly and Kirstie Gordon. Unfortunately, you feel they still may not have been enough to see the game home.