Season Preview – Southern Vipers

Season Preview – Southern Vipers

Since the Southern Vipers were established as part of the Kia Super League, originally led by the remarkable Charlotte Edwards, they have stood out as the most successful team in English women’s cricket. This is not just a result of a diverse pool of talent, which has seen players like Charlie Dean rise to prominence, but also the contribution of consistent performers like Georgia Adams, who has yet to receive international recognition. 

The fact that Vipers won the double doesn’t tell the whole story of their 2023 season. There were times when younger players had to fill in for players on international duty and the standard of competition from the other teams has risen. The Sunrisers beat the Vipers in both of their Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy games and the Blaze gave them a run for their money in the group stages, even if at the end of the season the Vipers were taking the silverware back to their trophy cabinet. 

With both Hampshire and Sussex showing keen interest in hosting a top-tier event next season, the South Coast is poised to become a thriving hub for women’s cricket. The possibility of successful bids from both counties is not far-fetched, painting a promising picture for the future of the sport in the region. It is also a testament to the work within those counties that they continue to produce players capable of making the grade at the regional level and stepping up to become internationals. While Mia Bouchier and Lauren Bell first developed their cricket with Middlesex and Berkshire respectively, there is no doubt they have improved under Edwards’ stewardship. 

Charlie Dean is another player whose star is rising and is now breaking records. She recently became the fastest player to take 50 wickets in ODI cricket. There are players within the Vipers squad with plenty of international experience; Georgia Elwiss showed that calmness in her last two appearances for the Vipers, with 64 in the final group game and 50 in the final, both against The Blaze. The last of those innings came in the final when the game was in the balance. 

Another player who brings experience to the Vipers lineup is Linsey Smith, who may have thought her international career was over, until her recall for England’s T20 series against New Zealand. Smith is one of the most difficult bowlers to face, with her left-arm spin and rarely gives away easy runs, while picking up wickets; 19 RHF Trophy wickets were her reward. That sort of control gives other bowlers more wicket-taking opportunities as opposing teams look to make up the runs. 

The Vipers have also added the experience of Freya Davies, who has been on the fringes of the England squad. She will strengthen the side when Bell is on international duty and help Mary Taylor, a bowler who impressed last season in the Hundred and more recently with the England Under19 team.  

Key Player 

Georgia Adams has been an impressive leader not only for Sussex, but also for the Southern Vipers. She is a well-respected batter who leads from the front. Adams has moved down the order to accommodate players, but it has helped strengthened the middle-order. A conversation with Edwards, now the coach, led to Adams bowling more and it has proven successful as she took 20 List A wickets last season. 

Player to watch  

A fully fit Freya Kemp is what both Vipers and England fans will be hoping for. She is a left-arm bowler who hurries batters and a batter who can clear the ropes with ease. A stress fracture to her back limited her 2023 season, meaning she was playing as a batter only as she recovered from injury.  

How will they fare 

Anything other than winning both competitions will be seen as a failure, but the other teams are no longer totally fearful of them. While they didn’t look as invincible last season, they still found ways to bring home the trophies. If the mix of experienced and younger players gel together, it would be difficult to bet against them. 

Opening fixture: Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy: 20 April 2024 v South East Stars, Beckenham 


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