Season Preview – Sunrisers

Season Preview – Sunrisers

It had been a long time coming for Sunrisers to win their Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy match, and just one solitary Charlotte Edwards Cup win was the only experience they had of putting points on the board against Western Storm at Taunton in 2021, also their first game in that format. 

It would never be easy to establish a new team over the sizeable geographical region, reaching from the north banks of the Thames to the Wash at its northern borders. 

So it was a shock to those who hadn’t kept a close eye on the developments that Sunrisers came out with a bit more bite last season. A competitive pre-season followed into the start of the regular season with a crushing win against last year’s beaten RHF Trophy finalists, Southern Vipers, by 126 runs. They would complete the double over the most successful side in the professional era of women’s cricket in England. 

The RHF Trophy campaign saw the Sunrisers win more games than they lost and they might have added more if their games against Thunder hadn’t been abandoned without a ball bowled. 

What was most encouraging was the form of a group of young players led by Grace Scrivens, who led the England under-19s to a World Cup final and carried that form into the season, finishing Sunrisers’ leading run scorer in the 50-over competition with 398 runs at an average of 39.80. Her top score of 107 came in an impressive win against The Blaze in their penultimate game. There was a first century for Sunrisers’ Ariana Dowse in the same game to secure a first-wicket partnership of 200. 

Jodi Grewcock, another Sunrisers player to have represented England Under-19s and with three half-centuries last season, looks to be developing into a player that will add consistent runs and with the experience of players such as Cordelia Griffith, who should again be a consistent presence in the top-order.  

The bowling looks good with Kate Coppack and Eva Gray, who are opening bowlers who can take wickets up top. However, Coppack is only signed on a pay-as-you-play contract. She caused batters problems as one of Sunrisers’ leading wicket-takers last season with 12 wickets.  

Gray is a canny bowler with a decent number of variations, a player who thinks deeply about her game, and always looks to outwit batters. 

If Maddy Villers can capture the form that propelled her to England T20 team recognition in the 2019 Women’s Ashes, then Sunrisers will fire. Two fifties with the bat and 12 wickets in the RHF Trophy show, there is still more to come from Villiers, and she was rewarded with England A tours to India and New Zealand over the winter. 

One concern for Sunrisers is their T20 form, which hasn’t set the world on fire. They will have the returning Dane van Niekerk, the former South African captain, again lending her experience with her batting and leg spin and her leadership skills. 

Key Player 

Grace Scrivens is only twenty but leads from the front as the Sunrisers’ 50-over captain. Already tipped to be a future England captain in certain quarters, she led the England A side during the 50-over series in New Zealand.  

She is a rarity in the women’s game as a left-handed batter and a handy off-spin bowler. One of those rare qualities of being a natural leader is that she will be looking to see her team follow her into upsetting the natural order of things. 

If she can get to grips with the shorter format, then there is no reason that Sunrisers can’t put up a decent run in both competitions. 

Player to watch  

After proving herself in the academy, Jodi Grewcock established herself on the Sunrisers team. In the process, she earned a trip to Sri Lanka as part of the England Under-19 side. Grewcock played 11 RHF Trophy games last season with an average of 28.75 with the bat and compiling three fifties in the process. The all-rounder was also the joint top wicket-taker for Sunrisers with 14 with her leg spin. 

She particularly enjoyed her games against Southern Vipers. In the first fixture, Grewcock chipped in with 69 and followed that up at Chelmsford with her score of 76 before taking four for 45 with the ball to secure the double over the south coast side. 

How will they fare 

With a season of improvement under their belts, it should be more of the same for Sunrisers. They have a good mix of youth and experience, and the time spent planning and training during the winter seems to have given them the belief that they can compete. A semi-final place in the RHF Trophy might be achievable, but they must be more consistent. As for the Charlotte Edwards Cup, they will look to be more competitive but ultimately may fall short of where they want to be. 

Opening fixture 

Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy: 20 April 2024 v Western Storm at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff 


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